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Lisa O`Brien

Guardian photos NY School of American Ballet Auditioning 6 and 7 Yr Olds.

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Just looked on Twitter and there are photos from The Guardian newspaper showing 6 and 7 year old boys and girls lining up to audition for New York`s School of American Ballet winter term. Some of the photos show youngsters in the audition ,their legs being stretched and lifted as high as they will go. I didn`t know the SAB took in children so young to train. If ,as we sometimes hear that the standard of American dancers is higher than our own, then why on earth don`t our vocational schools start training children from the age of 6 or 7 instead of waiting until they are 11? I`m talking about training them full time,not once a week at Associates.

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I do wonder now if ballet is deemed more of a sport than an art.....perhaps funding now should be from the sports budget than from culture & arts....I suspect there would be more funded places to train children vocationally then!

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For the first four years SAB training is part time starting at 2 classes per week leading up to daily after school classes.

 

Even their full time programme provides no academic provision, students have to homeschool online which wouldn't be possible in the UK with the different structure of our Gcse exams.

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As far as I know, for those who can afford it, some SAB students go to the Professional Children's School, which is very nearby and which is geared toward the education of performing children. It has a number of noted alumni.

 

https://www.pcs-nyc.org/

 

"Professional Children's

School provides a
challenging academic
education for young
people in grades 6-12
pursuing extraordinary
goals.  Current students
include ballet & modern
dancers, actors, athletes,

singers and models."

Edited by victoriapage
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The OP was talking about 6-7 year olds.

 

US 6th grade is around age 11, the age at which our vocational schools take in from. As SAB students are placed in levels not according to age it's diffucultvto day at what stage in their programme students would be here but daytime classes are required from their Intermeduate b level which seems to be the 6-7th year.

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I understand; I was responding really to this - Actually I started 6th grade at age 10; it can depend on your birthday when you start schooling (and I'm talking about when dinosaurs ruled the earth in my case).

 

 

Even their full time programme provides no academic provision, students have to homeschool online which wouldn't be possible in the UK with the different structure of our Gcse exams. 

 

Edited by victoriapage
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I guess my point to the OP is that what SAB are offering their 6-10 year old students isn't vastly different to our system of Associate classes & that even there full time intensive training starts later. (& rightly so)

 

I do find it interesting that they require all girls aged 11& above to take pointe shoes to the audition which seems rather young to me.

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Just looked on Twitter and there are photos from The Guardian newspaper showing 6 and 7 year old boys and girls lining up to audition for New York`s School of American Ballet winter term. Some of the photos show youngsters in the audition ,their legs being stretched and lifted as high as they will go. I didn`t know the SAB took in children so young to train. If ,as we sometimes hear that the standard of American dancers is higher than our own, then why on earth don`t our vocational schools start training children from the age of 6 or 7 instead of waiting until they are 11? I`m talking about training them full time,not once a week at Associates.

 

Even taking from age 11, the percentage of those who make it to professional level is quite low, largely due to the unpredictable nature or the way children's bodies and talent develop as well as the fact that some of them simply change their minds about dancing! By starting as young as 6 or 7, that percentage would be even lower.

 

I do prefer the more flexible nature of training in the US (and other countries) though. I wish it was more like that in the UK but I don't think we'll be seeing a shift away from the grade/ syllabus system any time soon.

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I agree with your comments on the more flexible nature of training.

 

I personally feel my dd is about a year behind (having entered this crazy world as a once a week dancer approx 2-3 years behind.)

 

However academically she definately needs to be with her age group.

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I don't think they are auditioning much earlier than here.My DD was 7 when she auditioned for and was accepted as an RBS Junior associate.She started classes just after turning 8 on average 3 classes per month during term time.

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I don't think they are auditioning much earlier than here.My DD was 7 when she auditioned for and was accepted as an RBS Junior associate.She started classes just after turning 8 on average 3 classes per month during term time.

But in the audition did they yank [pardon the pun] her leg up as high as it would go at such a young age as well?The photo reminded me of Soviet Russia.!!

