60 Seconds with…Guy Orden, Lecturer in Dance Education

What are your main duties as Lecturer in Dance Education?

My duties are varied as I lecture across a full range of programmes of study offered at the Faculty of Education. In terms of face-to-face teaching, I predominantly contribute to the Ballet Education undergraduate programme, delivering ballet technique classes and repertoire across Levels 4, 5 and 6. I particularly enjoy choosing, learning and teaching repertoire.

Your role is also central to supporting our Ballet Education students with their technique classes. How do your classes in ballet support their development as a dancer and teacher?

As we are teaching at Higher Education level, I think it is important to encourage our students to be resilient and independent so that they will be able to move in to their professional lives confidently. With this in mind, I try to get the students to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses so that they are able to recognise for themselves what they should be working towards. In terms of my delivery, I work hard to create an environment where students feel they can make mistakes; it’s important to have high expectations, but also be approachable and willing to listen.

Your education and training includes the Royal Ballet School and Elmhurst Ballet School, and you have performed with Birmingham Royal Ballet, Vanemuine Teater Ballet (Estonia), and English National Ballet. How do your experiences help to inspire the Faculty of Education’s students?

My professional experiences have shaped my approach to teaching in terms of work ethic and expectations. I suppose that my experiences of performing have also helped me to be empathetic when it comes to dealing with performance pressure and how to approach this. This is particularly important when working with the students on solo repertoire and preparing to perform on their own in front of an audience. I would also say that I try to demonstrate and perform with attention to detail to help motivate and encourage our students.

You also have an invested interested in working with PGCE: Dance Teaching trainees. What drew you to mentor post-graduate trainees?

After dancing professionally I completed a PGCE and taught in the state sector for a few years. This means that I am able to draw upon those experiences of teaching in schools when working with our post-graduate trainees. Having undertaken a PGCE myself, I am aware of the intensity of that qualification and that helps me to support our trainees to succeed. I enjoy carrying out the observations of their practice in school – it makes you
reflect on your own practice which is always useful. It’s also rewarding to see how the trainees progress over the year and see them successfully graduating into their first teaching posts.

You also programme manage the Diploma in Dance Teaching Studies (DDTS). What top tips would you give to those interested in further education and training through DDTS?

In order to get the most out of their studies on the programme, my biggest tip would be to do with time management and organisation. As the DDTS programme is delivered in a part time mode, it is important that students consider how they will organize their personal life and work commitments alongside their studies; this also includes how the students plan to use their time in terms of completing formative tasks to develop their work.