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Career Focus - The World of Teaching

Ballet Teacher - Lucy Clay

Lucy is a Royal Ballet trained teacher and runs her own ballet school - Fancy Footwork - in South London..visit www.fancyfootwork.org.uk

 Lucy Clay and class

The Interview

Name Lucy Clay

Location South London

Job title - Ballet Teacher

How did you become a Ballet Teacher? What is your background?

I trained at the Royal Ballet School, my course combined dance with teacher training. When I graduated I taught at the Ballet Academy in Gothenbury teaching students aged 18+ at University level. Then I moved to Italy and set up a ballet department in a new school. Finally I moved back to London, studied Contemporary Dance and then had the idea to set up Fancy Footwork.

How did you choose your subject?

I've always loved dancing and it is the area I am trained in!

How did you set up Fancy Footwork?

It is a self-funded company, so I didn't have outside investment or a grant to get me started. I've started off and let the business grow organically - I have recently employed two teachers to work with me and I have a secretary.

Your classes begin for children aged 2 - what happens in a class for this age group?

Classes for little children are all about fun! I need to make sure that the class are enjoying themselves first and foremost, when they are happy we all have a great time. With very young children their emotions are always very close to the surface and if I didn't structure the class correctly then as soon as anyone was tired, or couldn't follow what was happening we would have tears and then chaos!

Also, I am really trying to dispell the myth of the old style ballet teacher - the woman at the front of the class with a stick shouting! I want the children who come to my classes to love coming and to see me as a friend as well as their "Miss Lucy"!

How does the job fit round your family life?

I am not currently a Mum myself...so it fits round my life very well!

How do you think Ballet Classes benefit children?

The aim of my classes are to build confidence in each child that attends. I think every child who comes to Fancy Footwork has something positive to bring to the class. Ballet can teach little ones lots of skills, including social skills like taking turns, working as a team, being respectful to other children etc. Physically ballet helps with co-ordination, balance, breathing and confidence.

Is the job rewarding?

Yes! fantastically so. I can really see the progress of the children who attend my class. I love the fact that the children are so enthusiastic and imaginative, they don't have any inhibitions and can be drawn into a story and taken on a journey.

What is the most challenging aspect of the job?

It can be tiring and is hard work! One of the most demanding elements of teaching pre-schoolers is that the reason the classes are so sucessful is they are high-energy and high-positivity..if you go into a class not feeling that way (if you haven't slept well, or are just not having a super positive day) then it will be a disaster. So you always have to be able to switch into the up-beat mood.

Do you think it is a job that fits in well with being a Mum?

Teaching little children during the day could be a job that would fit in with being a Mum, however for most dance teachers the majority of their teaching is based in after school classes or evening classes for adults. If you had a good childcare option or your partner had flexible hours then definitely so. The other hugely important point to bear in mind is that teaching dance is something you can only do after years of training - it is a skill which you need to learn, not something you can do quickly.

Any advice for a Mum or Dad wanting to start training or looking to work as a ballet teacher?

Start looking into proper full-time dance courses. If you are a Mum who already has a background in dance - then you may want to think about working for a while in an existing school as a route to seeing if teaching is for you.


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