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Teaching: Becoming an RAD teacher


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The next teachers' training course that I will be eligible for here starts in 2012, so I have plenty of time to think about this. I would possibly like to become an RAD ballet teacher (RAD simply because that is what I have been trained in). I hope to pass my Intermediate exam in 2010, which will make me eligible to train as a teacher, but ultimately I would like to do my Advanced 2 exam (or minimum Advanced 1). I have no illusions about the fact that I will not be able to train dancers to professional level because of my lack of experience and training. I do, however, love ballet, I am very interested in physiology/anatomy and movement, I have a fairly high level understanding of music theory and music, I have decent-ish technique (although it's at least 3 years until I'll be teaching (as a trainee), so lots of time to work hard on that), I love teaching (I work as a tutor). I am also interested in helping children to overcome problems like hyperextension and providing safe training, including educating children about avoiding injuries. I have some questions though, regarding what makes a good teacher and what I should be thinking about and working on in the next two years. What constitutes a good teacher? In what ways can I begin to prepare myself over the next two years (before I begin formal training)? From what I understand, you can study to teach the Grades (which, strangely, makes you eligible to teach the vocational levels too?!) or the Vocational levels (which means you can't teach the grades) - is this still the case? I would be more interested in teaching just the vocational levels, but my lack of experience would worry me and I know that often teaching the younger students can be what helps your studio to keep afloat financially (as usually less students continue up into the vocational levels). I'd appreciate input and advice from RAD teachers in particular, but any teachers are welcome to add on advice and thoughts.

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Hi Lau, wow an RAD teacher, impressive :D I wish you all the best! Also, if it is the case that if you study the grades you can teach both grades and vocational then surely doing that would be the more practical :S I'm slightly confused as to why someone would limit themselves by only studying the vocational grades, maybe there are people on here who can help me understand :rolleyes:



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That's what I don't understand - why the RAD would divide training like that. You'd think they'd rather train someone for everything, right? Maybe I'm confused, but this is what I have been led to understand.

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I'm bumping this up, hoping someone will reply (I know it's the festive season though)...My biggest concern in trying to be a teacher is that I don't have professional experience. How important is this for a teacher? 2 of the 3 teachers at my studio have professional experience, but I don't think this makes the teacher without pro experience any less good as a teacher.

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I think it very much depends on the system you have in place in your country. I'm not sure where you're from though. I'm in the UK and here students go off to full time ballet school either from the age of 11 or for 3 years at 16. That is intended to complete their training although they obviously need to have a technically excellent base to work from (as well as all the other characteristics required). BUT in the US ballet schools don't exist in the same way and it is up to local teachers (or pre-pro schools) to get their students to professional level. If I were in the US I don't think I would be able to do that because of my lack of professional experience but I can certainly get them to the standard required for full time ballet school at 11 or 16 in the UK.


I never took Advanced 2 but did do Advanced 1 and I think you really need that level to train students successfully although Intermediate will get you into the CBTS teacher training programme.


I would assume that the graded qualification is intended for teachers of local schools and the vocational teaching qualification is more for teachers who work at ballet schools or that sort of level. So again the route you take will possibly depend on where you live. However if you do the graded qualification you will always have the chance to take vocational courses during and after the training programme so that may well be the best option for you. Also if you do end up wanting to teach at the highest levels (i.e. at full time ballet schools) your lack of experience probably would be an issue so the graded route is probably safest for you.


To help you prepare for the programme it would be helpful to go on any courses in your area and do lots of background reading in the areas that you have already mentioned - anatomy, teaching techniques, music, health and safety etc. If you're not teaching already perhaps you could volunteer to assist in classes at a local reputable school, the best way to learn to teach is to actually experience it.


As for what constitutes a good teacher, well there are about a million qualities but the most obvious that spring to mind are:

- knowledge of technique and how to teach it

- enthusiasm and passion

- enjoying working with children

- the ability to see and correct faults (i.e. not just rely on demonstrating)

- the willingness to learn and keep learning even once you're qualified

- being creative and making learning fun


Hope that helps a bit. I didn't reply before as I wasn't sure I really had anything valuable to add but when I saw that you'd bumped it I figured I might as well give you my perspective!

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I may be wrong, but I believe that even if you take the CBTS for children's and higher grades rather than vocationals, once you have registration you can train and enter students for all levels. However if you do want to teach the more advanced levels, you really need to have studied more than Intermediate yourself. I think it helps to have had professional experience, but on the other hand not all ex-pros make good teachers and there are some really excellent teachers out there who have not had professional experience.


I would like to add to CDR's list - which was spot on, but missing one very important element - PATIENCE!!!!!!!! It can be really frustrating to repeat corrections over and over and not see results, but that's part of being a teacher.

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Thank you so much for your replies. I really appreciate them. I'm in South Africa, so I'm not sure how the RAD does stuff here (in contrast to other countries). This would obviously be something I would explore first. I would almost definitely do the CBTS for the grades. I am fortunate in that the teachers at the studio where I dance have assisted teachers-in-training before (in terms of observation and allowing them to teach/supervising, helping them etc). Closer to 2012 (when the next programme starts), I will discuss teaching in general and my eligibility as a teaching candidate with my teacher.


