In Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Inspired and rewarded Miss Rachel and I returned home this week after a four day workshop sponsored by the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) for dance teacher training.  Teachers with various backgrounds attended from all over the world.

It was amazing! I have attended many conferences on dance throughout the world and this was the best.  The variety of the offered classes, the expert instructors and lecturers, the organization and attention to detail all within an atmosphere of camaraderie was, in my opinion, without fault. 

For me the highlight was a pirouette class taught by Li Cunxin, star of Mao’s Last Dance.  Li is currently a vice president of the Royal Academy of Dance and the Artistic Director of Queensland Ballet, Australia.  Just when you think you know everything about teaching pirouettes Li comes along, still able to execute 6 to 8 turns himself with ease, offering tips and solutions on problems in turning.  Li continually spoke about the importance of bringing out the best in all students.  He urged all teachers to push for the best that all of our dancers can be, through discipline and persistence, because these dancers may become our future professionals.  He reflected on his own experience as a student and appreciated the attention to excellence which made him what he has become.

Miss June

I then changed gears and took a modern class from Stacey Tookey – what an experience that was!  I managed to get through the warm up and then bowed out and watched Miss Rachel take the rest of the class while I madly took notes, not on the choreography but on the way in which Stacey was able to get the best out of her class with specific direction and encouragement. 

Dame Lynn Wallis, Artistic Director of the RAD and recently presented with an OBE for her work with The Academy, taught 3 consecutive sessions on ballet technique.  I have always admired Ms Wallis for her depth of knowledge and her incredible accomplishments in the promotion of the teaching of ballet.  Lynn Wallis recently orchestrated and choreographed the wonderful new syllabus we are now teaching.  In all Ms Wallis’ sessions we were required to participate physically and verbally.  I felt that I was back taking my teachers exam again.  We were challenged and put on the spot.  It was a great wake up call for everyone. Even teachers can become complacent and inaccurate when teaching technique which can result in poor students and injuries.

There were so many choices of classes and lectures.  I even found a class on how to incorporate autistic children into your dance class.  I learned so much and look forward to passing the information on to my teachers so we can help our students in communicating with their instructors and with each other.

I look forward to the next conference.  Continual Professional Development is a requirement to sustain your RAD Teachers Certification.  This is a great way to help achieve this.  Thank you RAD