The RAD was founded with the intent to improve the quality of dance teaching. It is therefore important for us all to understand what we mean by ‘quality teaching’, so we assembled a team of members, teachers and outside experts to debate this question. 

The answer was never going to be easy as there are so many different realities and points of view to take into account. As ‘good teaching ‘ or ‘excellent teaching’ do not define how teaching is conducted, ‘effective teaching’ was thought a better choice as it indicates the effect of the teaching discernible in the students. So what is effective teaching? After months of work and pages of well researched writing, I am happy to share that we distilled our thoughts down to this deceptively simple statement:

Effective teachers achieve positive outcomes for a full range of students through:

Knowledge, the personal experience and in-depth understanding of their craft
Communication, the ability to share their knowledge effectively
Passion, which drives them to learn about their subject which in turn inspires others to learn

These statements can apply to teachers of all levels, and all genres, but they must be put in context. There is a lot to unpack in each sentence!

‘Effective teachers achieve positive outcomes through knowledge, communication and passion’


We know that teaching is multi-faceted, and no one person will be effective to the same extent in every area. Think of this list as a set of aspirations to check in with every so often over the course of a teaching career. These attributes could be achieved by:

• Creating engaging classes and facilitating a holistic and joyful learning environment appropriate for all students.

• Encouraging and nurturing students to develop and embody individuality, musicality and artistry in movement.

• Embracing a secure and ever-deepening understanding of the syllabi and movement genre taught.

• Encouraging a positive environment of collaboration, self-reflection and ownership fed by mutual respect; inspiring and supporting students to take responsibility for their learning.

• Keeping all students engaged and inspired through secure communication and use of teaching strategies.

• Identifying and responding to the needs of a group and individual students.

• Having an understanding of ‘safe space’ and embracing safe practice in all aspects of work/class.

• Working with the acknowledgement that there are differing ways to acquire knowledge, and at differing paces, and that adaptability is an essential aspect of the successful sharing of information.

• Embracing life-long learning and with that the continued development of personal practice.

• Ensuring through feedback and feeding forward that students are aware of what they have achieved and are able to use information given to deepen and hone their personal skills and artistry.

• Acknowledging and embracing the evolution of the art form through the unique characteristic of each person, celebrating diversity and the way that people may differ.

This is definitely not the last word on all of this – but rather something that I hope will stimulate some healthy feedback as this is something that I believe is crucial for us to get right. I look forward to receiving your thoughts at



Members joined both in-person and online for a vibrant day of practical sessions and inspiring conversations with people from the RAD and our partner organisations. 

Highlights included Alexander Campbell (Royal Ballet and RAD alumnus) leading a mixed repertoire masterclass; Céline Gittens (Birmingham Royal Ballet and RAD alumnus) launching a new scholarship for RAD members; panel discussions on safeguarding and careers in dance; and workshops on pre-school children and working with students with special educational needs.

Art of the matter

Effective teaching

Dance Gazette

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Were you daunted when you were appointed to lead Rambert School in 2015? 

The school is 103 years old – we celebrated our centenary in 2020, and like the RAD spent a whole year cancelling events during lockdown! I have great respect for our history and tradition, but you can’t live in the past,. There’s a tremendous temptation, when you are offered a big role, to chuck everything away so that you can put your own stamp on it. But it’s important to look at what you’ve got and respect the things that work. 

Why is the collaboration with the RAD on Rambert Grades significant?

The RAD was a big part of my training. I did my advanced exam at Battersea – I can still remember the terror going up in the lift! And I remember reading Dance Gazette when I was 13 or 14. The RAD has evolved but still has a very clear progressive structure and an amazing reputation. People trust it. 

Contemporary dance is very accessible, inclusive and creative, and Rambert Grades is a completely different system and way of looking at dance. It has solos by Hofesh Shechter and Alesandra Seutin, both cutting edge choreographers. And it has a creative improvisational strand from the earliest years, so it’s about learning and trusting your own creativity. The two systems sit side by side – a student will learn so much from the structure of the RAD ballet syllabus, but also about having confidence in their own ability to express something. We just started talking and found we were aligned in lots of ways. It was a conversation that ended up with this partnership.

How does this breadth of training benefit a dancer?

Nobody these days trains in just one discipline. That broader perspective is vital. For dancers and for all young people, using your imagination, building confidence in your ideas and having a sense of individual expression is vital.

Why did Rambert School move to genderless teaching?

