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RAD’s Silver Swans™: Teaching Older Students

RAD Silver Swans™. Photo by Patrick Wolff

Dance attracts a wide range of students, from tiny tots to older adults. Perhaps it’s the music, the health benefits, the joy or those lifelong dreams, but people of all ages find their reason to practice dance in a classroom setting. Beginning this spring and summer in the U.S. and the UK, the prestigious Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) introduces its latest teacher training program, coined Silver Swans™, geared toward safely instructing the growing older adult market.

“We believe that the training and licensing initiative offers an exciting business opportunity for experienced dance teachers to extend their expertise and offer adult ballet through branded Silver Swans™ classes,” explains RAD’s Senior Advisor for International Partnerships Anne Hogan.

The Silver Swans™ class format takes into consideration how bodies differ physically and the limitations that age may introduce in an adult dance class. The “older adults” are not defined by a certain age, but the classes will appeal to those aged 55 and over, as well as adults who are seeking a slower-paced and safe ballet class.

“Participants will learn how to adapt ballet teaching techniques to improve balance and flexibility, facilitate breathing and improve circulation,” Hogan says. “When working with older adults, for instance, teachers may find that a class comprises participants who need to remain seated during the session. The Silver Swans™ workshops will help them to develop strategies to optimize the experience of a mixed group of participants, and to adapt movement sequences and repertoire to meet a range of abilities.”

The Silver Swans™ Teacher Training and Licensing Initiative builds upon the RAD’s comprehensive research program centered on older students. In 2014, the RAD released The Song of the Body: Dance for Lifelong Wellbeing, a book that honors dance as a means to enhance health at any age. The RAD continues its “Dance for Lifelong Wellbeing” research and community project, and the organization has hosted free events across the UK for adults over the age of 65, offering Silver Swans™ classes at its headquarters in London.

RAD introduces its new Silver Swans™, a training program geared to teaching older adults. Photo by Patrick Wolff

RAD introduces its new Silver Swans™, a training program geared to teaching older adults. Photo by Patrick Wolff.

The two-day Silver Swans™ pilot workshops will kick off June 2-3 in London, followed by June 25-26 in Atlanta, Georgia, and will continue throughout the summer in multiple locations, including Gloucester; Tampa, Florida; Toledo, Ohio; Long Beach, California; and New York City, New York. Each workshop will consist of on-site training, with day one focusing on strategies for safe and inclusive practice for older adults, and day two involving individual feedback on teaching skills and further explanation of the Silver Swans™ format. Following the workshop, participants will be assessed by submitting a DVD that demonstrates examples of safe and inclusive practice, and an online assessment.

Upon successful completion of the Silver Swans™ training, teachers will obtain a license, to be renewed annually, to offer Silver Swans™-branded classes. Teachers will also gain access to Silver Swans logos and poster artwork, and their name will be added to a “find a registered teacher” portion of RAD’s website. 

The Silver Swans™ training is not only open to RAD Registered Teachers. While RAD teachers are automatically approved for entry, the program also welcomes teachers who have at least three years of experience in teaching dance and who can demonstrate intermediate or higher competency in ballet technique. For more on the admission guidelines for the training, click here

Hogan says she hopes the Silver Swans™ program will benefit both the older adult students and also teachers. 

“We hope that this initiative will enhance opportunities for adults of all ages to enjoy safe and inclusive ballet classes, and to experience firsthand the benefits of dance in improving health and well-being,” she says. “We also hope that the training and license will support experienced dance teachers to extend their expertise and the scope of their business by tapping a growing segment of the dance education market.”

To learn more about RAD’s Silver Swans™ training workshops and for information on how to apply, visit radusa.org/about/news.

By Laura Di Orio of Dance Informa.

Photo (top): RAD Silver Swans™. Photo by Patrick Wolff.

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