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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Teaching as a career

Mr Robin

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I'm currently considering a career change, and would like ballet to be involved if at all possible. Obviously an adult student has no hope of a performance career, but I'm wondering whether a teaching career is viable?


My first question, then, is given an adult student who had taken classes for three years and was currently working at Intermediate level though some way off taking the exam, how much additional full-time training would be necessary to achieve teaching qualifications, assuming such training was available?


My second question - is it viable, having achieved qualifications, to make a living purely as a ballet teacher, or would other dance styles be necessary to ensure enough work was available? If so, how much additional training would be necessary in how many styles, assuming the student was a complete beginner in these styles?


Probably a crazy idea with no hope at all, but I'd be interested to hear what teachers have to say on the subject!

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Another thing to consider (if you're interested) is becoming certified in Pilates or Gyrotonics. Lots of teachers seem to suppliment with that type of work. I'll let the teachers answer about the possibilities of teaching dance, but I would think that a Pilates instructor with a fairly solid dance background would be a valuable commodity nowadays. :thumbsup:


Depending of how old you are, I wouldn't necessarily give up on some type of performance career (maybe not with the Royal Ballet :wink: , but something). Especially as a man. Maybe not a "career", but some semi-professional pick up work around Nutcracker and Spring seasons ... If you're older, there's always those really great character roles to go for. Stage experience is important.


I'm frustrated with this myself. Especially as a 20 something advanced-but-not-quite-professional dancer in New York City. There's about 20 million other girls like me. Evryone's auditioning for companies, not getting jobs. Rehearsal reqirements for shows would be imporssible if you have another job and still want to take class every day to improve. It's very frustrating just taking class day in day out. I performed so much more when I was a teenager and danced like crap. Now that I'm actually getting real technique, there's no way of showing it! Sorry for the rant :thumbsup:

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I’m not a teacher, but my sense is that being a good successful professional dance teacher is only a little less difficult than being a professional dancer. Think of what happens to professional dancers when they retire. Many become teachers. A professional career, or at least education in a prestigious dance education program, looks really good on a resume I would assume.


Of course anyone can open his or her own dance school immediately. There are really no entry requirements that I know of.


If I were a 20 something and wanted to try to make a living from some activity that might be dance related, I think I would find a related professional association (I think one is called IDEA—International Dance and Exercise Association. There are others I assume) and from that come up with some ideas. At least I would get an overview of possibilities.

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The only thing I disagree with here, Gary, is that being a good successful professional ballet teacher is harder than being a professional dancer! :innocent:

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Actually I don't doubt what you say for a second Victoria. Dealing with all those parents, kids, and adult students and doing it year after year--no thanks.

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Guest BalletBrat

While I think Garyecht made some very good points, don't count yourself out yet. I am in a similar situation as you, and while I don't ever expect to be on the level as David Howard, Ben Stevenson, and even the great teachers we have here (you know who you are :wacko: ) I think that I am on way my to becoming a good ballet teacher.


Unfortunatly, not every one finds their niche early in life, but when you finally get into your groove, I think you have to grab it by the horns and go for it. As far as timing goes, I think the amount of training you should expect to undertake would be about the same as any hopeful pre professional, around 8 years. On top of that, throw in some Anatomy, History, Psychology and lots and lots of mentoring. And then remember that you never stop learning.


I have it worked out that by the time I am 32, I will be finished with my dance exams through the RAD and at which point I would like to enter the CBTS and later the Teaching Diploma course. I tried this year to do both (dancing and teacher training course) at the same time, but really, with a full time day job,teaching four classes a week, two kids,and a hubby I couldn't do it all. I have two great teachers that are training me now, and of course the most important is my mentor. It is a lot of work, I won't lie to you, and as an adult starting late, you will have to really work much harder than some one who has been at it since they were young.


For some reason, my brain just gets ballet. Honestly, I don't think, even if I had started seriously as a little tiny tike, I would have been a professional dancer, I think teaching would have quickly become my focus and purpose, besides the fact that, ballet is the only place where I truly feel like I belong. The artistry of it, the feeling I get in my bones when I dance, is truly unparalled, except maybe with the birth of my daughters,I think that measures up as an equally positive and fulfilling experience! :(


As far as making a career of it, sure you can, I don't think it will be an especially lucrative career monetarily, but it can be very rewarding to your heart and mind. Only you know what kind of salary you can live with comfortably in order to survive. When it comes to styles, I would focus on one thing at time, especially if you want to become a ballet teacher.


But ultimatly, you can not expect teaching to take the place of an unfulfilled dream of a carreer that never was, in other words, don't become a "frustrated would be performer". Teaching has to be your true motivation.



So I guess what I am trying to say is, you must really take a good hard look at yourself and weigh all of your options. Can you spend the time and money it will take to fulfill your dream? If so, then I say you should go for it!


"Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable."

