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  1. The_Red_Shoes

    Simply Adult Ballet

    Funnily enough, I quite often have dreams too in which I perform incredible entrechats (dix or douze!) in which I'm hovering, virtually flying.
  2. The_Red_Shoes

    Taking Ballet Exams as an adult

    Congratulations, Ballet Gremlin! Really well done.
  3. The_Red_Shoes

    Strength Training for Ballet

    I would suggest consulting your teacher about weaknesses you may have and appropriate exercises. I really wouldn't go for any non-dance strengthening exercises without checking with your teacher first as ballet often relies on very specific muscles. I use The Dancer's Dozen every day at home (it's a little book of resistance band exercises from Gaynor Minden) and PBT (Progressing Ballet Technique) which is Pilates type exercises to music - there are videos of specific exercises.on their website, suitable for all levels of dancer, if you can't find a PBT class. There are coaching videos as well as ones for actually doing the exercises and complete sequences of exercises for all levels.
  4. The_Red_Shoes

    Adding emotion to a solo

    I think this is a really interesting and thought-provoking discussion. I'm just kind of musing here rather than coming up with answers. I think a response should ideally be natural and sincere, but that isn't always going to happen of itself and that's where acting comes in. I'm thinking now about the difference between "acting" - which you might do in a more dramatic or narrative piece - and an expression which might be purely abstract and based upon the feelings that the music and/or movements provoke in yourself (which would be personal and quite possible uniquely individual). Personally I never look to find a "story" where there isn't already one but rather try to identify the mood, style and character of the music or choreography. When dancing a piece that has been choregraphed by someone else for a performance, what you need to express must be based on the choreographer's intentions although of course you can develop and make it your own. But where you are creating the dance yourself or when nobody has defined how it should be then the expression is entirely personal - listen to the music and consider any feelings that arise (I don't think they need to be huge deep emotions or even clearly defined). I might listen very carefully to the music noticing dynamics as well as melody (and if there are lyrics, read them and think about them) and note down some key words that come into my head, not just emotions like "joyful" "serene" but descriptive words like "witty", "cheeky", "smooth", "sparkly" or "spikey" because quality of movement is part of expressiveness and of the way you communicate emotion (ie not only through facial expression). Of course all your emotional expression is undone if what comes over is your genuine emotions of "intent concentration" "anxiety" or "panic". I also think that if you can't come up with any genuine personal response then it's really difficult to actually enjoy that piece and you end up always rather disliking that dance!
  5. The_Red_Shoes

    Counting music when dancing

    I'd suggest listening to lots of appropriate music and tapping a foot or finger while counting (usually to 8 but sometimes 6). As Coleman said above, most ballet curriculum music is obvious, though usually gets less so at more advanced levels (sometimes deliberately diabolically tricky!). I've noticed that different people may also perceive the counts differently. Of course a teacher , choreographer or set exam exercise will give you the counts in a particular way and then you need to listen and relisten to the music until you can "hear" it in the way it has been set. The counts may also be a useful shorthand for talking about the steps (eg "make sure you pass though bras bas on count 7") in the same that a musician might talk about what happens in Bar 12. However some people feel that counting encourages a very mechanical response to the music and there is a move within the RAD at least to move towards different ways of finding your way through the music. Counting is not the best way to be aware of and express the phrasing the music, which is not nesessarily the same thing as neat sets of 8 counts, and your way of thinking about it may well be a better way of finding an expressive response than counting. I personally only count when it's tricky or complicated and even then usually only while first learning a piece.
  6. The_Red_Shoes

    Taking Ballet Exams as an adult

    Huge congratulations, Viv! What an amazing result. You should be extremely proud of yourself.
  7. The_Red_Shoes

    Taking Ballet Exams as an adult

    Best of luck BG! I think there must be an optimum season for taking exams - maybe late spring and early autumn. Keep your warmups on as long as possible and make sure you are fully warmed up before you go in. I'm sure staying warm won't be too much of a problem once you start dancing.
  8. The_Red_Shoes

