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Intermediate Foundation as an adult

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I can see from other threads I am not the only adult who is doing (or has done) RAD Intermediate Foundation, and I thought I would start a new thread for sharing experiences, past and present.

 

I started studying the syllabus in the autumn term 2015. Having started with one Inter Foundation class, I am doing two classes each week at RAD HQ and having a private lesson with my local teacher. I had hoped to be able to do the exam in this summer, but my teachers don’t think I am quite ready. I am really hoping for the November/December exam, but it does mean keeping everything up over the school summer holiday.

 

Pirouettes and allegro are my main problem areas (and also not looking tense!) Pointe work in the centre also needs work.

 

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Allegro 2 was such a nightmare! I'm over 6ft tall so changing direction so quick was a challenge, it took me about 3 years before I took my IF exam & I'd spent about 18 months working on IF specifically in my private class, what bits do your teachers think you need to improve? I have to admit I think my expression was fear the whole way through, I have a bitchy resting face too so smiling never really shows through :D 

 

I did put up the IF exam barring Variation 1 (as I did Variation 2) and the Pointe work (long story related to shoes) this was all taken about a week or two before my exam & something similar was good enough to scrape a merit.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLKT8wR8jyKbsnLxprk3nxwRGaBx6FfQF1

 

I also suffer with Pirouettes, mostly with the turnout but also with balance, on the day they were 'ok' but not great, if there's anything you want to ask me I'd be happy to help, I took my exam on Feb the 26th this year.

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Hi Sophie

 

I was actually really impressed with your Allegro 2 - as you say, it is regarded as one of the hardest exercises in the IF syllabus, especially for tall dancers like yourself with long legs, but you had completely nailed those pesky direction changes, with lovely neat beats as well. (I could see you were slightly less comfortable with the pirouettes though... but you got through them, which is what matters!)

 

I (and, I'm sure, JCS!) would also be interested to know how you got on with the unset enchainment in the exam, as you haven't really mentioned that so far?

 

BTW I did see your reply earlier about your reasons for doing Grade 7, which do make sense now you have explained them (not having particularly long legs myself, I hadn't really thought about it that way!) but the discussion in the thread had moved on a long way by then, which is why I didn't respond.

 

JCS, I feel for you in respect of the issues with pointe work in the centre - it seems pretty mean of the RAD to put that in at such an early stage. The majority of people are able to get through basic pointe exercises at the barre in some fashion or other (even if it means hanging on for dear life and not being anywhere close to over the box!) - but in the centre there is "nowhere to hide" and you simply have to have the strength and technique in place. Thinking about it, I suppose that's exactly why they put it in....in order to get at least 1 out of 10 for pointe work, you need to be in a position where you are able to show the relevant exercises in the exam - so if you are not yet allowed off the barre, or if you are not secure enough in the centre to be totally confident of getting safely through the exercise under pressure, that is really a barrier to being entered for the exam. (Technically I guess it would still be possible to pass the exam without showing the pointe work - you would just get 0 for that section - but the rest of the work would need to be of a very high standard to compensate for the loss of 10% of the potential marks, so if there are also concerns on other aspects of the syllabus as you say you have, it would not be worth taking the risk - you will be far better off waiting until your teachers think you are ready, however frustrating it is!

 

Also, remember that the vast majority of teachers will not enter people for exams unless they are 100% certain they will pass, even if they have an "off day" combined with a very tough examiner! So in practice, you would need to have reached a much higher standard than actually needed for a "scraped pass" before they would let you enter. (So you need to be aiming for the pass-merit border as a minimum - then hopefully you will have a good day with a positive examiner and get a merit!)

 

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On 02/05/2017 at 14:11, youngatheart said:

I (and, I'm sure, JCS!) would also be interested to know how you got on with the unset enchainment in the exam, as you haven't really mentioned that so far?