We had been mulling it over for a while. The world changes, and we have students who identify as non-binary. Our students have a voice and we listen to them. But what made it happen fast was covid. It was purely practical: suddenly, our students had to be in small groups or ‘bubbles’, and it made sense for these to be household bubbles, which were mixed gender. It worked really well, and after covid there was no appetite to go back to male/female training. Our students only perform the classical repertory for internal assessment. I only insist that they take it seriously and that it has to be safe. It has worked incredibly well. We love it, we’ll never look back. I always wanted to do the double tours when I was a dancer, I could never understand why they were male steps. I was never particularly fairy-like!

You will be a judge for The Fonteyn this year – what will you be looking for?

Every dancer is different, and I value that fact. Of course, classical ballet is key, but I like to look for expressivity and individuality in a dancer – that extra sparkle. Competitions are hard – how can there be winners or losers when there are so many talented people out there? I have learned to trust my instincts. 

What advice would you have for the Fonteyn candidates?

I’m a great believer in flow. When you get into the zone, as athletes call it, nothing else really matters. If you can get into a flow state you’ll enjoy the performance and probably perform your best. Visualise yourself rehearsing and getting ready to go on for the competition. Visualise everything about it. Imagine something going wrong, but that you managed to overcome it. Try not to let that voice of negativity in your head gnaw away – tell yourself, I’ve rehearsed this, I know I can perform well. 

What is the best advice you have received?

I started as a dancer and then was a teacher for a long time. Now I have the privilege to be the Director of Rambert School, with a totally different set of priorities. But two things that have stuck with me came from [the choreographer and teacher] Robert Cohan. He was a guru who had many wise words. I remember him talking about the creative process and saying that all you have to do is not get in the way. That sense of stepping back and accepting that it’s not all about you is really important. 

And a number of people have taken this from Bob: he said, Teach what you know, not what you don’t know. And teach with love. Because when you teach everything you know, your students will begin to learn and question themselves, and through their questioning, you’ll learn more. 

Rambert Grades

Following a successful period in Australia, the Royal Academy of Dance and Rambert Grades are delighted to be expanding their collaboration globally. RAD Registered Teachers will be offered to join Rambert Grades – a progressive and inclusive contemporary dance syllabus. This unique collaboration brings together two world-leading organisations with a shared passion for excellence in teaching practice and a desire to widen access to dance.


Why Dance Matters

Monica Mason

Dance Gazette

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The Royal Academy of Dance has appointed the philanthropist and entrepreneur Stephen Moss as Chair of the Board of Trustees.

Stephen Moss joins the RAD at an exciting time for one of the world’s pre-eminent dance education and training organisations as it continues to empower people across the globe through dance.

Speaking of his appointment, Stephen Moss says, ‘I am delighted to be joining the RAD as Chair. I have always had a love for dance, and so I feel very privileged to become Chair of such a brilliant international organisation.’

Moss trained as a lawyer and holds an MBA from London Business School. After a spell working in the City of London, he combined a successful career as an entrepreneur with transformational charity roles; including founding and chairing the Springboard Charity, a leading national organisation helping thousands of young, disadvantaged and unemployed people change their lives through training and employment in the hospitality industry.

In 2020, he became Chair of London Youth, which represents over 600 youth organisations across London and helps young people to become the best they can be. He is also Chair of Trustees of Jewish Community Secondary School (JCoSS) and the Jewish Policy Research, which undertakes demographic and social research for its community.

He was awarded an MBE for services to the restaurant industry and a CBE for his contribution towards education and training.

Tim Arthur, Chief Executive of the RAD, says, ‘on behalf of the RAD, I am thrilled that Stephen is joining us as Chair. It’s an exciting time for the RAD and Stephen joins us at a pivotal moment as we evolve and expand around the world with more products and services than ever before and a renewed focus on our fantastic membership and digital future. I look forward to working with Stephen and furthering our mission of inspiring the world to dance.’

Ida Levine, RAD Interim Chair and Chair of its Fundraising & Development Sub-Committee adds, ‘we are excited to be welcoming Stephen as our new Chair at this pivotal time. He combines a passion for dance and the arts, with transformation experience and a commitment to philanthropy, education and the social sector.’

As Chair, Moss succeeds Guy Perricone, who chaired the RAD from 2015 and is now Chair of Northern Ballet.

Art of the matter

Effective teaching

Dance Gazette

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The best advice I ever received The thing that probably had the most impact in terms of my happiness and wellbeing was to focus on the things that you can control, rather than the things that are outside of your control.

That’s really important for ballet dancers – or anyone pursuing something at a high level – being able to work out the things that will allow you to get better versus the things that are really out of your control. They can take a lot of time and energy away from the things that you can actually do. I’ve certainly experienced that myself, where you let those things take priority, and then you’re not in the best position to take advantage of potential opportunities. 

