Teaching: the supreme art

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Ben Dunlop RAD DDTS, RTS
Institute of Dance | Baby Ballet School, Newcastle, NSW.

Ben Dunlop assists an aspiring student.
Ben Dunlop assists an aspiring student.

I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. After dancing professionally, the transition happened quite organically. I have always had a desire to share my love of dance, and I am grateful for the opportunity to foster that in the next generation.

Do you specialise in a particular age group?

I thoroughly enjoy working with all ages and skill levels. I believe the difference between a good and a great teacher is the ability to cater to all levels. I love the challenge of adapting my teaching style to any ability, learning style or level.

Has Coronavirus left you with lasting changes?

During the pandemic, my resilience and ability to adapt quickly was tested both as a teacher and business owner. Learning online meant that verbal and visual instructions were the primary means of communicating to students the feeling or action of a specific movement. I had to discover new and creative ways to keep my students engaged, and provide them with an additional level of emotional support during such a difficult time. When we returned to the studio, physical distancing requirements meant I had to make practical changes to the way I teach.

How do you balance the importance of technique with the importance of artistry?

Balance is so important, ballet class should not only be about the technical elements, but also to promote the use of individual artistry, expression and performance qualities. Within my classes I use a variety of musical selections that challenge the students both with their response to time signatures, dynamics and the overall feeling of the music.

What is the most rewarding part of teaching dance?

The most rewarding part of teaching is seeing students achieve their goals, whether they be short or long term based.

This article is included in our special Teacher Focus feature in the current Oct/Nov/Dec issue. Print is for keeps! Buy your copy from your favourite dance retailer or online here or here.

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