Australian Teachers of Dancing (ATOD) was established in 1991, with a vision to inspire and provide innovative education, training and opportunities for the dance industry. The organisation has continued to grow, offering a supportive environment for members who are based throughout Australia and New Zealand, Canada, South East Asia, the UK and Europe. The Registered Training Organisation (RTO 31624) offers a number of accredited qualifications delivered through distance education, auspices with dance organisations Australia-wide and VET/VCE Dance.


Leah Belford (President), Anna Boland, Tracey Jonsson, Karen Malek, Janelle Smith, Helen Weissenberger, Cheryl Witchell


Classical Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Hip Hop, Street Beat, Contemporary, Musical Theatre, National Character, Pre-School Ballet, Jazz, Tap.


ATOD supports dance for all ages and levels range from play dance curriculum for early childhood, through to a comprehensive teacher training program across all genres.

ATOD offers a recognised world-wide examination system and/or assessments for all levels. On successful completion of exams, students receive a comprehensive written report, certificate and medal, together with a mark from Pass through to Honours with Distinction. Early Childhood age students receive an assessment certificate and medal.


As a Registered Training Organisation (RTO31624), ATOD offers:

  • CUA30320 Certificate III in Assistant Dance Teaching
  • CUA40320 Certificate IV in Dance Teaching and Management
  • CUA50320 Diploma of Dance Teaching


State and National Championships and Bursaries are offered annually along with State Competitions

Karen Malek

Director, Examiner and Life Member of ATOD; former President 2007 - 2017.

What was the procedure to qualify to be an examiner/teacher?

When I trained to be an Examiner we had to do 30 days training sitting in with another Examiner – this usually took 3 years to complete and meant travelling all over the country – not an easy feat with young children. We had to have an excellent understanding of all genre – at that time Classical Ballet, National Character, Jazz and Tap.  Now we have in addition to these 3 genre Contemporary, Hip Hop, Musical Theatre, Street Tap, for pre-dance - 3 levels of classical ballet, tap and jazz – play dance at its best. Over the years as each new system of training was added all Examiners had to undertake Professional Development and learn all the new systems of training that they would be examining. I was in the fortunate position of being Head of Syllabi Development and working with expert teams appointed to develop and/or overhaul existing systems of training. Another pre-requisite is to present yourself with good presentation, a good command of the English language, a willingness to participate in PD opportunities and to promote the company and to help and support fellow dance teachers as required and at Company events such as competitions and scholarships.

Have examinations/assessments changed over the years and what is different now?

Fundamentally they are still the same. ATOD Examiners are encouraged with making teachers and students feel comfortable and assisting students if required in order to get the best out of them during their examinations. We are encouraged to smile at the students to put them at ease and this technique goes a long way in students having a rewarding experience and one they will want to repeat the following year. A win win for the teacher and ATOD.

What response do you receive from the children in exams?

Seeing the children physically relax as you ask them their names is the best feeling knowing you have connected with them on a professional level yet putting them at ease in order for them to show you their best work. Once I tell them that if they have a forgetful moment just to pick it up and keep on going or we can stop and start again if necessary, that I don’t take marks off for mistakes as I make mistakes at times, to see them smile and relax is the best because I know not only are they unlikely to make a mistake they will give me their best work and really be able to showcase what they have been working on with their teachers.

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