I would really really like to get at least my Advanced 1 (preferably Adv 2), for my own dancing goals, and so that I may be a better teacher (if I decide to become one). I would most likely run a recreational ballet school (I have way too little experience to work at full-time ballet schools). My aim would be to prepare the younger students to enter a full-time school/more pre-pro school (by teaching the grades, specifically 1-5, properly) and also taking recreational dancers through up into the Majors/Vocational levels.


CDR - owing to my (packed to the rafters) uni and tutoring schedule, I have no time to explore teaching, at least for this year. But I am certainly doing a lot of reading about ballet, technique, conditioning et, as I usually do. Fortunately I have studied music to quite a high level and have a natural sense of musicality, which may be helpful in teaching. I especially liked what you said about a willingness to learn and keep learning - that is something for which I have a natural drive. All the careers I am looking into pursuing as I weigh my post-graduate options revolve around continuous learning and teaching.


Hamorah - thank you for highlighting the patience factor! Very important!


Okay, some rather strange questions now:

- Is it bad that a small part of my motivation in wanting to be a teacher is that there is so much bad and dangerous teaching out there, resulting in children not enjoying ballet and suffering numerous injuries, and I would like, in a very small way, to start changing this trend? Bad or unsafe teaching has been something I have come up against myself and I would like to protect vulnerable children from this.

- Being a driven and focused person myself, how do I teach myself to be tolerant yet firm with children who are not particularly willing to do the work required to become the best dancer they can be?

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- Is it bad that a small part of my motivation in wanting to be a teacher is that there is so much bad and dangerous teaching out there, resulting in children not enjoying ballet and suffering numerous injuries, and I would like, in a very small way, to start changing this trend? Bad or unsafe teaching has been something I have come up against myself and I would like to protect vulnerable children from this.

No not bad at all, sounds like a good reason to want to teach!


- Being a driven and focused person myself, how do I teach myself to be tolerant yet firm with children who are not particularly willing to do the work required to become the best dancer they can be?

You've got to understand that, in the early days, children won't necessarily want to make dance their career but bear in mind that they might decide they wish to later on. So you've got to try to encourage them to reach their full potential without pushing them too much and putting them off. It's not always easy but it's something that will come with experience. Don't worry about that now, you will learn as you go along.

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  • 2 months later...

Thanks for your continued replies and help.


Now the big one: money. I mentioned to my husband that I am considering teacher-training and his first response was to ask about money :P But unfortunately he's right, and I have the impression (although not actual knowledge) that ballet teaching is not lucrative. Now I know you're from different countries to where I am, but how do you find things, financially (in terms of earning), in ballet teaching? (basically what I mean here is that, at the end of the month, with a full teaching schedule, do you have enough money to survive?). Secondly, although I would need to start teaching at another ballet school, my ultimate dream would be start my own ballet school and have my own studio - have any of you done this and how did you manage the finances? I feel like I need to know a lot more about the business side of this...


Secondly, I was wondering what, in your opinion, the advantages and disadvantages of the RAD syllabi are? In terms of ballet training. I want to go into this with my eyes open.


Thirdly, although I am not planning on having children for a good few years yet, I was wondering how difficult it is to cope with being a mother and a teacher, especially as most ballet classes are taught in the afternoon/evenings when children are home?

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(by the way, I will be discussing some of the above points with some of the teachers and training teachers at my ballet studio, to get a more local idea of things)

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How much money you earn as a dance teacher depends entirely on your circumstances.


When I first started teaching, I was working 5 nights a week and all day Saturday in another teacher's school and was taking home about £200 a week, which was enough to live on, but only if I was really careful and budgeted every penny. And if my car broke down or something else came up unexpectedly, I was often left having to borrow money from family and friends.


Now I have my own school, I am working less hours and earning over £2k a month, which has enabled me to live very comfortably as I have no children or other responsibilities. I definitely would not knock the experience I gained from working in another school, but I could never go back to working for someone else now.


In many ways, by working for other teachers, I learnt more about the business side of running a school than the teaching, particularly how NOT to run a school. I did work for 4 or 5 different schools before starting my own, and that experience is definitely reflected in how I now run my own. If I had tried to open my own school straight way, I know I would have made a lot of the same mistakes and not ended up with the school I wanted. I definitely took the good ideas, rejected the bad and now have a school that is uniquely mine.

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You make me curious - please do expand on what you have said above. What were the bad things and mistakes you encountered, and what were the good?

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I'd also be interested to hear about that, Crazydancing. Thank you so much for your reply, it helps me to get a general idea about finances in terms of working for yourself and working at someone else's studio.


