World Teachers’ Day 2023
We’re lucky to have a wealth of brilliant teachers working at the School, who value our students’ education. This World Teachers’ Day, we’re celebrating all our wonderful educators and their unwavering commitment to nurturing our young dancers. We spoke to Acting Senior Academic Teacher (Upper School) and Head of Degree Programme Andy Granville and talked about what being a teacher means to him.
Can you tell me about your background in teaching?
I joined The Royal Ballet School in April 2021. Prior to this I worked in two high schools as a Subject Leader and was also Director of Dance in a selective 14-19 performing arts academy.
What subject do you teach?
I teach the contextual modules that focus on the development of ballet and contemporary dance for the degree programme, which I also lead alongside my role as Senior Academic Teacher for Upper School. Additionally, I teach GCSE Dance and History of Ballet at White Lodge.
Why did you choose to teach this subject?
I was inspired by my own secondary school dance teachers to pursue dance at a degree level. I have always wanted to share my passion for dance with others. The arts are something every child should access as part of their education; dance in particular can unlock creativity and enable students to explore the world around them. Enabling them to find meaning in movement and physical expression develops so many skills that are transferable to life outside of the studio. To be able to facilitate that learning is a privilege.
What do you enjoy about being a teacher?
I love when students have picked up on something they have found interesting in a lesson and gone away and researched it in their own time. I recently introduced a GCSE class to a choreographer called Liz Aggiss. The next day a student returned to tell me about all of the pieces by Aggiss they had watched and we had a brilliant discussion about German Expressionist dance. I also love asking them what they think about the dance works we study as part of the degree programme.
What has your experience been like teaching at the School?
I think myself incredibly fortunate to work with such amazing students every day. To be an academic dance teacher in a school such as this is amazing. It is a joy to help the students understand how their art form has developed in the past, where it sits in the present, and to consider where they will take dance as the next leaders of the future.
What are the challenges of teaching?
Teachers give of their time, energy and passion all day. We have to remember that we do sometimes need to sit down and enjoy a cup of tea and a biscuit!
What are the most enjoyable aspects?
Seeing how students come to understand challenging concepts and ideas, but then discover how they can use this learning in their practical dance works.
What inspired you to become a teacher?
I walked up to the head of dance in my secondary school, aged 11 and said “I’m going to be a contemporary dance teacher” and it’s a job I’ve always wanted to do. She encouraged me greatly along with other fabulous teachers. Following my dance training I was freelancing as a dancer, found myself teaching in a secondary school as an unqualified teacher and suddenly had the realisation that I felt more fulfilled teaching than performing.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a teacher?
It’s the best job in the world, but you need to keep your love of your subject and supporting students to make progress at the heart of everything you do. Helping young people make sense of the world around them is a privilege.