“I don't want people who want to dance, I want people who have to dance.” George Balanchine
With its pointe positions, immaculate costumes and seemingly effortless movements, ballet is a joy to watch. Considered the essence of Western dance, ballet embodies dance at its highest form. Ballerinas will testify of the gruelling training and the live, eat, sleep ballet lifestyle, but the sheer satisfaction of acquiring such grace is unequalled.
Many classical dancers begin very young and spend a good amount of their childhood and teenage years training to acquire the proper technique. In recent decades, popular culture has helped democratise this once privileged dance style. Today ballet has never had as many fans. Whether at a professional level or for leisure, it has grown into a sought-after hobby that offers endless job opportunities in teaching.
A dance teacher’s income can vary anywhere between £22,000 and £24,000 per year at starting level while a seasoned dance teacher with years of experience can earn up to £50,000. Of course, working hours vary greatly according to the type of ballet training you wish to impart, it can range from a few classes a week at a local creative arts centre to full-time work with students wishing to forge a career path.
So what type of dance training does one need to acquire to become a ballet instructor? The rigorous nature of this codified dance style means intensive rehearsing and accurate technique. Have you been looking for the right path to share your passion? Now’s the time to explore the different ways you can become a ballet teacher.
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Formal Training in Dance Education
The level of schooling required will vary according to the type of institution for which you wish to work. One Dance provides good guidance on which path to follow to become a ballet instructor and choosing where to teach. For example, it is useful to note that to teach at a state school a qualified teacher status (QST) will be required. Some schools might just ask for relevant education in dance while others may even require a postgraduate degree or highly recognised professional performance experience.
If you are at the beginning of your higher education and considering your next move now’s the time to apply for a bachelor’s degree in dance education.
The best dance schools in the UK can be found all over the country :
- Diploma in Dance Teaching and Learning (DDTAL) at Trinity College London & The Royal Ballet School
- BA (Hons) Dance at Kingston University
- Dance, Performance and Teaching, BA (Hons) at University of Lancashire
- BA (Hons) Dance Education at Canterbury Christ Church University
For those already in possession of a relevant undergraduate degree, you can explore the option of postgraduate diplomas like the Dance & Science Education (MSc & PdDip) at the University of Edinburgh.
The instruction does not only limit itself to physical training, you can also teach ballet theory, terminology, and dance history for complementary courses for students looking for an in-depth apprenticeship.
To sum up here are few useful things to look for when becoming a ballet teacher :
- Undergraduate or postgraduate studies
- Industry experience dancing for a professional company
- Intensive courses in ballet training for those with solid dance training
In addition to hard knowledge, classical dance instruction also requires the following soft skills :
- A natural talent for communication
- A good amount of patience with learners
- The physical resistance
- An eagerness help others
Even though a degree in dance education will give you the necessary knowledge to master the art of dance and push its boundaries, you mustn’t forget to maintain your creativity. Forge a highly creative environment through regular choreographies and recital preparations, include your students as soon as their level permits, from costume to performance.
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Ballet teaching, a Rewarding and Diverse Profession
As a ballet teacher, you will set an example for many aspiring dancers. This is your chance to inspire and change lives through your teaching. From training young performers towards becoming professional dancers to helping students acquire a better understanding of the art, education is a rich and rewarding life mission.
The knowledge that you will impart to your classes on a daily basis includes the following :
- Safe and effective warm-up routines
- Fundamentals of ballet moves and positions (feet and arms)
- Improving technique and fostering progress
- Feedback sessions
- Preparing and taking part in dance exams
- Performance and choreography
Additional instruction extends to :
- Dance Pedagogy
- Healthy habits for ballet dancers including nutrition
- Career management
- Physical coaching and conditioning
- Stress management and relaxation
- Performance planning and choreography
One size does not fit all, choose your Ballet Teaching Method
Since its inception in the 15th century, this pillar of Western dance has evolved and branched out into several schools of ballet technique.
The French school, led by the iconic Rudolf Nureyev developed rapidly in the 17th century giving ballet the many French sounding terms it still uses today.
The Bournonville method is an adaptation of the French school with a strong contrast between graceful upper body and rapid and swift footwork, a lowered eye-line and high attention to arm movement. All this showing very little effort, a quality required today in most professional dancers. Light as a feather as they say!
On the Russian side, Agrippian Vaganova developed her eponymous teaching approach in the late 19th Century. Telltale features of this method include: expressiveness in the arms, flexibility pushed to its extremes and special attention to the lower back. This training gets rid of stiffness to profit a strong and pure style.
