Forum: Ask a Teacher

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re: Dance Teacher Certification
By SandraLAVixenmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Tue Sep 09, 2014 03:42 AM
From my experience, some of the worst teachers I have ever come across where certified and had degrees.

But there are also bad teachers without papers.

Dance is one of those things where papers don't seem to make a great teacher, the reason I have found to be the following:

Colleges and universities are not places where the great teachers of the world go to, they are places where people who want to make money find a job to teach and become teachers themselves. If these teachers were great, they would be teaching at one of the great dance schools of the world instead of a university.

Colleges and universities never produced any great dancer. They are great for: learning dance on an academic level if your artistic skills or physical technique are not great.

Certifications are ideal for commercialized mass dissemination of education, they too will not produce any great dancer because RAD and Cecchetti USA are syllabus for example are designed for commercial/recreational studios to run like a "factory".

A certification means very little in relation to a great teacher. A wise student would not choose such a teacher based solely on that.

FYI I have many certifications and degrees now, so I'm not saying this out of bias. Learn to teach from great teachers, not a commercialized program or a highly paid no-name teacher at a university.
re: Dance Teacher Certification (karma: 2)
By DaDancingPsych
On Tue Sep 09, 2014 08:11 AM
SandraLAVixen wrote:

From my experience, some of the worst teachers I have ever come across where certified and had degrees.

But there are also bad teachers without papers.

Dance is one of those things where papers don't seem to make a great teacher, the reason I have found to be the following:

Colleges and universities are not places where the great teachers of the world go to, they are places where people who want to make money find a job to teach and become teachers themselves. If these teachers were great, they would be teaching at one of the great dance schools of the world instead of a university.

Colleges and universities never produced any great dancer. They are great for: learning dance on an academic level if your artistic skills or physical technique are not great.

Certifications are ideal for commercialized mass dissemination of education, they too will not produce any great dancer because RAD and Cecchetti USA are syllabus for example are designed for commercial/recreational studios to run like a "factory".

A certification means very little in relation to a great teacher. A wise student would not choose such a teacher based solely on that.

FYI I have many certifications and degrees now, so I'm not saying this out of bias. Learn to teach from great teachers, not a commercialized program or a highly paid no-name teacher at a university.


I disagree with parts of your post. I know of several university dance teachers who are not there solely for the money. They are teaching there, because they like that environment. It has a totally different vibe than a professional dance school or even your local dancing school. That doesn't make it better or worse, just different.

And I know of many amazing dancers (and teachers) who have college degrees. Having a dance degree is a relatively new concept. So, I think the number of good dancers with degrees is only going to grow.

No, a wise student would not select a teacher based on certifications alone, but most students are not wise... at least not initially. If you speak to any dance parent exploring schools for the first time, they often have no clue what to ask. The certifications are a nice selling point ("See, I do know how to teach!") It is also helpful for students who for whatever reason are changing schools/teachers. If they liked (or didn't like) what a previous teacher was offering, they can find someone with that same certification (or not). I agree that the quality of teacher behind those certifications can vary, but in a situation where any breathing person can open a dance school (at least in the United States), it's at least something more.

When it comes to bettering myself as a teacher, I try to take an "all angles approach". Going through a certification process will not ensure that I am an awesome teacher, but it is going to make me accountable for that information. But I would say to not stop there. Add other approaches to continue growing as a teacher, too.
re: Dance Teacher Certification
By SandraLAVixenmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Tue Sep 09, 2014 10:37 PM
Well I did say most teachers at colleges are bad, not all. So yes I'm sure you will find a few good ones.

But I don't see how a college dance degree will be of much worth anywhere. Other than to teach at a college.

I would say (if I miswrote or was not clear) that certifications are good for "assembly line" or "factory" education, where you can streamline the processes for teaching many students at a commercial/recreational studio. It works fairly well for that purpose in my experience.

But it will not produce any great dancer, I have yet to see one such syllabi produce even one great dancer.

If a student really wants to be the next Diana Vishneva, certifications and commercial syllabis will destroy that student. :( It hurts me so badly to see that happen so often to so many great potential artists. :(

My conclusion would be, with the exception of becoming a commercial teacher, a college degree in dance or certification is not worth anything.
re: Dance Teacher Certification (karma: 1)
By Tishwah
On Wed Sep 10, 2014 04:18 AM
SandraLAVixen wrote:

But it will not produce any great dancer, I have yet to see one such syllabi produce even one great dancer.


