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Which is best for the future?


AmieDancer
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I am 17 years old and this September I need to apply to universities for courses. The problem is, I don't know what I want to choose! I have 3 main options that I'm considering:

 

Going to the RAD to do their BA (Hons) in Ballet Education

Doing a Dance and English Literature joint honours course at a university

Doing an English Literature degree and then doing the Certificate in Ballet Teaching Studies at the RAD.

 

I want to eventually be a ballet/dance teacher, however my parents would prefer it if I had a 'proper' degree to fall back on if anything happens (e.g. I get injured or can't find a full time job in ballet), so they think I should do a degree in English or at least the joint honours.

 

Would anyone be able to give me some advice as to which is best? I love both English and Dance but I ultimately don't want to make a wrong decision, be unhappy or not be able to support myself in the future. Thank you!

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Suggest you have a chat with a Careers adviser. Your educational institution should be either able to refer you to whoever provides this function internally, or point you to their external provider. Good luck!

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If you want to be able to teach both ballet and other forms of dance, you would do well to find out what is included in each course. I don't know whether this also applies to the RAD BA (Hons) in Ballet Education, but I believe their Certificate in Ballet Teaching studies will only qualify you to teach RAD syllabus. The advantage I see in option two is that by taking a PGCE after the degree you would then be able to teach both English and Dance in mainstream schools as well as working for any dance school that could offer employment.  Realistically few people can support themselves with only a ballet/dance teaching job.  If you were teaching children's classes after school and on Saturdays you would probably need a "day job".

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That's what my parents think as all of my ballet teachers either have multiple jobs (which I don't particularly want because of the travelling etc) or they've set up their own company, which again I don't really want to do. I know that in the BA (Hons) in Ballet Education you do study contemporary dance as well, but I don't think you're specifically then qualified to teach it. So if I did a PGCE after a joint honours degree, could I still teach Ballet? I would really love to do the RAD course as it's completely dance/ballet focused, but I don't want to end up with either a job that pays very little or no job at all! I just don't want to go to a university and be disappointed by their quite low standards of dance courses as for most of them, you don't even need any real experience.

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I think the market for ballet teachers in schools will be limited to the private sector?

 

Re: teaching dance in schools I guess it really comes down to whether you like the type of dance taught for GCSE/A level? My dd who is heavily ballet orientated finds it annoying to say the least.

 

Your option of English Degree and then teaching certificate in ballet plus or minus modern/tap etc gives you the widest options but will no doubt take the longest and be more expensive! !

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Quite the opposite is say Sarah. Apart from vicationsl schools the only schools I know of around here who employ dance teachers are state ones. Dance isn't seen as enough of an academic subject for private schools.

 

It usually comes under the PE department though.

 

I think GCSE & A level dance really depends on who they have teaching it. Many local schools see to subscribe to the be a tree & look angsty style of contemporary dance.

 

However I know of one local school who has a dance teacher who is also an IDTA qualified ballet teacher. She incorporates proper technique & lots of styles into her lessons.

 

A second subject is always useful though in terms of employability in secondary schools

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That's what I was thinking and whilst I do really enjoy contemporary and jazz, the GCSE/A Level spec is quite frustrating at times! My parents also think that that would be the best option as I would be able to teach both and I would have something to fall back on. However, I can't ignore the part of me that says to just go for the BA (Hons) Ballet Education degree at the RAD, which is what is causing all my doubts about what I actually want to do!

 

Pas de Quatre: yes I have noticed that there are hardly any schools offering qualifications in Dance which is a shame and which is why I'm worried about the job opportunities. I think the English degree would set me up for many jobs however I'm still worried as to whether dance employers would prefer someone with a degree in dance over someone with a degree in an unrelated field?

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That's good to know, thank you picturesinthefirelight. I'm slightly leaning towards getting an English degree and then doing the Certificate in Ballet Teaching Studies from the RAD in order to keep my options open and give me the best chance of getting a job.

