“Dancing in all its forms cannot be excluded from the curriculum of all noble education; dancing with the feet, with ideas, with words, and need I add that one must also be able to dance with the pen?”

– Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

 

On Wednesday 12th July 2017, I became a First Class Honours graduate of the Royal Academy of Dance.

The Royal Academy of Dance is one of the world’s most influential institutions for dance education and dance teacher training. Founded by an international group of dancers and dance teachers in 1920 to set standards for dance teaching in the United Kingdom, the organisation now operates in 85 countries. Its classical ballet syllabus is taught globally, with over 240,000 candidates taking Royal Academy of Dance ballet examinations each year. Beyond this, an ever-increasing programme of outreach work takes dance into diverse communities, while the Faculty of Education’s research develops knowledge which informs and inspires dance enthusiasts all over the world.

I have graduated from the Royal Academy of Dance’s BA (Hons) Dance Education programme. This varied programme not only equips graduates with the anatomical, musical and pedagogical knowledge and understanding to teach dance but also engages with philosophical, professional and practical issues in the fields of dance and dance education.

 

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Dancing. Writing. Learning.

 

Having graduated from the London School of Economics and Political Science; qualified as a journalist; and established myself as a dance writer, furthering my knowledge of dance by studying with a world-renowned dance education institution seemed like a natural next step.

Every time I dance, I turn into a better version of myself. Essentially, dance excites me – whether I am participating in it, watching it or writing about it. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the possibility of sharing my enthusiasm through teaching has always intrigued me.

Attaining a place as a student on the Royal Academy of Dance’s BA (Hons) Dance Education programme in 2014 marked the start of a learning experience that has equipped me with the skills and understanding to fully appreciate the complexities of dance, art and education. The syllabus covers dance in relation to the disciplines of Anatomy, Cultural Studies, Health, History, Music, Pedagogy, Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology and more. This truly rounded education in dance has enhanced my previously established skill set, ensuring my teaching practice is informed and impassioned.

Being invited to feature as a Dance Education advocate for the Royal Academy of Dance’s 2017 social media campaign ‘Meet the Student’ was a fitting way to acknowledge the learning journey I have been on.

Finding ways to continue my development in dance as a practitioner, writer and teacher is important to me. Working hard is part of my personality – a part that has undoubtedly been nurtured by my involvement in dance! I can’t wait to see where dance (and my work ethic) will take me next…

 

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Ballet teacher and former professional ballet dancer Lorna Scott is an in-demand dance teacher, a mentor to fellow educators, a higher education student and a busy mum of two.

Amazingly, she found time to discuss performing, teaching, the benefits of dancing and her thoughts on dance education with Georgina Butler

 

Lorna Scott is a former soloist with Scottish Ballet. She joined the Company on an apprentice contract after training at The Dance School of Scotland and graduating from The Royal Ballet Upper School. A year later, she was awarded a full-time contract and began working her way up through the ranks. During the 13 years Lorna spent at Scottish Ballet, she was privileged to work with countless brilliant choreographers including Hans van Manen, Ashley Page, Mark Baldwin, Robert North, Richard Alston, Tim Rushton and Stephen Petronio.

After retiring from her career as a professional ballet dancer, Lorna retrained with the Royal Academy of Dance, achieving the Professional Dancer’s Teaching Diploma (PDTD) with Distinction. Lorna’s first position after gaining the PDTD was working as ballet teacher and junior conservatoire coordinator at Tring Park School for the Performing Arts. This role combined coaching senior vocational students (aged 16 – 18) on the Dance Course throughout the day and teaching junior associates (aged 5 – 16) in the evenings.

Now a self-employed ballet teacher working in Aberdeen, Lorna is relishing being able to inspire young dancers through her teaching. Moreover, having trained as a Royal Academy of Dance Continuing Professional Development tutor in 2015, she is looking forward to having many opportunities to support fellow dance teachers in their efforts to spread the joys of dancing far and wide. Still keen to further her own expertise, Lorna is also currently studying for a degree in Dance Education with the Royal Academy of Dance.

 

 

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Acclaimed choreographer and theatre/television director Dame Gillian Lynne is a legendary figure in the arts. With a career spanning more than 70 years, her achievements include being a ballerina with Sadler’s Wells Ballet (now The Royal Ballet), performing centre stage as the London Palladium’s lead dancer and choreographing some of the world’s most iconic musicals.

