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The_Red_Shoes

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  1. The_Red_Shoes

    Taking Ballet Exams as an adult

    I hope you've recovered from your mammoth exam session and that your achilles is recovering. Fingers crossed for your results. If you do enjoy exams I hope you can go on to take Grade 8 - maybe DR too?
  2. The_Red_Shoes

    Rad discovering repertoire classes

    It's so new: maybe they will change some things as students start to come through the system and what is working/not working becomes more apparent. I know that feedback from the original trials did contain some criticism of the level of difficulty. BTW does anybody know if anyone has actually taken any DR exams yet (apart from the people in the original trial)?
  3. The_Red_Shoes

    Taking Ballet Exams as an adult

    I've settled on lilac, with pale lilac, deeper lilac and purple ribbons on the character skirt. I know the barre and the first Port de Bras now. I'm really working on flexibility in the thoracic area - my teacher says Grade 6 is "all about the upper back". My teacher has started throwing ingredients from Grade 6 into the mix in my open Advanced class so we're doing lots of barre exercises that turn into effacé, croisé and écarté and lots of ports de bras over dégagé devant en fondu. Also fast complicated head movements at the barre to help me to lose the automatic centre-erect-centre pattern from Inter while at the same time trying not to look as if watching tennis! I've finally received the mark breakdown from my Inter exam. I knew there would be higher marks for the barre and performance/musicality and lower marks for pointe work and that was the case, but the big surprise was that the marks were much more evenly spread than I expected. So my performance side wasn't as great as I thought, but on the other hand it was very encouraging to find that my technique is pretty much solid across the board. Even the adage which I thought I had done really badly.
  4. The_Red_Shoes

    Rad discovering repertoire classes

    I wouldn't say the Unit Class is Level 1. Even though it looks simple compared to, say IF, if you compare it with Grade 3, the last of the Level 1 grades, the barre is definitely harder, comparable to Grade 4 and the centre much more challenging. I rather think that they are pitching the class unit to older students who haven't been through the grades, whether adults or teens coming late on to ballet. It's a more accessible starting point than Grade 6 or IF, which is where later beginners would usually start if they do syllabus work, and has an appropriately mature feel. Adult beginner classes usually introduce material less gradually than children's classes do and this looks like the kind of thing a student might be doing after a year or two in adult beginner classes. The flexibility of the DR system means that beginners could work through the class units, but higher grade or vocational students could miss out the class units completely and just do the variations as an enrichment to their other syllabus work.
  5. The_Red_Shoes

    Taking Ballet Exams as an adult

    I had my first Grade 6 lesson this afternoon, really enjoyed it and feel ridiculously happy and excited about it, like a big kid. My teacher is pleased too as she says it's absolutely her favourite grade (both to teach and when she was a student herself) and she hasn't had a chance to teach it for 5 years. We're aiming for the spring examination session, so that will be March. Character shoes, character skirt and several chiffon skirts all ordered - well I don't know yet which colour I prefer so I'm trying a few. Since I'll be taking the exam alone I can please myself. Boring black is definitely out.
  6. The_Red_Shoes

    Taking Ballet Exams as an adult

    I'm doing three weekly classes: one private (exam syllabus), one Advanced (mixture of free and AF/Adv 1 syllabus work) and one general Adult class (rather basic but I find it's good for really concentrating on technique as well as being a lovely group of ladies). I also do as many workshops and intensives as I can. I'm a rural dweller too, but I'm very fortunate because I'm retired I have plenty of available time, I have my trusty bus pass and I can choose to devote rather a large chunk of dosh to ballet. However I don't have other responsibilities, I'm generally frugal, I don't drink or eat out much and I spent so much of my working life overseas that I don't feel any need to have exotic holidays - so I think it's money well spent.If I go to Leeds, Manchester or London for workshops I can even fit in family time visiting my children/grandchildren so kill two birds with one stone.
  7. The_Red_Shoes

    Taking Ballet Exams as an adult

    After saying I hadn't come across those emboîté turns for donkeys' years, we had them in my open Adult class today. The teacher had evidently been reading my mind (or is lurking here). She agreed that they used to be in the old RAD Elementary (I recall them in BBO Elementary) but maybe have been shifted elsewhere over the years in syllabus revisions. I checked and found them in the pointe section at Advanced 1 where they are calling them relevés passés by half turns en diagonale. Still takes about 20 of them to get across the room and very dizzy-making.
  8. The_Red_Shoes

