Teacher Course 2019 coming up!! Willem elaborates

posted in: Interviews

Last month we spoke about your vision on teaching. We understand you are doing a Teacher Course (TC) in 2019 again. A great opportunity for us to see and maybe even experience how you put your vision in practice.

Can you tell us what is the essence of TC2019?

We did a similar edition in 2017.  We skipped one year which is fine. Keeping the quality high and stretching it over a whole year is the gem, that is the magic of this course. In a sense the TC as we set it up is very much comparable to professional education, like for example a bachelor degree from university. It’s very intense. We have tried many setups in the last decade, but this setup we really see as a true teacher course that will make you a teacher. It’s not comparable to setups like bootcamps or a weekend with master classes. We have excelent stats from the last edition, where 11 people got their degree and all 11 participants are teaching now. It’s not just a theoretical thing, where you ‘may teach’. No, if you will do the TC, you will actually teach.

* read more below the photo *

So there is perspective when you sign up?

There is absolutely perspective. There is also almost a guarantee that if you are able to take the exam and pass, you will be of a level that you can be hired at other schools at well.

What will you learn at the TC?
Teaching obviously. And in sync or parallel with improving your teaching skills, you also learn how to dance and how to analyze your own dance. We see this as a whole, because your body is your instrument. So this year, even more than last year, we added some mandatory technical courses to the curriculum. As a participant you take a solo dance course, a partnerdance course and the demo training course, which is about how to present yourself. Following these classes is not directly about teaching, but  they are related to teaching. It’s adding to what you need to have as a toolkit to understand your students, to understand your body, to present it and to sell your product. In that sense this edition will be even more intensive than last.

So how did you set up this edition?
Let me run through the curriculum of the TC2019 with you:
We have seven training days throughout the year and in between we have internships. The first day is for the participants to get the overview and get to know each other. After that, we zoom in on the six main topics of teaching. One will be about the warm up, the second about class preparation, the third we will focus on some psychological matters involving role playing, the fourth will be about keeping the flow in class and how to manage it,  the underlaying foundation of how to make a class comfortable. Finally we will focus on analysis.


In between the training days, the participants will do internships. The first one is about observing. In this internship the participants write reports about what they see and receive feedback on them. The levels of analysis are looking at the teacher, looking at the students and looking at the class as a whole. After  the third training day the second intership starts, which is about assisting in class. The participants make sure the flow of the class is going: take absentees, make sure there is enough breathmints, if the temperature is ok, if there is enough fresh air and the floor is clean. It’s very important and essential to take care of these things; we are not making them do the dirty work.. The third internship they will be doing the teaching as well. They work together with an experienced teacher and take care of the warm up, show the movements and co- teach. In the fourth internship we send them away. We work with a few other schools and they do an external intership. So this is the real deal, they are more on their own! It is valuable to experience that it can really be very different at other schools, but as long as you stick to the method and use the tools that you got, you can make lessons work anywhere.

After completing all the modules, there is the exam and you will be tested in at least four different subjects. The exam includes dancing a demo, there will be a test about knowledge, prepare a class and do peer to peer teaching.

You sound very excited!

I am delighted to do it again! Especially when looking at how well the last edition went, following this setup. This edition will be mostly the same, but extra is that the participant will also follow classes. This part was stimulated before but are obligated now. Because if you run in the system here, you take a fundamental partnerdance class, solo class and you do demo trainingen, you can -besides personal development- see the whole backbone of the school at work. Every lesson comes down to the same things.

In that sense you connected the whole school and the system into the TC?
Yes it’s almost one big internship. Apart from the seven training days a participant will at least dance a whole night a week, so that is 45 weeks that you put in. The internships are about eight weeks each so another 32 weeks of an extra night.  If you add everything up, including writing the reports, participants put in almost two full days a week for a whole year. That is a big extra workload on top of your hobbies and regular work.

So for who is the teacher course?
This is really for people who are already at an advanced level of dancing and are maybe thinking about opening up their own classes, running their own school and don’t know how to start.

There has to be already an incentive on their part to start teaching. We deliver them the

method and curriculum so people can start.

To be more conrete, for who is it not?

I had some questions from abroad if there are possibilities to enroll, but that is not possible in this setup. We only have 12 spots available and we want people who already took that step. This teacher course is not for people who want to discover if teaching is for them. We advise them to experience to assist in classes or workshops for example. It is also not for people who are not interested in making it a parttime job. Or for people who want to advance their dancing: we offer them intensive coursese and the Embodying Weekends.

Who is teaching at the TC2019?
All the main teachers of this school are teaching in the TC. They all have their own modules and the schedule will be up soon. Laili Reinders, Bess Kuil, Jolien Heeringa and myself will be doing most of the work. We  might include some external sports psychologists or actors to train with and to help with specific subjects. Maybe this year we ask Inge de Peinder; she is one of the gurus of contemporary dance here in Rotterdam. She has a lot of teaching experience and a very clear vision on what dance classes should be about and that really resonates with us. It’s about development of the body and development of the mind.

And there are auditions coming up?!
Yes! What we will do in the auditions is talk the participants through the setup and prepare them to what to expect. It’s almost like a TC bootcamp where they get a taste of all the different subjects in the TC. In that sense, it’s almost an audition the other way around. We offer something and they can see if that is something for them. It’s definitely not an audition where you have to perform and we decide if you are good enough or you are not good enough. But of course we set the bar somewhere and we want to test your skills and your motivation. On the other part dancers have to contemplate whether this  it’s something for them. Because enrolling means time, money and investment. On our part, we only want to train people who want to work with this. For us this is not a commercial product. If you look at the price, compared to the hours and the quality we are offering, it’s perhaps half of the price of other schools. But still we like to do it this way. If you look at some TC setups, they cost a lot of money and people are being admitted that will never teach or should have one or two years more of dance experience before being ready to take a next step. I’m not saying that these other organisations shouldn’t do it, but to keep my own integrity: if I teach a TC, it’s because I think I can make you a teacher.