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Viv

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  1. Viv

    Rad discovering repertoire classes

    Coppelia en pointe was just about the death of me, because of the speed of those darn chaines turns! But then I learned it first in flat shoes and only tried the variation en pointe at the end of one lesson to see how it went. The giselle variation I have learned entirely en pointe, including some (but not all) of the development exercises and I find that one, while challenging, much more achievable. And fun! Of course, I'm also 6 months further down the road than I was the last time I did Coppelia so who knows, I might try it again en pointe soon and be pleasantly surprised Pointe is also not my forte due to weak, hypermobile (yet completely flat) feet and ankles, so another dancer may not struggle with that aspect of things.
  2. Viv

    Spotting

    That's alright, happy to help out the other 'ballet as a second language' students on here And yes, my teacher is a blessing!
  3. Viv

    Spotting

    1) You should be aiming to spot at eye level or maybe slightly above or below. If you spot too high, you are having to physically tilt your head back on your neck. If you do this your spine cannot be vertical, and your weight will be thrown back behind you. This is a habit of mine that we've worked really hard to break this year! I tend to look at the floor when I'm dancing and then spot the roof on turns...it's not attractive. I find that eyeline is something that is often missing in adult beginner pupils, because so much of it gets taught in the primary levels and by the time you get to higher grades (where most adults start) you're just expected to know where it goes...my teacher says 'just do what feels natural' and tends to forget that it only feels natural to her because she's been doing it since she was 5 years old! 2) My teacher is an RAD examiner and often comes to us with tidbits picked up from various examiners courses, sometimes just from discussion with other examiners and sometimes directly from the current artistic director of the RAD. She says the gospel is that you should spot an en dedans turn 'halfway between 1 and the corner', (1 being en face in the RADs style of counting walls and corners). She says if you spot to 1 and end up facing the corner, you tend to leave your arms and the side of your body behind you which ruins your landing. If you spot to the corner, many students put too much force into it and over rotate. But she also says that where you spot depends on the student and it's all about getting the best turn for you. Different body types, proportions, degree of rotation, shape of the spine...they all need to slightly change the turning position and the mechanics of the turn to suit them. She wants you to turn straight up and straight down with a sharp spotting action and both legs as rotated as you can make them (and she says she can tell from the first plies how much rotation you have and she therefore expects you to use...Maybe not so much in Grade 5 as I think much of the work until then is done in parallel) She makes us switch up where we're spotting every now and then to see what works best and said she would never mark down a student for spotting closer to the front or to the corner. She marks on the spotting action, the whip of the head and the focus of the eyes, not where you're looking at the time. Hope that helps! As for Advanced Foundation @The_Red_Shoes I have been doing my best to forget the enchainment ever existed... Though we started to get some better results from me when we pretended it was split into 4 different exercises. The pirouettes to the right, the diagonal to the right, the pirouettes to the left and the diagonal to the left. At the end of each 'exercise' I would take a second to pause, take a breath, reset and focus. Nothing that happened in the previous 'exercise' mattered, because we were on to a new one and I had to put my sole focus on that. All of that pausing and breathing and thinking happened in about half a second, but it stopped the frenzied, exhausted push at the end just to finish the damn thing!
  4. Viv