Georgina Butler made the most of an opportunity to converse with the multi-award-winning dance superstar…

 

Gillian Lynne is a household name – a VIP in the world of dance and theatre. Her CV is packed with soloist roles as a ballerina; guest appearances as a dancer on the stage and on television; and countless productions on which she has worked her magic as an internationally sought-after director and choreographer.

Joining the Ballet Guild in 1942, aged 16, marked the beginning of Gillian’s career as a professional dancer. By chance, Ninette de Valois, the founder of Sadler’s Wells Ballet (which later became The Royal Ballet), saw Gillian dancing as Odette in Ballet Guild’s production of Swan Lake and immediately decided she wanted the talented young artist in her company. When Gillian accepted this invitation, she was the first dancer to join Sadler’s Wells Ballet who had not studied at its prestigious feeder school (now The Royal Ballet School). Possessing a gift for dancing; a desire to follow her dreams; and a tenacious work ethic, Gillian flourished as a ballerina and was later an instant success at the London Palladium and in subsequent roles in the West End.

Perhaps most famous for her ground-breaking choreography in Cats and The Phantom of the Opera (both with Andrew Lloyd Webber), Gillian has choreographed or directed over 60 productions in the West End and on Broadway. These productions have won numerous accolades and Gillian has been presented with multiple awards, including two Olivier Awards – one an Award for Outstanding Achievement for her choreography of Cats in 1981, the other a Lifetime Achievement ‘Special’ Olivier presented to her in 2013.

 

 

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Dancer, choreographer, dance educator and dance researcher Nefeli Tsiouti is dedicated to mastering all aspects of her craft and creating a better future for the next generation of artists.

She took a brief break from her current hectic schedule on a world tour with Project Breakalign – a dance science enterprise focused on preventing injuries in breakdancers – to share some of her experiences, thoughts, advice and ambitions with Georgina Butler

 

Nefeli Tsiouti was born in Sydney, Australia, and has double nationality: Australian and Cypriot (Greek-Cypriot). When she was 2 years old her family returned to Cyprus, where she lived until she turned 18. Aged 9, Nefeli began taking classical ballet classes. By the time she was 15, Nefeli was also learning contemporary and jazz dance technique and had experienced a year of hip-hop dancing. She simply loved to dance!

Between the ages of 18 and 23, Nefeli lived in Athens, Greece. Although disappointed to narrowly miss out on winning a place to train professionally at the Greek National School of Dance, she eagerly completed a Bachelors degree in French Language and Literature at university while also working as a dancer and dance teacher. During this time, Nefeli started ballroom dancing but just a year into forging a professional career she sustained an injury that prevented her progressing. Unfortunately, this was not to be the only time that an injury would curtail Nefeli’s desire to dance. Only a year after rehabilitation, she rediscovered the hip-hop culture and began training in breaking, adopting the name Bgirl sMash. Ten months later, in 2007, she suffered a severe shoulder injury. She was forced to stop dancing immediately and underwent surgery in 2008.

In 2009, aged 23, Nefeli moved to London to do a Masters degree in Choreography at Middlesex University, graduating in 2011. While studying, she formed hip-hop dance theatre company Scope Dance Theatre – enabling her to showcase her choreographic skills and perform alongside her dancers. Besides choreographing, Nefeli has been a lecturer in Dance in colleges and universities across London since 2011 and a freelance sports massage therapist for dancers since 2015. Currently completing a Masters degree in Dance Science at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance (supported by no less than three scholarships), Nefeli has devoted many years of independent research to the sector. In 2013, she founded Project Breakalign – a venture comprising a team of dance and medical specialists who are on a mission to reduce injuries among dancers.

Project Breakalign aims to offer conditioning, strengthening and injury prevention education to dancers – specifically breakers – through the Breakalign Method. The rationale behind the project was the fact that breaking has no established way, or step-by-step sequence, of being taught so it can cause frequent and chronic injuries. As research around breaking and hip-hop dancers in general has been very limited, the team behind Project Breakalign combine and adapt dance science and sports science research. Their approach is based on breaking technique and aims to prepare the body physiologically, biomechanically and artistically for the moves the style requires.

Nefeli and her Project Breakalign team are traversing the globe at the moment giving workshops, partaking in panel discussions and spreading the word about safe dance practice to b-boys and b-girls everywhere. Happily, she managed to set aside some time to answer a few questions!

 

Nefeli Tsiouti (photo by Peter Muller)

Nefeli Tsiouti (photo by Peter Muller)

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