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Zelda

A Level Dance or Dance BTEC

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So I live in London and am 15. This means that it's gotten to the time that I have to decide what to do once I leave year 11. I have a burning passion for dance and know that I am very good at it and would like to pursue it as a career. Therefore I would like to do a Dance BTEC course at a college. This will enable me to get as much possible knowledge on dance, and the most training hours, which will enable me to become a better dancer. However my sister (she makes all the important decisions if you wondering why I'm not mention mum and dad) thinks that I should do an A Level Dance. This is because the dance field is very competitive and she is worried that I will not make it as a successful dancer, so she wants me to do an A Level, so that I have a range of subjects which will mean that I have more directions I can go to if dance doesn't work out for me. She is very keen on this and will not permit me to do a BTEC Dance like I wish for. I don't want to do an A Level, because I don't see the point in picking other subjects if I am going in the dance pathway, it will just waste my time, and take up energy and effort that I can be putting towards Dance. Also picking a BTEC Dance will allow me to become better than I would be with A Level, as it is a lot more training hours and just overall a lot more in depth than an A Level will cover. If you guys have any tips on how I could persuade my sister to let me do Dance BTEC, please help me out as soon as you can, as it's coming near the time where I have to be doing my applications. Thank you!

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Hello and welcome to the Forum. Can we just confirm, as you are only 15, that your parents are aware you are using this Forum and they are OK about it? What sort of dance training have you done so far? Would you study other A Levels alongside the Dance one? You say you wish to persue dance as a career. The vast majority of people who wish to become professional dancers audition for one of the vocational schools to enter at either age 16 or 18. Someone can correct me if i'm wrong, but studying Dance at a local Sixth Form college will not enable you to reach the standard required for auditioning for professional contracts. 

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Oh, and to answer your specific question. A BTEC will ( hopefully) include plenty of experience to add to your CV that an A Level won't. But academically an A Level will be seen as being much "stronger" than a BTEC if you ever wanted to go to University. ( Although most unis accept BTEC these days too).

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Yes my parents are okay with me using this forum. The only dance experience I have is just after school dance clubs and after school gymnastics clubs, however, I have gained a great many skills from these. If I picked the A Level Option, I would pick English Literature and Psychology to go alongside Dance. I want to go to a college and the colleges that I have looked at looks like they will enable me to get to far places as they have listed some of the universities that their previous students have gone on to, and they have been successful in this.

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Hi Zelda and welcome to the forum.

You say you’ve done after school clubs! Do you mean clubs that your school runs or do you mean a ‘proper’ ballet/dance school? Have you taken any exams and what genre of dance are you hoping to pursue? Ballet, contemporary or commercial?

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Clubs that my school run which means that I haven't done any exams unfortunately. However I did get a certificate for gifted and talented in dance which a girl and and a boy from each year get of that helps. I am most excited for contemporary as I think that would be best suited for my skills from gymnastics, and with ballet, you have to have started from a very young age, which unfortunately I have not so that will be definitely hard but I am determined to go to any and all extra classes and workshops that will build my skills in all of the dance styles as with BTEC, you learn a variety of dance styles.

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I really love your enthusiasm! 

I would suggest firstly getting yourself to some proper classes. Just doing after school clubs just isn’t enough!  Being in London this shouldn’t be too difficult to find some proper tuition.  And then take it from there. That way you will see the level you need to be at to get onto any courses! 

Lots of children/teens spend years getting to a level to get into dance college and still never make it having had proper training!

 

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I would say that unless the btec is at a specialist college that runs on vocational lines rather than a school 6th form or large FE college  you would be better off finding a local dance school and starting to attend classes in ballet, jazz & contemporary combined with strength and conditioning classes if possible.  You could then do A levels at your institution of choice.

 

however A levels are hard, a big step up from GCSE and you have to be focused and motivated in order to suceed.  Your sister (and parents) will find that schools and colleges have their own ideas about who they will accept onto their courses, you may or may not have to have an interview and certainly it is you applying for the courses, not them (unlike Year 7 secondary applications).  Ultimately they may not have a choice where you choose to study although I guess they could refuse to support you financially.

Edited by Picturesinthefirelight
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You probably won't want to hear this, but I think your sister is right in that you should stay on and do A-levels, either including A-level dance or another subject, and then go to college to do a BTEC. 

 

The dance world is incredibly competitive, and even those with a professional dance qualifications and years of full-time training find it extremely hard to find work. So a back-up plan is really essential. Best of luck :)

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See if you can take a few classes at Pineapple or Danceworks. You can then see the standard of people around you and consider what kind of standard you are. Talk to your teacher at school and see what they think of your aspirations. Look at the big contemporary schools to see if they offer dance days. You will need proper training to try and reach the standard needed.

 

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The thing is that I am not able to go to dance classes because first of all my parents don't agree with dance because of religious and cultural implications, they would only tolerate it as at school as it is educational as well. Also my family are in a difficult time financially and wouldn't be able to pay for me going to dance classes. Also no one would actually bother taking me to one. So doing Dance as a BTEC or A Level is my only choice. I really want to do a BTEC as it ultimately would make me a better dancer than an A Level would, but I just don't know how to convince my family.

