How to Use Cueing When Teaching a Dance or Fitness Class

Getting your message, and your moves, across effectively to participants can pose a problem for veteran and newbie instructors alike.

The ultimate goal, and reason, we want to cue our participants is to ensure no one gets hurt and to avoid them feeling lost in the sauce when it comes to choreography.

Whether it be cueing for direction, correction, motivation or transition, cueing is a major part of being a dance or fitness professional.

People learn visually, verbally and kinesthetically and I feel that all three types should be in your “instructor toolbox.” While kinesthetic cueing is not common, I love to add it in from time to time – it definitely increases engagement and can help avoid injuries.

“Whither it be cueing for direction, correction, motivation or transition, cueing is a major part of being a dance or fitness professional.”



Visual cues come from your eyes, face and body language. Exaggerated motions to prep a direction changes and using big, animated movements to guide students is extremely important.

Watching your students is critical to getting your message across. By watching their faces and body language you should be able to see if your message is being received or if you have some frustrated folks ready to throw in the towel. Use their reactions to guide your cues. If visual cues are not working reach into your “instructor toolbox” and use one of the other two forms of cueing.


Verbal cueing is not simply counting the beats of the music. In fact, counting the music out loud is not suggested (unless you are doing a countdown).

Verbal cues should be precise, simple and timed perfectly in order to not create confusion and frustration for your students.

The amount of verbal cueing and the lead-in time required really depends on the participant’s experience and the ability level of your class.

Two examples of verbal cueing:

In dance we count up and in group fitness it is common to count down – either way the beats stay the same (since the counting is done in your head).

Dance Counting (Counting Up)

2-count lead in: silent count 1, 2, 3,4,5,6 then say “squats” (count 7) “to the right” (count 8)

4-count lead in: silent count 1, 2, 3, 4; then say “double hips to the right” on counts 5,6,7,8

Fitness Counting (Counting Down)

2-count lead in: silent count 8, 7, 6,5,4,3, then say “squats”(count 2)“to the right” (count 1 )

4-count lead in: silent count 8, 7, 6, 5; then say“double hips to the right”on counts 4, 3, 2, 1


Kinesthetic cueing can be a very effective technique for teaching proper movement patterns and form especially with beginners. Physically guiding students through choreography or into a proper position creates more somatosensory feedback, which aids in developing a mind-body connection.

Final Thought

Practicing each of the above cuing styles independently is a great way to ensure you know when and how to cue. However, instructors typically use all three styles in some form of combination while teaching.

When I am teaching a new dance combination I often explain the choreography (verbal), show the choreography (visual), allow them to practice the choreography (kinesthetic), and then walk around and assist with any trouble sections. (kinesthetic).



Do you have some tips to add? Please Share with us!

Leave a Reply