I also remember my mum putting up a quote in front of my desk. It’s a line from a big speech by Polonius in Hamlet: ‘this above all, to thine own self be true.’ I was a young kid and mum tried to explain it, but I didn’t really get it. But it’s always been there, and as I’ve grown older, I realise that it’s important to be comfortable in your own skin.

You want to make decisions based on who you are and who you want to be. It’s had a huge impact and certainly guides me when I’m making decisions about all sorts of things. It gives me a lot of satisfaction and happiness, being comfortable with who I am rather than what people expect of me

The advice I would pass on It would be that idea about being comfortable with who you are and who you want to be – that can guide you in your decision making. We all come to a point where you’re faced with difficult decisions, so it’s nice to have something guiding you.

Alexander Campbell in Dances at a Gathering. Photo: Bill Cooper/Royal Ballet


Inside RAD

New RAD Chair

Dance Gazette

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How did you first learn to dance?

My mother was a dancer, and then she opened a dance studio. Both my sister and I were kind of babysat there. My sister went on to play soccer, but I stuck with it. Soccer was definitely not my specialty – my mom said I used to dance down the field! 

Did you love ballet from the beginning?

Growing up, I was a very strong jazz dancer. We also did ballet, but it was a challenge. But I’ve never liked putting myself in situations where I could already do something, or was the best at it – there’s no fun in that. That’s how I’ve continued in my career – always surround yourself with people that are better. I’m constantly yearning to learn more.

You received a severe injury in 2019 – that must have been a very difficult time?

I suffered a really bad herniated disc in my neck. It was a very traumatic injury – I woke up one morning and couldn’t move my head without so much pain. To hear: “you’re probably never going to dance again”, or “we don’t know if this is going to heal” – that was really hard. I feel my best when I am dancing, so it felt like a huge part of my being was missing. I was invited to make Thousandth Orange for the Vail Dance Festival. I said, normally I do the movements on myself. How am I going to do that when I can’t move? It was a much different process than anything I’d done before because I had to focus on the dancers’ bodies instead of using my own. I love what came out of it.

Photo: Vincent Tullo

You made The Barre Project with the choreographer William Forsythe during lockdown – how did that come about?

William Forsythe and I had tried to work together a few times but our schedules never worked. During the lockdown, I hit a point where I was missing being creative. It felt like a lot of time was being lost. So I texted Bill and said, I know it’s not ideal, but would you want to make something? And he wrote back right away and said, ‘Well, when would you want to start? Tomorrow?’ We never met in person, but spent every day together on Zoom – it was one of the best times of my life.

Why does dance matter to you?

Dance matters to me because I truly believe that it’s healing. Since my injury, I know that it is healing to me. It’s always been the way I express myself and get my emotions out. But I also believe that it’s healing for those that are watching because it has the ability to transport them to a different place for that moment in time.

Artwork: Bex Glendining

Why Dance Matters

Why Dance Matters is the RAD’s podcast – a series of conversations with extraordinary people from the world of dance and beyond hosted by David Jays, editor of Dance Gazette. The fifth season of Why Dance Matters also includes conversations with choreographers Dame Arlene Phillips and Francesca Harper, RAD teacher and examiner Ana Maria Campos and Tim Arthur, the RAD’s Chief Executive. Please do listen and subscribe.



Benji Reid

Dance Gazette

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1 Our Lord Debussy by A Winged Victory for the Sullen

Every time I hear this music I have a need to create. There is a celebration of space in this work that makes it feel like a meditation, an offering to openness. In a world full of busyness and noise, one needs to find a moment to be quiet and still.

2 Red Room: Hiatus Kaiyote

Have you ever loved something or someone so much it hurts? Well, this is what this song is for me. It’s like crying at a sunrise because it’s so beautiful.

3 Masters of war by Odetta

Perfect protest song writing by Bob Dylan.

Come you masters of war
You that build the big guns
You that build the death planes
You that build all the bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks.

Odetta brings a beautiful sensibility to this song. I feel her pain and her disgust. Will we ever know peace?

4 One More Smile (Live at Electric Lady) by Yebba

I love to hear performers who become one with music. There is something deeply spiritual about this song. I get carried away by its simplicity and beauty. Some works just invite you to surrender and the song does exactly that.

5 Mother I Sober by Kendrick Lamar

This song is so layered. We have the painful truth of unresolved trauma, his raw and unflinching delivery and the song’s composition – they all work perfectly together. It is Kendrick’s honesty and vulnerability that gives this song its strength. Kendrick reaches into your soul and asks you to come on this journey with him. Mother I Sober is the complex struggles of black masculinity laid bare.

Photo: Benji Reid


Benji Reid on being a ‘choreo-photolist’.

Find Your Eyes is in the Manchester International Festival from 12–16 July.

Inside RAD

New RAD Chair

Dance Gazette

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