Teaching a Method.

One of the programs that Los Angeles Ballet Academy participates in is the Royal Academy of Dancing program and the annual examinations.  Many people ask why we teach RAD ballet and what is the difference between the syllabi.  I’d like to attempt to give you a short history of the different styles and methods.  First of all I would like to remind you that there are good teachers and bad teachers in every method and finding a good teacher and a good school that meets the needs of your child should be every parents priority.   RAD syllabus training is just one of the many things LABA offers.  All of our students from Grade 4 and up not only take an RAD syllabus class but they are required to take at least open format class every week.   (Advanced dancers take more.)  One lesson (the open class)  is where the material is presented in different configurations each week making the dancer think on their feet and put what they know together in different combinations while still maintaining their form and technique.  This class also offers the opportunity for the dancer to learn the dynamics of new movement.   The syllabus class offers combinations in class that are practiced regularly and repeated in order to allow the dancer time to concentrate intensely on form and perfecting the movement.  The RAD syllabus also incorporates longer combinations and floor patterns which teach the young dancers how to move in the space, with a partner or with the group and there is also the preparation of a solo to perform in the examination or presentation.  RAD syllabus also introduces classical dancers to character dance and Free movement work which is the pre curser to neo classical and contemporary movement which is so necessary for today’s professional dancers.

There are several recognized methods of teaching ballet with the most prominent ones being The Royal Academy of Dance, RAD (see the explanation below)  Checchetti method, (Developed by Enrico Cecchetti in Russia at the dawn of the 20th century. )  The Vaganova Method, (Created in Russia in the 1930s by former Imperial ballerina Agrippina Vaganova, and still taught today.)  Balanchine, (brings together elements of traditional, pre-Vaganova ballet training with the neo-classicalism created by Balanchine in the 20th century.) The French Method, ( is largely closed to the rest of the world, its practices not yet spread worldwide.)  Recently the ABT school has developed and graded syllabus with examinations and teacher training that is based on the practices of many of the above mentioned schools and seeks to be the “American Method”.

I think any method that is taught well is beneficial for dancers.   My personal preference is a mix of Vaganova and the English style of dance.  The reason I like RAD is because teacher’s are required to be thoroughly trained in a minimum of a 2 year course in order to be certified to teach it.  Ongoing teacher support and training is available, encouraged and required in order to place students for exams.  The practice of having the examination performed by an outside credentialed examiner so that we as teachers have outside eyes checking the progress of our students annually encourages us  to interact, as educators with other experts in the field.    The other thing that impresses me is that the RAD is currently updating the syllabus and we are all learning new material to teach to the students.   The new material is quite a lot more complicated and challenging at the graded levels and demands more from the students in co ordination and control.  I am pleased to step us to the challenge as I feel that our students are able to take on this material and work on even more challenging combinations and techniques at younger ages.

The RAD method is clean and pure.   It allows for very little affectation. Its produces long muscles and body lines. I have seen LABA students accepted to all of the other dance schools and methods because of their clean technique and their ability to adapt to other styles due to the simplicity of their own style.   Here are some famous dance names  that  were trained in the RAD method.

David Howard (NY Master Teacher) Wendy Whelan (NYCB Principal) Kee Juan Han (Director Washington Ballet School)  Stella Abrera (ABT Principal)  Gailine Stock (Director of the Royal Ballet School) Monica Mason (Director Royal Ballet)  Rowena Jackson (Royal Ballet Principal and Royal NZ Ballet School Director) Xander Parish (Kirov Ballet) Nutnaree Pupit-Suksen (SFB) and many many more.

Brief Overview of the RAD organization

On 18 July 1920, Philip Richardson, then Editor of The Dancing times magazine, organized a dinner for eminent dance professionals in Piccadilly. The diners included five special guests, representing the principal methods of ballet training in use at that time.  Phyllis Bedells representing the English Method, Lucia, Cormani the Italian Method, Edouard Espinosa the French Method, Adeline Genee the Danish Method and Tamara Karsavina the Imperial Method, Russia.   Other guests included Ninette de Valois, the founder of England’s Royal Ballet company, and Anton Dolin, the co-founder of English National Ballet. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the poor quality of dance training in Britain at that time and following further meetings, the Association of Teachers of Operatic Dancing of Great Britain was formed, with Adeline Genée as its first President. The Association would be the predecessor of the RAD.  The RAD was first names Association of Teachers of Operatic Dancing, and and was granted a Royal Charter in 1935. HM Queen Elizabeth II is patron of the RAD, with Darcey Bussell elected to serve as President in 2012, succeeding Antoinette Sibley who served as President for 21 years. The RAD is one of the largest dance organizations in the world with over 12,000 members in 79 countries,  including about 7,500 who hold Registered Teacher Status. There are currently about 1,000 students in full-time or part-time teacher training programs with the RAD, and each year about 250,000 candidates enter RAD examinations worldwide.



8 thoughts on “Teaching a Method.”

  1. Hello, Ms Andrea
    I have 2 questions about RAD program:
    I noticed that you had Grade 6,7 & 8 intensives this year.
    I thought that students would chose to take either Graded Levels ( 6,7 and 8) or Vocational Graded Levels ( IF, Int, and Adv) after they completed grade 5.

    Q1) What is the benefit of taking both Vocational Levels and Grade Levels?
    Q2) What Grade Levels and/or Vocational Levels will be required to study for teaching qualification leading to RAD Registered Teacher?

    1. Hi Yuka thanks so much for taking the plunge and asking the first question. The grade 6, 7, & 8 are truly beautiful syllabus. Many high level students take both the Vocational levels and the higher grade levels because they like the technical aspects of the Vocational levels, the high degree of difficulty, the range of vocabulary and the range of pointe work required to pass those exams. Then the higher graded work focus’s more on dance quality, musicality, emotional connection to the movement and also contains character and Free Movement work which is also very beneficial for today’s dancers. For the dancer who perhaps does not have the range of motion or the natural flexibility for Vocational work the higher grades do NOT require pointe work and is more about dance quality that natural physical ability. So different dancers have different reasons for enjoying the material. In order to become a registered teacher the criteria is to have passed the RAD Intermediate Level or the RAD grade 8 in order to enter the training course. We teachers love teaching the higher grades because it encourages dancers to focus’s on things that sometimes are under served in today’s high flying hyper extended dance environment like quality rather then quantity.

      Unfortunately although there was great interest in us doing the intensive during the summer we did not end up with enough dancers enrolled in order to run a special exam session. With all the things going on in young peoples lives today its just hard to fit everything in. We did however have an excellent turn out of students participating in our Summer Intersession so we ran open format classes which everyone seemed to enjoy immensely.

      1. Thank you Ms. Andrea. I have been wondering about it for 4 years. I’m glad that I asked you.

        I’m looking at LABA’s schedule now… I see IF and above vocational level classes, but not for grade 6 and above.

        If a student interested in taking Grade 6 examination, could it be done only in the Intensive ( if you have enough students)?
        Or can IF student take Grade 6 examination in the Spring also? If she can, how many and which classes will be required to do both?

  2. Awesome insight. Thank you for posting. I’d like to hear from families that have sent their dancers to intensives and any feedback they have. Thanks Miss Andrea.

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