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Quite the opposite is say Sarah. Apart from vicationsl schools the only schools I know of around here who employ dance teachers are state ones. Dance isn't seen as enough of an academic subject for private schools.

 

It usually comes under the PE department though.

 

I think GCSE & A level dance really depends on who they have teaching it. Many local schools see to subscribe to the be a tree & look angsty style of contemporary dance.

 

However I know of one local school who has a dance teacher who is also an IDTA qualified ballet teacher. She incorporates proper technique & lots of styles into her lessons.

 

A second subject is always useful though in terms of employability in secondary schools

for what its worth, my DDs go to private school and they have a private ballet teacher and 'genera;' dance teacher

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My cousin danced all through her childhood and teens - never any intention of going professional as her parents would never have supported it. She read English at Cambridge and now writes for an online 'what's on, culturally in London' site specialising in dance and she loves it. She has recently interviewed the ballet boys and Wayne Mcgregor. And gets to see loads of dance with her press card. All sorts of opportunities for multi talented people - follow what you love and what feels right.

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Quite the opposite is say Sarah. Apart from vicationsl schools the only schools I know of around here who employ dance teachers are state ones. Dance isn't seen as enough of an academic subject for private schools. 

 

PITF- in the above I was referring to ballet not GCSE/A level ballet. I may still be wrong but I've only ever heard of proper ballet being offered - mostly after school - at private schools.

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I teach in a major university in the areas you're looking at (ie literature & performing arts). If you are really organised & dedicated, you should be able to do a full-time BA (Hons) in English, and keep up your ballet training as well. So you could do a degree, + move towards an RAD or ISTD teaching qualification as well. Privately, that is, rather than through a university.

 

This would have some "future proofing":

* a degree from a reputable University in an in-demand subject such as English means that you'll have that option;

* teaching ballet is at best, a part-time job, unless you've had a really good professional dance career and can then  land a job at Elmhurst or White Lodge etc (have a look at the backgrounds of teachers at those schools).

* as far as I know, universities that offer Dance tend to offer contemporary rather than ballet, and frankly, most of them don't offer enough hours for a really full-time training. Most universities are not conservatoires!

* a good result in your English degree, from a good university (you should be aiming for AAB to ABB) will make you a better bet for a PGCE. Entry to PGCE programmes is competitive -- teachers are not a penny a dozen any more & they need to be very well qualified. 

 

So maybe look for a good English Literature degree in a city which offers a lot of ballet options? That would help you determine a manageable range of universities to look at in terms of the vast number of English Literature degrees on offer.  London is obvious, also Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, and Edinburgh. The main universities in all those cities are amongst the best in the country. I'd be more wary of the newer universities (eg Birmingham City University, Manchester Metropolitan etc) unless you can really work your socks off for a First Class or very high 2, i final degree classification.

 

The other thing to think about is to do your undergraduate degree part-time, and keep on training with daily ballet to get to the very high standard needed to teach properly. You could study English at Birkbeck in London, for example -- it's an excellent degree, and classes meet from 6-9pm in the evenings.

 

Good luck!

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That's what my parents think as all of my ballet teachers either have multiple jobs (which I don't particularly want because of the travelling etc) or they've set up their own company, which again I don't really want to do. I know that in the BA (Hons) in Ballet Education you do study contemporary dance as well, but I don't think you're specifically then qualified to teach it. So if I did a PGCE after a joint honours degree, could I still teach Ballet? I would really love to do the RAD course as it's completely dance/ballet focused, but I don't want to end up with either a job that pays very little or no job at all! I just don't want to go to a university and be disappointed by their quite low standards of dance courses as for most of them, you don't even need any real experience.

