Cultivating creativity in ballet education with atap

Cultivating creativity in ballet education with ATAP

Our Affiliate Training and Assessment Programme (ATAP) is a programme created to cultivate an appreciation for the journey of learning ballet, prioritising the process over the outcome.

One of our ATAP teachers, Emma Manes, spoke to us about a contextual study she recently implemented for her students. Contextual studies are included in the ATAP methodology to allow students to appreciate ballet through understanding repertoire and carrying out creative tasks.

What is your background as a ballet teacher?

I completed my ballet training at The Royal Ballet School over three years through the Teachers Training Course Diploma and worked as a professional dancer for 12 years, collaborating with renowned companies such as Matthew Bourne’s Company and The Royal Opera Company. I also have experience as Co-Director and Head of Dance in a jointly run Theatre Company, handling various aspects of theatrical production.

For the past 20 years, I have been teaching ballet full-time at local ballet schools and as a guest instructor at events and summer schools. Currently, I teach ballet at Bede’s Legat Dance Academy and lead the Saturday Legat Associate Programme which aims to nurture talented dancers in the local community.

How did you find the ATAP programme?

My extensive background has instilled in me a belief in a holistic approach to ballet and dance education and I was thrilled when The Royal Ballet School introduced their new Affiliate Training and Assessment Programme. Participating in this programme has been an enriching journey, allowing me to enhance my teaching skills through learning new techniques and methodologies alongside the programme managers. The experience has been immensely inspiring and has contributed significantly to my growth as an educator.

Can you tell us more about the contextual study you gave for your Level 1 ATAP students? What did it entail, and why did you choose to do that?

The contextual study proved to be an incredibly rewarding and engaging experience for my students. It provided them with the opportunity for self-expression and creativity, allowing them to delve into the world of theatre in a holistic manner. The study aimed to broaden their understanding of the chosen ballet and the diverse roles within the theatrical realm beyond just dancing.

I was truly impressed by the enthusiasm and abilities displayed by my students throughout the process. They enthusiastically designed and crafted Nutcracker-inspired costumes, created props and character models, and tapped into their artistic ingenuity to design posters, word searches, and characters with movable limbs.

Cultivating creativity in ballet education with atap

Together, my students and I decided to compile our project into a booklet format. I assigned them weekly tasks, such as designing a front cover, identifying relevant words related to the ballet, and reflecting on the characters and their attributes. Additionally, they engaged in activities like colouring pictures and designing costumes for the characters. As they progressed, we explored various avenues of creativity to further enrich the projects. Some students attended local ballet productions and wrote about their experiences, while others collaborated on a 20-minute production of The Nutcracker, wherein they took ownership of choreographing the dances and designing costumes. Their creativity flourished, with some even taking the initiative to physically create the costumes.

Encouraging the children to be involved in the initial concept and exploring multiple facets of production made the experience inclusive and meaningful. Through this process, the students gained valuable skills and a deeper appreciation for the art of ballet and theatre.

This is the final week to apply to become an ATAP teacher; learn more about the programme and apply here.