    Prix de Lausanne 2019

    I'm hopefully going this year! Just as a spectator. I happen to be in Europe at the time so why not? Have just booked my hotel in Lausanne and now need to keep an eagle eye out for finals tickets. Very excited though! Two boys from my hometown are competing as well so fingers crossed for them
  5. @DD Driver I think this is a very important consideration! In fact I think it goes further than that in Australia. In the UK it appears that you need a certain number of high quality A Levels during high school, and if you don't achieve these then it becomes very difficult to complete them later on and access university education. In Australia I can think of at least 3 or 4 different ways to access university, both in and out of high school. The most common is to sit at least 4 ATAR subject exams and receive a ranking against every other child examined in the country. ATAR subjects are just as readily available to homeschool children as they are to mainstream school children.The higher your ranking, the more exclusive the course and university you can attend. But even if you do poorly in a particular ATAR subject, there are a number of bridging courses you can take to catch up before starting your actual course. And ATAR is entirely separate from graduating Year 12 and getting a school leaving certificate, because it is recognised that exams are not going to suit every individual. There is also portfolio-based entry into university, which admittedly is harder and more common in Arts courses, but is about showing the quality of your school work over the course of the year, rather than your abilities in one highly stressful exam. I have many friends from my high school days who were accepted into degree courses this way. If you choose not to apply for university at 17, which I personally feel should be more encouraged than it is, then upon reaching the truly ancient age of 20, you are considered a mature aged student and both your ATAR and your portfolio are completely discarded. There is a different sort of exam you have to take to prove your eligibility for uni education and most people do far better at this with a little bit more age and experience under their belt, and also because now they usually know what the goal is to study at uni, rather than applying because everyone else is and they don't know what else to do. Other people start their education at the vocational training college, TAFE, and through learning in a different environment to high school, become more confident in their own abilities, often achieve far better marks overall, and use these marks to get into university. In my own experience, I did not achieve the requisite ATAR to get into a law program, mostly because I was one of those people who didn't know what they wanted to do and so put as little effort as possible into my schooling. I was also beset with low confidence in my academic abilities (I thought I was dumb, and that if you were dumb that was set in stone, not that the 'smart' kids actually went to school and then also studied at home. Oops). I found that the self-directed learning at university level, and being able to specialise in a niche subject area (anthropology) really benefitted me, and I ended up scoring far better marks than many of the people I went to school with who had a higher ATAR. I was then able to get into a post-graduate law course where once again, I have managed to balance full time work, 14 hours of ballet training a week, caring for a sick parent and I have still maintained a higher average mark than people I know who were top of the class in high school. This is taking things super off topic, but I know a few people were curious about the Australian system versus the UK one. I think this is why Australian parents might seem almost lax about schooling compared to British ones. It's not that they don't value education. It's not that they don't care to set their kids up after ballet. It's not that they don't feel the need for a back up plan. It's not that they are psycho tiger parents (though I've met a few around). It's the child who has to want this career or they won't make it, no matter how much the parent pushes. It's always the incredibly hardworking, hungry students that succeed after about 13/14/15, often to the chagrin of their parents who aren't ready to send them off into the big wide world yet. An attitude I think many here can agree with... The difference is that, Australian parents prepare their kids by making sure they are achieving their best academic results, but the pressure is also slightly off because university is very easy (some might say too easy) for them to attend later on in life. We can justify sending our kids to ballet fulltime and doing school online part of the time, one because the distance education system is VERY good, but also because it's not the only road to Rome. They can dedicate their early adult years to dancing and know that university is waiting for them when they get back. I hope this sheds a bit more light on the situation down under. (PS. I sincerely hope that no one thinks I was calling any child lazy! That is the farthest thing from what I was trying to say. I also didn't mean that any one child is 'entitled', I was trying to apply a bit of a provocative word to a social attitude (anthropologist 😕), not an individuals attitude. And that attitude was more in relation to only looking at British options, because you have so many, and a sense of reluctance to pursue training in other countries. It has nothing to do with their work ethic. I certainly don't see how Christopher Powney can call the kids who make it into classical upper schools 'resting on their laurels'. Obviously each individual has worked exceedingly hard to get where they are! Maybe 'entitled' wasn't quite the right word, now I've had some time to sleep on it...)
