Pressures In The Studio

Pressures of DanceA dancer of any calibre can face pressures in the dance studio, from themselves, their peers and even their dance teachers. Pressures can take hold in many forms, such as healing after injuries, aspiring to create the ‘ideal’ dancing body shape and changes in the behaviour of dance teachers. Each has an effect on both your dancing and performance, hindering the creation and maintenance of a healthy mind and body, which is paramount to excelling in and enjoying dance.

Often teachers can appear unfriendly and cold, not offering encouragement or help to young dancers. This can stem the enthusiasm a young dancer has for dance and can be detrimental to their progress as a dancer. A dance teacher’s decision to teach is a result of wanting to pass on their knowledge and aid other dancers, so erratic behaviour can often seem odd. They can be overly critical of your work however they usually have many students they are working with at one time, so try not to take their attitude personally.

While there are often jarring relationships with dance teachers, this can also occur on a personal level with yourself. Aspiring to be a thin waif-like dancer is unhealthy and can lead to dieting, starving and an eating disorder, which can ultimately be dangerous. Fortunately, there is now more emphasis on creating a strong body which is fit and ready to take on the challenges of dance, not likely to collapse afterwards. Teachers are now more focused on healthy eating to prevent disorders, and promote dance alongside wellbeing for the body and mind.

Similar pressures of this type on the self can also occur as a result of injuries, especially those that are slower to heal. As a dancer the mentality is to power through the class whatever the cost, due to lifelong mantras such as ‘the show must go on’ and ‘no pain, no gain’. An ethos of this sort is now becoming less common, as ultimately it is of the upmost importance that the body and mind heals following an injury.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Notes On Dance

Dance NotepadAs a dance student, you may wonder how you will ever remember every note, correction and suggestion you are given in class. You may even have more than one teacher; even two teachers means double the amount of notes you are given! You may have teachers who work by the same method, however they may teach in very different styles. Whilst this is beneficial to ’round’ you as a dancer, it may be tricky to keep track of everything you have to remember.

You may find it useful to keep note of everything that is said to you in class to make sure your technique and performance is as well rounded as possible. It can be hard to take everything on board, especially if you are given small corrections and subtle changes to your form. You may find you are constantly trying to please your teacher/s, but by writing things down it will help consolidate the information and process it for your body.

You don’t have to write your notes, thoughts and information down in any particular way, it is completely up to you as to how you’d like to format your notes, as long as they are useful in helping you progress as a training dance student. Looking back on your notes will also show you just how far you’ve come! Reflecting on what you have achieved will also serve as motivation for persevering in the future.

Corrections and imagery suggestions to aid your performance may form the bulk of your dance notes, so make sure you take a few minutes at the end of your dance classes to make any essential notes you may need – you may not remember them all until the next day! And if you’re learning something new, write that down too to prompt you when you’re practising outside of class.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The Dance Register

The Dance RegisterThe Dance Register, the directory of UK-based dance teachers and leaders created by DTAP (Dance Training & Accreditation Partnership), champions and promotes high quality dance teaching and leadership. It includes teachers and leaders working in a wide range of dance styles and settings – from ballet and bollywood to ballroom, and salsa and Spanish to street!

It provides a nationally recognised ‘one-stop shop’ for people looking for a suitably qualified and experienced dance teachers in their area by providing public access to a directory of dance teachers in the UK who work across a range of styles. It enables dance employers, parents, carers and participants to identify dance teachers who are committed to professional practice and it increases standards of dance teaching and leadership by ensuring teachers who join The Dance Register are committed to regular training and CPD.

You can utilise The Dance Register using a range of search options, including by postcode, dance style and age group. You can then access more information about a dance teacher (e.g. level of experience, qualifications, recent training/CPD) from their individual profile. Searching is free throughout the online directory. All teachers listed have passed The Dance Register minimum entry requirements and have signed the code of professional conduct. In addition, The Dance Register provides basic quality assurance for anyone looking to access or employ quality dance teaching and leading.

It is accessible to dance teachers through membership of one of The Dance Register gateway organisations such as Council for Dance Education and Training (CDET), Dance UK, the Exercise Movement and Dance Partnership (EMDP) and the Foundation for Community Dance (FCD).

What Makes A Good Teacher?

Teachers are an integral part of a dancer’s development. Not only do they aim to build up the dancer’s talent and ability but they also act as a mentor and inspiration to the student.

