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Wiz

London Russian Ballet School - and work prospects in Russia

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Can I ask whether parents of young ballet students have had the opportunity of forming a received view about London Russian Ballet School?

 

Our fourteen-year-old son is desperately keen on a ballet career and is very tall for his age. He believes, because male ballet stars in Russia tend to be tall, and indeed female stars do too, that he could follow in the footsteps of the likes of Xander Parrish, whose example has inspired him. But although the LRBS recruit students from overseas and from many far-flung parts of the UK and these students of course board, the school itself does not offer accommodation under its own auspices. So a young boy, away from home for the first time, would be living in a boarding house (which would be near the school apparently) on his own.

 

And although the school says it recruits purely on ability, and grants are given according to potential, and that no student considered a good prospect would be disadvantaged financially by the fee regime, the school refuses to give out its fee structure. It says it depends on the course taken. This seems a bit mysterious to me. Is it unusual?

 

We live a good five hours from London, and we now have the prospect of making a compulsory formal application and then taking our son up to London for a whole-day audition session involving two nights away, and then seeing how talented the school thinks our son is, without having any notion of the kind of fee we will have to pay in the end. It would seem strange to go through that whole process and only then discover the kind of financial commitment that is required. Of course other schools have no difficulty publishing their fees. What do people think about this, please?

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I can't comment on the school, but would point out that Reece Clarke is doing very nicely at the Royal Ballet, so probably Russia isn't the only option for tall dancers.  I'd have thought most ballet companies would be hugely keen to get hold of quality tall dancers to partner their taller ballerinas, as they are at a premium.  Xander Parish is probably a bit of an exception, anyway: he was fortunate enough to be spotted by a visiting artistic director, who believed in him and gave him numerous opportunities - and it's taken a vast amount of hard work to get to where he is today.  You don't give any indication of your son's level of talent: I'm guessing he'd be hoping for Bolshoi/Mariinsky etc., but what if that's not realistic?  Would he be equally happy in some very minor Russian ballet company in a far-flung city, just because it's Russia, if it came to it?

 

The other thing is that you say he's tall for his age.  Are there indicators to suggest that he's likely to end up tall when he's finished growing, or are his peers likely to catch him up later?  That's another thing which might make a difference. 

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Hi Wiz,

Where are you in the country? There are other Russian based schools. Presumably, you would be looking at LRBS when your son is 16 as their younger courses are after school?

I can highly recommend Bristol Russian Ballet Easter and Summer Courses, if that is closer. Chika and Yuri could also discuss your son’s potential with you.

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I would think it’s easier for tall male dancers than short ones in this day and age.  Is your son an associate anywhere? Has he auditioned at other Lower Schools like RBS, Elmhurst, Young Dancers Academy, Tring Park and so on? 

 

Personally I think a fourteen year old should be in proper boarding facilities attached to the school or with a host family in an accredited Homestay but perhaps you are thinking ahead to 16 plus training? 

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6 minutes ago, Anna C said:

I would think it’s easier for tall male dancers than short ones in this day and age.  Is your son an associate anywhere? Has he auditioned at other Lower Schools like RBS, Elmhurst, Young Dancers Academy, Tring Park and so on? 

 

Personally I think a fourteen year old should be in proper boarding facilities attached to the school or with a host family in an accredited Homestay but perhaps you are thinking ahead to 16 plus training? 

 

As far as I am aware unless things have changed recently the school is not registered with the DFES to offer full time education to under 16’s and it’s not part of any regulatory body.  

Edited by Picturesinthefirelight
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I would only comment that I wouldn't be too hung up on height.  At 14 there is no way of knowing how tall your son will end up - you can obviously make an educated guess based on the heights of the parents but some older readers will remember my constant anxiety about my tiny skinny son.  He is now  6 foot, and through sheer hard work has bulked up to be one of the larger dancers in his current company.  Others stopped growing at 14.  Boys in particular change height and body shape (which can be as much a factor as height) later than girls.  

 

 

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If you'd like to PM me I would be happy to give you a lot of info about training and working in Russia- my DS is currently dancing with the Bolshoi. It would be good to look at an ambition of dancing in Russia with a realistic idea of what that entails. I don't want to put all details on open forum as some of it is personal to my DS and perhaps not appropriate to share widely.

