Royal Ballet School

Until recently, many children have missed out on dance education opportunities in the UK. Dance may be part of the national curriculum, but one-third of British schools don’t teach the subject. Further to this, with fewer children pursuing dance, higher-education institutions are warning of a decline in dance education courses.

In 2022, The Royal Ballet School launched the Affiliate Training and Assessment Programme (ATAP) to combat the dwindling ballet class availability. This programme trains numerous dance teachers who go on to teach affiliated classes in all corners of the UK.

These classes are invaluable to many children who may not otherwise have the opportunity to attend dance classes. The sessions inspire children’s love of ballet and provide a wealth of physical and mental health benefits.

In a bid to spread the word about the dance opportunities ATAP brings to children, the School has appointed a Lead Ambassador for this programme, none other than the acclaimed Francesca Hayward.

Here’s an overview of how ATAP works, an insight into Hayward’s role, and a behind-the-scenes look at one teacher’s career-enhancing experience when she joined the programme.

How The Royal Ballet School’s ATAP Works

The Royal Ballet School designed ATAP to extend its ethos and expertise to private and recreational dance teachers. These teachers carry the School’s outstanding dance training to schools across the UK.

The School welcomes ballet teachers across the country to its London studios for ATAP training. Tutors set these teachers up for success by providing them with high-level training and resources. These provisions empower teachers to provide an excellent ballet education experience for children.

The School also provides teachers with professional growth opportunities and space to be creative in their teaching approaches, both contributing to their job satisfaction. By the end of the programme, teachers qualify to teach ballet in other schools as Affiliate Teachers. They conduct their own assessments, which The Royal Ballet School moderates.

ATAP also evolves to meet the ballet art form’s changing needs. Students don’t just learn ballet steps and techniques. They also immerse themselves in ballet repertoire, choreography, and appreciation. They learn to place ballet vocabulary in context and deepen their love of the art form itself.

ATAP’s New Lead Ambassador: Francesca Hayward

In March 2024, The Royal Ballet School announced the appointment of a Lead Ambassador for ATAP: Francesca Hayward. As a current Principal Dancer of The Royal Ballet and a School alumna, Hayward is well-positioned to represent the programme.

The celebrated ballerina joined the School’s Junior Associate programme in 2003. She then progressed through White Lodge and Upper School, joining The Royal Ballet in the 2010/11 season.

During her career, Hayward has captivated audiences on the world stage. She has dazzled in ballets from Romeo and Juliet and Giselle to Manon, The Dream, and Like Water for Chocolate. The Royal Ballet School’s Artistic Director Christopher Powney has described her as one of the “leading dancers of her generation.”

Championing ballet both on and off the stage, Hayward is passionate about expanding children’s access to dance opportunities. Her vision for children’s dance education is in line with The Royal Ballet School’s. As such, the School is delighted to work with her as they pave the way for a new age of ballet training.

In her role as Lead Ambassador, Hayward will raise awareness of ATAP amongst keen young dancers, their parents, and their teachers. She will voice the long-term benefits of a holistic dance education, especially one that keeps up with the art form’s changing needs.

Behind The Scenes of ATAP With Teacher Maddy Jacques

While Hayward will promote ATAP, ensuring that children get to access ballet classes, Affiliate Teachers are delivering these immersive classes across the UK. One of these teachers, Maddy Jacques, has shared her insights into her role as an Affiliate Teacher.

Jacques is a freelance ballet teacher and ballet examiner. She teaches at a performing arts college in Leeds and a dance school in York. She also teaches at several other schools as an Associate Artist with the Royal Opera House Chance to Dance project. Becoming an Affiliate Teacher of The Royal Ballet School has transformed the way that she supports her students.

ATAP Training and Support: “I Found My Spark Again”

Taking part in the August 2023 ATAP training, Jacques “felt a little nervous going back to class.” That said, “by the end of the week, I felt so inspired,” she says. “I had found my spark again. I couldn’t wait to return to teaching and start delivering the work.”

Jacques found that the tutors were “so supportive,” and they continue to guide her now that she is a fully qualified Affiliate Teacher. Their “new approach to teaching and the fresh ideas we discussed … have helped in all areas I teach, not just the ATAP work,” she explains.

Jacques also finds the School’s drop-in clinics “useful and reassuring.” Further to this, she looks forward to attending the continuing professional development (CPD) days. She is sure these will be “as inspiring and helpful as the intensive ones.”

Aside from this in-person support, Jacques finds the online resources on the School’s on-demand platform useful. Whenever she has a question about technical expectations or needs inspiration for creative practice, she can revisit several materials. There’s also a guidance-packed Teachers’ Hub and handy marketing kit, both offering additional support.

Implementing The ATAP Training: “There Isn’t a Student It Doesn’t Suit”

Since completing her ATAP training, Jacques has implemented her new teaching style across her ballet classes. Her students have responded to this with enthusiasm. They enjoy creative practice and body conditioning, as well as discussing sections from different ballets.

Combining all elements of the ATAP programme helps Jacques shape her students into well-rounded dancers who “can see where all their hard work in class is leading.”

While the students who are already confident are enjoying a “new challenge to get their teeth into,” the shyer students are also stepping into their confidence. “With the freedom we have as teachers to deliver the work, there isn’t a student it doesn’t suit,” Jacques says.

Jacques’ students will now complete their ATAP assessments alongside their Royal Academy of Dance and Imperial Classical Ballet exams.

Ballet teachers who are also looking to enhance their training can apply for The Royal Ballet School’s ATAP until 18 April 2024. Apply for a place on the training course here.

About The Royal Ballet School

The Royal Ballet School is an international centre of classical ballet training excellence. Dedicated to offering a world-class dance education, each of its programmes nurture the next generation of dancers and choreographers. Aside from ATAP, these programmes include the full-time training, Associate Programme, Intensive Courses, and International Scholars Programme.