Teaching any subject of dance requires the teacher to be resourceful and flexible in their approach in order to get the best out of their students, particularly for students with various standards and styles of learning.

Teachers in vocational schools play a specialised role in student development, taking time to develop the skills of their students by giving information and guidance to progress quickly, building on what earlier teachers have taught the students.

At vocational schools specialist teachers apply both experience and theory to teaching lessons where physical skills are used to train in the dance subject. Vocational teachers help to rectify bad physical habits and engage students intellectually.

Teaching in vocational institutions is the subject of much discussion with many training options available, be it a more academic course or a more practical course. Vocational school is available both as full-time and part-time schools. A full-time vocational school teaches core curriculum subjects and specialist subjects, such as acting, dance and drama full-time, whereas part-time vocational schools work alongside traditional schooling, teaching specialist subjects after school or at weekends. There can be academic and vocational grades awarded, depending on what each school offers. Many teachers share industry contacts and careers advice with their students in order to enhance their training.

It’s important that vocational schools ensure high standards of teaching, not only because vocational schools are expensive to attend but also to help children progress onto specialist further education schools: vocational schools are important for young people to learn the skills needed for entry into performing arts if they have not had prior experience.

The Royal Ballet School Announces New Teachers’ Course

The Royal Ballet SchoolThe Royal Ballet School will launch a new teachers’ course starting in September 2014: the Diploma of Dance Teaching will build on the highly successful Professional Dancer Teachers’ Course and the expertise of the school’s Dance Partnership & Access Programme, to provide a good foundation in both technical and creative approaches to teaching ballet. The course will be delivered by Royal Ballet School staff and visiting lecturers in The Royal Ballet School’s state of the art studios in Covent Garden, London.

The two-year part time course includes opportunities to specialise in teaching in either vocational or educational settings: the Diploma is suitable for both current and ex-professional dancers and teachers and will provide a sound foundation in teaching ballet to a broad range of students. The course will cover classical ballet technique, anatomy, education practice, reflective practice, psychology and child development and work place context.

The course is a particularly special one for the organisation in that it not only offers flexibility in learning, but also gives teachers a broad body of knowledge on which to build a successful career in dance. The Dance Partnership & Access Programme was established in 2004 to provide broader access to ballet and the work of The Royal Ballet School. Over ten years a national programme of long term, sustainable primary and secondary school projects has been established, providing introducing ballet to a new generation by the school’s graduates.

The School’s mission is to train and educate outstanding classical ballet dancers for The Royal Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet and other top international dance companies, and in doing so to set the standards in dance training, nationally and internationally. The School offers an eight-year carefully structured dance course, aligned with an extensive academic programme, giving the students the best possible education to equip them for a career in the world of dance.

MOVE IT For Gemma Coldicott

Gemma ColdicottGemma Coldicott, Step into Dance’s Inclusive Dance Development Officer, has a wealth of dance experience. From studying Dance in the Community at Laban to gaining a Masters in Inclusive Arts Practice from the University of Brighton, Gemma is a leader in her field. Since her studies Gemma now works to mentor and support freelancers teaching inclusive dance sessions, leads inclusive dance training courses, writes training resources and is currently the company Director of SLiDE (South London Inclusive Dance Experience).

When did you begin dancing, where and why?

I started dancing aged 3 in my hometown of Norwich. My mum took me to the local ballet school, I guessed I asked to go but maybe she dragged me along. But I’m so glad she did!

What were your early years of dancing and training like?

I did 15 years of ISTD Ballet, Tap and Modern, until I was 18.

What does dance mean for you?

Dance means expression and freedom. It has the power to change lives and to bring diverse groups of people together.

How long have you been working as an inclusive dance practitioner? How did it begin?

Ever since I left Laban in 2007! Shortly after I finished training I participated in a project with Heart n Soul, a learning disabled arts organisation based in Deptford. It was a dance project with 60 people, disabled/non disabled, and culminated in a performance on the steps outside the National Portrait Gallery in Trafalgar Square. It was an amazing experience and I understood from then on what I wanted to do, to give people access to dance who might not ordinarily get the chance.

What is a ‘typical’ day like?

