By Nicola CAMPANELLI
In December 1999, Law n. 508 transformed the Academy of Fine Arts, the National Academy of Dance (AND), the National Academy of Dramatic Art, the Higher Institutes for Artistic Industries, the Music Conservatories and other musical institutes, into Higher Educational Institutes (Higher Artistic and Musical Education). These institutions have ample autonomy and are regulated by the Italian Ministry of University and Research (today called MUR).
Higher education institutes are open to those who possess a secondary school diploma and offer specialization and master’s courses. The training courses provided by the National Academy of Dance, through its four schools or educational structures (School of Classical Dance, School of Contemporary Dance, School of Education and School of Choreography), similarly to university programs, issue first and second level qualifications, equivalent to a bachelor’s degree. Internships and artistic activities complete the training for future dancers, teachers, choreographers, and directors.
In Italy, dance training in the public education sector is regulated from upper secondary schools and dance high schools up to advanced training. However, there is no similar regulation for the range of studies corresponding to primary and lower secondary schools. From early childhood to adolescence, dance is a highly valuable educational activity that develops proprioception, a sense of rhythm, and physical flexibility. Dance also develops the ability to interact with others, to recognize one’s emotions and communicate them in an expressive process. Young age has always been the most suitable to begin dance studies in a professional manner, and the middle school range should be included in the dance training process already envisaged by public education. The recent inclusion of the figure of the physical education teacher for elementary schools could preclude the inclusion of dance activities, which are extremely formative on a physical and intellectual level, for the same age group.
The regulation of the activity of private dance schools and, in part, the professional condition of dance teachers still remains unsolved. The European Parliament, in its resolution of June 7, 2007, of Brussels on the social status of artists, invites the member states to improve the contractual situation of artists, considering the atypical nature of the methods of performative work, and to recognize a legal framework that guarantees rights in relation to social security, sickness insurance, and labor taxation. Furthermore, it is requested to guarantee the protection of the artist, the right to education from a young age, and a restructuring of amateur activities.
While waiting for Italy to adapt substantially and lastingly to the requests expressed in the resolution, the wave of the Covid epidemic has prompted the government to adopt support measures under decree no. 487 of 29 October 2020, which established the criteria for allocating resources in support of private dance schools, totalling €10 million, envisaged by the entertainment emergency fund pursuant to art. 89 of the decree-law 18/2020, better known as “Cura Italia.” In this way, a little help was given to the professionals of the dance schools who have suffered drastic closures due to safety standards. It is interesting to note that this contribution has been provided precisely for those schools that have not set up as amateur sports associations associated with CONI. Those same associations, that is, which should fall within the reform of the law of 22 November 2017, n. 175, unfortunately only announced but, as already mentioned, still awaiting the regulatory decrees.
The problem still to be fixed is that relating to private schools, left in an unresolved legislative limbo. The all-Italian difficulty in accepting regulations in private activity risks relegating dance to a professionally disqualified area. The needs of dance world’s operators, otherwise, appear to be flattened by sports regulations or to remain in a grey area that is not good for artistic activity, both amateur and professional. The inequality that has stratified in Italy with a great number of music conservatories and only one recognized dance educational institution (the National Academy of Dance) is the result of a culture that for centuries has evaluated bodily activities with distrust and, consequently, considered dance a minor art. Adequate national distribution of more dance institutions would allow a greater number of aspiring dance teachers to adequately and professionally train. Therefore, if a virtuous path has been started on the training of dance teachers, thanks to the National Academy of Dance being transformed into a university, the same has not happened in relation to the legislation of the activity of private dance schools. You can open a school without having any qualified training, and this is very risky because it mortifies those who have obtained a university qualification, in Italy or abroad, after years of studying and sacrifices. The contribution provided by the entertainment industry emergency fund should bring out the current situation of private training centres to guarantee the rights/duties from a legal and social security point of view of directors, teachers, and students. It seems increasingly necessary to create a network between private schools and institutional realities to safeguard the quality of dance teaching, which in many regions, even in private institutions, is of a high level and supplies professionals to national and international dance industries. Unfortunately the isolation and safeguarding of one’s limited scope of action have, so far, not allowed the solution of those inconsistencies that still exist in the activity of private dance schools.