Dance Teacher Resources

Spotlight on dance syllabi: Part One

Continued Professional Development
Continued Professional Development from the RAD. Photo courtesy of the RAD.

Most Australian dance studios offer at least one, so what is it that makes dance syllabi valuable in the studio landscape and for dancers in training?

In April, Vitality Dance Teacher Conference at VDF24 sat down with some of the biggest names in international dance syllabus organisations to find out what they offer, what makes them unique, and what they bring to dance studios and students in the form of accredited dance training. If you weren’t one of the 300 studio owners and dance teachers in attendance, don’t worry, here, Dance Informa shares some of the insights for you.

First up, a little about each organisation…

Leah Belford – President of ATOD (Australian Teachers of Dancing)

“ATOD encompass everything dance and offer eight of the most impressive full systems of training. That being classical ballet, jazz, tap, street tap, national character, hip hop, contemporary and musical theatre.”

Anne Butler Chair for Cecchetti Ballet Australia

“Cecchetti is where tradition meets excellence, offering premier ballet training and elite artistry. Our syllabi has been carefully structured ensuring a well-balanced training, with each grade for younger dancers designed to build progressively to senior levels; two separate streams formulated to meet the different needs and requirements of recreational and professional dancers, and comprehensive, leading teacher training courses.”

Vitality Dance Teacher Conference 2024
The Syllabus Panel at Vitality Dance Teacher Conference 2024

Diane Gepp President, Comdance Inc.

“The Comdance global community is made up of teachers and studios around the world who work as a global family. At Comdance, we provide strong technique and expression along with experiencing enjoyment in an encouraging and empowering environment.”

Holly Pooley – Speaking on behalf of Rambert Grades

“Rambert Grades is an inclusive contemporary dance awarding organisation that offers two syllabi, covering Grades 1-8 and at the introductory level, Creative Dance for Early Years. Rambert Grades has the energy of two of the world’s leading contemporary dance organisations behind it – Rambert School and Rambert dance company. The school and company share a pioneering heritage, drawing on over 100 years of expertise grounded in many years developing professional dance artists. Rambert Grades is trailblazing an inclusive and accessible framework that celebrates individuality with a vision of training to empower.”

Shelley Yacopetti, National Director of RAD Australia (Royal Academy of Dance)

“RAD is a world leader in dance education and training. We’ve been teaching the world to dance for over 100 years and believe passionately in its power to transform lives. RAD Australia offers training, professional development, student activities, exams, and membership to choreograph a future in dance for everybody.”

What is unique to your offering, what are your main points of difference?


“We are unique in that we offer so many systems of training under one umbrella. Everything you need to educate your dancers, we have for you. Our point of difference is our support to members. We value each and every member and go above and beyond to ensure each member is receiving the best possible customer service we can offer.  

One thing you may not know about ATOD is that we are a not-for-profit organisation – meaning every dollar we make goes back to our dancers and our members. We are also a nationally recognised training organisation – meaning we can equip you to offer certificate and diploma courses to your students.”


“We have a commitment to upholding the cherished principles of Enrico Cecchetti. Cecchetti was an internationally famous dancer in the late 1800s – a Rudolf Nureyev of his time who went on to become a leading master teacher of international repute, working in the imperial theatres of Russia, and teacher to the one of the most avant garde companies in the 20th century.

Rambert Grades at VDF
Holly Pooley teaches a Rambert Grades Creative Movers class to children aged 3-6yrs at VDF 24.

Cecchetti’s method is built upon total coordination, use of the whole body in movement – the bendings, the swooping, epaulement, the circular movements, the beautiful port de bras. The method is scientifically and anatomically based and caters for the individual body. The intricate musicality of Cecchetti’s combinations are timeless. Cecchetti’s method is for the training of classical theatrical dancing and has inspired many world wide lovers and exponents.

The method is the uniqueness of a master of his time, that still endures and produces elite artists and dancers who can also adapt easily to contemporary dance, which is something you should all know. The young children’s and graded syllabi was developed as stepping blocks to achieve the master’s principles.”