 

Oh I TOTALLY fluffed the free enchainment, I thought right there I'd failed the exam, I was nearly in tears and it was written all over my face, it was based on jete's & petit assemble, the jete's were a mix of en avant I think it was the lack of a change of feet that I think was throwing me, I don't remember much other than fighting the tears and getting it wrong :'( I got a 5/10 for it as at least I was still on the music etc.

 

& thanks for the allegro comment that's kind of you, as you can see at the end of the clip Lynne never has to guess what's on my mind ;-) 

 

Just thought some more useful info for the free enchainment it'll be based on 1 of 3 movements, either jete's / Assemble's or Sissonne's, with simple interlinking steps so just brush up on those, I was worried it'd be some complex dance made up of anything in the syllabus but it's only based on those 3 movements, the examiner will talk it through with you, you'll get to listen to a sample of the music, then you'll get a full run through to mark with music then it's go time, the examiner will say if there's anything you need just ask so don't be afraid to ask for clarification.

Edited by sophie_rebecca
Added a bit

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Ugh - jetes devant.... for some reason those don't seem to get as much attention, either in syllabus or unset classes, as jetes derriere - at least in my experience.... poor you getting landed with those! Still it's reassuring that you still got 5/10 even with what you describe as "fluffing" them - however that section of the syllabus strikes terror into many people and probably very few candidates come out of the exam confident that they completely nailed it..... So you are probably being a bit hard on yourself!

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Ugh, the dreaded Allegro number 2 exercise in IF and Intermediate! Definitely not choreographed by a long-legged dancer! Sophie, DD found these difficult with inside leg measurements at c 34" long at the time, so I can't imagine how you managed it so well at 6'+ - amazing! 

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Jetes devant! Our teacher said she didn't understand why adults struggled with them so much and ending up doing jete en avant (I think that's the one). The theory I offered was that we are taking the same route as for jete derriere - ie slightly forward - because we are so used to them. Very impressed with 5/10. Last week we did a free enchainment and I couldn't pick up the music on the second side and just ending up standing there, hoping that I would work out where to come in and with what step.

 

And of course Allegro 2 - considered the benchmark for being ready to do the exam! I am doing a lot of supplementary exercises for the allegros (I have been taking inspiration from this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HU1cbiSp4A&t=13s&list=PLVYzKialQysab6BPDLc0X3OLYSnhqwHTv&index=31) I think they are helping. In Allegro 2, with each repetition I am covering less ground. Closing to fifth would also help.

 

 

 

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The cecchetti syllabus is very balanced in that all of the centre work will incorporate under/over, devant/ derrière etc. Either within the same exercise (e.g. Jete derriere going straight into devant half way through) or the exercise is repeated. Free enchainement from all steps learnt from grade 1 too so it's less of a big deal!

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A million years ago, ;) when I studied the RAD vocational exams you had to learn many of the exercises in reverse also, so you did get to practice the steps that feel less 'natural' such as sissone under, jete under and pas de bouree devant etc. Is this not the case anymore?

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In the classes I go to we just do the syllabus as set, but those classes include students who are getting close to being exam-ready and students who are just starting to learn the syllabus.

 

However, I did follow as much as possible when there was a vocational class straight after my regular adult general class, and I know that they just did the allegros as set - plus free enchainments. 

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I think part of the problem is just doing  "the syllabus as set." It can become a bit stilted, and it's not a reflection of how a normal class is run. A syllabus is just an ordered way of learning the repertoire of steps and their possible combinations. I hope your teacher also gives lots of on the spot combinations, or you can get to an open adult class occasionally.

 

And that allegro combination is pretty steady. You have a count "and" to straighten up between each sissone (one of my favourite allegro steps, 2nd only to temps de cuisse).

 

 

 

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Love that this is a thread. I am preparing for my IF exam this year. Please help me!

 

Struggle spots after yesterdays class - weight placement too far back when turning (I think I'm compensating for boobs?) and glissades not closing in a tight fifth meaning I can't get the right preparation for the jete and assembles in allegro 2.

