‘Keep doing what you love’
A dream for most people is to have a job they love. For some, this dream comes true, but others believe their passions don’t form the perfect career path.
Imogen Vasey Carr fell into this category after never considering dance, a long-term hobby, as a job.
“I’m not sure I was ever consciously thinking this is what I want to do forever, but there never was a time that I wanted to stop.”
She now works for the Royal Academy of Dance. She is the Programme Manager of Dance Education, Module Convenor in Certificate in Ballet Teaching Studies, Module Convenor and RAD Tutor in Ballet Education, and RAD Tutor for the PGCE in Professional Dancer’s Teaching Diploma.
“But ultimately I’m a lecturer!” She laughs.
Imogen started ballet and tap classes when she was five years old, after seeing her local dance school perform. “They were all wearing little pink tutus, and I thought they were amazing” she exclaims with wide eyes.
Two years later she took up lyrical and jazz, and joined a dance group called Troop when she was 15, performing a range of styles including the can-can, Irish dancing and jazz. A year later she took up modern jazz, laughing as she says “throughout my time dancing I kept picking up more styles rather than dropping them”.
But when picking a university course, dance was never something Imogen considered.
“I always used to say at secondary school that you should keep doing things you love, and then work out what job would fit around that, because there’s no point in trying to find a job and hope to love it. But in saying that I don’t think I took my own advice very well, because if I’d really followed my own advice I would have perhaps enjoyed my studies a bit more.”
She took her A-Levels in English, Art and Music, explaining her school never incorporated dance into their studies, and decided to apply for English at Bath Spa University.
“I found it a really difficult decision because I’d always tried quite hard not to single myself down to one subject,” explaining she chose English thinking it would provide her with more opportunities after graduating.
Imogen did however choose Dance as her elective, forming 30% of her grade in the first year. But after arriving at her first session, she discovered Dance was no longer an option.
“I went to admissions and said ‘what am I going to do with this 30% of my time?’ And they said I can choose any subject apart from Dance, Music and Art. I said ‘well English, Music and Art are my A-Levels and Dance is my hobby, so what do you expect me to pick up as a degree level subject?’ They said ‘well you could maybe try biology?’ and I said absolutely not, I would obviously fail!”
She chose Film Studies instead, but after sitting in a lecture and seminar realised it wasn’t for her. With her strong-minded spirit, she confronted the Dance department and asked why she couldn’t take it as an elective, discovering she needed to audition.
“I said ‘brilliant, audition me’, but the only reason they would is if I wanted to take it officially as part of my degree. So that’s what happened – they auditioned me, and they let me in” she says with a smile on her face.
Dance became one third of her first year, but Imogen enjoyed it so much she took it as two thirds of her course in the second. “In my final year if I did two thirds of something, that would be the main part of my degree. So I did fifty percent Dance, fifty percent English, so overall it was a complete joint honours degree.”
Throughout the course she was tasked with choreographing solos and duets, along with group performances. “It was encouraged to be supportive of each other, we were all in it together”, explaining friends would often sit in the audience alongside examiners who graded her performances at the university theatre.
Imogen enjoyed choreographing, so much so that she became a lead choreographer for her dance group. She considered it as a career path, but decided that the best option was to teach dance instead.
At the start of her third year she found work experience with the only local school to offer GCSE Dance, which allowed her to apply for the PGCE teacher training course at the University of Exeter, after graduating from Bath Spa in 2010.
“I had my interview a few days before my 21st birthday, and they told me on the day that I got in, so I felt by the end of second year I had a plan, and by third year I put that plan into action.”
Imogen became a secondary school dance teacher for six years, before becoming a lecturer in dance education at the Royal Academy of Dance in 2017.
The 29 year-old organises classes, teaches lectures, and acts as a tutor for students, working with distance based learning which involves organising and contacting classes worldwide, with around 800 students taking the Certificate in Ballet Teaching Studies.
“I really liked the idea of working with trainee secondary school teachers because that was my area, so I really enjoy observing them teach in their schools and giving them feedback. And it’s really nice because I see a lot of personal growth over time.”
Happy in her job and career, Imogen believes the best advice she can give to others is something she tried to follow herself.
“Definitely try not to lose doing the thing you love.”