  6. That's where I agree that there is a problem with the attitude of the schools themselves. Perhaps it's something as simple as 'the grass is greener'. It's not that the people auditioning in other locales are more talented, or more deserving, or fit the RBS mould better. Maybe simply by coming from another country, they are increasing the RBS's reputation as being a school that is sought after and coveted above other schools. People come from all over the world to train there, they make amazing sacrifices, so clearly it must be because the school is worth it. Maybe the opinion of the RBS and others like it is that, if they were to take primarily their own compatriots, they would lose that international acclaim and reputation...Though clearly this hasn't hurt POB! Of the students I personally know who have failed to find work after it, it has usually been because their circumstances have changed, their passion has diminished, or their mental or physical health has been so impacted that a career in ballet is no longer viable I would say this is a problem that plagues dancers the world over. As far as visas are concerned, many of the students I know are actually dual citizens travelling on UK passports because they have more value than Australian ones! This will probably cease to be the case post-Brexit but we'll see what happens. As for the US, after a quick google search it appears that the visa requirements are exactly the same for Australians and Brits, so I'm not sure why students are told not to bother auditioning there? There's certainly a lot of companies to choose from over there and I know some students who have been encouraged to audition over there as they have a more American 'style' of dancing. I believe Australia might have slightly better luck gaining a visa to Asian Pacific countries like Indonesia, but mainland Asia I think odds are about the same. We certainly have no extra claims to a visa in the ballet hubs of Japan, China and Korea. While Australia loves to claim that it's part of 'Australasia' and all that, most of Asia want nothing to do with us. Pretty similar to Europe, at least as far as Eurovision is concerned. It's just us and New Zealand down here at the bottom of the world with a bunch of penguins. Australians certainly have more rights emigrating to New Zealand than any other country, so that's one thing! As far as difficulty moving to Europe is concerned, I know it's something that concerns a lot of aspiring dancers I speak to here. They know if they want success they have to get up and get out. I think the attitude has mostly been 'become absolutely amazing so some great school offers me a scholarship and then some company, any company, will want me badly enough to sponsor a visa'. There's not really much else they can do...
  7. I'm going to really throw the cat in among the pigeons here...please try and read this in the completely neutral tone that is intended and know that I'm not trying to insult or diminish anyone. I was just wondering if perhaps the issue isn't with British students' level of talent, or ability to work hard, or their desire for a career in ballet. Perhaps the problem is a sense of...well, entitlement. "This is a British school and I deserve to be there, because I am British. And if I don't get in there, I'll apply for the next 5 schools on my list, that are all within the UK." I don't mean entitlement in a mean way, I mean it like...you are very privileged. You have the best schools and a number of amazing, world renowned companies in your country, and the relatively small geographic area means that many students are not so far away from high quality training that accessing it is impossible. Obviously non-geographic barriers also apply and I see a lot of parents on this board living in rural areas who are struggling to access enough high quality training for their dancers, I'm not trying to discount this at all. But because you have so much opportunity, new schools opening up every year, associates programs in every major city...I wonder if perhaps the drive to look abroad and compete internationally with 'the best', simply isn't there... In my hometown, which is not large, I can name multiple students who this year are moving to Houston, Melbourne, Sydney, London, St Petersburg, New York, Alberta, Paris and Stuttgart. This year alone and that's just the kids I personally know. How many on this board can say the same thing? How many British students even apply for YAGP, or Prix de Lausanne? Why would they if their dream is to go to RBS and the auditions are happening on their door step? There's literally no reason why a UK dancer wouldn't be talented enough to win the Prix and get the sort of support that these international competition winners have, because they would be an international competition winner! While some countries certainly push their children to do more, earlier, I would say Australia is actually a lot more similar in training to the UK than for example America. Some kids take it to another level, particularly over east, but they're the exception rather than the rule. I would not say that it is either the training or the talent of British students that might be standing in their way, it's the attitude that they don't need to look too far from home until they're trying to get a job. It's even an attitude I've seen a little bit of on this thread. Is it any easier for an Australian to get a visa in the US than a brit? No. But I guarantee a lot more Australians are heading to the New World because they have no other options. Is this fair? Not particularly. Obviously I have the outsider perspective here and while this post might cause offence to some, it's certainly not my intention! I am in no way discrediting or devaluing your children. I know how much they want this, I know the hours they put in, I see it in thread after thread here every day! I would love to be told that my opinion is wrong, that I've misrepresented things, and I'd like to hear responses to this because I know this will not be a very popular idea. I would like to be proved wrong. I just know that it cannot be that your students are less talented, less hardworking or get worse teaching than the rest of the planet. So there must be another reason...and I'm just brainstorming to figure out what that might be.
  8. I think another side of the coin is, if schools stay limited to the population of the country they're based in, wouldn't this attitude also apply equally to British students? What about those talented Brits wanting to study in Monaco, New York, Paris, Stuttgart, Toronto, Melbourne, Moscow, Amsterdam, St Petersburg... The nature of ballet is that it's an international art, and schools and companies want to recruit from the best students around the world. This applies equally to British students. I know that some schools do tend to preference their own nationals above international students (particularly in France and Russia) but many schools have the same international focus that RBS and ENBS are showing now. And that benefits you just as much as the Australian and Japanese and whatever else students that aspire to train in those schools. And tax payers in those countries also help to offset the fees paid by your talented and hard working students. An Australian is no more deserving of a spot at ABS than anyone else just because they were born in Australia (though of course they may be more able to take up such a spot if one is offered). And this international recruiting all goes towards creating the multidimensional, diverse cast of dancers that make up the ballet companies we love to watch; diverse not just in nationality, but height and body type as discussed above. Just trying to give a different perspective...
  9. Viv

