Inaugural RAD Conference for Teachers in Toronto

By Grace Wells-Smith
  • Teresa Randall, RAD Examiner and member of Canada’s National Ballet School’s artistic faculty, presenting her ‘To the Pointe’ session / Photo by Bruce Zinger
  • Canadian-born director, choreographer and dancer Stacey Tookey leading a contemporary dance session / Photo by Bruce Zinger
  • Emmy-nomintated choreographer, Stacey Tookey leading a contemporary ballet session / Photo by Bruce Zinger
  • The Mondor Lounge at the En Avant Dance Teacher Conference / Photo by Bruce Zinger
  • Teresa Randall during her ‘To the Pointe’ session / Photo by Bruce Zinger
  • Cheryl Belkin Epstein, Deirdre Kelly, Jennifer Bolt and Lynn Wallis on the panel for the discussion on Perfectionism in Dance / Photo by Bruce Zinger
  • Valerie Sunderland leading the movement session on Character: Polish Court Style / Photo by Bruce Zinger
  • The Mondor Lounge at the En Avant Dance Teacher Conference / Photo by Bruce Zinger
  • Karen and Allen Kaeja teaching their session Introducing and Incorporating Improv in your Classes / Photo by Bruce Zinger

One of the world’s biggest education and professional membership organizations presented a new teacher conference in Toronto in August.

En Avant Dance Teacher Conference was presented by the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel and concentrated on teaching as well as the business side of the profession. The four-day conference covered a range of topics throughout seventy-eight seminars, panel discussions and movement workshops.

In a conversation between panels, Clarke MacIntosh, the Canadian National Director for the RAD, shared with The Dance Current that the plans for the conference have been in the works since 2012, and they hope to present the conference in all of the eighty-three countries the organization serves.

“We wanted to make a conference that was different and of a higher standard,” said MacIntosh. “Most conferences have one star presenter; we wanted all stars.”

Faculty throughout the event included RAD Artistic Director Lynn Wallis, Emmy-nominated choreographer Stacey Tookey and artistic directors of Toronto’s Kaeja d’Dance, Karen and Allen Kaeja, among several others.

There have been a number of new conferences for dance teachers in Toronto in the past year, including the Toronto Dance Teacher Expo, presented by Kent McCord’s Dance Attack Workshop, and The Canadian Dance Expo.

When asked why now is the time for such conferences, MacIntosh speculated that dancers grow up training together, but when they become teachers they are, for the most part, alone. “It’s important to pull back and regroup and be together,” said MacIntosh. “We want to re-inspire teachers to be part of their community.”

In addition to bringing the local teaching community together, the En Avant conference featured some special appearances. Li Cunxin, subject of the film Mao’s Last Dancer and current artistic director of the Queensland Ballet in Brisbane, Australia, was in attendance, as was Karen Kain, artistic director of The National Ballet of Canada, Robert Binet, choreographic associate with The National Ballet of Canada, Luke Rittner, chief executive of the RAD and DJ Danny D, on-air personality for Z103.5 FM and recipient of the 2010 Stylus Awards “club dance DJ of the year.”

Special events included a cocktail reception, a fashion show and gala dinner.

“I hope as teachers you will be bold, be demanding, be persistent, ask for the world and be the inspiration and the motivation in your students’ lives,” said RAD VP Cunxin in his keynote speech. “Let your passion and love for dance truly inspire them.”

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