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Ballet Talk for Dancers
Rich Beatt

In Physio with dreams

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Chasse Away

Rich Beatt,

While I know your dreams are well intended, I must caution you that to be a GOOD and SAFE dance teacher requires decades (at least 2 decades in my oppinion) of high quality dance training and professional performance experience AND a teaching dance degree. Even the basics are built to lead up to the non-basics, and teachers need a strong understanding of both to developed strong and correct dancers. For example, the barre is your partener, how are you supposed to teach a barre if you don’t have years of experience dancing with another person? 

 

I only caution you because I have taken SO MANY classes with teachers who are under qualified and teach things incorrectly. They have no understanding of how the steps relate to each other or progress. It has caused me to develop bad habits. Even classes that I have just taken for 8 weeks (with these underqualified teachers) have caused issues with my body and dancing

 

I know where you are coming from, you LOVE dance so of course you want to teach it? But it is not fair to your students who need much more then you will be able to offer after an intermediate level certification, even beginner adults. Out of respect for this art form, leave the teaching to the qualified professionals! You can always choreograph for an amateur dance group! 

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Redbookish

Completely agree, Chasse Away.  I have taken some classes from teachers who have the RAD or whatever syllabus qualifications, but not much else, and - as an adult - I prefer not to. I can tell the difference.

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Rich Beatt

I think you are misunderstanding my intention. I wouldn’t just be getting a specific syllabus certificate and then start teaching. My intention is to take 2 year certificate in ballet teaching at one of the RAD teaching centers, in order to do that I need my intermediate level. Someone else on this thread asked why I wanted to bother to get my intermediate. This is why I want to obtain intermediate level.

This will take me a total of 6-ish years. Added to the previous 4 or 5 years of dance, that’s a decade. I disagree that this isn’t enough of a study required to be a strong and safe teacher. Otherwise, why would RAD have this as a teaching stream in their education?

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Chasse Away

Dance isn't Yoga, I don't believe you can study it casually for a few years and then turn around and start teaching it. And, with all due resect, the fact that you think you can teach it with so little background exemplifies how much you have to learn about ballet. I'll admit I don't know your personal dance history, or your knowledge, but I have a hunch that your 4 years of dancing as a child isn't as relevant as you think it is. In my country, RAD is notorious for qualify under qualified teachers whose lack of knowledge detrimentally damages their students. 

Think of how many degrees of freedom their are in a human body, are you certain you can understand the correct placement for all of these pieces NOT ONLY in your own body, but in other dancers bodies who are built different then yours. Furthermore, to understand the development of an adult beginner dancer and grasp what is safe to fix/correct, what order to correct placement in, and what their ability is a very complicated task. And this is just a stationary position, their are infinite ways to move all the vectors through space, and only a few of them are safe and aesthetic enough to be considered 'correct' in ballet. How can you teach releves and foundues if you don't have years of experience en pointe (or partnering someone en pointe)? How can you teach a battement jete if you have not mastered a grande jete? How can you teach piroettes at the barre if you have never done Pas de Deux? How can you teach port de bras if you don't have a complete understanding of the complex history of ballet and the aesthetics behind it? Don't even get me started on a full understanding of classical music and choosing appropriate music for class, or structuring class so that every single muscle gets warmed and worked at the barre (because I have had so many classes that miss minor muscle groups its amazing I haven't got injured in one). 

 

Do you think you have correct technique 100% of the time? Sometimes I sickle my feet and I wouldn't want to teach adult beginner because they might copy sickled feet by accident. 

 

In ballet, you need to have a complete understanding of the full art before you can go back and teach basics, it is too interconnected for this fact to be comprimised. I think that most will agree with me on this. 

 

Look, I am sorry if this sounds harsh but I have had way too many classes taught by under qualified teachers to not step in and say my 2 cents here. But I recognize that, yes, this may be just my 2 cents, and I can't stop you from living your life. But there are students out there who don't realize the difference between good technique and bad technique, and pay a lot of money for teachers to RUIN them, and I am trying to stand up for those dancers. I BEG YOU to just think about this, even just for a week, and look for other AMAZING opportunities to give back to the dance community. They are out there, I promise. 

 

Edit: As to why RAD has this teaching stream? I assume it is to make money of off unsuspecting passionate dancers who couldn't have the career they wanted as a dancer. I don't think they should offer such a stream, there is no way the applicants are equipped well enough to teach. 

 

As a final thought, you do not need a CAREER in dance to be fulfilled in dance, or to prove your dedication, passion, or ability. 

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Rich Beatt

I will go through my training and consult with RAD upon applying. I have no idea where you live and what privilege that location affords to you in way of choice of studios or instructors. Do you honestly think small town communities have such elite ballet instructors as you are describing here? They do not. Not everyone will want elite ballet training (and I would be sure to advertise my qualifications accordingly). And those who do, they do their homework.  I mean no disrespect but not having access to dance due to elitism is just plain sad. 