“Comdance is a one-stop shop. We are multi-genre with syllabi in classical ballet, modern jazz, tap, theatrical and performing arts; hip hop; contemporary all choreographed by Jason Winters; Latin and Ballroom. Teachers can do one or many of our syllabi.

Exams are all scaffolded on sound pedagogy, and each genre offers both classroom room exams and stage exams at various levels. Our most prestigious stage award, Blue Sash, is by invitation only to candidates who have been successful at the highest level of performance in at minimum of three genres.

Teaching Certificates and Diplomas are also available in each syllabi. This provides a significant pathway for any member holding these awards to work in some of our Asian centres as well as throughout Australia. To complement the exam syllabus, we also run a competition series ‘Born to Perform’ both in Australia and throughout Asia.

Comdance is 91 years old. We have trained teachers and dancers since the inception of the Victorian Dance Society, by Dorothy Gladstone in 1933. In that time, we have been known by several names, the National Examination Board, The Commonwealth Society of Teachers of Dancing (CSTD), and today as Comdance. While our name has changed, our mission and values have carried over.

All teachers with dance training our welcome into the Society. We offer a pathway for Recognition of Prior Learning along with our own Teacher Training. All teachers are supported by our wonderful regional and State organisers. Should teachers like some support with the delivery of the syllabus or the preparation of exams, our examiners are very happy to help. They are approachable, friendly and, most importantly, encouraging of all members.”

Rambert Grades

“Our syllabus at Grades 1-8 offers three strands of learning: Creative, Technical and Performance. Each of these are explored with the aim of building strong and skilled students who have a sense of their own creative voice and an intrinsic understanding of the contemporary dance industry.

For the Performance Strand, we have invited and continue to invite renowned choreographers such as Hofesh Shechter to create unique solos, helping students connect directly with the industry.”


“One of our main points of difference is that RAD offers a range of ways in which a dancer can engage and connect with us across their dancing lifetime. That may be as a young student taking their first steps, adolescent dancers in vocational training through to adults in Silver Swans, ballet for over-55s. It may also be as a teacher gaining their first qualification and then continuing to learn and develop with us through their teaching careers with our professional development courses. We support and innovate to keep people dancing and engaged.

With this in mind, we have evolved our options for taking examinations; we offer graded and vocational exams, and within those levels, students can choose to perform solos as part of a Solo Performance Award and they can perform variations from various ballets as part of our Discovering Repertoire syllabus. There are also options for students to do a Class Award, where the teacher chooses the exercises and guides the students through the class, or they can do a Demonstration Class, where students simply perform for the examiner and audience. Recently, we celebrated a group of Silver Swans take their Grade 4 examination. All of these options are designed to give the teacher the flexibility and choices they need to keep students engaged and thriving.

We are 104 years old. We are a growing network of international dance teachers, we support and connect a global community of more than 400,000 students, and dancers of all ages and abilities, in more than 80 countries.

People may not know there are multiple ways to become a registered teacher with RAD. As well as our Certificate in Dance Teaching (Ballet), we have options for teachers with an existing dance teaching qualification and for professional dancers wishing to gain a qualification. For students studying a dance degree and vocational students in full-time training, we have our Access Routes to Registered Teacher Status to study alongside their dance training and, upon graduation, receive RAD teaching registration.

Our Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses are open to all, non-members included and are held in person around Australia and online. We financially support our teaching members through our Teachers Scholarship Fund with 15 CPD scholarships being awarded in 2023.

All of our RAD exams can be done in person or by video, and we offer the ability for a student to choose either the female or male syllabus regardless of their gender.

RAD Australia was the first country to pilot an exclusive partnership with Rambert Grades, bringing their innovative contemporary dance syllabus to our members at special rates. Finally, our new Artistic Director is Alexander Campbell, a fellow Australian!”

Now that we know the basics, standby for Part Two, where we will delve into the details and find out what support and opportunities these syllabi offer members, how they keep the teaching of syllabus or prescribed classwork fresh for members and students, and how you can access them.

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