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Illegal in France to teach pointe without being qualified?


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I was reading about the school suggested in the above thread, and came across something that might appear to suggest that in France it is illegal to teach pointe technique of any sort without being a qualified (and state-recognised) classical ballet teacher. The link is:




If anyone knows about this in France, and/or has better French than me (it seems a bit ambiguous how I read it) I would appreciate hearing their opinion. It certainly seems to imply an enormous degree of state regulation if true, though good in principle.



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As far as I remember from when I worked as a professional dancer in France, it has always been the case that you must have a recognised professional qualification to teach any form of dance in France. Even another English girl I knew who was teaching RAD there was having problems with the authorities as it wasn't a recognised body then.


This I believe is one of the reasons that UK dance organisations such as RAD, ISTD and others are getting their act together with regard to teaching qualifications. I am quite sure that before too long anyone in EU countries who wishes to teach dance will need a recognised qualification.

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I am quite sure that before too long anyone in EU countries who wishes to teach dance will need a recognised qualification.


But don't you think this is good?

Personally I am horrified whenever I read about what "Dolly Dinkle"s do to their students... I think everyone who teaches ballet, should know not just about ballet, but also about teaching. And even more importantly: about anatomical issues. People have different bodies, so if you only have your own experience in dancing to rely on, you might not be aware of dangers other people are prone to.

Therefore in the same way that state authorities set speed limits in order to protect the safety of their citizens, I think it's a good thing if there are requirements, determining who can safely instruct ballet (and other difficult physical activities for that matter).

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There is much to be said in favor of licensing teachers of dance, especially those who teach the very young. And while we cherish the right to "free speech", we also license barbers, hairdressers, masseurs, real estate agents, and many other endeavors. The question I would have, especially in the United States, would be, "who shall guard the guardians?" What would constitute qualification? Would it disenfranchise an RAD school because it's "not American"? Or would the qualification be so loosey-goosey that it would be practically meaningless, and only serve as a revenue source for the licensing agency?

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Actually, the article says it's illegal to teach ballet of any kind without being state certified --- and that involves taking a certification course, spending time at it, passing an exam, etc. And the same goes for jazz and modern dance as well. Moreover, it explains that jazz and modern qualifications do NOT qualify one to teach pointe technique.


Whenever one considers a regulatory system like this, it is important to balance the need to protect the public vs. the stifling of innovation. I wonder how much of the most innovative dance in America in the past century could not have happened with a regulatory system as strict as mentioned here.


I would certainly be for a stripped-down kind of regulation --- one that ensures that ballet teachers understand the basic physical principles so that they are not teaching dangerously. And make sure that anyone teaching pointe technique understand basic things there too, starting with the proper age to go en pointe. That is protecting the public, and it can be done by requiring that people take an exam covering a kind of lowest common denominator.


However, it seems the regulations described here go far beyond basic protection of the public, to enshrine a specific government belief about what ballet (& jazz & modern dance) is or is not. That may fly in France, which also has a government agency defining the French language. But I think that is overboard for the USA.


Even without a government mandate, I think that various professional associations (RAD, etc) could do a better job of outreach to the public, to educate students and parents about why what they do is valuable and important. I don't think it should be government mandated, but that does not mean that it is not a good idea. Plenty of industry organizations in many industries engage in this kind of "quality education" campaigns, some of them for ends that are far more dubious than raising the quality of dance education.


In the USA, there is a government accredidation system for universities. But accredidation is not a requirement for a university to stay in business, although there are various pressures to be accredited. I find the section on "Accredidation" to be interesting in the following article:



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And really, there is little control or licensing of post-secondary school instructors. Theoretically, one could have a doctorate in the Agronomy of Poison Ivy, and end up teaching freshman English. I think I may have had a couple of those.... :sweating:

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I'm sure this thread could go off in many directions that arent related to dance - but its an interesting one - I agree with citibob, who said it all, really - yes, I'm all in favour of protecting the young, yes I'm all in favour of knowing that if I pay for a class I'm going to get the quality article (wording chosen carefully; i.e it commodifies dance), but I can see it stifling innovation. Who is to say what is dance and what is not? Actually, in the US, UK, Australian systems we have something similar, in that everyone is scared of doing anything without insurance (and even if you dont care, the owners of the building you hire will), and to get insurance you need an accreditation. But I wont say more.



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As one who spent roughly 10 years in the licensing and certification testing business, I bring a lot of cynicism to the topic, at least with respect to improving the quality of the job being certified or licensed. Mel’s comment about what makes one qualified and who guards the guardians is right on target. Overall, I think licensing or certification does little to improve occupational performance.


Having said that, I don’t think licensing or certification is bad. I think it does increase the status of the occupation and it does keep the very few who are terribly ignorant (an undefined term for sure) from the job (licensing) or associating themselves with a particular program (certification). Besides, few would say that knowledge is bad, and preparing for a licensing or certification exam does require study and knowledge acquisition. No loss at all there.


When licensing is involved, usually the criterion is knowledge and skill needed to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public. Consequently, knowledge about things like safety becomes paramount. How one teaches specific skills are only really important to the extent they relate to health, safety and welfare of the public.