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Chasse Away

I do not believe everyone deserves (or needs or wants) elite ballet training, but I believe everyone deserves a safe and technically correct ballet training, which still requires an extensive dance background, likely a professional dance career, and a dance teaching degree. I am a strong supporter of ballet as a hobby for all walks of life, but I am also a strong supporter of dancers health and safety. Is an under qualified and unsafe dance teacher better then none? I can't answer that, and if that's where we disagree then so be it.  But I do know that I would never want to take responsibility for a dancers training, health, and well-being knowing that I cannot give them everything they need to be safe and strong dancers. But to each their own. Good luck with your studies. And I do hope you put more thought into this. 

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Rich Beatt

I appreciate your words and your concerns. I don’t think there is any realistic or dramatic reason why someone who has certified through any required prerequisites, has the skill, has applied/auditioned to do teacher training and been accepted, couldn’t after all that be qualified and safe. Again, I am not looking to train dancers that are later auditioning for the Bolshoi. Surgeons are considered qualified far sooner than what you are suggesting it takes to even CONSIDER wanting to teach. If teachers had to be deemed qualified by your standards there would only be ballet taught in major metropolitan areas to elite students.

At my studio there is one instructor who has her RAD teaching diploma (an additional 2 years after getting teaching certificate) plus extensive performance history. She is wonderful and I plan to take private lessons from her. She is not my ballet instructor. Mine has only her Adv 1 and has recently completed her teacher mentorship. I can see the difference between the two, yes. But they are deemed qualified and safe, as well, has many, many satisfied students.  My hopes for qualification would lie somewhere in between these two and I am certain it would be considered a respectable qualification.

 

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Miss Persistent
On 2/25/2019 at 7:34 AM, Chasse Away said:

 

Edit: As to why RAD has this teaching stream? I assume it is to make money of off unsuspecting passionate dancers who couldn't have the career they wanted as a dancer. I don't think they should offer such a stream, there is no way the applicants are equipped well enough to teach. 

 

Chasse Away - you are absolutely entitled to share your personal experiences in ballet and RAD, however I feel this is overstepping the line as it is assumption and speculation.  The RAD is a worldwide organization with an Education department which offers University level qualifications including Bachelors and Masters degrees in dancing and teaching.  They also offer other levels of teacher training above and below this - all of which are accredited on the UK Education framework and similar systems in other countries around the world. 

I'm sure we can all agree that ANY education system, ballet or not will at some point have graduates who struggle through and get qualified, perhaps at standards we do not agree with.  This problem is not unique to the RAD and happens at many organizations.  To make sweeping generalizations that RAD teachers in your country are under qualified and essentially bad teachers is I feel, unfair.

I do believe there are levels of teachers and teaching ability.  For example, someone who wished to specialize in teaching ages 4-9 may be able to carefully study and train and get qualified to teach at this level.  Should they try and enter candidates for Prix de Lausanne? Probably not - but can they learn to give a fantastic dance education to a young child which will broaden their horizons and enrich their life? I would say most likely.  They will likely never teach pointe work and pas de deux so does it matter that they have limited experience with it? I would say not.  Not all teachers are the same, the same way not all students are the same.

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Chasse Away
13 minutes ago, Miss Persistent said:

For example, someone who wished to specialize in teaching ages 4-9 may be able to carefully study and train and get qualified to teach at this level. 

I completely agree, but teaching ballet to 4-9 year olds is essentially free movement and rhythm and not at all comparable to teaching beginner ballet, where dancers need to learn correct posture and placement as to not injure themselves. 

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They will likely never teach pointe work and pas de deux so does it matter that they have limited experience with it? I would say not.  Not all teachers are the same, the same way not all students are the same.

I don't know about this? All of flat work is preparation for pointe work, so if you don't understand weight placement en pointe you cannot teach weight placement on flat. As one small sample of anecdotal evidence every single under qualified teacher insists on only doing fondues flat, which as every qualified teacher I have ever had points out, is completely counter productive for pointe work and does not prepare the body safely for dancing en pointe. As a second piece of anecdotal evidence I have had multiple under qualified teachers try to teach a class in 1 hour or less, leave out essential barre exercises like RDJs, Petite Battement, and Grand Battement, only to try to finish the class with a Grande Allegro that of course no one was warmed up enough to do safely, whereas in my experience people with adequate qualifications know that incomplete classes are dangerous to dancers. 

