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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Teaching: Becoming an RAD teacher


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Thank you so much, Annek. I was not aware that site (RAD education specifically) existed. You can actually download a PDF version of the prospectus, which I did, and it's very helpful to see exactly what's on offer from a distance-studying (i.e. not at RAD headquarters in London) perspective. It's nice to know many of their courses are University-accredited too.


I would LOVE to the do the BA (hons) Ballet Education, but alas, I don't live in London and will be unable to move there for it :thumbsup:


I was wondering if anyone here had done the BA Dance Education course? I know that it focuses more widely on dance, as opposed to ballet. Unfortunately my passion lies more with ballet than dance in a wider sense but it sounds interesting.


I was also wondering what you did (work-wise) whilst studying for the CBTS qualification? I would be working (either part- or full-time) and possibly studying for my master's degree at the same time (which I think would be a bit much...don't you?). Nevertheless, I would have to work at the same time as studying for the CBTS - how much time do you think I would need to spend on the CBTS work on a daily basis? I know that I would have to do at least 30 hours of observing ballet classes in the first year.

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For your CBTS you're probably looking at around 10 hours of study per week as a guide. You could probably pass it with less and do better with more but I would say that's an average weekly guide. Working full time would probably be doable but not in addition to your masters. Part time work with both studies would probably be OK as long as you didn't want to have much of a social life!!

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Thanks for your answer CDR, that gives me an idea of time needs for studying. Would you mind popping back to page one and having a look at some of the questions from my last two posts please? (the ones regarding finances, having children and the advantages and disadvantages of the RAD syllabus). I'd really appreciate input.

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Finances - firstly the CBTS is probably one of the more expensive teacher training programmes you can do. I don't know what it costs I'm afraid but you're looking at a few thousand probably including all the syllabus materials, reference books etc. You can pay in instalments though I believe.


As for living off your earnings. You probably could but only if you weren't bothered about having a big house or a nice car (a small house in a 'not too great' area with an old car would quite possibly be your limit if you tried to survive on your income alone). When I set up my school I worked full time in an office for several years to support myself as teaching alone wasn't secure or financially rewarding enough. After I had my daughter I worked on expanding my school but even at it's best I wasn't earning as much as, say a school teacher. Probably just the equivalent of a basic call centre or admin job. Now with the recession it's particularly tough, fortunately my husband has a good job which pays for the essentials (mortgage, car, food etc) and my wage is meant for luxuries (holidays, gym membership, my horse, my daughter's hobbies etc) but it's not covering all that at the moment so we're cutting costs and using some of our savings as well as trying to pull the business back up to where it should be (difficult when everybody is broke at the moment!)


Starting my business wasn't too tricky, I started small and built up over the years which was fine as I also worked full time elsewhere. However I don't have my own premises, I rent studios in a school by the hour and although they are nice rooms there are always problems (floor not dry because cleaners just washed them, floors being dirty, being booted out because of another event seen to be more important, air conditioning/heating not being on or rooms being locked and being unable to find the caretaker, can't use the building until 5:30pm on weeknights, complaints from the school about children changing in public areas etc etc). I have been looking for my own premises since I started 13 years ago and although I've come fairly close to managing it a couple of times it always falls through because I simply can't afford it. Rent itself wouldn't be too bad but by the time you add VAT, council rates and cost of flooring/barres/mirrors/equipment/furniture etc it just becomes impossible. I continue with my search....one day I'll get there!


Can't really comment on the advantages of RAD as I don't have much experience with other syllabi/styles. There is the advantage that it's pretty much recognised internationally and I believe it has a good steady build-up through the grades covering most necessary steps.


Being a mother and teaching can be tricky but it can also be good. When my daughter was very young (pre-school) I was always able to look after my daughter during the day and I would teach in the evening and on a Saturday when my husband was home so we saved on childcare costs (though I didn't see much of my husband). But then when she started school it occurred to me that I would barely see her if I carried on like that! So I cut down to 2 nights a week and a Saturday which was fine. Due to financial difficulties I've had to increase that to 3 nights a week, Saturdays and occasional Sundays too but it's not too bad. I employ other people to teach in the 2nd studio and on the nights I don't work. I'm off in the school holidays except for a summer school which is only 1 week and my daughter attends that anyway. If you had your own premises though you would probably find that you needed to work through most of the school holidays to keep up your income, I don't pay for the rooms when I don't use them so it's not an issue for me.


If you're thinking about teaching for anything other than the love of it and a only small income then don't bother!! There are far more less stressful jobs with better hours and better pay out there. I do however love my job and wouldn't change it for the world (most of the time!)

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Thank you for sharing your experiences.


As for the fees for the CBTS - in my country it's basically the equivalent of two years of undergraduate study at university, so it's what I'm paying now, and yes, it's possible to pay it in 4 installments here.


