What does a 'successful' Dance School look like ?

 This is a question that Emily Twitchett asked on Social Media, to my mind part of  the answer to the question depends on what your aims are as a dancer... 

a) For the the young dancer who aspires to a professional career whether as a dancer or as per
former, success is going to be measured by the numbers who go away to vocational training whether that's at Y7, Y10 , 16 (after GCSE) or 18/9 , but also  the 'right' destinations- whether that is the (fairly) pure Ballet schools or 'triple threat' Stage Schools at Y7 or Y10, or  equally the Contemporary Centres for Advanced Training (or the AoNB CAT for Ballet if you are in or around W Yorkshire)... or any of the various full time options at 16 or 18...

b) For the young dancer who doesn't aspire to a Professional career, success is  going to be measured as offering them an engaging timetable  that might also get them a few useful UCAS points and/or offer them  options to get a teaching / instructing qualification along the way. also nice to have performance options 

c) For the working age adult recreational dancer, assuming that timetable in B) is available to adults, whether through dedicated  timetabling or the option, at the higher grades and 'vocational' grades for adults and young people to take the same classes. this is what success looks like- There are some teachers and even schools who mainly or solely teach classes aimed at adults who take class for fun and  pre-Covid were doing very nicely  (e.g. Lady Bay Ballet in Nottingham). 

But does that solely define success? certainly happy dancers who are havign their expectations met in well-filled classes, should lead to a continued livelihood for the principal and other main teachers, but  does that mean unequivocally that the school is success? 

Sometimes measuring success is not only about the outcomes for the most successful whether that's vocational places, distinctions in exams or whatever else...  But perhaps  another measure of success is that no one is left behind or worse still asked to leave because their progress is sufficiently  rapid to meet an an arbitrary  standard or speed of progression (especially notable where Schools cohort by age rather than by  the level someone is dancing at - meaning that  if a  young dancer is not progressing as quickly as they might for whatever reason or where puberty  begins to take effect , they are unable to progress due to their exact circumstances at that time they come under pressure to leave  whether  directly being told to leave or because their cohort is progressing and they are left behind...

Something which genuinely sickened me was when I recently heard of a local dance school which 'assesses out' in the way that vocational full-time schools do, it must be nice to have so many  dancers that you can do that,  surely this school must be getting loads of students into  really prestigious  vocational programmes at  11/14 and 16 or 18? It doesn't look like it.  

Dance as a whole has problem with body image and fetishisation of achievement and certain body types as I have recently  spoken a bit about in this post  and as related to professional Dance Practitioners by Kathryn Morgan among others... 

So what does a successful dance school look like?

- Will push dancers as far as they are capable of going, 
- While ensuring no-one is left behind, 
- Won't tolerate bullying in any direction, 
- creates a community if not a 'chosen family' among it's dancers that genuinely  cares for one another  


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