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 RAD 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 a new programme in February 2024 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’ Graduate Teaching Diploma is designed for professional dancers wishing to prepare for a new career in teaching and gain an internationally renowned RAD teaching qualification.  The programme is delivered by distance learning over 10 months (February-November) with an online induction, followed by a period of distance learning. You will attend a two-week onsite Intensive Study Period (in the programme’s location) and a mentored teaching placement in a dance school/teaching context of your choice, which can all studied around your rehearsal, performance and other work 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 for a lifelong career in dance teaching.

Joshua Tuifua, former dancer with The Royal Ballet and RAD 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!”