In conversation with laura hatton, leeds associate ballet teacher

In conversation with Laura Hatton, Leeds Associate Ballet Teacher

Based in centres around the UK from London to Edinburgh, our Associate Programme offers regional training opportunities to young dancers aged between eight and 17.

Since the programme’s inception in 1948, we have been dedicated to nurturing gifted young dancers. Our Associate programme has played a vital role in shaping the careers of numerous talented individuals, with many alumni achieving remarkable feats both on and off the world stage.

As we prepare to welcome young dancers around the UK to our centres for our Junior Associate auditions, we spoke with Associate Teacher Laura Hatton about the programme and her experience teaching in Leeds.

In conversation with laura hatton, leeds associate ballet teacher

What does your role as an Associate teacher in Leeds involve?

My role as an Associate teacher involves teaching children ages 8 to 16 years as part of the Junior Associate and Senior Associate programmes. The classes are designed to introduce students to The Royal Ballet School’s System of Training and enhance their ballet training alongside their regular classes with their local teacher.

Can you tell me about your background in dance and teaching?

I started dancing in Hull at the age of nine with the Skelton Hooper School of Dance, and it was there that my passion grew to one day become a professional ballet dancer. At the age of 14, I was successful in gaining a place on The Royal Ballet School’s Senior Associate Programme, and I attended fortnightly classes in Birmingham. After two years of training as an Associate, I was accepted into the Upper School, where I trained for three years under Dame Merle Park and Gailene Stock.

During my 2nd and 3rd years at the School, I was incredibly fortunate to have had many opportunities to work with both The Royal Ballet and Birmingham Royal Ballet companies, performing in the UK and Internationally. Sadly, my professional career was cut short due to injury, and I decided to train with the Royal Academy of Dance to become a qualified teacher. It was immediately after qualifying that I obtained my role as a Junior Associate teacher, which was now almost 13 years ago.

Alongside my role with The Royal Ballet School Associate Programme, I guest teach with other Northern-based vocational schools and organisations.

What’s your favourite part about the School’s Associate Programme?

My favourite part of the role is having the opportunity to nurture the next generation of dancers. It is a joy to work with such enthusiastic, committed and hard-working students who are passionate about learning, progressing and succeeding in their goals. Watching each student develop their skills over the years, whatever training path they decide to take, is wonderful.

What do students learn, and what do you want your students to learn from your teaching?

The Associate students study The Royal Ballet School’s System of Training, which includes body conditioning, barre work, centre work, allegro and pointe work for Senior Associate students. The Junior Associate students also study national dance.

As an Associate teacher, I teach this work to enhance each student in their training, working to set individual specific goals that are both challenging but realistic and achievable. 

In the classes, my aim for the students is to gain increased knowledge to enable them to improve their technique, further explore the meaning of artistry and develop their individuality and creativity as dancers.

My aim as a teacher is to ensure that the learning environment is safe, fun, approachable and professional so that each child can fully thrive on the programme and get the best out of the classes. I firmly believe that the classes also develop transferable life skills that enable students to transition into other career paths in their adult lives. 

What might people not know about our Associate Programme?

The Associate Programme also offers further support and opportunities for students and families. This includes online presentations with The Royal Ballet School’s Physiotherapist and Healthcare team, various workshops for students to develop their training, invitations to attend pre-general rehearsals at The Royal Opera House to observe The Royal Ballet and occasionally, students are also asked to participate in productions with The Royal Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet and visiting companies.

What would you say to young dancers considering joining the Associate Programme?

If you are considering auditioning for the Associate Programme, the classes provide a wonderful way to make new lifelong friends whilst enhancing your existing training in a positive learning environment with highly professional teachers. 

Lastly, what are your top audition tips for Associates looking to audition?

My top tips for auditions are:

  1. Make sure you have eaten something nutritious and healthy to give you energy throughout the class
  2. Wear a suitable leotard/dancewear that makes you feel special and confident
  3. Try to enjoy the experience even if you are nervous. Treat the audition as an opportunity to dance for an audience
  4. Don’t forget to show your passion, enthusiasm and joy for dance.

Applications are now open for The Royal Ballet School’s Junior Associate Programme. Apply today to secure your audition place.