Job Story: Amy is a Dance Instructor

Amy volunteers as a DanceAbility teacher with a group called BodyShift. She has been working with them as a teacher since 2015 but has been a part of class as a student since 2010. For most of the hours she works, she does not get paid.

Twice a month she goes to a four-hour Saturday class, sometimes she is one of the lead teachers. Twice a year, she spends at least 15 hours practicing and performing. Once a year, BodyShift has a class with a guest artist, for at least two eight-hour days, usually more.

To get there, someone else drives with her, and their work is paid for by her Medicaid Waiver. She usually likes to find people who also work in the arts to join in with the group.

To start teaching, she completed DanceAbility teacher training, which included a four-week course for long days, learning exercises, practicing teaching, and ending in a performance. She learned about the chance to begin teaching when she was a student in the beginner Elements classes and was eager to learn more about teaching and her own body in dance, but her interest in the arts likely began as a family activity.

Amy describes her job this way: "For the beginner classes, called Elements, if I'm teaching I will meet with the other two co-teachers. We will come up with a plan for the day, out of our book of exercises. When I get to class, I will make sure the room is ready, and then I will greet everyone as they come in. I do this whether or not I'm teaching. When we are just participating, we still do some things to make sure everyone stays involved and has a good time, because we are teachers whether or not we are actively teaching right then. When we are getting ready for a performance, there's lots of practicing and helping each other design the dance. When we invite a guest to teach us, I listen and take part. Sometimes I take notes about what BodyShift might want to add to its own teachings based on what they said. Sometimes I make my own work and perform it outside of BodyShift. There is usually some goal of changing something involved. Sometimes I take other classes as well."

Amy enjoys being creative, and watching people succeed at new things. Seeing a new person return is her favorite part of Elements class. Performances are more about what can be done, about possibilities. Everybody can dance! "If you can breathe, you can dance"- Alito Alessi, founder of DanceAbility International.

If you have questions for Amy, please email