 

I was terrified of free enchainement until I went on an RAD course and had a different teacher setting them. I fluff every single one my teacher sets but nailed all the ones given on the course. Is it possible my teacher is just really mean? She likes to challenge us so is always giving jetes devant then glissades with like, arms to fourth and then beats upon beats upon beats...if I had to do that in the exam I'd probably cry. Are the exercises that give you generally simple? Like simple arms and heads?

 

Also, does anyone have a good way of remembering under and over? I can remember for both assemble and sissone because then I think of the 'working leg' or the one that's in the air going over and under. But for glissades I always move the wrong way because I can't remember which one is the working leg... Does that even make sense hahaha?

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Viv, your teacher is setting you things that are way harder that you would get in the exam so that when you do get the "real" one you will (hopefully) find it easy - much like how you got on with the ones from the other teacher.

 

The syllabus is very specific on what can be set - either sissonnes, assembles or jetes as a focal step, with associated linking steps.

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My teacher's the same - set really tricky free work so anyone taking the exam then finds it really easy in comparison. I haven't taken any exams as an adult myself as I don't do pointe work though I did up to grade 8 when I was younger.

 

What is with allegro 2 in all the vocational syllabuses? I quite like the one for Intermediate Foundation but in Intermediate and Advanced Foundation, it really is a hideous exercise. They're so quick, with so many changes of directions and brisés are the worst step ever - I think I've finally got overs sorted but unders just involve me flapping my feet around.

 

 

 

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Ha ha, balletgremlin - DD would certainly agree! Allegros number 2 up to and including Adv Foundation don't lend themselves to leggier dancers - that was one of the reasons why DD was delighted to be told that Adv 1 suited her far better than Adv F and that she was therefore skipping Adv F! For some reason the Adv 1 allegro number 2 is not as legtwisting...

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Adv F as a whole is so pretty and I love the music, especially for the port de bras.

 

I'm just so happy I've found an adult ballet teacher who's so dedicated to letting us learn the trickier stuff - we may not always be exam standard but testing our limits as dancers makes other things we were struggling with seem like a piece of cake in comparison. I'm glad to see others on this thread have equally passionate teachers.

 

As for glissades under/over, I still remember the old Grade 5 exercise  (Glissade stretch bend, glissade stretch bend, and under and over, changement, stretch bend) which helps me keep straight which leg is going where. Whether you're going under or over you swap which leg you had in front. Overs always made more sense to me - you go towards your back leg and bring it in front. Unders you take your front leg to the back.

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When doing glissades I get "it's not where you start, it's where you finish" coming into my head. I suppose because glissade is about what position the starting leg ends up in relative to where it began.

 

I suspect this may only make sense to me!

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On 06/05/2017 at 22:06, _emeralds said:

A million years ago, ;) when I studied the RAD vocational exams you had to learn many of the exercises in reverse also, so you did get to practice the steps that feel less 'natural' such as sissone under, jete under and pas de bouree devant etc. Is this not the case anymore?

 

The Vocationals got an overhaul I think in 2012 (someone correct me please) so Inter Foundation and Inter got an overhaul.

On 09/05/2017 at 17:32, balletgremlin said:

Adv F as a whole is so pretty and I love the music, especially for the port de bras.

 

the Adv F Port de bras is one of my favourite just behind Grade 7 port de bras dut the Adv F music makes me feel more if that makes sense!

 

On 07/05/2017 at 15:21, Viv said:

Also, does anyone have a good way of remembering under and over? I can remember for both assemble and sissone because then I think of the 'working leg' or the one that's in the air going over and under. But for glissades I always move the wrong way because I can't remember which one is the working leg... Does that even make sense hahaha?

