The Royal Ballet School believes creative dance education should be accessible to all young people. To broaden access to its unique ballet expertise, last year, the School launched Primary Steps on Demand, an online dance programme for primary schools.
Primary Steps on Demand extends The Royal Ballet School’s current work with UK primary schools. Since 2006, the School’s Primary Steps Programme has introduced many children across England and Wales to creative ballet training and nurtured young talent through regular dance classes.
Primary Steps on Demand has made dance education from The Royal Ballet School available to primary school children worldwide. Now, three of The Royal Ballet School teachers who helped create the video-on-demand programme have shared the benefits of the on-demand programme for children and primary schools.
What Is Primary Steps on Demand?
Primary Steps on Demands is a complete dance programme for primary schools everywhere. The programme offers adaptable content, with classes on cross-curricular themes, lessons on core concepts of ballet, and varied movement guides. With these provisions, schools can fulfil their dance curriculum requirements and deliver engaging, high-quality dance classes to children aged 7 to 11.
Primary schools access the programme via The Royal Ballet School’s video-on-demand platform. Educators can choose when, where, and how to deliver the programme while benefiting from The Royal Ballet School’s expertise, exceptional quality, and ongoing support.
Participating schools also receive free continuing professional development (CPD) sessions to upskill teachers, including CPD webinars and live virtual workshops.
Who Teaches Primary Steps on Demand?
Experienced Royal Ballet School instructors lead the programme’s pre-recorded video classes. This means that primary school teachers don’t need to have dance teaching experience to deliver Primary Steps on Demand. Educators also receive lesson plans and resources to support the programme’s delivery.
Amy Giancarlo, a Primary Steps on Demand teacher, explains that the programme is “convenient, user-friendly, and requires no previous experience in ballet.”
Giancarlo has 10 years of recreational and educational ballet teaching experience. She became involved with the original Primary Steps Programme while pursuing her Diploma of Dance Teaching with The Royal Ballet School.
The video classes also feature accompaniment from a musician, plus footage of Royal Ballet School dancers and other Primary Steps students. Giancarlo shares that the young dancers impressed the teachers with their professionalism during filming, demonstrating a work ethic that aligns with the School’s ethos of “striving for excellence.”
Do Primary Steps on Demand Classes Require a Large Space?
Primary Steps on Demand is small-space friendly and doesn’t require any equipment. Giancarlo describes the programme content as “inclusive of all abilities and adaptable in different spaces.”
Natalie Krapf, a Primary Steps and Junior Associate teacher, took special consideration of the use of space while developing Primary Steps on Demand classes. Krapf explains that the classes have unique lesson structures that allow an “easier flow” between exercises. This helps keep students focused “in their own space.”
How Does Primary Steps on Demand Approach Ballet Training?
Primary Steps on Demand takes a creative approach to teaching ballet. The programme rejects “didactic teaching methods” in favour of an approach that celebrates children’s independent thinking skills and provides opportunities for self-expression.
Students gain experiential learning in specific curriculum areas through a series of creative ballet classes called “Exploring the Curriculum.” Meanwhile, the “Exploring Ballet” series helps children develop their dance skills and learn about key ballet concepts.
In addition, “Discovery Blasts” and “Inspiration Bursts” offer an easy way for teachers to introduce movement into the school day.
Giancarlo highlights the programme’s “refreshing” approach to ballet training. Students who participate in Primary Steps on Demand often find ballet can be fun, challenging, and collaborative.
Primary Steps on Demand also has the potential to encourage teachers and students to discover a new appreciation and understanding of ballet, enhancing their experiences as performers and spectators. As a result, Krapf hopes the programme will challenge misconceptions about ballet as an art form.
How Does Primary Steps on Demand Benefit Children?
Dance can offer children many physical, cognitive, emotional, and social benefits, such as increased confidence, improved fitness, and better focus. Krapf adds that ballet can provide children with opportunities to “express themselves artistically, physically, and creatively, where words can be insufficient.”
Creative exploration through dance can benefit children from a range of backgrounds. All personality types, even the “shyest, most introverted children” can find new avenues for self-expression through ballet.
Primary Steps on Demand teacher Lewis Sharp agrees that ballet can provide a distinctive outlet for self-expression. He hails from Barking and teaches in-person Primary Steps classes in Dagenham. Sharp relates to “the young people’s upbringing in the borough” and understands his responsibility as a role model for local children.
Sharp trained in Contemporary Dance at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and will soon complete his Master of Fine Arts in Dance Performance. He believes that young people must “embrace dance and the arts to keep them alive for generations to come.”
Sharp adds that Primary Steps on Demand offers children “the chance to break with negative connotations of ballet” and discover new tools to help them develop their confidence.
How Can Primary Schools Access Primary Steps on Demand?
Schools can access the programme by purchasing Primary Steps on Demand from The Royal Ballet School’s on-demand website. The School offers a range of pricing plans for small, medium, and large schools; community groups; home educators; and other non-school organisations.
Primary Steps on Demand offers an innovative combination of physical and artistic education. Through the programme, primary schools can meet students’ needs for physical exercise, curriculum learning, and creative expression. Schools also benefit from becoming part of The Royal Ballet School’s wider community.
Krapf hopes the programme inspires teachers and children to discover inspiring methods of classroom teaching and learning. After experiencing ballet as a medium for traditional curriculum subjects, teachers may never “look at those topics the same again.”
Sharp emphasises that the programme can help schools get children active and learning in a fun, engaging way that can contribute to their physical and mental well-being. He describes Primary Steps on Demand as a “golden opportunity” to learn with The Royal Ballet School and encourages primary schools everywhere to sign up for the 12-month online programme.
About The Royal Ballet School
The Royal Ballet School is a leading centre of classical ballet training. Founded in 1926 by the ballerina and choreographer Dame Ninette de Valois, the School trains young dancers and dance teachers around the world through in-person and online programmes and courses.
The School’s Primary Steps Programme helps children from diverse backgrounds in England and Wales engage with their local dance communities and access classical ballet opportunities. Many children who take part in the programme continue to pursue additional dance training and some secure admission to The Royal Ballet School.
The School’s admissions process disregards an individual’s academic ability or personal circumstances, evaluating only their talent and potential in classical ballet. On average, 88% of students receive financial support to attend the School.
After admission into thefull-time training course, students receive an excellent education in classical ballet and academics. On top of this, The Royal Ballet School’s Healthy Dancer Programme offers extensive physical and psychological assistance to every student.
Students leave the School well-equipped for fulfilling careers in the world of dance. Many work with leading global dance companies, such as The Royal Ballet and the Birmingham Royal Ballet. Notable Royal Ballet School alumni include Darcey Bussell, Margot Fonteyn, and Christopher Wheeldon.