Answer emails from 8am and post on social media. 10am, visit a dance class at an SEN school on the Step into Dance School somewhere in London, give the teacher feedback and support. Head back to the RAD office and complete emails, observation reports. I then attend or teach a community dance class.

What’s the best part of dance for you?

That it brings a smile to people’s faces who are both dancing and watching! It’s also the relationship between music and dance, it connects the mind, body and soul.

What would you say was your greatest dance achievement to date?

That 80 people attended my inclusive dance training days at the RAD last year, from all across the country. To share my skills and knowledge in this way feels great.

What advice would you give to someone aspiring to be part of the dance industry?

Do as much assisting, shadowing as you can with teachers and practitioners you respect. Be professional at all times, always be on time and be reliable. Attend courses and workshops at venues such as gDA for professional development; you never know who you are going to meet at these things. The key word is networking!

What’s next for you?

At the moment I am working hard at Step into Dance to get SEN and mainstream schools dancing together. I am hosting afternoons of dance called ‘Step togethers’ whereby disabled and nondisabled students dance together and perform for each other. Our aim on the Step into Dance programme is to promote inclusion and equality for young people across London and I think we are really achieving this.

Which classes are you holding at MOVE IT?

At MOVE IT I am running a workshop called ‘Introduction to Inclusive Dance Practice’. I shall be focusing on facilitation skills and running creative tasks with mixed ability groups. I hope to give everyone more confidence in leading creative dance sessions and some key ‘tools’ to take back and apply in their own settings.

Teaching Routes To The Same Goal

Dance Class

Teaching vocational theatre and dance is the subject of much discussion with many training options available, and students with different learning styles, such as through visual cues, hearing cues and doing things actively.

What makes a good teacher?

Theatre and music teachers in vocational schools play a specialised role in student development, taking time to develop their skills by giving information and guidance to progress quickly. Some teachers do this by sharing industry contacts, careers advice and specialist teachers.

At vocational school specialist teachers apply both experience and theory to teaching lessons. Students have access to the ‘experiential’ model of education where physical skills are used to experience and train in the subject. Vocational teachers speed up this experiential process by helping to rectify bad physical habits and engage students intellectually.

Vocational school is available both as full-time and part-time schools. A full-time vocational school teaches core curriculum subjects and specialist subjects, such as acting, dance and drama full-time, whereas Part-time vocational schools work alongside a child’s traditional schooling, teaching specialist subjects after school or at weekends. There can be academic and vocational grades awarded at the end, depending on what each school offers. The part-time type of school replaces the role of a traditional middle school such as Sylvia Young Theatre School and Tring Park School.

It’s important that vocational schools keep high standards and help children to progress onto specialist further education schools: vocational schools are important places for young people to learn the skills needed for entry into theatre, dance and music crafts, even if they have not had prior experience. Vocations like theatre, dance and music require students to carry out a lot of physical repetition: the region of around 10,000 hours of practice is needed to become an expert before their bodies and minds understand fully.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Dance Performance Theme Ideas

Dance Performance Theme IdeasStuck for some ideas for a theme for your next dance performance? Below is a list that might help to give you some inspiration!

  • The 1980’S
  • A Night At The Movies
  • Alice In Wonderland
  • British History
  • And The Winner Is – A play on the oscars with every dancer being a winner!
  • Anything Goes
  • Around The World
  • Blast From The Past – use songs from past performances in celebration of an anniversary.
  • Cirque De Soleil
  • Colours Or Kaleidoscope – use songs about colours.
  • Come Fly With Me – highlight tourist spots and monuments that you visit on vacation, both man-made and natural.
  • Sea Cruise
  • Dance For A Wish – donate a portion of the money you raise to Make A Wish Foundation Uk.
  • Dance School Musical – use songs about school days.
  • Dancing In The Moonlight
  • Dancing On Ice
  • Dancing Through The Decades
  • Dancing Through The Year
  • Disney
  • Europe
  • Everything Old Is New Again – do an anniversary show and repeat your favourite numbers from previous years.
  • FAME
  • Fantasy
  • Fashion
  • Feelin’ Good
  • Food
  • Growing Up
  • Happiness Is…
  • Historical Figures
  • How We Used To Live
  • Lights, Camera, Dancing!
  • Icons Of Dance
  • Icons Of Music
  • Inspiration
  • Legends, Divas, And Superstars
  • Memories &Amp; New Beginnings
  • Once Upon A Time – choose fairy tales and choreograph the stories
  • One Moment In Time
  • Opposites
  • Peace, Love And Dance
  • Portraits In Dance – works of art relating to your dance style(s).
  • Raising The Barre
  • The Big Top
  • Rock This Town
  • Seasons
  • Shakespeare
  • Shirley Temple
  • Sports
  • Strictly Come Dancing!
  • Superheros
  • Sweet Dreams – use songs relating to the night or dreams.
  • Take Me To The Show – movies, TV, theatre, etc.
  • The Abc Of Dance
  • The Hopes And Dreams Of Siblings
  • The Underwater World
  • The Six Days Of Creation
  • The Swinging Sixties
  • These Are A Few Of Our Favorite Things – have your students list their favourite things and choose songs based on them.
  • The West End
  • Uk Rock Music
  • Walking The Red Carpet
  • Weather