    Taking Ballet Exams as an adult

    The "class" unit at each level is much easier than the other syllabi at the same level as well as being more straightforward, in that the exercises aren't generally so complicated, mind-bending or leg-twisting. I'm not sure why the designers of the syllabus decided to do it that way - unless it's to help ease mature dancers gently into taking exams.The centre maybe somewhat less so than the barre (see Allegro 3). The actual variations however contain some steps that are more difficult than in the corresponding grades, eg cabrioles, entrechat trois, entrechat cinque and sauts de basque in the Giselle variation. And the series of little jetés turning, which used to make a regular appearance in classes in my youth* (maybe old-old-old Elementary?) but which I haven't done for years. But they are all thoroughly prepared for in the development exercises. I think they've put various measures in place to make these exams more appealing to older students - the modular structure, the very structured practice of steps in development exercises, options that don't impact at all on marks (eg pointe or flat, speed of chaînés, beat or don't beat) as well as the mark scheme which allocates a greater proportion of marks to musicality and performance than in other exams. For the variations there are two sections of technique marks each worth 10, with the more technical Correct Placement, Control and Line separate from Coordination, Space and Dynamics which seem to me to relate more to quality.They also mention " show awareness of correct technique" which suggests to me that they will give credit for showing that you understand and are trying to apply correct technique even if you don't manage to carry it off. I think the fact that the development exercises are marked as well as the variation also allows the chance to demonstrate technical command of the vocabulary in a simpler setting as well as fully embedded in complex choreography. (*As far as I recall in ancient times we used to do a far wider variety of turning steps on the diagonal, on demi/pointe but particularly jumped, than I ever seem to do nowadays - petits pas de basque sautés en tournant, petits brisés en tournant (oh, the horror!), relevés passés devant with a turn alternating en dedans and en dehors, a step that I think was called emboîtés en tournant with a relevé passé devant with a half turn, replacing the supporting foot with the other while continuing to turn in the same direction - all particularly gruelling because they don't travel much so it takes an age to cover the diagonal! Do any other "old" dancers recall steps, whether favourites or not-at-all-missed, that don't appear often on the menu nowadays?)
  9. The_Red_Shoes

    Taking Ballet Exams as an adult

    In my dance school the usual order of exams is IF, Grade 6, Inter, Grade 7,then posssibly AF...doesn't usually carry on any further after that as the teens have generally headed off either to vocational school or uni by then. Grades 6, 7 and 8 are all Level 3 exams, like Inter. I'm looking forward to doing Grade 7 as it's so beautiful but I'm planning on taking Grade 6 first just to have enough exams to keep me going for a few years. If I do Grades 6, 7 and 8 and three levels of DR that would be a good few years' worth of fresh challenges ahead of me! Grade 8 is purely performance based, consisting entirely of four solo dances danced as if they are stage performances (after a short barre and a polonaise entry which are not marked). The higher grades have a really elegant and flattering uniform too, wide choice of colours and a floaty mid-calf length skirt.
  10. The_Red_Shoes

    Taking Ballet Exams as an adult

    I know what you mean. I did the RAD Summer school and the Ballet Retreat,but otherwise it was a bleak and ballet-less stretch of time. Well, I enjoyed having a rest initially and the lovely weather...but a huge chunk of life missing. Now I'm excited that the new term is beginning. I'm not sure that I feel up to tackling Advanced Foundation, mainly because of the pointe work (although the pointe teacher at the Ballet Retreat very unexpectedly said nice things about my pointe work). I'm planning on doing Grades 6-8 next and DR if I can persuade my teacher. I think if I do keep on with pointe work I could do the Coppelia Variation on pointe more easily than Advanced Foundation, so it might be a sort of halfway house. The higher grades are at about Inter level but very dancey and performance based. And a lot less technical. No pointe work! No double pirouettes! No brisés!
  11. The_Red_Shoes

    Taking Ballet Exams as an adult

    I hated my soft blocks until I got really rough with them - pulled out all the spongey inner sole, repeatedly squashed them in half in both directions until absolutely flat, steamed them over the kettle then squashed and massaged the block until it felt really soft, then steamed them again and wore them while they were cooling and drying so that they shaped to my foot (repeated the steaming a few times until I was satisfied). The end result is like an old worn out pointe shoe only not so grubby and tattered. Now I really like them because they still look really pretty but are comfy to dance in. However soft blocks aren't compulsory for IF.
  12. The_Red_Shoes

    Taking Ballet Exams as an adult

    Thank you so much Sophie. It's just that I felt so very visible and in such a permanent form! But the response has been so positive and, yes, with lots of people saying that they're inspired. My teacher is starting both an evening Adult Beginner class and a daytime Silver Swans next term, so I hope I've acted as a good advert for her teaching. And I'm hoping that, since I am this walking advert, she will continue to find the time for my private lessons so that I can go on with my next step - either the Higher Grades or DR.
  13. The_Red_Shoes

    Taking Ballet Exams as an adult

    There are only a few of us, but my teacher loves teaching this class, says it's the high point of her week. I assume we're subsidised by the very popular classes like Primary or Zumba.
  14. The_Red_Shoes

    Taking Ballet Exams as an adult

    I did Intermediate along with the teens, but we also have an Advanced class which is mainly adults. Nobody fancies doing any more exams so we do bits of syllabus work from Advanced Foundation through to Advanced 2 along with plenty of free advanced work. I think it's quite rare to be able to do this level of work in a small town.
  15. The_Red_Shoes

    Taking Ballet Exams as an adult

    I realise I'm so lucky to live here in such a glorious place - even if it is a long way from everywhere else especially with the chaos that Northern has created with the trains. We've had a fabulous summer, although it has reverted to normal these last few days. Still if it didn't rain there wouldn't be any lakes! Enjoy the Cumbrian news!
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