By Lisa Okuhn
Who needs a bio? If you’re a dance teacher or school owner, you do. And it belongs on your school’s website.
A bio (short for “biography”) is a synopsis of a person’s relevant experience in a given field. Well-written biographies tell readers who your faculty is, what dance-related experience they possess, and about any other strengths they bring to the classroom. Website faculty bios make it easy for clients or potential clients to know who is providing what to a school’s students.
If you’re a school owner, you and your faculty members should draft your own bios using the guidelines below. Have someone with writing skills edit them before they’re made public on a website or anywhere else. Bios—or any other written materials—that are poorly constructed, grammatically unsound, and full of misspellings make you seem unprofessional and inspire zero confidence.
Website faculty bios make it easy for clients or potential clients to know who is providing what to a school’s students.
Bios should be informative yet concise. While exceptions might be made for those with unusually distinguished careers, assume that no one wants to read more than one or two paragraphs about you or your teachers. Ensure relative uniformity of length by setting a word count; 150 to 200 words should be plenty.
Bios should be written in the third person, and should include five main sets of facts in whatever order reads most gracefully and best emphasizes your strengths: performing and choreographic experience, teaching experience, training, awards or other important acknowledgments, and any other experience that adds to the resources you can offer; for example, extensive volunteer work with special-needs children, four seasons as a competition judge, etc. A brief mention of where you’re from can also give readers a more concrete sense of who you are.
Professional experience as a performer or choreographer typically makes a strong impression on readers. But even if your resume doesn’t sparkle with professional performing or choreographic credentials, do list the experiences that have most influenced you as a dancer, teacher, or artist. This shows readers where you’ve gained your experience, what you’ve been exposed to, and where your interests lie. Include only those jobs that best reflect your experience and interests and offer a balanced view of your strengths.
In describing your training, don’t list every teacher you’ve ever had; in general, stick to recognizable names or institutions.
If your teaching experience is vast, you don’t have to list every class you’ve ever taught. Include the important teaching jobs and those that demonstrate the range of your experience; for example, 12 years of teaching kindergarten tap, a summer Vaganova workshop for teachers, or a college kinesiology course. Where applicable, note specific job titles, such as preschool curriculum director.
A mention of important awards, fellowships, grants, and other recognition will catch readers’ eyes, but use discretion. And unless a major documentary has been made about you, press coverage should be listed and linked on a separate media page.
Including personal details (a supportive spouse, a favorite hobby) is an option but keep them to a minimum.
A few don’ts: don’t lie or exaggerate, and don’t use hyperbole. Readers will be put off by flagrant self-promotion. “Miss Tyra danced with Sparrowfoot Dance Company from 1999 to 2006,” is more credible than “The talented Miss Tyra danced with the incomparable Sparrowfoot Dance Company . . .”
Post the bios (with photos) on your website in a way that makes them easy to find and easy to read. If they’re well written and informative, they’ll capture attention and elicit respect.