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If your family has cultural or religious reasons why they don't support your ambition, then you need to think really carefully about whether a career in dance would be a practical option for you in the long run. It is not easy to train for a career in dance, and I imagine it would be even more difficult without the support and encouragement of your family.

 

Your best bet is really to carry on with A levels, and then see if you can go to study dance afterwards. Would you be able to get a part-time job, so you could pay for your own classes in the next couple of years? Once you are an adult you will be able to make your own choices about your future, but in the meantime, try to get as many academic qualifications as you can. After A levels,, then there are universities which do dance degrees, so you would be able to get a student loan.

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The only thing that makes me happy is dance and so I wish to pursue a career in something that I enjoy and am passionate about. I know that if I pick A Levels, it would just make me miserable.

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Seles, have a look at The Place where Lndon Contemporaey Dance School are based, in Euston.  There may b opportunities for one off and holiday courses. They also run a CAT scheme you could ask about - the cut off is 16 so have a look ASAP.  Good luck

Taximom

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BBODANCE now offer a level 3 btec in dance through south Thames college with good links to London Studio Centres. They offer lots of workshops throughout the year and have a strong contemporary emphasis. I’m also fairly certain it’s a free course so may be worth looking at. 

 

I agree with what a lot of people have said you really need your parents to at least support your ambitions. Maybe get them to come to open days with you so they can see what options there are. You can work in dance without being a dancer, teaching is the obvious go to but there are also degrees in community arts, dance for the elderly etc. 

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2 hours ago, Zelda said:

The only thing that makes me happy is dance and so I wish to pursue a career in something that I enjoy and am passionate about. I know that if I pick A Levels, it would just make me miserable.

 

Hello Zelda and welcome. ☺️ Can I ask what sort of career in dance you’re thinking of? Is your dream to be a dancer in a Contemporary Dance company? A dancer on a cruise ship, in the theatre?  

 

If your aim is to be a professional dancer then assuming you are good enough, you will need a LOT of support from your family; not just in terms of money and time (and I’m afraid you will either need to do a full-time dance course or need to be taken to a lot of good dance classes while you do A Levels) but encouragement too.  If your parents don’t approve of a career as a dancer for religious or cultural reasons, are they likely to give you the necessary support to get there? 

 

I would agree with the advice to do A’Levels.  Even for those dancers who have been dancing since aged 3, doing auditioned associate classes or CAT schemes, been doing 12 or more hours of dance classes every week, summer schools and dance exams don’t always get a place at a full time upper school. Or they get a place but become injured because their body isn’t cut out for full time dance. Or they complete their training and can’t get a job because there are so few jobs as professional dancers.  Everybody aiming to be a dancer needs a Plan B.  Often this is training to be a dance teacher but sometimes it’s a different path like university - for which you’d need A Levels.  

 

Lots to consider! ☺️

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Zelda, taximom’s advice to investigate the CAT scheme is a good one.  In London this is offered at The Place and also at Trinity Laban.  Here’s some info about the CAT scheme at The Place:  https://www.theplace.org.uk/whats-on/centre-advanced-training-open-day-10

 

If you then read the LSCD pages on the website, it tells you about auditions for full time Contemporary training there:  https://www.lcds.ac.uk/undergraduate-auditions

 

Interestingly they ask for A Levels. The first part of the audition is a ballet barre (and ballet will form some part of the training and audition at all Contemporary schools) so if you can get to any ballet classes this would really benefit you. 

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Hi Zelda, nice to meet you. I studied A Level Dance many many years ago. If your family favour academia over more vocational type courses, it’s certainly an option. It’s not as dancey as you might think it is, a lot of A Level Dance is dedicated to the study of anatomy and physiology, dance notation, research around a set choreographer, or ballet. (Mine was Giselle). There are written exams in this then you have to choreograph a group and individual dance. You then have to dance in your classmates exam pieces, dance in a set study and interpret a dance notation in about 30 minutes.

When my friends used to tell me it was an easy option, it most definitely is not!! 

I also studied A levels in Psychology, General Studies and Performing Arts which I found much easier! 😆😆

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I have looked at the London Contemporary Dance School and they do have an open day which is on February, which unfortunately is too late as I need to decide very soon what colleges to go to as I need to do auditions and interviews and applications. I can't find anything on BBOdance doing a BTEC level 3, perhaps could you send me the link? With my parents, they still want me to happy but they just wouldn't really understand how much this means to me. And I need their permission, not because I respect their wishes necessarily, but because as I'm only 15, it is going to be very difficult for me to attend these open days, and interviews, and applications all by myself with no help. I think that I want to be a dancer that performs on stage in front of many people, maybe perhaps as part of a production (like a drama play or something?) However I also wouldn't mind perhaps being a choreographer and having my choreo be in shows or something. Overall, I really want to do a BTEC as this would equip me with better skills than an A Level would, and after all I am going to be the one who puts in all the hard work and training, not my family. So ultimately it should be my choice, right?

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The open day in February is for the CAT Scheme Zelda, which is a part time training scheme (usually on Saturday plus one evening a week, if I remember correctly).  So no, that’s not too late as it’s something you could do while you’re in Year 11.  