Author: Sydney J. Harris

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As far as making a career of it, sure you can, I don't think it will be an especially lucrative career monetarily, but it can be very rewarding to your heart and mind.


But ultimatly, you can not expect teaching to take the place of an unfulfilled dream of a carreer that never was, in other words, don't become a "frustrated would be performer". Teaching has to be your true motivation.




I absolutely agree on this, nothing worse than a frustrated teacher aka wanna-be-performer. Also, teaching is a vocation! Being a good pro dancer does not make you a good teacher. And if you work in a local dance school a couple of hours a day, it wont be enough to make a living.


I think there are possibilites to become a teacher for younger kids in a local ballet school. However, from a certain age on - especially if you teach students on a vocational track - definitely need the experience of an ex-pro. You will not be able to learn this from a book. :thumbsup:



In case I havent turned you off (this is not my intention at all), RAD and BBO (British Ballet Organisation) offer teacher training in the UK. Further London Studio Centre offers a BA in Theatre Dance where you can specialise in dance education, or in case you teach already you can pursue a 1-year professional diploma in dance education where you can specialise in different dance form. If you need some more info on the course at LSC, just PM me :P

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Here is a list of institutions that offer dancer teacher training in the UK



Spanish Dance Society *

1 Blackett Close,



TW18 3NW

Tel: 01784 460 419

United Teachers of Dance

51 Cecil Road,



B24 8AU


Association of American Dancing

Aspenshaw Hall,

Birch Vale,


SK12 5AU

Tel: 01663 744 986


British Ballet Organization *

Woolborough House,

39 Lonsdale Road

London SW13 9OP

Tel: 020 8478 1301

Fax: 020 8748 1301


British Theatre Dance Association *

Garden Street,



Tel: 0116 262 2279


Cechetti Society *

The Old Bakehouse,




Tel: 0832 280 373


International Dance Teachers' Association

International House,

76 Bennett Road,




Tel: 01273 685 652

Fax: 01273 674 388



Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing *

Imperial House,

22/26 Paul Street,



Tel: 020 7377 1577 Fax: Tel: 020 7247 8979




National Association of Teachers of Dancing

44-47 The Broadway,



RG19 3HP

Tel 01635 868 888

Fax: 01635 872 301


Royal Academy of Dance *

36 Battersea Square,


SW11 3RA

Tel: 020 7326 8000

Fax: 020 7326 3129


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Guest beckster

I think a one way people in the UK start out their teaching career is to get a current teacher to act as a mentor. You would be able to watch their classes, and perhaps assist. This fills the time until you take intermediate/whatever exams are required. They will then provide references and so on, when you go on to the professional qualification. I have noticed that in the UK there are very few teachers in the average dance school, who teach only ballet. Particularly in small towns, teachers tend to be able to teach tap and modern as well. I suppose they have to make money, and younger children at least tend to learn all three. It might be worth having a go at one or another of these dance forms to see if that's a route you want to go down. In addition, you could also think about doing St John's first aid training, bound to come in handy and a good tranferrable skill no matter what you end up doing!

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And another suggestion - but from an egghead university academic! - in the UK there are a number of good dance courses at degree level, which can lead to postgraduate work at Masters and doctoral level. I don't know what your academic background is, but going straight into a one-year Masters might be a possibility.


If you keep an eye on the job adverts in the Tuesday Guardian Education supplement or the Times Higher Ed Supplement (published Fridays) you'll see the kind of jobs available in dance in colleges & universities. And there's a growing interest in combining practice and research, so you can do a thesis which is part performance, and part writing (known as PaR in the business).


Most Theatre/Drama/Dance college/university departments require both practical and theoretical (ie research) skills. In my current Theatre Studies Department, I work with a colleague who started dancing late-ish in life (his 20s I think) and teaches a couple of dance and physical theatre courses within the Department, often with students with very little dance background. I co-examine the work, and they do good stuff, both practical AND theoretical. And the Department I'm moving to as their new professor in the summer also combines dance with theatre/drama studies (indeed - small world - my current Contemporary teacher did her degree there!). The catch is that this kind of study takes a long time & costs (but so does ANY dance study) and tends to be in Contemporary dance styles rather than classical ballet - but that's not rigid. And there are career development loans schemes etc you might look at.


To see the PaR work, have a look at the PARIP web-site, and maybe D_S_L can tell us about the dance stuff after attending the PARIP conference in the summer!




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I agree with Kate but keep in mind that most MA programmes in dance require a substantial amount of dance training before you start the course. Other programmes demand even a professional career. However, as Kate has pointed out, there are programmes that combine dance in a more theoretical way. Dance classes have to be taken outside the course but you can apply this knowledge to a research case, or eventually to your dissertation. This can be even in the field of dance education if you find an appropriate supervisor for your subject. :-)


I will give a paper on ballet at PARIP but I guess I will be the only one who focusses on ballet, there might be other dancer forms present as well but most papers are on contemporary theatre practice. PM me if you need more info.

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