What, what?? Sorry, am I misreading? Are you really saying that Cecchetti and RAD have never ever produced a truly great dancer?

I am just thinking Australian dancers, but Steven Heathcote is Cecchetti trained, Steven McRae is BOTH RAD and Cecchetti trained (Solo Seal, Genee Gold medalist, Lucie Saranova Gold medalist). I would say most Australian ballet dancers spend at least part of their training in either RAD or Cecchetti, and top Australian dancers (I would say "great" Australian dancers) are found in top companies all over the world.


Darcey Bussell said: "The Cecchetti work has given me strength, discipline and coordination. It wasn't until I got into the Royal Ballet School that I realised how lucky I was to have had this training". I would consider Darcey Bussell "Great".
re: Dance Teacher Certification (karma: 1)
By DaDancingPsych
On Wed Sep 10, 2014 06:45 AM
SandraLAVixen wrote:

Well I did say most teachers at colleges are bad, not all. So yes I'm sure you will find a few good ones.

But I don't see how a college dance degree will be of much worth anywhere. Other than to teach at a college.

I would say (if I miswrote or was not clear) that certifications are good for "assembly line" or "factory" education, where you can streamline the processes for teaching many students at a commercial/recreational studio. It works fairly well for that purpose in my experience.

But it will not produce any great dancer, I have yet to see one such syllabi produce even one great dancer.

If a student really wants to be the next Diana Vishneva, certifications and commercial syllabis will destroy that student. :( It hurts me so badly to see that happen so often to so many great potential artists. :(

My conclusion would be, with the exception of becoming a commercial teacher, a college degree in dance or certification is not worth anything.


I do understand the sentiment behind what you are saying, but I guess we do not agree in the details. There are poor teachers in all arenas (I am sure that this is true for all professions). It does not settle well with me to even say that most dance teaching professors are bad. Maybe my experiences are not within the norm, but I would say that the percentage of college dance teachers that are excellent is much higher than ones I have run into in other areas.

But you are right in that a degree in dance is really only needed for teaching at the collegiate level. But I think that there is value in obtaining the degree for other reasons. Just having that piece of paper (whether in dance or science or business) opens up employment opportunities. Some employers just want to hire a college grad, so it sets you up for a certain level of security. But while I do not need a degree to open a dance school, the education will make me a more knowledgeable teacher. How can it not? I cannot imagine going through four years of a program and not learning or growing at all. And if you ask me, my degree also represents a life experience that made me a better person. There were so many lessons within that environment that are not even represented on my transcripts.

If a student came to me and wanted to be a great dancer, I would actually suggest that they find a syllabus to focus on. (I don’t even have much of opinion on which one… they all seem to bring great things.) Why? The consistency. It’s a logical way to build a dancer. I did not grow up under one syllabus and I have spent my adult years trying to fill in the gaps of my training; putting things back together. I believe that I have had some excellent teachers, but those progressive steps are not all in the correct order.

Now I do feel that there is great value in exploring other syllabi and styles, too. I would say that when a dancer arrives at a more advanced level and has that solid foundation that she/he would benefit greatly to experience these other ideas in dance. So I suppose at this point, we actually do have some common ground. =)
re: Dance Teacher Certification (karma: 1)
By Tishwah
On Thu Sep 11, 2014 03:24 AM
The other thing with sweeping statements is that this is an international community, and what may be true in one country will not be in another.

In Australia for example the tertiary dance programs are phenomenal, to say that a dance degree is worthless simply does not hold true here. Maybe it is our small population, I don't know, but if you get into the dance degree at WAAPA for example (and make it through three years and graduate), you will come out a "great" dancer. The fact I was accepted into a graduate program at QUT opened doors for me, didn't matter that I never finished the program.

Our non university "pre professional" programs pretty much all offer at least a CertIV in Dance as an exit point. The Australian Ballet School's final year program (which is a post secondary education program) offers a Graduate Diploma of Classical Ballet. Even students at the ABS who leave prior to the Grad Dip, maybe at the end of their secondary education still receive nationally recognised Diplomas and Advanced Diplomas (depending at what point they exit the training). Sydney Dance Company (which is one of the most amazing dance companies anywhere, just my biased opinion) offers a "Pre Professional" year, and successful graduates receive a Cert IV in Dance - again, a nationally recognised qualification!

Maybe it is because in Australia you really can't give a "Certificate" willy nilly, this is all regulated and we follow the Australian Qualifications Framework. But it does mean those Certificates and Diplomas and Degrees MEAN something!
www.aqf.edu.au . . .
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