    White pointe shoes?

    I know you can turn pointe shoes tan using either a liquid or a powder foundation. Could you buy white foundation from a stage makeup store (used for turning people into ghosts etc) and pancake with that?
  10. Viv

    Finding classes for Adults

    Wow @Kate_N that's really comprehensive, thanks!
  11. Viv

    Finding classes for Adults

    Has anyone taken the adult classes at the English National Ballet? Are they any good? I only have 5 days in London next January and there's so much to see and do, plus I'm there with my sister who is not ballet obsessed like me, so I probably can only squeeze one or two classes in while I'm there. I know one young lady who would scream with jealousy at the idea of taking classes at ENB but I was wondering whether the class itself is worth it? And what the levels are like? I have just completed Advanced Foundation RAD (though probably gorked the exam) so would Intermediate be appropriate, or possibly too advanced? I don't think the Improvers classes allow drop ins. Oh I just wish there was a short workshop in London while I'm there, that would be absolutely perfect
  12. Viv

    Rad discovering repertoire classes

    But learning ballet has never been about showing how well you can hold your technique separately from how well you perform. It's always been about doing both simultaneously, which is why my teacher encourages us to start 'performing' from the very first plie at the barre. If the exam is designed to demonstrate that you can do the step well enough on its own, or in a relatively simple combination, but then show that when you perform you can't maintain your technique throughout the whole variation, I'm afraid I'm still struggling to see the point. Honestly I feel that the development exercises are more likely to show the examiner early on where your weaknesses are so they know what to look for in the dance! Really I can't wait for this syllabus to start being examined properly. I want to know how people who are studying DR in a proper class format, to exam readiness, and then performing it on the day, feel about all of this. That's the true test of a syllabus and the feedback of people who have done that will be the most valuable in my opinion. I'm thoroughly enjoying learning DR because I like rep and I like the idea of chunked 'exercises' to help you work on technique that you'll later perform. For that DR works perfectly for me. I suppose I only struggle with the actual exam part of it, or like @LinMM with the amount of time one would have to spend doing the syllabus before being ready to move on. But then, despite beginning ballet as an adult 5 years ago, I don't really feel like I'm the target market for DR either.
  13. Viv

    Rad discovering repertoire classes

    While you can't move through it the same way you could from Grade 2 to Grade 4, that comparison sort of falls away if you look at moving through from Intermediate to Advanced 1, which is really what the target is... Obviously it gets a lot harder, going from your first 'attempt' at double pirouettes in intermediate to fouette turns in Advanced 1! Seems similar to the advancement in difficulty of the DR levels. I have no interest really in DR as my sole ballet training because the class work looks incredibly simple, but as a supplement to other classes I find it rather enjoyable. So far I have only done the development exercises as a way of learning the variation, I have to say I hadn't really considered what it would be like to have to drill these exercises over and over to exam readiness, considering it only consists of steps that you will eventually show in the variation anyway? And then actually performing them in the exam, knowing you're about to perform the exact same steps in a slightly longer sequence...I'm not sure I totally see the point, and imagine it might actually be a bit dull for the examiner? But clearly they trialled the syllabus and there was positive feedback about it so there must be interest. I'm not doing it in a standard class, just as a bit of fun in a half hour private every fortnight so I'm not really getting the proper DR experience which might also colour my responses.
  14. Viv

    Best way to dye/paint pointe shoes black?

    Yes the tights over shoes idea is one of the options I considered, but I was concerned it would be too slippery and not safe? We're not allowed to use rosin on our practice surface floor but I could explore other options to make it stickier I suppose. I have emailed Pebble Dance, a UK company making pointe shoe covers. They say that their covers are designed for photoshoots and performances on stage and not just for warming up in, and they have a hole in the bottom so the sole of the pointe shoe pokes out to provide more grip when running around stage. They do say though that they are not for beginners and dancers should be 'very confident' en pointe before using them...hopefully 2 years and intermediate level is sufficient! I have sent these to the student so she can at least have the conversation with her mum, discuss a number of researched options and they can come up with a solution together. I find sometimes that these girls are so worried about putting extra stress on their parents by asking for something that they refuse to ask at all, so the parents never have a chance to come up with alternatives! Being able to go to them with the request of the teacher and cost effective ways of doing it might be the right way just to open up the conversation. If she does end up getting the covers, I will report back! Hopefully the next time someone is struck with this dilemma they'll be able to know there's a product out there that works, before reaching for the sharpie
  15. Viv

    Best way to dye/paint pointe shoes black?

    For our end of year concert, our teacher also wants black pointe shoes, and all of the students are excited about it except for one. Her parents don't seem to understand how quickly dancers go through pointe shoes, they get upset every time she asks them for a new pair, so she ends up dancing on shoes that are far too dead to be safe... Her current pair were given as an early Christmas present. This particular student is concerned that if she tells her mum that she has to paint her new pointe shoes black, her mum will refuse. Because of the 'dancing until the poor shoes should be dead and buried' aspect, she has no old shoes that she can dye and dance in safely for the show. I have tried to convince the student that since she got these shoes in September, by the time we do the show in December, after 3 lessons a week of concert rehearsals done entirely en pointe, she'll be lucky if her shoes will even survive to concert time and she'll be able to paint these and buy new ones for next year...but she refuses to hear it So my question is - has anyone tried the pointe shoe covers raised by @Bluebird22? To actually dance in, not just for wearing while breaking in to protect the shoe? Or can anyone think of a non-permanent way to make pointe shoes look black? Tough ask I know 😕
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