My decision to teach would be for a love of ballet and teaching, but I also feel that I need to understand what having this job would mean financially. Fortunately, like you, my husband has a good job.


I have still not discussed this with my teachers at my ballet studio and it is becoming more and more probable that I will be unable to take my Intermediate exam this year (for numerous reasons, most especially lack of class time). I am considering other careers, but ironically all of the careers I'm considering include teaching at some level and a small income!

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I know that you can't answer this for me, because you can't see me dance, but I was wondering: How do you know if you have the technical ability to be a teacher?

And: How did you decide that teaching ballet was the right career for you?


I've been looking at some of the women doing the CBTS at the moment, and their technique is so much better than mine. I know I need to discuss my own technique with my teacher (and it's still at least 18 months until I would start the CBTS programme), but the fact that I will most likely only have my Intermediate when I start the programme (and not Advanced Foundation upwards like these women) is a concern for me.

Is there anyone on this board who started the CBTS programme with only an Intermediate? How did you catch up the necessary technique to teach majors, whilst working etc?

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Lau, do you work towards the RAD grades as well or do you "only" take the Intermediate vocational class? It might be a good idea to start taking the grades to improve your technique and also learn the character dances.

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I had only achieved Intermediate when I did the teaching certificate as it was then - it was enough to get me through the course and I also mentored another teacher when she did the CBTS, she had only just passed Intermediate when she started the course. I later went on to do Advanced 1 (about 10 years later actually!) as I had students approaching that level and felt I need the knowledge and technique to teach it properly.


As for knowing teaching ballet was right for me - I didn't! I was a bit lost when I started teaching, didn't know what I wanted to do. I wasn't even dancing at the time but my old ballet teacher rang me because another teacher was going off to have a baby and she needed cover. I had assisted with the little ones in the past but never taught. So I started teaching, loved it, enrolled on the teaching certificate and the rest is history.


Perhaps you could volunteer to help out in some of the younger students' classes to give you more of an insight.

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Dance Scholar - I did all of the grades, character and medal dances, albeit in a slightly different syllabus (Dance Academy of South Africa or DASA), but covering pretty much the same things as the RAD does and covering a lot of the same character as the RAD, when I was younger (age 5 - 12). I did my first RAD exam - Grade 5 - in 1999, and then the DASA Grade 5 in 2008 (took a break from ballet training from 2000-2007 to pursue more intense studies in music and because I went to boarding school). Since September 2008, I've been doing the Intermediate Foundation level (it's a long story why I was in that level so long, but suffice it to say it was not technique deficiency on my part) and my teacher said that if I were to do the exam, she thinks I would do very well in that. I've been partially working on the Intermediate syllabus (once a week mostly) since September 2009. If you want the long saga of my class woes, take a look at my Frustrated and Discouraged thread on the Adults' Buddy Board.


So the short answer is: no, I'm not doing graded classes, but I have done them in the past. Also, my concern with technique is largely to do with the higher level work. E.g. I really need to work on pirouettes (well, spotting and not throwing my weight back in them, also pose pirouettes from the left) and batterie, plus strength and grace for adage work. Your idea to start learning the RAD grades is a good one, though, in terms of getting started on learning for the CBTS.



CDR - assisting with the little ones may be a very good idea. There's a bit of competition to help in those classes at my studio this year, though, because there are 3 teaching candidates being mentored by my teachers! I have just "come into" some free time for an hour or two on an afternoon with predominantly children's classes though, so I may ask my teachers if I may watch those classes.


I'm glad that I'm not the only one uncertain of teaching at the start of this all, but my husband and I ARE reluctant to pay the large fees for the CBTS programme if this isn't something I'm going to pursue (whereas if I were to continue on my current career path I would most likely be able to get merit scholarships and bursaries for my remaining years of study).




Did anyone face any trouble from parents or family regarding your career choice?

My fear is that my parents and sometimes even my husband see ballet teaching as being insufficient "intellectual stimulation" for me and a "waste of your potential". But ballet is one of my main passions, and has been since I begged my mum to start pre-ballet classes when I was 3. Even now, at 23, I spend so much time thinking about ballet, ballet technique, ballets etc (often at the detriment of my university studies...) and I would take ballet classes 6 days a week if I could. I have such a desire to improve as a dancer, but also to try to instill a love of dancing in others and to help children to experience the wonder and enjoyment of ballet as I did when I was little.

However, ballet is not my only passion, history (what I'm studying) is too, but ballet is certainly my dearest passion.

