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Opportunities for Future Dancers


Nana Lily
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Watching the opportunities of the amazingly talented Olympic athletes I have been thinking of the wonderful opportunities our vocational and CAT scheme dancers have through the Music and Dance Scheme and CAT Scheme. I have been so inspired by our Olympic athletes. But I think the Olympics goes beyond this, as may kids don@t think they can be part of what is going on, Hoe do we reach out out these children????

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I have been thinking exactly the same thing! I have been watching most of the Olympics while on holiday in Croatia and my first teacher training intensive for dance is in two weeks' time, and I cannot wait to (one step at a time!) not only start teaching dance professionally but also think outside of the box to reach out to children with everything dance has to offer - the discipline, fitness, achievement, satisfaction, beauty, etc, that ballet and dance have to offer! Would love to hear ideas from anyone as well of how to make this work!

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Ballet lessons are really,really expensive. I work with a lot of children from poor backgrounds and even one class a week would be prohibitive for their families. One 9 year old was in tears when she told me she couldn't continue with her one lesson a week as her Mum couldn't afford it any more.

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A school district just outside my city had a very enterprising mother who found a private foundation to which she applied for a grant. With that grant she hired arts related teachers (dance, painting, crafts, etc.). The grant also paid for the custodial extra hours. We used the school facilities. I taught ballet in the school auditorium (seats were removable). A local college - at the behest of this enterprising mother - donated used but good portable barres.

 

The beauty of the project was that the children could go from their regular day school directly into this after school arts program without ever leaving the school campus (no need for parents to drive them). However, kids from other schools were welcome - no one was excluded. At first we thought to make it free - but in the end felt we should put some value on it - thus they were charged $1.00 per lesson.

 

As the program developed we had ballet (me), tap, piano, modern/contemporary, belly dancing, yoga, and other arts and crafts.

 

I started with one beginner ballet class for children, it easily expanded to 8 classes per week to include adults and chldren - and eventually pointe class. I encouraged them also to choreograph. We put on a full evening's performance twice a year in the school auditorium and I formed a group which toured to the local nursing homes, day care centers, senior centers, etc. This gave the ballet students experience in rehearsing, costume design, makeup and performing before an audience. The program was a huge success.

 

This was a neighborhood which had economic problems, hard working tired parents, social problems and none of this type of opportunity to learn about dance and/or art. However, as I said everyone was welcome - we didn't question where the students lived or their family income.

 

All this because of one enterprising mother.

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That sounds a brilliant project, were you paid or did you donate your services? I know ballet classes can appear expensive, but teachers do need to earn a living too and most have high expenses with hire of hall, insurance, membership fees for RAD/ISTD, as well as purchase of syllabus material, courses etc.

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That sounds a brilliant project, were you paid or did you donate your services? I know ballet classes can appear expensive, but teachers do need to earn a living too and most have high expenses with hire of hall, insurance, membership fees for RAD/ISTD, as well as purchase of syllabus material, courses etc.

Yes, that's true. My DD's teacher is a wonderful, generous lady and I know she has done a lot for talented children from lower income families over the years, but she does have a living to make too and can't help everyone.

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That sounds a brilliant project, were you paid or did you donate your services? I know ballet classes can appear expensive, but teachers do need to earn a living too and most have high expenses with hire of hall, insurance, membership fees for RAD/ISTD, as well as purchase of syllabus material, courses etc.

 

Yes, I was paid - about the equivalent of what i was paid at a privately owned studio. Since I was the first teacher hired, my "donation" was patience in being willing to give the program time to grow. And encouraging children and parents that they, too, could participate in this kind of learning of which many of them had never dreamed of and in some cases never even heard about.

 

We had some advantages - no syllabus expenses since I am not a syllabus teacher - most American dance teachers are not.

 

The enterprising mother did all the publicity. She handed out flyers to the children of the school and that's the way the news got out. She stood at the local corner where the school bus stopped and gave out flyers. She also contacted local newspapers and put up flyers in local stores. Pretty soon some other mothers wanted to help.

 

They didn't want "free" teachers - they wanted the same quality teacher that a more advantaged neighborhood might have.

