Dance chief warns that TikTok ballet risks 'losing the next Bussell'

‘We risk losing the next Darcey Bussell’: Royal Academy of Dance chief pours scorn on popular TikTok tutorials, saying next generation of ballet stars deserve learning to ‘be a quality and safe experience’

  • Chief Exceutive of The Royal Academy of Dance, Tim Arthur, has spokem out on the rise of TikTok classes for aspiring dancers
  • He told The Sunday Telegraph ‘we risk losing the next Darcy Bussell’ if future ballet stars aren’t taught in person in a safe environment 
  • TikTok clips show users a range of ballet techniques from beginner’s plies to advanced bar work – although teaching quality appears to vary

One of the leading voices in British dance has warned that TikTok ballet lessons, aimed at making the artform more accessible, risk ‘losing the next Darcy Bussell or Crystal Pite’. 

es in British dance has warned that TikTok ballet lessons, aimed at making the artform more accessible, risk ‘losing the next Darcy Bussell or Crystal Pite’. 

Chief Executive of The Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) in London, Tim Arthur, told The Sunday Telegraph that he thought the online classes could compromise both safety and quality. 

The influx of videos on the social media platform range from simple techniques such as a plies for beginners to more advanced bar work. 

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He said: ‘All children deserve that to be a quality and safe experience, otherwise we risk losing the next Carlos Acosta, Darcey Bussell or Crystal Pite, as well as the next generation of leaders, teachers and theatregoers.’

The Royal Academy of Dance is one of London’s oldest and most respected examination boards that specialises in dance education and training, with an emphasis on classical ballet.

RAD was founded in London in 1920 and was granted a Royal Charter in 1935. 

The Queen herself is a patron and iconic ballet star Darcey Bussell was elected to serve as president in 2012.

RAD is one of the largest organisations in the world and was designed with improving the quality of dance teaching – something Tim feels has been watered down with TikTok guides, which make for ‘a poor substitute for face-to-face tuition’. 

Clips on TikTok show a range of dance schools, dance teachers and teens showing ‘how to’ videos for those who want to learn ballet, often in clips less than a minute long. 

Tim also spoke to dance and performing arts publication The Stage saying: ‘The TikTok generation may be obsessed with quick hits of copy-me content but, while fun, this does nothing to help with understanding the underlying principles and mechanics of dance.

Accessible? A ballet school in the US shows people how to do bar work online from actual live classes

‘It’s a poor substitute for the real thing.’

Despite Tim’s concerns ballet enthusiasts are thrilled the dance form is now available for them to learn on their smartphones – instead of shelling out for pricey lessons. 

RAD’s BA in ballet will cost students £7,300 and the average cost for ballet lessons in London is around £7.30 per lesson and high quality ballet shoes retail at around £20 and upwards. 

TikTok’s ‘home lessons’ may appeal not only for ease of access but also because they are essentially free. 

@fulltimedanceteacher, who is popular on TikTok, shows basic ballet moves for beginners on her page. 

She combines the classical moves with songs like Cardi B’s WAP – which is a hit with viewers, although some have commented saying it’s ‘not suitable for children’.

Other accounts such as @australianballet give tips for ballet, but offer their own, face-to-face classes and are using the platform as a way to advertise. 

Some people are not impressed with ‘self taught’ dancers on TikTok and take to the comments sections with concerns

However some videos, posted by teens, look less accomplished. An account called @ballerina_dancer1 shows a woman doing a plie in pointe ballet shoes with thick socks over the top. 

The dancer tries and falls repeatedly and says on the video ‘broke my ankle guys’. 

The comments section was awash with concern, with one user saying: ‘As a dancer NO.’

The TikTok dancer admitted to being self taught when she called a pirouette a ‘twirl’ and someone commented saying: ‘The twirl is called “pirouette” are you a beginner or a self taught dancer???’

Another said: ‘Hello, I do ballet and I recommend that you be careful with that, you can hurt yourself, if you want to stand on pointe, you better go to a academy.’  

The user contradicted herself, saying she did the video as a ‘joke’ as she does actually go to a dance school – after admitting to being ‘self-taught’ to another user. 

They said: ‘Hi thx for the advice I did this as a joke I am a real dancer and I am currently going to an amazing academy for the study of dance.’ 

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