‘Vocational Training’ is for students at either 16, 17 or 18+ years who have completed full-time compulsory education.
The term ‘school’ is commonly used in relation to these institutions but the training they offer is highly specialised, and designed to prepare you for a professional career in the dance, theatre and musical theatre industries as, for example, a dancer, an actor, a performer, a dance or drama teacher, a choreographer, a director etc. Typically you will receive an intensive training with a high level of teacher/student contact time in the form of daily classes, rehearsals, performances, professional studies, private study, etc. Most courses will lead to a nationally recognised qualification and throughout your training you will work with industry professionals as well as your regular tutors. This early contact with people already in the industry is crucial to your future as a professional artist. Many vocational schools now also offer excellent degree programmes too. Degree courses have an academic element in addition to the practical training.
Preparing for Professional Training
Many young people who go on to professional training have already started to develop their skills in dance/acting/musical theatre/singing by attending part-time classes at private dance and drama schools. Some will also have studied these subjects at secondary school through GCSEs, BTECs and A-levels, and others may have been involved in competitions and festivals. This early background training is helpful, particularly at auditions, but it is important to remember that careers in the performing arts are highly competitive and it is therefore worth working hard to achieve a good set of academic qualifications to complement your practical skills. Artists often need to look for additional careers as part of a portfolio of employment, or as a result of injury, illness or other unforeseen circumstances, so the acquisition of good formal academic qualifications will help to widen the choice of alternatives.
Full-time training for ballet dancers can begin as early as 10 or 11 years of age and full-time training in other disciplines can be undertaken from the age of 16 onwards.
Why should I train?
Occasionally an individual may have enough raw talent to be ‘discovered’ by the media and launched into stardom, but in reality this happens very, very rarely. Proper training is essential to allow you to build the stamina, technical ability and range of practical and professional skills and contacts to enable you to sustain a long and satisfying career in the demanding world of the performing arts.
How do I choose a School or College?
Life in the professional theatre is about as exciting as a career can get. It sounds glamorous but it is based on years of hard work, dedication and training. It is also highly competitive. You are going to need the best foundation you can get so you should start your research early, usually a year before you are going to audition, and think carefully about what skills you already have, what particular aspect of a career in the performing arts you aspire to, and what kind of training suits your professional ambition. Each school is unique in what it can offer you and it is therefore wise to look at a number of websites/prospectuses and to target a number of schools. Read all the information very carefully and always try to visit the school, attend graduate performances, open days or Summer schools so you can get a ‘feel’ for the kind of training that is on offer. You will also need to consider how you are going to fund your training at this stage. Most importantly you must remember that there are no guarantees of success at the end of your training, but that you are much more likely to be successful if you have studied in a properly quality assured environment such as at one of CDMT's fully Accredited Schools.
Making an application to a Dance/Drama/Musical Theatre School or College
Entry requirements vary so you will need to enquire directly to the school or consult the prospectuses/websites for more information. It is important to ensure you meet the entry requirements and that you complete your application fully and in detail by the deadline date stated. Remember, you will probably need to pay a fee for each audition and you will have to pay to get to and from the audition which might start quite early in the day. Once you have submitted your application the school will inform you if you have been successful in gaining an audition/interview. Some schools will see all applicants, whereas some will just see a selection.