    RAD Intermediate Exam

    Many years ago we only had full sole soft ballet shoes with a fairly stiff leather sole. This was before the days of the more flexible chrome leather soles which I think appeared around the late 70s and initially the RAD didn't allow. The sole had some depth to it and finished underneath the heel in the same way that the sole on the pointe shoe does - so it needed working hard in order to point the foot, was uncomfortable if your weight was dropped too far back and there was a slight feel of being slightly raised off the level of the ground. So working for years in those shoes was much more similar to working in pointe shoes than modern split sole or even a modern full sole soft shoe. Demi-pointe shoes didn't exist and once we had a supply of used pointe shoes that's what we used to wear all the time in class. The old exam regs for RAD used to require the wearing of soft pointe shoes. Eventually the shoe makers found a market for a shoe that prepared the dancer for working in the stiffer pointe shoe. However the exam specifications don't say that the student must wear "demi-pointe shoes" - it still specifies "soft pointe shoes", so I assume students could still wear old pointe shoes.
  9. The_Red_Shoes

    Rad discovering repertoire classes

    All RAD exams can be repeated as many times as you like. I have come across several people who have repeated an exam that they have already passed once. There are some videos on Youtube of an adult student who seems to have retaken Grade 8 a number of times, choosing different options each time. Doing the DR variation units twice over once on demi and once on pointe seems to me to be a reasonable idea, allowing for a lot of personal development. I'm hoping to do DR Level 2 next, after my Grade 6 exam. I would do all the units on demi but I have been thinking that the Coppelia unit on pointe would not be beyond me and I'd like to do that later on (ie not in the same exam session).
  10. The_Red_Shoes

    Taking Ballet Exams as an adult

    I have RAD Grade 6 coming up in March (if the dates are like last year it could be the very beginning of March). However this depends on my making a speedy recovery from the eye surgery I'm having this coming week. I'm hoping to do better than in my last exam (RAD Inter) which I passed back in June. Partly because I trust I've improved with further work, partly because that was my first exam experience in nearly half a century, partly because I'll be taking it alone in my home studio rather than in the Manchester RAV with a batch of unknown teenagers and most of all because of the greater emphasis on performance in the higher grades. I'm setting myself a target of at least 1 mark higher in every section.
  11. The_Red_Shoes


    That's a good idea, the mental splitting up of the exercise. Actually I have a kind of love-hate relationship with it. When it goes well it's absolutely exhilarating, and I do think it's beneficial for technical development since it throws in absolutely everything required in the turning department at that level.
  12. The_Red_Shoes


    I've just checked in the RAD technical handbook The Foundations of Classical Ballet Technique and it says that for pirouettes en dedans the eyes focus on 1 during preparation, remain on 1 at start of turn and refocus on 1 as soon as possible.So it seems that the RAD prefers spotting to the front as a general rule in en dedans pirouettes. However posé turns spot in direction of travel.
  13. The_Red_Shoes


    When doing this I think how far distant your spot is makes a difference. (Here I'm imagining a diagram like in a schol physics text book with a little stick person and a line showing their line of sight). If your low spot was just a metre or two away then your head would be tilted downwards, but in a large space if you spot to a distant floor level point then your head would still be level. I think any tendencies as to which direction you are more prone to mispositioning your weight make a difference too. I tend to get my weight too far back, so consciously work on keeping eyes lower as well as controlling ribs etc.
  14. The_Red_Shoes


    RAD Advanced Foundation pirouette enchaînement ! --Take a steadying breath, try to focus my eyes and into the second side hoping it will counter the effects of the first side. At the finishing position I do my best impression of a driver who is over the limit trying to convince a police officer that they are perfectly sober.
  15. The_Red_Shoes


    I've been taught that you shouldn't spot any higher than eye level as it will push your weight back. However the teacher at the RAD summer school advised taking a slightly lower spot and when doing posé turns (on quite a long diagonal in a big studio) we were told to spot on the pianist's shoes! For en dedans pirouettes my teacher tells us to turn the head to the finishing corner as soon as we take the preparation. "Your head is already there, just move the body under it" and she is very keen on "See the corner!" in all turning movements. However in the summer she did a Balanchine style course and there they spot to the front. I don't know grade 5, but in the RAD Inter en dedans exercise the BMN shows the head quarter turned which would mean facing 1 and in the Grade 6 book it shows head half turned, so facing finishing corner. Ultimately I think it depends on what works for you.