 

Miss Persistent I know you and I seem to have very different experiences with RAD, and I will gladly agree that the RAD does have many great training programs and probably produces a lot of great teachers, even if I haven't had the opportunity to experience them myself (though I am seeking the opportunity to try more RAD in the summer, mainly out of necessity, but hey who knows maybe I'll find a good teacher too). However, I definitely don't think anyone with just an intermediate exam under their belt and a 2 year teachers course will have anywhere near the knowledge to teach a safe and correct beginner adult class, children of course, but not adults, and so I do question the legitimacy of this program.

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Miss Persistent
1 hour ago, Chasse Away said:

I completely agree, but teaching ballet to 4-9 year olds is essentially free movement and rhythm and not at all comparable to teaching beginner ballet, where dancers need to learn correct posture and placement as to not injure themselves. 

I don't know about this? All of flat work is preparation for pointe work, so if you don't understand weight placement en pointe you cannot teach weight placement on flat. As one small sample of anecdotal evidence every single under qualified teacher insists on only doing fondues flat, which as every qualified teacher I have ever had points out, is completely counter productive for pointe work and does not prepare the body safely for dancing en pointe. As a second piece of anecdotal evidence I have had multiple under qualified teachers try to teach a class in 1 hour or less, leave out essential barre exercises like RDJs, Petite Battement, and Grand Battement, only to try to finish the class with a Grande Allegro that of course no one was warmed up enough to do safely, whereas in my experience people with adequate qualifications know that incomplete classes are dangerous to dancers. 

 However, I definitely don't think anyone with just an intermediate exam under their belt and a 2 year teachers course will have anywhere near the knowledge to teach a safe and correct beginner adult class, children of course, but not adults, and so I do question the legitimacy of this program.

I do not believe at age 9 children are learning rhythm and free movement.  My 9 year olds, and I'm sure many of my teacher colleagues are learning correct posture from ages much earlier than that, and by 9 I am expecting students to be able to complete basic ballet movements like plies, tendus, glisses, simple ronds de jambes, basic ports de bras and simple allegro steps.  When I teach beginner adults it is exactly the same process.  One must start at the beginning and learn correctly, and as such my beginner adults learn correct posture and turnout, basic steps and co-ordination, then progressions etc etc etc.  We are not talking about sending students to full-time training at a Vocational Institute at age 10 or 11 to be groomed for a professional career - we are talking about children or adults learning the fundamentals of ballet. 

I'm sorry but I disagree with you about weight placement.  Weight placement is weight placement whether it is on flat, en fondus, en pointe, on two legs, on one leg, on your head - the fundamentals of gravity and weight placement do not suddenly change depending on the circumstances. 

I agree that any teacher in any method trying to teach a full class in under an hour is unlikely to give a safe and adequate class.  Under qualification in our industry is a problem, however I believe this topic of this discussion has been about how to gain adequate experience and qualification to teach dance, not hanging out your shingle and going for broke. 

And again, unless you have personal experience with an RAD teaching course or qualification I would ask you reserve public judgement - the same way our moderators restrict postings on SI's to personal experiences and not second hand information and hearsay.  I certainly do not go around saying this University or that teaching program is good or no good if I do not have personal experience with it.  You don't know what you don't know sometimes.

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Chasse Away

I think we are getting off track here.

 

Just to clarify, my point is that an RAD intermediate level training with a 2 year teachers program is no where near enough background to teach a safe and correct to any dancer (of any level) over the age of 6. I do not believe the RAD (or any organization) should be offering a teachers program to dancers who are at a skill level/knowledge base comparable to the RAD intermediate level under the expectation that they will be able to teach ballet after their two year course. I don't think this is an outrageous or elite claim and if that is where we disagree then that's just fine.

 

I personally have dealt with the physical damage that under qualified teachers and their classes can inflict upon a dancer and I think someone needs to stand up for the new dancers who will not be able to tell harm from good. 

 

I repeat that I am not claiming that the RAD does not have great programs or has not produced good teachers, but this program that they are offering seems highly unethical and dangerous based on their admission requirements.

 

I believe a ballet teacher can do as much damage to the body as a malpracticing surgeon and that the requirements to teach ballet (at any level) should be just as strict.  

 

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Redbookish

This is a very interesting discussion. And an important one, for both Adult students of ballet, and those who aspire to use their love of ballet in some way. I agree with ChasseAway that it's natural to want to teach it when she says:

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I know where you are coming from, you LOVE dance so of course you want to teach it

I also think RichBeatt makes an interesting point about people's access to the kind of teaching that ChasseAway (and I agree) says is optimal for adult beginners. I realise how lucky I am, in a small country city in the UK, to have a teacher who is an ex-professional with a Masters level qualification in Dance Science, and a secondary teacher who is ex-Royal Ballet and while not officially qualified as a teacher in terms of paper, is an amazingly knowledgeable teacher because of her training (RBS) and working life. But my first lessons in ballet from the age of 11 to 15, were taught very badly, by a teacher who had gone through the whole RAD system to Solo Seal, but had no professional dancing career and no specific teacher training. I had certain basic physical attributes & talents that meant I did OK in exams, but the teaching of technique was sub-standard.

