From stage to studio – why learn to teach?

It is often the assumption that the accomplished skill sets of a professional dancer are identical to those of an accomplished, professional teacher. Dancers possess many valuable, transferable skills, but it is through specific education and training that these skills can be adapted and developed to become an accomplished, professional teacher.

Without question, dancers have substantial subject knowledge, that subject being dance as a performance art. Yet, in order to teach dance as a performance art, a good deal of knowledge and understanding of the ‘what’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ of dance teaching is also required. Simply knowing how to perform the steps does not guarantee effective passing on of the techniques and learning required of students, all of whom will have different ways in which they learn and different ways in which they perform.

As a teacher at Dance Center Kenya, Cooper Rust, former dancer with Nevada Ballet Theatre, State Street Ballet, Columbia City Ballet and graduate of the Professional Dancers’ Postgraduate Teaching Certificate agrees; “Just because you can do 32 fouettés yourself doesn’t mean you know how to teach someone else how that works! Through discovering how we learn, we discover how to teach.”

Photo by Tim Cross

Just as dance as a performance art constantly evolves, so have you as a professional dancer. During your professional career, you will take many steps to ensure you reach your full potential; pursuing the best teachers, advice, companies, repertoire, and roles. Transitioning into dance teaching follows the same approach. You will seek the training, education, information, opportunities and guidance required to become the best dance teacher you possibly can.

A professional dancer who has both subject and teaching knowledge will have the foundations to inspire their students as well as provide a solid dance education and training. A dance teaching qualification is more than a piece of paper – it is evidence of the knowledge, understanding and skills required of dance teachers, and demonstrates a commitment and professional approach to the next chapter in your career. In short, it shows you mean business!

The RAD offers two programmes aimed at professional dancers who are looking to make the transition from the stage to teaching.

PDTD students in studio

Photo by Tim Cross

The Professional Dancers’ Teaching Diploma is a unique and intensive programme that is designed to build on your significant experience as a professional dancer. Through a range of practical and theory-based lectures, seminars and workshops, you will be introduced to current learning and teaching theories and strategies as applied to different dance teaching environments. Offered in two locations (London or Beijing), you will also be provided with opportunities to work with a range of dance pupils as well as undertaking observational visits to a range of dance teaching contexts. While ballet is at the core of the programme, upon graduation you will be equipped with the knowledge to teach in a vast array of settings, thanks to the programme’s focus on studio-based skills and in-depth study of dance as education and training.

The Professional Dancers’ Postgraduate Teaching Certificate is designed for professional dancers wishing to prepare for a new career in teaching, or for dancers who are already teaching but wish to gain an internationally renowned RAD teaching qualification. You will critically reflect on your career transition and develop the knowledge, understanding and skills to teach dance safely and effectively, including adhering to professional standards and norms. Combining distance learning and an onsite Intensive Study Period either in Berlin or Sydney, the delivery of this programme accommodates your rehearsal, performance and work schedules or teaching commitments. You will be part of a study environment in which you can develop a range of intellectual, professional and transferable skills relevant to dance teaching. Upon graduation, you will have a secure platform to move forward with a successful dance-teaching career.

Joshua Tuifua, former dancer with The Royal Ballet and Professional Dancers’ Teaching Diploma graduate comments: “When training to become a dance teacher, I learned that I had quite a few transferable skills, and that public speaking wasn’t as scary as I had always thought! The things I enjoyed the most were working alongside and learning with other former professional dancers. It was wonderful to share experiences, learn from each other and create the family bond that we all had in companies!”

Written by Justine Berry, Professional Dancers’ Teaching Diploma Programme Manager and Faye Harrison, Education Marketing Manager