CriticalDance Forum

"Training the Dancer-Degree vs. Professional Training"
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Author:  trina [ Mon Mar 20, 2000 9:16 pm ]
Post subject:  "Training the Dancer-Degree vs. Professional Training"

There are really several ideas on this topic. Which I thought would be neat to explore. And it also depends on what style of dance we're talking about. Ballet dancers, because of the nature of the training (lots of pointe work for girls, partnering/lifting/jumps for boys), tend to start their training younger, peak earlier, and retire younger. Therefore, most ballet dancers don't have college degrees (some get them later, after retiring or switching careers). Therefore, by age 18, most ballet dancers, if not already dancing professionally, are apprentices or coming up through the ranks at a professional conservatory, attached to a company.There is definetly an "age pressure" there. <P>Modern dancers tend to go more the "degree"/academic route. Modern dance tends to be (along with ballet) the most prevalant (spelling-help!) dance form taught in universities/colleges. Modern types tend to start dancing later and usually (I'm generalizing here) have longer careers. Or can, if they choose to and/or don't get injured.<P>Musical theatre/tap tend to go more the route of ballet dancers, studying at a speicifc studio or professional school or with a "master teacher" jazz, such masters would be Luigi, Matt Mattox, Gus Giordano, etc. <P>I'm not saying these ways of training are not changing....or may be different in other countries?<P>any ideas about dance training out there? What is the best the degree important to create a "well rounded" dancer..or is a professional school better?

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Tue Mar 21, 2000 2:00 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Training the Dancer-Degree vs. Professional Training"

Trina, an interesting subject for discussion. As a non-teacher my knowledge base is of course limited. But that's never stopped me pontificating in the past, so why stop now!<P>My impression is that here in the UK the sitaution is much as you describe in N. America. Professional ballet training is up to school-leaving age, whereas contemporary carries on through the period that corresponds to University education. I can certainly see advantages to this structure with a greater maturity when the students hit the labour market and being less of a hot-house creation. The additional maturity and time also helps to make it possible to study and practise choreography. As I understand it, all UK contemporary dance students can do it to some extent and some of them go on to great things. I think that this is one of the key strengths of modern/contemporary dance.<P>Various Universities around the country have Dance courses, but my impresiion is that these tend to produce choreographers, animateurs and administrators rather than leading company dancers. This role is normally the province of specialist schools, two of the leading ones being London Contemporary Dance School at The Place and the Laban Centre, also in London. I know a little bit about the former and it is an interesting model, but i think that the Laban Centre is similar. Students are taught to high standards and I saw two who left in '98 who have already made a real mark in the dance world, performing in a couple of top companies and receiving very positive reviews. They have the benefit of The Place, a sort of Dancedrome, where the Artistic Director is the leading choreographer, Richard Alston. Here is the Place website if you want to know more<BR> <A HREF="" TARGET=_blank></A> <P>LCDT has incorporated degree qualifications into their programme and also a post-grad performance MA year, called 4D, which incorporates a European tour and can call on the support of luminaries from the UK dance world such as Siobhan Davies and Wayne MacGregor. I have to say that this all seems like a great idea eg a dance school with its inherent strengths and then a degree structure incorporated into the system, so that the students have a qualification that will hopefully help them in their post-dance careers.<P>On the ballet front, it's interesting that Deborah Bull says that one of the great disappointments of her life is not having been to a University. From memory, Birmingham Royal Ballet has an in-service degree course for the dancers, perhaps at MA level.<P>

Author:  grace [ Tue Mar 21, 2000 7:37 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Training the Dancer-Degree vs. Professional Training"

i imagine deborah bull will make time for university at some point!<P>trina, in australia the issues you raise caused sufficient concern about 15 to 20 years ago, that 1 or 2 universities began offering fulltime dance training for prospective performers, leading to a Diploma (one step below a bachelors degree) and fulltime dance training for related professions like dance teaching, leading to a bachelors degree. <P>it was considered important to permit young people to acquire university qualifications, to enable their more well-rounded education for life, and to pave the way for the inevitable career change that dancers must anticipate. <P>it was also a way for government to ensure that the education/living grants they were handing out to students were being spent on recognised creditable training courses. the average privately-run dance school cannot obtain this support. <P>the australian ballet school, attached to the australian ballet company, DOES attract this sponsorship by government, in recognition of its definitely career-oriented professional training program. they also acquired the right to hand out Advanced Diplomas in recognition of the calibre of their training program.<P>every australian state now offers university dance degrees, but as you say, the majority are contemporary in emphasis.<P>the west australian academy of performing arts, part of edith cowan university in perth, is one offering a career-oriented BALLET training. the ballet training has been lead by ex-ballerina lucette aldous, who just retired. (new appointee is just as prestigious, but i'm not allowed to divulge who it is yet!)<P> <P>

Author:  trina [ Tue Mar 21, 2000 1:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: "Training the Dancer-Degree vs. Professional Training"

Forgot to mention that in the US we DO have conservatories/colleges which aim to give a university degree, along with high level, professional preparation for the student who is serious about wanting a performing career. My alma mater, The Juilliard School, (NY)is the best example. You can earn a BFA or Diploma (non-academic certificate) there. I earned the former. Another good example would be North Carolina School of the ARts. A lot of other universities, try a combination of the above, with mixed results. I have taught at several higher educational institutions and served on several academic/curriculum committees. The problem (one of them) is that a lot of administrators, who make many policy/curriculum decisions (without backgrounds in performing arts) don't understand the basic structure of training a dancer/classical musician, whatsoever. For example,one administrator, when faced with the reality that dancers have to take technique classes EVERY SEMESTER (and this has to be fit into a curriculum)said something like "well if that take that in the fall semester, why do they have to take it again in the spring"? Duhhhh--they don't have a clue!! So, therein lies the problem within academia!! What kind of emphais and structure to put into the curriculum, oftentimes trying to educate the administrators along the way---if you're lucky!!! Don't mean to sound like a snob here folks, but that's just the reality of the situation--trying to fit a round peg in a square hole, so to speak!

Author:  trina [ Tue Mar 21, 2000 1:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: "Training the Dancer-Degree vs. Professional Training"

To edit my above post, the quote (near the end)should read "if they took that class in the fall semester, why do they have to take it again in the spring".

Author:  grace [ Tue Mar 21, 2000 5:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: "Training the Dancer-Degree vs. Professional Training"

absolutely agree trina: it happens the same everywhere!<P>actually that comment reminds me of a secondary student i had once, who complained to her father (who then complained to the school!) that she had DONE assembles, so why did she have to do them again!!!! Image<p>[This message has been edited by grace (edited 03-21-2000).]

Author:  Azlan [ Sun Mar 26, 2000 7:24 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Training the Dancer-Degree vs. Professional Training"

Also, there is a program in the US to help ballet dancers obtain university degrees. I don't know much about it other than that only a select few are allowed to participate and the curriculum and schedule are designed specifically for the dancers.

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