• Emma Acton

Why Dance Events Shouldn’t Replace A Student's Regular Training

Dance students today are so lucky in that they have access to multiple training methods and opportunities to further their knowledge in dance. While having a plethora of opportunities is obviously a wonderful way to expand your experiences, the necessity of a dependable and ongoing teacher is still fundamental in the development of our young dancers.


Competitions, summer schools, masterclasses and dance conventions all offer so much to our students in the way of broadening their dance knowledge, experimenting in new styles and connecting with the larger dance community. But these opportunities cannot replace the need for consistency to develop growth in technique. Consistency is the key when building the foundations of basic dance technique. It is vital that students attend regular classes with their regular teachers, as this repetition is the basis for solidifying correct use of muscle memory and body awareness.

As a private dance coach who offers masterclasses and guest teaching opportunities, I see the importance of both aspects of dance training. When working with students who are attending a masterclass, the inability to pick up new and unfamiliar work is evident among many of the students - this is a skill that is required in any audition and when learning choreography. Students often get so familiar with their syllabus work and the way their regular teachers correct them that they can become overwhelmed when asked to perform a step with different musicality or with the use of a different port de bras.


Being adaptable is such an important trait for dancers who want to end up working in a professional company or in a professional show. Trends are always changing and choreographers are trying to develop works that are different from anything else - this means that dancers need to be adaptable to what is asked of them each and every lesson. For this reason, I do believe that dancers should aim to attend different types of dance education, but dance teachers should also be researching opportunities that will have the most benefit for their students.

Unfortunately, in Australia, it is not required for dance educators to have any kind of qualification to run a dance competition, masterclass or even open a dance school! This is why many events that may be marketed as ‘great learning opportunities’ for young dancers, can actually be detrimental to their training. Some ‘dance educators’ are in fact just dancers who are looking for ways to make money to further support their own dance career. When sending a young dancer to any kind of dance event, be sure to research the event’s mission and the event holder’s qualifications. For these reasons, some studios may ban students attending certain workshops or being involved with certain organisations. Trust in your studio owner’s advice on which events will best aid their students’ dance education.

Apart from being a private dance coach, I have also consistently been employed as a regular dance teacher for eight years. This has given me an insight to the progression and improvement of students who regularly attend multiple dance events. While the level of movement comprehension is definitely higher in the students who attend events compared to those who don’t, bad habits are also inevitably picked up when they attend events where standards are not the same as that of the student’s regular training. It is a shame for students and teachers to put in so much work together building foundations of correct movement and classical technique, to have the work undone by someone less qualified or perhaps with motivation other than the dancer’s best interest.

I cannot reiterate enough the importance of doing your research and listening to the advice of your trusted studio owner when deciding whether or not to attend a dance event. Young dancers are so susceptible to what is advertised to them on social media and the like, that it can be difficult for them to understand that consistent work with their regular teacher is the most beneficial way to achieve their goals. Dance events can be a fun way to break up the mundane routine of regular training and they can also provide new learning opportunities, but they must not replace the regularity of correct technique training.

Emma Cheeseman

July 30th, 2019