 

I so struggled with this too, my teacher did eventually teach it in a way I could understand, basically for something to go under (behind) it'd have to start at the front & vice versa for over, so if your standing in 5th with right foot forward and it's a jete over then the right foot is going to swish out and finish behind if that makes sense, Devant means in front so the leading foot would start and end at the front & Derrriere (bum / behind) starts and finishes with the back foot. I really hope some of this is making sense :-)

 

As for the rest of IF I found singing it in my head worked, like the Tendu exercise, sing along, one with a straight leg, one with a plie, then we prepare the arms, and down, repeat :-)

 

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43 minutes ago, sophie_rebecca said:

As for the rest of IF I found singing it in my head worked, like the Tendu exercise, sing along, one with a straight leg, one with a plie, then we prepare the arms, and down, repeat :-)

 

Ha, my teacher sings the exercises too. One on a straight leg, one into plie, one on a straight leg, add a demi plie...no one ever forgets that exercise!

 

I've found though that the way I sing it in my head can sometimes lead to me doing it...not wrong, but not right either. So, for the above mentioned Allegro 2, I was sort of singing this flowy glisaaaaade jete, glisaaaade assemble and so I wasn't bring my second leg in fast enough or into a tight enough fifth. I now sort of shout to myself...glissade! Jete! Glissade! Assemble! Squeeeeeze and beat! Squeeeeeze arms stay out! 

 

It's a bit aggressive haha, but since my feet don't move as fast as my brain, it works out alright :) 

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1 hour ago, Viv said:

Ha, my teacher sings the exercises too. One on a straight leg, one into plie, one on a straight leg, add a demi plie...no one ever forgets that exercise!

 

I've found though that the way I sing it in my head can sometimes lead to me doing it...not wrong, but not right either. So, for the above mentioned Allegro 2, I was sort of singing this flowy glisaaaaade jete, glisaaaade assemble and so I wasn't bring my second leg in fast enough or into a tight enough fifth. I now sort of shout to myself...glissade! Jete! Glissade! Assemble! Squeeeeeze and beat! Squeeeeeze arms stay out! 

 

It's a bit aggressive haha, but since my feet don't move as fast as my brain, it works out alright :) 

 

OMG there is no time in Allegro 2 to even think! all I tried to remember where key things, like pointe your toes, crossing thighs not ankles on the echappe battu, other than the speed the one thing I really struggled with Allegro 2 was the arms going into the first jete, arms in 3rd with the leading arm always felt wrong as you were about to change direction, tool me forever to break that association!

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I actually got asked the other day in class to demonstrate allegro 2 as my teacher said I was the only one closing my fifths fast enough. So apparently yelling at myself is doing the trick! 

 

How is everybody going with their exam prep? I will be sitting mine in October :) Grade 6 also in October, within the same couple of days... So that'll be interesting! 

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7 hours ago, Viv said:

How is everybody going with their exam prep? I will be sitting mine in October :) Grade 6 also in October, within the same couple of days... So that'll be interesting! 

 

Hope everyone is doing great with their exam prep, I was talking to my teacher today about doing two grades at once at the moment (Grade 7 & Intermediate) & how I'm confusing things sometimes (as you mentioned IF & Grade 6) & apparently at the last exams one of our young dancers who was doing grade 5 & IF was half way through the Grade 5 adage & started doing the IF adage :D poor thing, still it didn't actually hurt her grade much as she danced it so well.

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I'd quite like to do an exam bit not sure teacher realises this and I have found out that the teens are entered....I've not raised the Q - neither has teacher & to be fair family restraints mean I miss class quite often. However, if I felt an exam was a possibility I would make it a priority to attend...any tips in how to propose this? In my youth I did RAD elementary which teacher equates to today's Inter but I personally in late 40's would get a huge buzz from doing either Inter or Inter F....

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The trouble is at this level consistently good attendance is required all the time, not just when you think that an exam is imminent.

So whatever your age a teacher is not going to enter a student who is absent often and will prioritize those who do attend.