The reason I asked about the advantages and disadvantages of the RAD syllabus is because from a young age until I was 11, and then again for a year when I was 20/21, I trained in a syllabus unique to South Africa, called the Dance Academy of South Africa (DASA) syllabus. When I was 11, we moved across the country and I tried some checchetti (spelling? Sorry!) and didn't like it (although that may have been because I didn't particularly like the studio...) and then when I was nearly 12, I started training in RAD (grade 5) until I gave up ballet (to concentrate on music) shortly before my 13th birthday (I know, so silly, I truly regret this now, although my music knowledge will stand me in good stead as a teacher). When I was 20 I started training in DASA again, but when my teacher emigrated, I moved to an RAD studio, where I've been for 2 years now. I have searched far and wide for a comprehensive history of the DASA syllabus, but can't find any as yet, so I'm not entirely sure what types of training it draws on (the syllabus was only developed in 1991), but I seem to remember being told there was a Vaganova influence. Suffice it to say that this syllabus, although working on technique obviously, also strives to engender a love of dance, musicality and performance qualities which I sometimes find lacking in the RAD syllabus. The syllabus includes character and medal dances and runs through the usual Pre-primary to Advanced levels, like the RAD. However, this syllabus brings in certain things much earlier than the RAD syllabus. In grade 5 DASA for example, one is required to do pose/pique pirouettes, coupe fouette raccourcis en demi-pointe at the barre, pirouettes in barre exercises, ronds de jambes en l'air, sisonnes ordinaires, and (literally) the exact same jete ordinaire exercise in the RAD Intermediate syllabus :wink: I do, however, feel that the RAD brings a certain "strictness" to ballet training that the DASA syllabus may lack (I'm sorry, it's hard to explain what I mean here). I'm sorry, I can't get my computer to let me use French accents on the 'e's, which is driving me nuts. My spelling probably also leaves something to be desired... :)


You may be wondering why I am considering being an RAD teacher if the majority of my training has been in DASA and I enjoyed the syllabus. Simply speaking, the DASA syllabus is not an international one and being a DASA teacher would probably not qualify me to teach outside of South Africa, whereas the RAD teaching qualification and syllabus is internationally recognised. My husband and I might not live in South Africa forever. I have also come to enjoy and appreciate many aspects of the RAD syllabus, although I remember it being quite an adjustment when I changed over at 12! However, my experience with the graded syllabus of another academy of dancing has provided me with a wider understanding of ballet than a training in purely RAD might have done, and has also shown me some weaknesses and strengths in the different academy syllabi.


Also, from the perspective of a student in RAD Intermediate Foundation and Intermediate, I have noticed some weaknesses there and I was wondering whether, as teachers, you attempt to address these? I just feel that there is a BIG jump between the Intermediate Foundation syllabus and the Intermediate syllabus, and as a teacher, I would be interested in bridging some of that gap by doing additional exercises with the Foundation students. However, this is obviously an idealistic objective and time constraints, amongst other things, will be a factor here. Some additional things which I would, for example, do with a I.Foundation class:

- a barre exercise with ronds de jambes en l'air (I feel it is a bit much to ask students to do this movement on a rise in Intermediate when they've never done ronds de jambes en l'air before)

- perhaps some battement frappes (at the barre) to the front and back for the same reason as above

- more turns (this comes from my DASA days where pose/pique pirouettes were included much earlier), especially to help children overcome the fear that can sometimes surround turning

- many, many more rises en pointe, and just a bit more pointe work in general (this is the area where I feel there is the biggest jump between the I.Foundation and Intermediate syllabi)


I also feel, and this is probably unique to the studio where I dance now, that we do not do enough unseen work in syllabus classes. For this reason, I might be interested in doing one non-syllabus class a week from I.Foundation up, which would hopefully enrich the students, make them more used to unfamiliar work (and so decrease anxiety about the unseen work in the exam), and widen their horizons a bit instead of always doing syllabus work. I know that doing an adults' open class once a week has truly made a difference to my love of ballet, freedom from boredom, and it makes doing unseen work much less anxiety-provoking. However, once again, this is an idealistic objective and it may also become a problem in terms of confusion of exercises.


The above points then make it abundantly clear to me that having these kinds of ideas and classes would probably be incompatible with a single-teacher, single-studio dance school, especially when I have children. Hence my question regarding children.


I hope you don't mind my long post, I just believe in being truly prepared for something, and in thinking about RAD teaching (and any of the other career paths I am considering pursuing) I feel very naive and woefully unprepared (although I know that that's what teacher-training is for :) ). Obviously before embarking on this I would also have a long conversation with my current teachers regarding my suitability as a teaching candidate.

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I recently received an informative package when I attended a teacher's training course offered through R.A.D as an assistant and mentioned I was interested in pursuing a career as a dance teacher. I would recommend requesting information on the teaching program and asking particularly for their Prospectus book which outlines all the different paths one can take in their quest to further educate themselves in dance under the R.A.D. syllabus. The back of the book has contact information for all their office branches. You mentioned in an earlier post that you were currently located in South Africa. Your representatives contact listed in the book is as of 2010:


Mrs. Olivia Lume

Royal Academy of Dance

P.O. Box 200, Bramley 2018

Johannesburg, South Africa

tel: (27) 11 887 0459

fax: (27) 11 887 0561

email: info@rad.org.za


Speaking from my experience contacting my local representative the responses where very prompt, friendly, and informative. I'm sure your contact would be most helpful.


Hopefully this helps you get a better idea of your options. Good luck to you on your exam and please keep us informed of your progress.



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