New dance teaching diploma starting in Chiswick in September

Image above: Natalie Parnell, Principal and Director, West London Dance Academy in her studio June 2022

Answering a demand for young dancers wanting a teaching qualification

The West London Dance Academy is starting a diploma course to teach dancers aged 15 + to teach dance, starting in September.

Natalie Parnell, Principal and Director, says the new course is answering a need in Chiswick:

“I kept getting phone calls from students at ArtsEd wanting work, but I need them to be trained to teach in order to be insured.”

She herself has been teaching for 25 years and has taught several students who have gone on to open their own dance schools – she is still in touch with one in Huddersfield, another in Kent and  others in France and Hungary.

Images above: Student teacher Sanna (in pink and black) training for level 3 diploma 2022; Former Level 4 Diploma Dance Teacher Francesca (all in black), qualified with 91% Distinction 2021 on WLDA Intensive teacher training scholarship course 

International Dance Teachers Association diploma

She is a Fellow of the International Dance Teachers Association (IDTA), which runs its own exams suitable for all ages and levels of experience and achievement. The organisation teaches Ballroom, Latin and Classical dance, Freestyle and the four core subjects of Ballet, Tap Modern Jazz and Theatre Craft.

The IDTA also offers teaching examinations in the non-core subjects of Line Dancing, Cheerleading, Street Dance, Rock n Roll, Salsa, Belly Dancing, Argentine Tango, Dance Exercise and Gymnastic Dance.

The diploma is a professional IDTA Level 3 Level for Dance Teaching Assistant and Level 4 for Dance Teaching.

Level 3 Diploma, aimed at 15 – 18 year olds, is for learners to develop knowledge and understanding of syllabus requirements, safe dance practice and dance teaching so that they may assist in dance classes, usually helping to teach groups of students for a specified period under the supervision of a qualified dance teacher.

Level 4 Diploma provides a basis for learners to progress into dance teaching, either through running their own dance school or working as a teacher in a private dance school.

The diplomas are regulated by Ofqual, the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation. Level 3 is broadly equivalent to A level and BTEC National Diplomas. Level 4 is broadly equivalent to the first year of an undergraduate degree programme at university.

Image above: Teaching Grade 5 Ballet June 2022 

Elite courses for students who want to become professional dancers

The West London Dance Academy also offers courses for young students who want to become professional dancers. The Elite Premiere training course for dancers aged 8 – 12 years is intended for students who are looking to prepare for full-time vocational ballet schools such as the Royal Ballet, Elmhurst of the Central School of Ballet.

Natalie has been a professional dancer herself, working with Roy Castle and Wayne Sleep. She worked at the old Pineapple Dance Studios, set up in 1979 in Covent Garden in an former pineapple warehouse, but wanted to strike out on her own and establish her own dance school.

West London Dance Academy was established in 2006. She took over as Principal 12 years ago.

“We have been offering professional dance exams for the past 16 years and have 100% pass rate.”

I remember from my own daughter’s experience of dance class that children can find going over and over the same routine to perfect it quite boring.

“It’s the parents who want their children to do exams” Natalie tells me, “but we do teach them to enjoy it!”

Image above: Natalie April  2022 with Senior Intermediate Vocational students who started ballet with her at 2.5yrs; Natalie Free movement class with New little beginners 2021

Growing up together in dance

Many of her students have been with her for many years and they form important friendship groups. Some have been in the same group from the age of two to 19. Exams are important for children, she says. Many of her students are very academic and it helps that their dance qualifications count towards UCAS points when they are applying for university.

They put on shows as well as training for exams: a performance of the Nutcracker in Chiswick Town Hall in 2017 and Alice in a Great Big Wonderland at Hounslow arts centre in 2019. They recorded the story of the West London Dance Academy on video for their 15th birthday in 2021.

Natalie is planning another show for 2023.

Image above: Natalie in her new studio with Ant and Dec February 2022 

West London Dance Academy’s own new studio

Initially she ran the school at St Michael & All Angels Church. Like many other organisations she went online during the Covid lockdown periods but when she reopened she did so at the Methodist Church on Sutton Court Rd in a space leased exclusively to the West London Dance Academy, so she has been able to put in a new floor, bars and mirrors.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support of the parents” she says.

Image above: Nutcracker at Chiswick Town Hall

Sign up for the diploma

If you are interested in signing up for the diploma contact Natalie direct at natalieparnell.wlda@gmail.com  Tel: 07795 578781.

The diploma course will each run for ten weeks terms, to fit in with school, college and work schedules. The teaching courses will complete over three terms and depending on your age and experience you will qualify as a Level 3 Diploma Dance Teaching Assistant (fully qualified to assist in dance classes from Preparatory to Grade 5) or a Level 4 Diploma Dance Teaching qualification (fully qualified to teach alone at dance schools and colleges, to run your own dance school and enter pupils for dance exams).

Club Card discounts on West London Dance Academy courses

West London Dance Academy is a member of The Chiswick Calendar’s Club Card scheme.

  • Holders of our Club Card benefit from a 5% discount off one term’s course fees when you book a Level 3 or 4 Diploma  course audition before 14 July 2022 (discount code 5DIPLOMA).
  • Natalie is also offering a discount on her summer course for children: “Strictly Come Dancing Days With Us” for 6-11 year olds led by a Ballroom and Latin dance teacher who has worked with the Strictly Come Dancing stars and choreographers. 10% discount when signing up for all three days of the Strictly Come Dancing Days With Us summer workshop (discount code 10STRICTLY)
  • If you are interested in the Elite Premiere course, she offers 5% off one term’s course fees when you book an Elite Premiere course course audition before 14 July 2022 (discount code 5ELITE).
  • If you would just like to book children’s dance classes, she offers Club Card holders £5 off when you book a 4-week trial of a dance classes, usually £32 (discount code 5TRIAL)

READ ALSO: Course List

Images above: The Nutcracker performance at Chiswick Town Hall

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