I hope, RichBeatt, that you will take note of the experience of adults who can make quite clear judgements of the quality of teaching (I really know the difference between a professional and an enthusiast) into your ambitions for training. It sounds as though you yourself have experienced the frustrations of under-qualified teachers, and I hope this drives your determination to become the most knowledgeable teacher you can be.

I studied both RAD and Cecchetti syllabi back in the day - before the RAD extended out their grades and Vocational qualifications - so my experience of Intermediate was (I think) what is now Advanced 1). I also studied the absolutely beautiful Cechhetti Advanced syllabus as a 35 year old. Gorgeous to dance, although I was never of the standard to take the exam. 

So I hope, RichBeatt, that you go much further than Intermediate, and you look at your teaching ambitions in a holistic way - not just about paper qualifications. I'm with ChasseAway there: I've seen quite mediocre dancers whom I would never take a class from, achieve Intermediate. I hope you'll seek out different teachers and different techniques - take lots of open classes, expose yourself to different styles and ways of doing things. All are about learning bodily mechanics and safe ways of teaching & learning. The RAD is simply one way - progressive work as a guide to the logical and safe learning of the ballet repertoire of steps & technique. It's not the only way, and many successful teachers & studios don't use any set syllabus - mine doesn't, and my teacher sets exercises in each class even for beginners (although she tends to do the same combinations for 3 to 4 weeks to help beginners get the patterns and steps). 

I hope that adults' experiences of teaching as related on this messageboard will help you in learning and training - have a good read of our discussions going waaaaaay back. I joined in 2005, and can remember some great discussions of teaching styles for adults.

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Redbookish

A summary of my meanderings:

I think that the discussion here, from all points of view, is a recognition of the complexity of training for good teaching. As Miss Persistent says, the RAD has a carefully graded and assessed pathway to qualifications for dancers, as dancers and teachers. All of us have direct experience of both good and bad teaching, and we all have enough knowledge to tell the difference! And good teaching is not just a matter of paper qualifications reflecting certain levels of one syllabus, although these qualifications are not negligible or an indication of sub-standard teaching either.

We should perhaps concentrate on the complex & multi-faceted knowledge and experience which goes into becoming a good teacher. Good luck with your journey, RichBeatt!

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Miss Persistent
On 2/26/2019 at 8:11 PM, Redbookish said:

 All of us have direct experience of both good and bad teaching, and we all have enough knowledge to tell the difference! And good teaching is not just a matter of paper qualifications reflecting certain levels of one syllabus, although these qualifications are not negligible or an indication of sub-standard teaching either.

We should perhaps concentrate on the complex & multi-faceted knowledge and experience which goes into becoming a good teacher.

I completely agree with this and thank you for putting it so succinctly Redbookish.  I would also add that good training and/or being a good dancer in and of itself does not make a good teacher either.  I know some amazing dancers from top companies who are horrendous teachers because they don't understand how to communicate their knowledge to students, and don't understand pedagogy.  It takes many, many, elements to make a good teacher.

I agree there are many syllabus based organizations which provide good teacher training, however so does mentoring and experience in non-syllabus based methods - so I agree RichReatt you should be exposing yourself to as much good ballet knowledge as possible in as many different ways as possible (classes, reading, research, DVD's of teachers like David Howard, Finis Jhung and other great teachers).  What any teaching program should do, no matter the method, is teach someone how to teach!  Not teach them ballet, but teach them methodologies, strategies, pitfalls, pedagogy, class dynamics, observations skills etc etc.

And as a sneaky side note, and article came across my inbox today that the RAD has been judged as an 'outstanding provider' of initial teacher education by Ofsted, the UK Government's Office for Standards in Education.  The article is available here for those who are interested.  (This does not mean there are not other outstanding ways to become a teacher!)

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Rich Beatt
12 minutes ago, Miss Persistent said:

I agree there are many syllabus based organizations which provide good teacher training, however so does mentoring and experience in non-syllabus based methods - so I agree RichReatt you should be exposing yourself to as much good ballet knowledge as possible in as many different ways as possible (classes, reading, research, DVD's of teachers like David Howard, Finis Jhung and other great teachers).  What any teaching program should do, no matter the method, is teach someone how to teach!  Not teach them ballet, but teach them methodologies, strategies, pitfalls, pedagogy, class dynamics, observations skills etc etc.

 

I do my best! I do a lot of reading and research on line, and am always on the lookout for resources. Thanks for the few you listed here. I will check them out. 

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