 

 

edited for typo

Edited by Anjuli_Bai
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Anjuli, your story is inspiring and I agree with the comments that while dance is expensive at times for young people to learn, dance teachers need to make a living and you also get the quality of teaching that you want - it's hard if not impossible to get that quality for free, it's not sustainable.

 

Does anyone have any stories of running perhaps a free/subsidised community class or project alongside their regular, paid teaching or project? I would love to develop something like this but how could you means test the applications or judge how it works? Any experience would be appreciated!

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Anjuli, your story is inspiring and I agree with the comments that while dance is expensive at times for young people to learn, dance teachers need to make a living and you also get the quality of teaching that you want - it's hard if not impossible to get that quality for free, it's not sustainable.

 

Does anyone have any stories of running perhaps a free/subsidised community class or project alongside their regular, paid teaching or project? I would love to develop something like this but how could you means test the applications or judge how it works? Any experience would be appreciated!

 

Perhaps if I give you more information it may help......

 

Since this happened a number of years ago (1970's-1980's) it is possible to consider instead of a $1.00 fee per lesson - to charge a $2.00 fee or even $3.00 fee. But at $2.00 per lesson, with no more than 15 students that's $30.00 per hour. That surely pays the teacher. Perhaps even a bit over. The space was a public (American meaning of the term) school. At first the grant paid the school district for the hours the custodian needed to be present after the regular school day.

 

But, remember, there was not only a ballet class, but several other classes charging the same low fee per student - paying the teacher - with a bit over for the custodian. As time went on and enrollment increaed - as did the different kinds of classes - we didn't need the money from the grant to pay the custodian. Since I was teaching in other places I was already insured and the school district carried its own insurance.

 

The private studio at which I was heavily teaching was about 5 miles away. It was a large successful private enterprise. When my students at the studio heard I was teaching at this other low cost project (word gets around) they wanted to come. Legally, there is no way to stop them. However, I did make it clear that leaving the private studio for the low cost project would not be fair. They could ADD to their dance schedule but they should not in all fairness come in place of the private studio. People are generally fair minded and in all those years only one family took undue advantage of the situation.

 

At first the woman who owned the studio at which I taught was unhappy - understandably. But as it turned out she made MORE money because many of the children at the low cost project fell in love with ballet and somehow the parents found the means to send the child to the private studio and so the enrollment at the private studio boomed. These were students she would never otherwise have had.

 

Strange how things work out isn't it?

 

I had another experience that taught me a valuable lesson. The ballet class was the first class to open at the low cost project and then a tap class was added an hour before the ballet class. I remember being very distraught thinking that the young girls would see the tappers - lots of shiney tappy shoes - perky music - and want to leave the ballet to take tap. Imagine my surprise when just the opposite happened! Yes, ballet girls wanted to take tap - but even more tap girls wanted to take ballet! It taught me to never be afraid of competition.

 

As for means testing - I and the enterprising mother who started this project were totally against it. Children know.

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When I was young in central London our local government youth centre started dance classes which were free and the teachers were from vocational schools!!it only lasted a couple of years!such a shame and everybody loved it.most students were new to dance and even though I only went to afew classes we got to perform at sadlers wells!it was great.it kept most the kids of the streets but they finally closed the youth centre down due to funds.

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I know that the Royal Ballet offers the 'chance to dance' scheme across 40 or so primary schools in london boroughs, they give the kids leotards, ballet shoes & socks & free ballet lessons - sometimes they find JA's from that, or take kids into vocational schools. BRB have a similar scheme called 'Dance Track'.

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  • 1 month later...

Don't the RBS do quite a lot with their Chance to Dance scheme and then there's DanceXChange with BRB - it's good that these exist but there's still a huge gap for those not in East London or Birmingham. Would be interesting to hear if there are any others.

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That's true - the CAT scheme has certainly helped make dance more accessible round the country - especially as the fees are means tested (unfortunately for us - being on the higher end of the income threshold - it was still too much money with having one already at full-time vocational school.)

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I know Julie, they are not cheap if you are at the higher end of the income spectrum. :o

 

However I meant that classes and opportunities are created for the wider community and not just for those who have successfully auditioned for the CAT scheme.

I know at my DD's scheme in Leeds, the Community Learning Dept provide far more than just the Yorkshire Young Dancers and many of the classes are heavily subsidised to make them more accessible. :)

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