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RAD rebounds.

LONDON--In these gloomy times of economic recession, the Royal Academy of Dancing (RAD), one of the world's largest ballet examining boards, has some bright news. In its annual report it announced that the year ending July 31, 1993, was the most successful in its seventy-four-year history, indicating that the academy has recovered from its recent economic crisis.

The academy's aims, which were laid down in 1920, are "to raise the standards of dance teaching throughout the world and to provide the largest number of children with the opportunity to learn and enjoy ballet." The academy has accomplished this over the years by developing a syllabus and by training and certifying teachers through special courses. Those teachers, in turn, prepare their students for examinations set by the academy and adjudicated by members of the RAD Board of Examiners.

Four years ago, the RAD was bankrupt and threatened with closure. David Watchman, a man from the advertising and publishing worlds, was appointed chief executive, and he can take much of the credit for turning around the academy's fortunes. Seeking reasons for the financial decline, he remedied the situation through reorganization and tighter discipline. One of the greatest problems was the decline of membership, which he discovered was the result of lack of contact with the home base.

"The key was communication," Watchman says. "The academy members needed leadership, someone interested in their problems, someone to turn to with their questions. So we encouraged an atmosphere in which open discussion could flourish. There was much give-and-take, and we all learned from each other. Now the numbers are increasing."

Not only has RAD virtually halved its debt to [pound]620,000 (approximately $935,000), with hopes of eradicating the debt completely within two years, but also its membership has increased by three percent, to 17,023 teachers, and the entries for its grade examinations are up by thirty-three percent worldwide. Examinations now take place in seventy-four countries, and the academy is in the process of introducing its training method into communist China.

The academy's new syllabus has also played a role in expanding membership, and when completed will cover the entire spectrum of ballet from preprimary to professional levels. The early grades of the new syllabus were introduced in 1991, the middle grades in 1993, and the final section--Grade 8 Award--will be presented at the annual general meeting in January.

New life has also returned to the American division of the RAD, now under the direction of Mignon Furman. Examination figures in the U.S. rose to 23,665 last year; and there are now five regional panels that communicate with teachers across the country. This past summer, the Fifth RAD Summer School, held at Vassar College, welcomed 263 teachers and students from all over the world.
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Title Annotation:Royal Academy of Dancing
Author:Willis, Margaret
Publication:Dance Magazine
Date:Nov 1, 1994
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