A New Artistic Director for the ISTD
29 June 2017
An introduction from Ginny Brown
Dear Members, I am delighted to introduce myself as your new Artistic Director. Since joining the ISTD as Head of Education & Training, I have been impressed by the Society’s deep commitment to best practice in dance education. It has been rewarding to work with the faculties to support the development of current and future dance teachers, so I am thrilled to now be leading on the future artistic development of the organisation.
The Society clearly has a rich and diverse body of work on which to build its future growth. But our most valuable asset is you – our dance teacher members – so you will be at the heart of every decision I make. I firmly believe that together we can secure the ISTD’s reputation as a world class leader in dance education: with our syllabi recognised as a benchmark of best practice and our teacher training trusted as a guarantee of quality.
I am already working with the faculties to ensure that our syllabi and training methods remain up to date and relevant to vocational training and the profession. One major development in dance education over the past decade has been a growing awareness of dancers’ health. I have therefore introduced a partnership agreement with Safe in Dance International (SiDI) who will be contributing their specialist dance science knowledge to our teaching qualifications. You can get a taste of this topic through a two-day course at our Residential Summer School in Guildford, which will focus on Mental Health for the Dancer (5th August) and The Adolescent Dancer and Developing a Dancer’s Physique (6th August).
Our most valuable asset is you – our dance teacher members
Having worked in dance education for over 25 years, I am deeply committed to the educational, social and cultural value of dance for all. However, recent changes in UK Government education policy have led to a worrying decrease in the number of young people learning dance in schools and, consequently, the number of specialist dance teachers employed in the state school sector. Whilst beyond schools, a reduction in public funding for the arts has led to a decrease in funded opportunities for young people to learn dance. As a result, many young people will no longer have an opportunity to experience dance unless organisations like ours take the lead.
The diversity of ISTD syllabi means that our work is already being taught in a wide range of contexts. For instance, since joining the Society, I have met ISTD teachers who work in state schools, Further Education colleges, universities, vocational schools and community contexts, as well as the many who run their own private dance schools. I cannot think of one other dance organisation that encompasses such breadth. Inspired by this impressive range, we are now considering how we can broaden access to ISTD syllabi for disabled learners. To begin this process, you will have recently received a survey asking for your experiences of accommodating learners with differing needs within your classes. This feedback will form the basis for research into improving access to ISTD teaching for disabled learners, as will examples of best practice from beyond the ISTD – such as the excellent work presented by Deaf Men Dancing and StopGap Dance Company at our recent Springboard event.
In addition, I am delighted to announce that we will soon be launching new Theatre Advanced 1 and 2 Analysis examinations, which will enable candidates to demonstrate knowledge at this level without reliance on full physical performance. We hope that this will encourage more of our teachers to gain these examinations in order to progress onto the valuable Licentiate and Fellowship qualifications.
Alongside such initiatives for future development, I will be working to ensure we maintain the high standards for which the Society is renowned. We are proud that all our members are fully qualified teachers and that many continue to update their knowledge and skills by attending our courses, congresses and awards. You can now promote this good practice to a wider audience by creating a profile on our new searchable dance teacher database and evidencing your commitment to our Professional Standards:
If you haven’t already done so, I urge you to join the worldwide ISTD on-line community at www.dance-teachers.org.
Something I am particularly looking forward to in my new role is the opportunity to meet ISTD teachers and learn about your experiences. So please do feel free to get in touch with your news and ideas. I hope to see many of you at our forthcoming Dancesport Congress, Italian Student Summer School and Residential Teachers’ Summer School.
Ginny Brown, Artistic Director