I would say that Russia is not alone in liking taller dancers so it's not exactly your DSs only option - so he needs to think hard about what attracts him to dance in Russia beyond just being worried about getting a job elsewhere....

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My son is almost six foot tall. He listens to a lot of people and has learned to read elementary Russian. He follows several Russian dancers on Instagram. He goes to a dance school run by a teacher who was himself schooled in the Russian tradition. He believes standards are higher in Russia, especially at the Mariinsky. He reveres Ekaterina Kondaurova whom he saw dance at Covent Garden last year. He was fascinated by the personal history of Xander Parrish but not quite so impressed by the performances of the man himself. He is determined to dance in Russia, where dancers, he believes, (rightly, I think), are properly valued as artists.

 

He has been offered places at The Hammond School and at Tring Park. He is being considered for awards at both institutions. He liked the appearance and feel of Tring best - the accommodation at Hammond is not on the spot as it is at Tring, and is perhaps a little run down. But Hammond might be the best place for him up to the age of sixteen. At sixteen he hopes to be at a classical ballet establishment. It is worrying that LRBS is not registered with British authorities. Until we moved down to Cornwall last year he was an Associate at Northern Ballet.

 

I didn't know there was a Bristol Russian Ballet but now that I do I shall certainly get onto it. Thank you all! Still not sure about anything though!

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I think the many fans of the Royal Ballet here may disagree that standards are higher in Russia.  😉  There’s a reason that Royal has attracted and still attracts such outstanding dancers from all over the world, including from Russia.  Has your son seen many performances by the Royal Ballet?  Seeing ballet performed live is wonderful and very important for would-be dancers and personally I very much enjoy the Mariinsky’s performances at the Royal Opera House but in addition to Royal, plus watching ENB, Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures and other companies.   It’s important to remember how many outstanding dancers (including Vadim Muntagirov) trained at Royal Ballet Upper School, even if just for Year 3.  

 

Tring has produced some excellent dancers and I believe the training for boys is very good; students have got into RBS Upper School in the past.  There are obviously Russian schools in the US and in Russia itself but moving abroad could be a daunting prospect at 16.  

 

It certainly sounds like a trial at Bristol Russian could be well worthwhile.  I would urge your son to consider applying for Royal and Elmhurst for 6th form though - keeping options open and having a Plan B are vital for any young dancer.  

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Wiz

 

Regarding your offers from Tring/Hammond - if he is really keen on ballet particularly I would make sure that where you choose (if you have a choice!) has adequate hours of ballet and compare that to what he can access at home.

Our personal experience of Hammond is that it offers a wide range of dance and doesn't always give priority for ballet. For example, a lot of dance is sacrificed for preparing for the carol concert in December. Hence when my DC auditioned in the January due to the carol preparations and Xmas holidays there'd been a month with no ballet. Not ideal at all.

Good luck with your choices!

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I'd agree with the various suggestions and options from others, and I'd also like to add that it isn't always the best policy to put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak. Although your ds is very keen on the Russian method of training and would ultimately like to train and/or work in Russia, it would be beneficial to widen the net and keep his options open for 16+ training here in the UK, or elsewhere.

 

Is he going to any summer schools or other short courses this year? The more the merrier really, and it will give him an eye-opener into other potential avenues to explore. 

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Whilst I would agree with SarahW, I would point out many Hammond graduates have auditioned successfully for places at 16+ ballet schools and gone on to have successful careers as classical dancers.

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Yes that is true @meadowblythe.  I'm not sure if we hit a bad year.

 

I would also like to add there are some fabulous ballet teachers there. It's more a lack of prioritisation of ballet and a lack of training structure at time.

 

I'm sure the same issues make it a good place for MT.

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On ‎09‎/‎02‎/‎2019 at 16:35, Anna C said:

I think the many fans of the Royal Ballet here may disagree that standards are higher in Russia.

 

Indeed.  Haven't some people on here been pretty critical of the standard of some of the dancing at the Mariinsky recently?  (I don't really get to see much of them, so couldn't comment myself)

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