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At least you know where your shortfalls with regards to technique are - that's half of the battle! When you're teaching, you often don't need to demonstrate, especially at the higher levels. It's good if you can if needed but as long as you know how to TEACH an exercise you don't really need to be able to actually DO the exercise yourself! I taught while I was pregnant and obviously couldn't demonstrate properly then - I had an assistant with the younger ones but didn't need it with the older students - you can explain things and place them physically and they will understand (usually!).


Like I said, I went on to do my Advanced 1 exam later on as my students were starting to reach that level so I felt I wanted to do it. That could well be an option for you too. Your technique will come on very well through teaching and doing your training, learning how to break things down properly etc. Having passed my Intermediate at 17 (I was a late starter to ballet, almost 15) I then stopped dancing shortly afterwards. A couple of years later I started teaching, learned a lot through that and then several years later I had private lessons for just 5 months (1 hour per week) in order to prepare for my Advanced 1 exam for which I achieved a Merit - my technical knowledge from teaching the lower levels obviously helped enormously.


As for it being insufficient intellectual stimulation - well perhaps you could one day open your own school, then you've got the whole business side to deal with and it's plenty of stimulation (accounts, wages, tax, advertising, licenses etc etc). A lot of people think dance teachers do it because they can't do anything else - NOT SO! I got GCSEs, A levels, an HND in Business and Finance, was practically fluent in French etc, while I was building up my school I worked my way up through a couple of companies and was manager of a department at one point, head of a call centre at another. I don't miss it one bit!! I'm happy running my school and deal with day to day challenges with that.

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CDR, thank you SO much for your continued help and encouragement. I appreciate it more than I can say.


I'm glad that knowing the problems in one's technique is half the battle. Obviously I have more technique problems, unique to specific movements, which I didn't mention above, but I try hard to be aware of them and improve on them. At least, owing to my unfortunate habit of sickling my foot in retire and en l'air (devant mostly), I'll be able to demonstrate the wrong way and then the right way to do it! :blushing: (and commiserate with others who have hyperextended knees!).


I think a lot about how to teach movements (as I said, I'm a bit obsessed with ballet :huh: ) and in the books on ballet that I already have, I always make note of pictures that could be helpful in explaining how movements should be done. It's also been immensely helpful being in classes with some of the teaching candidates and listening to my teachers' comments to them about certain teaching things. In my own classes, I've actually been told to be quiet at times because I know the syllabi and terminology too well (although my spelling leaves much to be desired...and my computer will NOT let me use accents on the e's, which is very frustrating for a former French-student!), which means the other girls sometimes look to me to show them what to do, or answer terminology questions. One of my teachers even teased me about "spending each evening learning the syllabus book" (which isn't true by the way :thumbsup: ).


As for the intellectual stimulation, I'm not business-minded at ALL, which is concerning for me considering it's my dream to open my own school. Fortunately my husband and his friends are all in the business world or accountants, which will be very helpful in that case (especially for taxes - eek!), but I don't mind the advertising :) It's actually because so many of our group of friends are in the business/financial/commerce world that they don't understand ANY of my career choices. My parents are both in the science field, which is also why they can't understand my wanting to be a ballet teacher. But ballet teaching does not stop me from reading voraciously (if I have the energy, lol) and studying things like anatomy and keeping abreast of new ideas about ballet technique and teaching is definitely intellectually stimulating.


Thank you for your continued thoughts and for sharing your experiences with me.

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You're welcome Lau.


By the way, I used to sickle quite badly when I started dance, I was able to correct it enough for my intermediate exam although it crept back at times. I only overcame it completely through teaching.


It sounds as though you might enjoy learning Benesh or Labanotation!

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From the Benesh I've seen in the syllabus books, it looks really interesting.


I was wondering: Would it be worth my while to work through the Grade 6/7/8 (or at least one of them) syllabi, just to get back into the character mode, and because of the emphasis on dance quality in those grades? This is obviously contingent on being able to find a studio that teaches those grades (most around here stop at grade 5 and move onto vocational grades), and on sorting out my existing lack-of-Intermediate-classes issue.


Why is sickling such a hard habit to break? My slight sickling on the left foot en pointe, and occasionally on the right, has been easy-ish to work on because of the exercises I've been doing with therabands. But the sickling en l'air is especially hard to break for me, and especially bad in the right foot in retire :(


Another question for teachers out there :) :


- Did you build your own studio when you started your own school (if that's the case) or did you find a studio for hire etc?

In SA, it's common to have a studio built on your residential property and so many people are in the position of needing to build one or buy/rent a house with a studio. The reason I ask this is: how do you manage the expense of that? :thumbsup: My husband's aunt has attached to their house which needs the floor re-done, and the cost they've been quoted for that alone is prohibitive.

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Lau - I have sent you a private message.

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Some of your specific questions are answered throughout here, especially on the teachers board. You'll see some teachers have their private studios, but many teach for an already-established studio (which helps in terms of space!).

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