Please feel free to add to the list?

How Should Dance Teachers Measure Up?

Measuring For Dance Costumes

Your dance shows are being prepared and the costumes have been shortlisted, but there’s still a lot to do… including taking the measurements for all your students. To help you out, here are a few tips to help you ensure all your students’ costumes fit like a glove!

General Tips

Make sure your students are wearing a leotard or other tight-fitting garment (with empty pockets!) when you are taking their measurements.

Have your students stand with their feet apart slightly and their arms straight out to their sides.

Be sure not to pull the tape too tightly and remember that younger students will continue growing throughout the year. You can ensure there is sufficient room for growth by inserting two fingers between the body and the tape measure itself.


First, measure the chest. The measurement here should be taken around the back to the chest around the fullest part. Ensure your student is not holding their breath as this will make the measurement larger than it should be. Ask your student to take a deep breath in and out – recording the measurement once they have exhaled, which should help!


Next, the waist. You should be aiming to measure the “natural waist” of the student. To find this easily, ask your student bend to one side and measure from the spot their body naturally folds at. Try to make sure your student is not sucking in his or her tummy… as with measuring the chest, the breathing trick works here too!


Now it’s time to measure the hips. Take a measurement around the widest part of the hips.


The girth is probably the most important measurement to think about for all costumes built around a leotard base. If your students are not wearing a leotard when you are measuring them, ensure their trousers are pulled all the way up! Measure over the shoulder, between the legs and back around to the centre of the shoulder where the strap of the leotard will sit.


Last but not least, take the inseam measurement. Ensure your students are standing straight and looking directly ahead. Have them hold the measure between their legs at the innermost upper-thigh and then measure down to just below the ankle.

That’s just about it! For further guidance you can refer to our size chart and please bear in mind we always recommend going up one size if a particular student is between sizes. Of course if you have any questions you can always give us a call on 0845 330 1 330!

Fake It Until You Make It?


In the twenty-first century, the world surrounding dancers and non-dancers alike contains the ability to ‘fake it’. Gone are the days of “if you’ve got it, flaunt it”, because now it is becoming increasingly easy to modify and improve more and more about us, and the world too – you can flaunt it anyway!

‘Natural’ has become a woolly term, because how can it be proven? The likes of Photoshop and other similar tactics mean that we can appear as our ‘better selves’, and we can even do this physically by the means of plastic and cosmetic surgery. Enhancing appearances does not stop there: the illusion of dance has too been enhanced past its ethereal state and can now be improved or altered by means of faking it.

For example, the mechanics of classical ballet can be aided by the use of commercially available prosthetic arches which can be used to improve the appearance of the foot in a pointe shoe. There are not many methods for modifying or ‘faking’ ballet, simply due to the fact that social historical context dictates that classical ballerinas wear costumes to reveal their strength, artistry and technical talent, and also due to the role of the critic. Despite this, the shape of the foot can be enhanced, having worked the correct muscles in the first place. Some dancers are fortunate, with a high instep and strong, flexible ankles, whereas for others this is something at the forefront of their wish list.

Some may argue that enhancing the line of the foot in this way is on a parallel to that of wearing false eyelashes to improve the look of the face, and give that “showbiz” look. Today there are a number of ways of improving the ballet experience in general, as shown by the product list of Dance Direct, for example. From a variety of shapes and designs of foot thongs, to gel pads to the latest snug over-the-pointe-shoe socks with suede leather toe caps, there is something for everyone to help fake it until you make it!