About ISTD

De Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD)

The ISTD is the world’s number one dance examination commission. It was founded in 1904 and today the ISTD is a non-profit organisation and the only teaching institute covering the entire range of dance exams throughout the world.

The basic goal of the ISTD is to “educate the public in the art of dance in all its aspects”. In order to achieve this goal, the ISTD set up four main activities:

  • promoting the knowledge of dance;
  • maintaining and improving the educational level;
  • allowing dance teachers to present exams in order to qualify for ISTD specialities, taught by its 10 000 members across the world
  • offering, thanks to the training courses, techniques allowing for the education of dancers in their professional careers.

Imperial Classical Ballet Faculty


The goal of the Imperial Classical Ballet Faculty, a branch of the ISTD, is to raise dancers’ and teachers’ level and degree of appreciation of classical dance. Since its foundation fifty years ago, the Imperial Classical Ballet Faculty of the ISTD still has an important influence on the international promotion of the classical English style.

Programme courses

Initially a committee composed of renowned and experienced teachers set up the programmes. Today these programmes are revised regularly in order to offer a solid base and to anticipate the technical requirements that are constantly getting stricter.
The programmes of the Imperial Classical Ballet offer the teachers safe and adapted teaching methods for all age groups and levels, both for beginners and professionals. Children and students are encouraged to acquire a solid technical base by concentrating on the coordination and musical interpretation, essential elements of a pure classical training.
Several exceptional teachers and dancers of major ballet companies have been trained according to the Imperial Classical Ballet programmes.

Comprehensive training

The programmes have been carefully set up in order to offer the most complete training to children and adolescents wishing to dance for fun as well as to those wanting to start a professional training and consequently prepare themselves for high level exams such as Pre-Intermediate, Intermediate, Advanced 1 and Advanced 2.

Exams for children

The goal of these exams is to give children and adolescents who dance for fun as well as to people wishing to pursue a professional career in classical dance the feeling of being successful. There are ten Class tests (ending with an exam for the entire class) ranging from the Pre-Primary level till level 8, and seven Grades (ending with an exam level higher than the Class tests, ranging from the Primary level till level six. All these levels contribute to the progressive development of the technical skills of the children as well as to their assimilation capacity. Moreover, it gives them the taste for dancing; it helps them to adopt a good position and to understand the tight link between dance and music. During each Grade, the candidate must perform one of the dances or classical variations according to the programme of his or her level. For instance, he or she will have to give evidence of his or her artistic and interpretation qualities. There also exist mime and music sections during each Class test. Finally, the most recent innovations with regard to the exams for children are the Performance Awards accentuating the artistic talents of the candidates.

Superior level exams

The preparations for these exams offer an advanced technical, structured and artistic training, which is vital for this highly demanding job. The high-level programmes are intended for students aiming at a professional career as well as for those pursuing a teaching job.

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Teachers course Classical Ballet

DDE “Diploma in Dance Education” ISTD
New course as from October 2021
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Starting date of the new school year


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