I personally would apologize and explain your reasons for being absent often first and foremost. Then ask whether in the long term you would be considered for the exam should attendance improve. The teacher may not realize that you may like to do this.

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Perhaps you could approach it by asking the teacher when they think you will be ready to sit the exam, based on your progress so far. That will let them know that you'd be interested in doing the exam, which they may not have realised, and also provide an opportunity for you to see what your teacher sees as areas of concern (which may or may not include your attendance). She may say you'll never be ready, and then you'll need to assess whether working towards an exam is something you value above the teachers opinion. 

 

Really, however you go about it you just have to ask. At my studio the vocational grades are done by invitation, those who aren't invited after grade 4 or 5 continue in the graded syllabus. After completing grade 5 I wasn't invited to join and I agonised over it for weeks, thinking she didn't think I was good enough or that I was wasting my time with all this ballet nonsense. Turns out she had no idea I was even interested and once I asked her 'what do I need to do in order to be considered for next year' she basically told me to stop being ridiculous and start immediately (literally immediately, my first class was 5 minutes after our conversation!)

 

I think you can be invigorated by doing the exam at any age :) It gives you a concrete goal to work towards, and I find that I push myself harder (and get pushed harder by my teacher) with the exam on the horizon. Just ask :) Whichever way you do it will be the right way.

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I'm not so sold on going in for exams. I think there's a problem with getting fixated on syllabus work. Doing open classes gives you more skills in picking things up -  although there is a complementary loss of learning through progressive steps, I recognise that.

 

But could you take what might be the motivation for wanting to do an exam, as Viv puts it so well? The concrete goal to work towards?

 

Could you identify aspects of the exam material you want to work towards, and set your own personal goals. Such as:

clean single pirouettes with a neat controlled landing 

or bold double pirouettes with a reasonable landing 

or learning to get lightness & ballon in petit allegro

 

(these are my goals at the moment, can't you tell?) ;)

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Personally I quite like the structured approach of working through the exam curriculum. It's possible to do that and have personal goals and do other classes.

 

Part of my reasoning for actually doing the exams is modelling for the boys around me (my sons and others). 

 

But you know, each to their own: I'm not inclined to do violin exams though I am working through the curriculum with my teacher.

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I have done both open classes, syllabus classes without the exam pressure, and exam oriented classes. I know for me personally my technique has improved dramatically through the goal of working towards the exam. I think it depends on the individual, I find I struggle to self motivate and tend to slack off if left to my own devices... I don't realise I'm doing it, I genuinely think I'm working hard, but without my current exam teacher giving me her razor eyed stare and simply saying 'foot' I would really think that I was pointing as hard as I could, until I point harder and realise I was slacking hahaha. If I could get my teacher doing non-syllabus classes maybe I'd get the same benefit, though I find what I benefit from most is repetition, clear guide lines in when to move forward and what is appropriate for the level I'm at. 

 

In the holidays I look forward to open classes because I can push myself to remember combinations, try things I don't get to do in syllabus and learn some of the quirks of different teachers. But at the end of it all, I look forward to going back to my syllabus classes. It's where I make the most progress. Not everyone will be the same, but that's why I do exams :)

 

Conversely, I have a different teacher for grade 6 and I'm completely unmotivated at the moment :( We spend the whole class just going over the steps and not learning how to dance, never getting corrections just being told that we're doing the steps wrong. This is not why I do ballet. Also the teacher isn't 100% sure of the syllabus so she's teaching it to herself at the same time she's teaching it to us. I've found that since I lack the motivation in that class, I don't want to do the exam anymore because it's no longer something that's pushing me (and why would I spend $100 on showcasing that I don't know the exercises and make a complete fool of myself?) 

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RAD elementary years ago was in my view (and DD's examiner teacher agrees) harder than the current intermediate. And considerably less exciting and beautiful! I still have the occasional nightmare about being asked to do the set adage en dedans with a rise at the end ;)

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