Opening Doors to Possibilities

“Coming from Saskatoon, I was really nervous about being in Toronto. But once I was here, it solidified that I needed to be in the program.”

Those are the words of Shannon Bray, a soon-to-be graduate of NBS’ Teacher Training Program, as she recalls her experience at the second-stage audition for the program. She wasn’t the only one feeling nervous – all applicants to the program must participate in the four-day audition.
 
The intensive process sees aspiring dance teachers experience all aspects of the program, with classes in ballet and character dancing, Benesh notation (a way of noting ballet movements), and a host of other activities.
 
Shannon was invited into the program. But that didn’t mean her nerves disappeared. In accepting the offer, she gave up a lot: a permanent teaching job in Saskatoon and all the benefits that came with it. However, from the moment she entered the NBS campus during the second stage audition, she knew she needed to be at NBS in the TTP.
 
After graduating from university, Shannon was technically trained to teach, but felt that something was missing. It was while visiting NBS that she realized what it was: dance teacher training. In the TTP, she upgraded her teaching skills in ballet and character classes, anatomy and music theory lessons, supporting teachers in the Professional Ballet Program, and spending hours in studios building her expertise, confidence, and earning professional credentials.
 
Shannon is just one of many aspiring young teachers who open doors for their careers through the TTP. And because most TTP students come to NBS seeing themselves as dance teachers in traditional studios – with pupils between three and 16 years old – some of these doors can be unexpected.
 
Take Anne Cass, a current 2nd year TTP student, who, like Shannon, gave up a full-time teaching job in the GTA to enter the program. While attending an arts-education high school, Anne took dance but never thought of it as a potential professional career. It was only after graduating from university that she felt a void and began taking dance classes again.
 
“In the second-stage audition, we got to taste everything that was NBS. All the teachers who taught during those four days were all graduates of the TTP.”
 
Anne has found doors opening to teach in areas she'd never even considered before. In addition to teaching jazz to students in NBS' Associates Program (for after-school and evening students), she also finds herself teaching three different classes for adults in the hugely popular Adult Ballet Program. What’s the common denominator for Anne? "I love introducing people to dance - from all ages and stages.”
 
Shannon is returning to Saskatoon after graduating. While she'll return to teaching in the classroom, she has several other options to pursue as a result of her NBS TTP diploma. In addition to teaching dance to people with Parkinson's, Shannon's also taken a training module developed by NBS and Baycrest Health Sciences as part of the NBS Sharing Dance with Seniors program. This will allow her to teach dance to people with dementia; she’s already building relationships with people in Saskatoon who are hoping to bring her to their facilities.
 
No matter where they go after graduation, TTP alumni uncover many possibilities. Megan Ferris, a 2017 TTP graduate now employed at NBS, finds her days filled with variety. On Tuesday mornings you'll find her teaching in NBS Sharing Dance with People with Parkinson's and an hour later, teaching a creative movement class in one of Toronto's public schools. Later that day, Megan will be at her desk helping compile research for Rachel Bar, Manager of Research and Health Initiatives at NBS. Megan says, "I get to do what I love all day and feel like I'm saving the world.”
 
Shannon's still thinking about the decision she made over four years ago, " I found a community here and knew I could be a part of it.”  And while the following are Megan's words, you know they apply to both Shannon and Anne, "I didn't realise there were so many doors that could be opened through NBS' Teaching Training Program".


Photo credit: Cylla von Tiedemann