Loizou, Stephanie, Dance Magazine
When you imagine a lawyer drafting a legal document, one of the first things that springs to mind is precision. It is with that same detailed meticulousness that a Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) trained dancer approaches his or her art. Both techniques are on time, flawless, and yet refined. Strength, expression, and polished movement are the guiding principles of the RAD, the pillars of training that characterize the traditional English system and mold dancers of exceptional quality.
The Royal Academy of Dance was established in London in 1920 by a small group of eminent dance professionals. Concerned with the poor quality and disorganized state of dance training at the time, they created a uniform examination syllabus to be taught across dance schools in Britain.
With over 13,000 members spread over 79 countries, the RAD is now an influential network in dance education worldwide. The Academy offers two syllabi: a graded syllabus and a vocational graded syllabus. The grades are designed for the once-a-week child, whereas the vocational grades are suitable for students wishing to pursue a dance career. Additionally, the RAD's Faculty of Education trains dancers to work as teachers in private and public education.
WHY STUDY IT?
Karen Berry, an RAD registered teacher in Aberdeen, England, and a member of the RAD executive committee, explains that a dynamic, structured organization like RAD provides teachers and students "with support and guidance at every step along the way." Clear criteria are set for each grade, which students must meet before advancing to the next level.
Stella Abrera, a soloist with American Ballet Theatre, trained exclusively in the technique from the age of 12. "Training all year for an exam made it possible for my teachers to make sure that I developed at a good but steady pace," she says. "It controlled my tendency to try steps that were beyond my capabilities at that time." Plus, Abrera notes that the vocational graded exams focused on good placement and on the correct use of epaulement. These eventually became second nature, freeing her up to explore different movement qualities and become the gorgeous dancer she is today.
RAD training is known for technical proficiency and clean lines. A Balanchine trained dancer who works toward intense speed, for example, would benefit from studying RAD because it emphasizes correct placement and academic lines, which force the dancer to pace his or her dancing and give attention to each step. The use of the upper body is expansive and generous, allowing freedom of expression within an otherwise strict form.
Because RAD training produces clean, technical dancers without any mannerisms, they can adapt to a wide range of styles. …