Following on from David Mead’s earlier conversation with Mark Annear, Head of Training and Access at The Royal Ballet School, Maggie Foyer attended the launch of the new Affiliate Training and Assessment Programme in mid-February and now casts her eye over it.
“The unique programme will drive forward the standard and accessibility of recreational dance training, providing an alternative to the current model of training offered by recreational dance organisations.” This is the proud claim made at the launch of The Royal Ballet School’s new Affiliate Training and Assessment Programme at the school’s Covent Garden headquarters in mid-February. There was a great deal of enthusiasm shown by the programme leaders, Mark Annear, Head of Training and Access, and Karen Berry, Senior Teacher Training Manager as well as video endorsement from Christopher Powney, Artistic Director of the School, and company directors, Kevin O’Hare and Carlos Acosta.
The programme aims to revolutionise recreational dance training. It is a bold, ambitious programme taking the School outside the elite vocational dance training arena where they hold the top UK position.
A primary concern for The Royal Ballet School is to update dance training in all areas, including recreational dance, an area already serviced by a number of major organisations with an international reach. These include the Royal Academy of Dance, the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance and the British Ballet Organisation. The School see their programme as an alternative, another option, rather than a replacement and have met with the directors of the other organisations who in their words, ‘responded positively’. A major difference will be that in place of a set syllabus with external examinations, The Royal Ballet School offers a programme of study with associated learning outcomes and internal assessments giving teachers ‘greater flexibility in what and how they teach, driven by the learning needs of their own students.’
Shifting the focus to the students’ needs is in line with current educational needs and a promising move. This more holistic programme aims to go beyond technical prowess to include repertoire and choreography and promote creativity. In this way access to classical ballet training can be broadened to include those with differing learning styles and needs. Many teachers in the recreational section would like to add context to technique but many afternoon classes already struggle with time management as stressed parents ferry children between dance, music, sport and additional academic coaching. Vocational ballet schools have the luxury of carefully selected students, small classes and a great deal more time with these students. It will be interesting to see how this programme operates in practice.
The first cohort of teachers will come on board in spring with applications closing on 1 April 2022. The package of training and support is predominantly web based. Over the last year, the school has developed an extensive digital capability and the new Affiliate teachers will have access to the full range of Royal Ballet School Video on Demand. The Affiliate teacher training element will be delivered by webinars boosted by a week of face-to-face training. Teachers who apply will need to have a minimum of three years of teaching experience. Assessment and professional support, delivered online, will come from experienced Royal Ballet School teachers.
Teachers who complete the training and are accepted onto the programme will be able to use the title of Affiliate Teacher of The Royal Ballet School, or The Royal Ballet School Affiliate Teacher, after their names. There will be ongoing support to maintain standards and, of course, an annual membership fee.
Applications are now open and details can be accessed at www.royalballetschool.org.uk.
This article first appeared on dansportalen and is reproduced with their permission and that of the author.