 

You’re correct, you will be the one who does the training.  However, assuming you’re not yet earning your own money and your family would therefore have to pay for dance classes (because to put it bluntly, it’s highly unlikely that after school dance club is going to get your technique and stamina ready for full time training), take you to class or pay for your travel, pay for auditions and travel to auditions, and so on.  So it will have to be a choice made jointly by you and your family.  

 

 

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It’s lovely that you have a passion for dance but don’t let it cloud the practicalities.

My advice would be to keep all your options open for now which will help with getting your family onside! 

 Go to the open evenings for the BTEC dance course, watch the showcase and talk to the tutors about entry requirements, the BTEC covers a lot of dance styles such as ballet, commercial, tap etc and they might be looking for students with a certain level of ability from the outset. Also ask if you can do an A level along side it as that would increase your options, I’ve known students do BTEC in performing arts/ dance/ drama and end up studying a degree in their A level eg Geography! However BTEC level 3 in dance would also give you access to a dance degree which would open doors to you such as primary teaching or teaching dance at GCSE/ A level as well as other dance related jobs.

Also apply for A levels to keep all your options open, something like A level dance plus psychology and English would work well especially if you went on to use your degree ( dance or otherwise ) to access teaching for example! A level dance does have academic writing and analysis but is a great basis for extending your experience in choreography and contemporary Dance plus it does fit in well with a dance degree as they are mostly contemporary dance based! Often the 6th forms that offer A level dance offer more dance opportunities such as auditioned performance groups that use other dance styles to showcase the dance ability so you’d get more dance training hours than you might first think!

As others have said, a career in dance performance is elusive even when dancers have been in full time training for years but there are lots of options available to you in the world of dance! Investigate both pathways with your family and keep your options open until one pathway becomes more clear...even if this is after GCSE results! I do believe in following your dreams so good luck in finding the right option for you! 

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Here’s the link to the BBO course:  https://bbo.dance/train-with-us/level-3

 

You’ll see that one of the pre-requisites is Level 2 dance experience.  This means the level required to pass Dance GCSE or the equivalent dance exam (e.g. RAD Grade 4, 5 or Intermediate Foundation). :)

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I'm still confused on the prequisitry Level 2. Where do I get that qualification? I feel like doing a BTEC and an A Level would overwhelm me with the workload as I get very stressed out by a lot of school work, which I am currently struggling with now. Which is why I would rather do just a BTEC so I only need to put all my time, and focus, and effort and energy, into Dance. Which would ultimately make me happier.

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2 minutes ago, Zelda said:

I'm still confused on the prequisitry Level 2. Where do I get that qualification? I feel like doing a BTEC and an A Level would overwhelm me with the workload as I get very stressed out by a lot of school work, which I am currently struggling with now. Which is why I would rather do just a BTEC so I only need to put all my time, and focus, and effort and energy, into Dance. Which would ultimately make me happier.

 

You would need to have either taken GCSE Dance at school or Grade 4/5 in one of the main dance forms at a part time dance school. They are both Level 2 qualifications. 

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There are different sized btecs. 

 

The Extended Diploma is equivalent in size to 3 A levels and most colleges who offer this course treat it as full time and you would find it difficult to do an A level alongside. 

 

However some schools and colleges offer the btec that is equivalent in size to 2 A levels and so wou would study either a 2nd btec in a different subject or an A level alongside. 

 

There is also a btec equivalent to 1 A level. 

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I want to do a Extended Diploma, as this would equip me with the best skills for dance. As it is will be much more in depth than an A Level.

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Zelda, you have been given so much good advice and information here.

 

The one thing that stands out like a beacon is that you need to get your parents on your side.  You mentioned your sister earlier, would she be able to help you with your parents? Would a teacher (or after school club leader be able to help you) put your case to your parents?

 

I appreciate your enthusiasm and desire to have a career in dance but in order to achieve that you need the support of your parents.  Please speak to them and get them on your side.

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Hi ,

  a level 3 BTEC is not to be undertaken lightly,it isn't a soft option by any means,it is equal to 3 A levels.

The workload is demanding.  

Have a search for BTEC dance in your area. There is The Brit School  in South East London who offer dance and 1 A level alongside, however it is highly competitive, my daughter got in to study Musical Theatre but accepted somewhere else. 

https://www.brit.croydon.sch.uk/dance

 

The Roald  Academy of Dance are also considering a BTEC.

https://www.royalacademyofdance.org/study/btec/btec-in-dance-specifications

 

You need to make the most of free education whilst you can.

 

 

 

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That's the thing, I need help on how I could persuade my sisters and parents. Does anyone have advice how I could?

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Could you ask a teacher to help you?  Or one of your after school club leaders?

 

Have your parents and/or sister ever attended a dance performance?  

 

Do some research; read some books about the history of dance and dance training and explain to your parents how hard it is and what skills you get at the end of it (such as commitment to hard work, communication skills, fitness benefits and more) that will enable you to move forward with your life whether in dance or not.  I have heard of ex-professional dancers who have gone on to become doctors, midwives, lawyers, teachers and more.

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