 

There isn't a specific qualification needed to teach contemporary dance or any other kind of dance for that matter unless you want to enter candidates for exams, in which case you need the relevant qualification from the awarding body. If you want a job teaching dance in state secondary schools, you'll need a degree and a PGCE. The degree does not have to be in the subject you want to teach but it's better if it is, otherwise you need other proof that you have knowledge at the required level to teach the syllabus. I know a secondary school dance teacher whose degree was in an unrelated subject but she had a lot of dance experience

 

So could I do the BA at RAD and then their PGCE to enable me to teach ballet as well as dance in schools? Would this be something that would make the job prospects any better or not really?

 

When you're thinking about teaching ballet, do you mean teaching in a local dance school which offers RAD ballet? I don't know what the pay is like for that kind of job or how many opportunities are out there. Maybe someone else here knows or knows where you can look (RAD website? Dancing times?) to see what's available. 

 

Do you know that teaching in secondary schools is something you'd like to do? People I know who have done a PGCE have found that they've had time for little else during the course and in the first years of teaching so bear that in mind if you were considering doing that plus teaching ballet after school.

 

Have you thought about doing a PGCE in primary teaching? There are many more opportunities in that field but of course it wouldn't be dance specific although you would probably get to teach some dance. You can apply for a PGCE with a degree only in dance. I know a few people who have done that.

 

Also, if contemporary is something you're interested in you could teach youth or community dance without any specific qualification. Some dance degrees teach the skills required for this.

 

It usually comes under the PE department though.

 

I think GCSE & A level dance really depends on who they have teaching it. Many local schools see to subscribe to the be a tree & look angsty style of contemporary dance.

 

However I know of one local school who has a dance teacher who is also an IDTA qualified ballet teacher. She incorporates proper technique & lots of styles into her lessons.

 

A second subject is always useful though in terms of employability in secondary schools

 

I think that lower school dance lesson depend on who's teaching but at GCSE and A level there is a syllabus which needs to be followed. It's about interpretation and using different stimuli to create motifs, then developing them and using them as the basis of a piece.

 

I think the English degree would set me up for many jobs however I'm still worried as to whether dance employers would prefer someone with a degree in dance over someone with a degree in an unrelated field?

 

Which jobs do you think a English degree would set you up for?

 

What kind of dance employers do you mean?

 

ETA Amazing advice from Kate_N!

 

I think you need to consider what you want out of dance. Teaching ballet lessons after school is very different to teaching dance (or English) in secondary schools which has a huge behaviour management aspect. Would you be happy with either or is ballet what you really want to do?

Edited by invisiblecircus
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Thank you everyone for all of your help!

 

Kate_N thank you for your advice, it sounds like getting an English degree and then private qualifications from the RAD is the best way forward so I am definitely going to do my research into universities in the cities you mentioned. I think this will give me the broadest range of options and I will be able to do both dance and English.

 

Invisiblecircus I'm not 100% sure yet, but I think that I would prefer to teach ballet lessons outside of school time as ballet is what I really want to focus on. I don't think I'd mind teaching dance in school but yes there is the behaviour management aspect of it which, with secondary school students, I know is not easy! Thank you for all of your help☺️

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Don't forget Leeds as another  university option, AmieDancer. Leeds seems extremely well-served for dance classes and you may be able to take class at Northern Ballet etc. Perhaps some of the Yorkshire forum members could assist re classes suitable for a student dancing at a high level and aiming to complete ballet teaching qualifications?

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Oh yes, the University of Leeds has an excellent English Department. I'm not as familiar with the dance provision there, so didn't mention it.

 

Amie, what you could do is look for good ballet training -- I"m assuming you're at Advanced level in the RAD programme? and then choose your university on that basis.

 

Although your parents may not think that the best way to do it, in my experience, a lot of intending undergraduates often choose their preferred course for  factors other than just the course itself. At least this way, your criterion of a university in a city where there's good ballet training, you'll cut down on the number of Open Days you'll need to attend!

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I will look at that thank you! Yes I'm at Advanced Foundation level at the moment so that would be a good idea actually. I'll do some research into places where there are good RAD ballet schools and see which universities there have courses I like. Thank you so much, you've been really helpful!☺️

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