Certification generally implies there is a standard curriculum for training and that those certified have attained a proficient level of knowledge and skill according to whoever is awarding the certification. I emphasize the phrase standard curriculum for training.


I might add that this is how it has evolved in the US due to our courts. I don’t know about other countries.

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knock, knock, French dancer here... :sweating: actually, what the article says is quite true - on paper only ! if you are the owner of a school, you can usually manage to teach without proper qualifications, and anyway, in all the private schools, the State has no say in the teachers' qualifications at all ...trust me, I know several dance teacher who are not properly qualified....moreover, most ballet professional can get a dispensation for the diploma - but being a dancer doen't necessarily make a good teahcer of you, unfortunately...

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(Not being a teacher, or even a very long student, I'm not sure I know much, but being an artist...)


Shouldn't there be foundations for everything? I mean, by observation only, it seems that the rules of pointe are, and should be, extremely strict. There isn't a lot of leeway in that particular art, at least in the eyes of a new student.

However, modern and jazz....I mean, foundations.....yes.....but how strict would/are these certifications? Do they teach one -style- over another? Martha Graham over Fosse sort of thing? Sixth position all the way? I guess I'm a little confused on what would be certified....what is "non-disputable" in dance? (At least those two styles...)

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Unfortunately, (or fortunately) everything's disputable!

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I am in favor of licensure (not certification). For example, to be licensed, you would have to prove you have completed a certain number of hours in kinesiology and anatomy from an accredited organization. It would establish a lowest common denominator to prove that at least teachers have the basic understanding of the principles of movement and the body so that they don't damage their students. If half the bad ballet teachers in the world truly understood how joints and muscles actually worked, they wouldn't be teaching bad ballet.


It certainly wouldn't do anything to regulate the quality of teaching but at least it might keep some of the worst from irreparably damaging their students without stifling innovation.


Unfortunately, I am as jaded as Major Mel when it comes to governing bodies, and I think it would turn into just another revenue generator.


Of course, if consumers started demanding that teachers have this kind of background, that would take care of the issue. Unfortunately, most people don't know enough even to ask, hence the big business of Dinkle-dom.

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General comments about regulating the regulators & guarding the guardians are quite different within & without the EU. American approaches don't generally fit in the EU. In the USA, I don't think you have the kinds of nationally (and internationally at European level also under the Bologna agreement) regulated and accredited education systems that we have in the EU. So there's much more freedom, but also obviously a much greater possibility of inappropriate or even inadequate educational provision, particularly at tertiary level. For example, even the UK's one private University (Buckingham) is subject to the same regulation & inspection by the QAA (Quality Assurance Authority). It's worth remembering that in the international education world, the USA does not offer the only model!

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I'm French & read the article. It says that to teach any dance (ballet, modern, jazz) you need a state qualification.

It also says that a ballet teach could teach jazz or modern, but a modern or jazz teacher absolutely cannot teach pointe.

Hope that helps.

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I was reading about the school suggested in the above thread, and came across something that might appear to suggest that in France it is illegal to teach pointe technique of any sort without being a qualified (and state-recognised) classical ballet teacher. The link is:




If anyone knows about this in France, and/or has better French than me (it seems a bit ambiguous how I read it) I would appreciate hearing their opinion.


That is perfectly correct. The French law clearly states that no one can teach dancing and be paid for it in the following disciplines: contemporary dance, Jazz dance and especially Classical dance (especially because of pointe shoes). The law is 89-468 (July 1989 10th) and the decree is 92-193 (1992 feb 27th). You can read for yourself on http://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/initRechTexte.do the original law and decree, still in application.


How can it be hijacked ? There are three options: 1) do not get "paid" (not a salary per se) but get "défraiement" (i.e. hidden salary). 2) call it anything else, say "balleto-thérapie" or any good sounding bull****t 3) forget about the law because the risk of being caught is so low...


The same law also sets standards for the floor and especially forbids dancing directly on hard or slippery surfaces. The result more than 20 years after the law is "so-so", i.e. too many kids still do not have anything that approches a proper environment (too expensive to dedicate a room to dancing in small towns).


It certainly seems to imply an enormous degree of state regulation if true, though good in principle.


The problem back in the 1980s when this law was made was simple: anyone could declare him/herself a "ballet teacher" and break kids, especially with pointes. So what happened is that the French Government gave "dispenses" or "équivalences" (i.e. "you don't need to pass the exam") to all existing teachers, but the new ones had to pass an exam from then on.


Now the problem we have is the contrary, i.e. no one in France is supposed to begin teaching pointe shoes to kids before they are too old to produce any real dancer worth something. The kids in Belgium begin pointe shoes several years before they do in France for example.


One more tidbit of cultural information: there are many private schools and structures (local equivalent of non-profits) but there are as many teachers employed by State backed "conservatoires" so getting the correct diploma is also a first step to enter into the French state "territoriale". Technically speaking, the firefighter, police officer and ballet teacher of any small to mid-level town are on the same payroll ;-)


If anyone needs any more information, just yell :-)




Edited by jga
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