Italian ballet master Enrico Cecchetti consolidated his method around internalising the art of dance instead of replicating a routine. Allowing for more emotivity in the performance means adding finishing touches once the basic movements are mastered. Versatile dancers often hold this ballet style as their basic training.
The English school centres around the Royal Academy of Dance’s pedagogy but extends internationally. This English method merges all of the above styles with a strong attention to detail. It offers two programs: the Graded Examination Syllabus and the more demanding Vocational Graded Syllabus.
The famed Balanchine technique is the most recent and widely used in the United States. It tends towards a neoclassical style with higher speed, deeper movements, strong attention to body lines making for an athletic ballet style.
As a teacher of ballet, you may also branch out in other related disciplines :
- Floor barre or barre workouts
- Ballet body sculpting or toning
- Ballet fusion
“Being in ballet class, I feel, is like this meditation for me every morning.” Misty Copeland
Think about what equipment you may need for the various types of classes.
Giving Classical Dance Lessons in the UK
Once your dance education diploma or a ballet teaching accreditation in hand you will be looking for opportunities for instruction. Rest assured, a myriad of options is available to you across the United Kingdom, from classic schooling, activity centres to specific dance academies.
Schools to teach Ballet to Dancers of Leisure
Due to a combination of dance and fitness crazes, dance studios have popped up everywhere in major UK’s cities. Here students take drop-in dance classes to stay fit and connect mind and body. Many dancers here make a habit of attending a class or two a week so you will probably develop a group of regular students. There is no pressure to perform or examinations to rehearse so the class program is more relaxed. This style of instruction offers a good amount of creativity and friendly contact with students, without the strict rules of a full-fledged ballet school.
The following dance studios offer ballet classes for all levels:
- Pineapple Studios in London and nationwide
- Ballet for You, London
- Dancexchange in Birmingham
- Dancebase in Edinburgh
- Trinity Laban in Greenwich, London
- Dance City, Newcastle Upon Tyne
- Arabesque School of Dance, West Midlands
Teaching Ballet to the Underprivileged
Bring classical dance to those who don’t have the means to attend regular dance classes. How rewarding to give people from all walks of life a chance to discover the graceful movements of a ballet! You may find this teaching very rewarding and make a difference in someone life while sharing your passion.
There are several organisations you can contact to explore opportunities to get involved :
- People Dancing is a British foundation for a community dance.
- Rambert in London’s South Bank offers reduced rates for local residents.
- Bodysurf Scotland offers workshops for children, teenagers and adults.
- Danceaid offers dance classes to orphaned, underprivileged and disabled children in the UK and abroad.
Ballet Teaching to Aspiring Professional Dancers
If you are looking to join a faculty of dance teachers with a set curriculum, then a good number of years of experience and a diploma in dance education will be necessary. A number of professional ballerinas go on to become teachers at renowned institutions once they can no longer perform to dance company standards.
These institutions will each subscribe to a ballet style like the Cecchetti or the English methods. More strict they employ highly qualified teachers as well as professional pianists to play during classes. Their aim is to develop capable and competent dancers from a young age so many classes are child or teen-focused. You may be asked to teach everything from fundamentals of ballet to four-year-olds to entrance audition training to aspiring ballerinas.
The cream de la cream obviously being London’s Royal Ballet School here are a few additional schools dedicated to classical dance :
- The English National Ballet School (London)
- The Elmhurst School for Dance (Birmingham)
- The Northern Ballet School (Manchester)
- Highgate Ballet School (North London)
- The London Russian Ballet School (London)
Become a Ballet Tutor with Superprof
Do you love teaching the basics of ballet to people around ? Have you been recognised at the dancer in the family but a professional career in dance was never for you. Then this is your chance to share your passion for pliés, arabesques and entre-chats with your peers.
Superprof offers anyone a chance to pick up a new hobby or strengthen their skills through a network of trusted tutors. The platform rests upon knowledge-sharing, curiosity and total confidence in teacher-student relationships. The platform is now present across seventeen countries with classes taught in seven different languages.
Enroll now and become a mentor and trainer via this platform and build yourself a trusted group of regular students. In 2017 alone the UK had over a million users looking to learn anything from academic subjects to artistic disciplines, including ballet.
With all of these options, you will be sure to find the right kind of instruction for you. One cannot live a dispassionate life. We can’t think of a better way to make a living than by encouraging others to pursue their passion. Wishing you a lot of leaps and pirouettes with your newly found students!
You can find students through Superprof, the specialist in jobs for ex teachers!