Alanna Aitken’s Experience as a Dance Teacher
Alanna Aitken graduated from Dance For All College in 2012 and soon after won her first international contract, performing at a 5-star hotel in Egypt.
Alanna loved teaching and returned home to teach and coach in the Lothians. At the end of 2018, Alanna joined forces with Jennifer Bloe and opened AJ Dance Centre.
We caught up with Alanna to find out how her dance school and her teaching career is going.
Where were your first professional dance jobs?
Before and after graduating I taught Street Dance at West Lothian Danceworld, formally West Lothian Dance Academy (weekly) this is also where I coached the street dance crew Pulsationz, alongside Reiss Dunn – one of our major highlights is the crew coming 1st in 2014 at the UDO World Street Dance Championships!
West Lothian Danceworld is actually where dance began for me. I was a pupil from the age of 5 right up to 16, which was when I auditioned for Dance for All.
After my time as a dance teacher at West Lothian Danceworld, I moved on to peruse my teaching career with Edinburgh-based dance school Dance Division, later returning to West Lothian to teach for Next Step School of Dance and this opened up an opportunity of teaching dance within primary schools.
After this I taught for a further three years in another dance school in West Lothian, teaching various styles six days a week and putting on two dance shows a year!
What drew you to teaching and why did you open your own dance school?
My most visual memory of being a young dancer myself was staring up to my dance teacher, watching her effortlessly move in rhythm to the music, whilst I tapped my feet & thinking, “When I grow up, I want to be just like her”.
So here I am, many years later, living my childhood dream!
I have always had a great amount of respect and admiration for those involved in performing arts – the time and dedication showed. So, now, I am able to give something back to the dance community with my own school, whilst making many more children like myself, one day, live-out their very own dream.
What styles of dance do you teach?
At AJ Dance Centre, we teach Street Dance, Hip Hop, Cheerleading, Ballet & Tap, Acro, Parent toddler, Musical theatre, Jazz Fusion…
How many teachers & weekly classes do you have?
We have over 30 classes a week and more on the way!
Recently, we just employed two members of staff, one being a DFA Graduate also (Sarah Hoskins).
Alanna’s business partner Jennifer Bloe was the first teacher in Scotland to use Acrobatique Acro Dance syllabus.
“Acro” or Acrobatic Dance is a style of dance that’s becoming more and more popular across the country. It combines aspects of classical dance, such as ballet and jazz with some of the techniques used in acrobatics.
What types of dance are offered at your school, AJ Dance Centre?
Recreational Dance, ADTA Acro Dance syllabus, Acro, Hip Hop, Cheerleading, Parent & Toddler dance, Ballet, Tap, Jazz, and dance parties.
What have been your career highlights so far?
Opening my own studio and hitting over 150 students in less than a year – a place I call my second home!
What do you find most challenging about teaching/running your own business?
To be honest… time management. If I could split my self into 5 people that would be great! Finding time to do class plans, whilst juggling invoices, cleaning, uniform orders, social media and delivering the best customer service is a challenge but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
What do you love most about teaching?
It’s the most rewarding job in the world. From the moment a pupil says, “Miss Alanna I can’t do that”, to the smile on their faces when they achieve. Inspiring others through my own passion for dance every day to hopefully make dreams become reality.
Have you held or do you plan to hold your own dance show?
Yes, we intended on having our first dance show in 2020! We can’t wait.
Do you have any audition tips for dancers auditioning for our college course?
Try and attend the college open day if possible. This gave me a great insight into what to expect at your audition day.
Be professional, ask questions, and remember to smile. More Audition Tips…
How did your time at Dance For All College prepare you for life & work as a professional dancer and dance teacher?
It taught me that the dance world is a hard world to live in with highs and a lot of lows, but with determination, passion and a lot of hard work you can be anything you want to be. My time at Dance For All College gave me these stepping stones.
What did you love most about your training?
Being able to dance around the clock from 8 o’clock in the morning till sometimes 6-7 at night. Finding love for new styles that you wouldn’t ever think you would experience, such as flamenco and national dance.
Thank you so much Alanna! It’s been wonderful to get an insight into your life as a dance teacher. Where can we follow you online?
Dreaming of a dance career?
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- Contact us with any questions on 0131 226 5533 or email
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