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As long as it's not hurting and they are warmed up is it a problem to yank the leg up? If the flexibility is required and in the long run if they haven't got it they're going to be disappointed I suppose it needs assessing just the same as musicality etc?

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Some of them look jolly miserable don't they?!! 

I was thinking the same. And untidy. I know they are only little, but surely their parents could have sent them out with tidy hair? Obviously their potential isn't going to be influenced by their grooming, but I would have thought the parents would have wanted to create a good impression. The little ones auditioning for parts in our local dance school show today were all neatly attired, hair in buns or plaits and mostly wearing big smiles - not at all like these photos which I must confess left me rather cold.

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Totally agree with you pups_mum! If I was in charge of the school, I would be most unhappy with that little lot being published. Also, I know it's a personal thing, but I hate to see little ones in tights.

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I do wonder now if ballet is deemed more of a sport than an art.....perhaps funding now should be from the sports budget than from culture & arts....I suspect there would be more funded places to train children vocationally then!

 

I agree. I find it sad. I want to be moved to tears when I go to the ballet not watch a grinning trickster with no musicality or emotion do a million fouettes. But then I find the floor routine set to tinny music in gymnastics the ugliest thing... It's personal I suppose.

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I agree on the gym at the top levels. It's become much more acrobatic - which is fine - they're not dancers and i love it. The women's floor USED to be my fave thing to watch but isn't anymore. In a way I find the fact they still have music is the problem- just admit it's not artistic and be like the men....

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Yes interesting. i find it horrible but you're right without the music it's a completely different thing.

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I must say I am a little uncomfortable with the interpretation of the photos that a teacher is 'yanking' a child's leg up. From a still photo you can have no idea that this is what is happening- the little girl in question isn't grimacing in pain, she has her standing leg slightly bent to reduce the difficulty and whilst looking a little bemused she does has a small smile her face. Perhaps she is just naturally flexible! Further down there is  a pic of a little girl with her foot at a right angle (obviously as far as she could get it) and no one seems to be forcing it higher. I think the assessors would be really upset that people are thinking that's what they are doing...

Also yes, some of the kids look a bit glum- maybe they were bored from waiting around for a long process? And a few of them are skipping along looking radiantly happy yet no-one is interpreting SAB as clearly a super wonderful place as a result of those particular pictures...

It's only a few photos- I showed them to my daughter and she thought they all looked really sweet....

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I'm with you there CeliB. It is so wrong to draw assumptions from a few stills that the children are miserable or untidy, that the parents didn't bother to send them to the audition in the proper way. Or that their legs are being yanked up in a way reminiscent of Soviet Russia. To be honest? I'd rather see pics of children at auditions looking like children - a little tired and scruffy - rather than dolled up and perfectly coiffed. Sorry, but we weren't there so we can't assume.

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I agree SarahW Gym isn't as artistic as it used to be since last code of points, I think it maybe because gymnasts these days, I am no expert, have to incorporate 4 tumbling passes in their floor routines to be competitive plus are not allowed to take breathers in the corner any more.

 

As oppose to in the past when they more often did just 3 tumbling and had a second breather in the corner before each tumble and could make up extra points by competing difficult leaps and dance elements. This would make a routine appear more artistic and allow for much more expression, as they are not mid air upside down as often.

 

So although, many of todays gymnasts would be more then capable of beautiful artistry and expression they probably need to save every little ounce of energy to get their tumbles round to land and not land on their bums lol.

 

It is obviously the direction they want the sport moving at the moment, they have made it so much harder, so something else has had to give and unfortunately it's often the beautiful artistry.....

 

I don't think the women routines are becoming like the men's floor routines apart from the harder tumbles, the men seem to have a lot of slow controlled handstands etc, more focus on strength, less on dance elements.

Edited by Snowflake
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Also, re the photos and the children's hair, etc, it's clear that some of these children have never done dance lessons before because they're wearing swimming costumes or shorts and T-shirts, and parents aren't necessarily going to know about buns and plaits - and what does it matter anyway? The SAB website says no prior experience or training is needed and that swimming costumes and T-shirts are fine to wear for the audition. It makes no mention of hairstyles. When my DD started ballet through a community programme, we were given the same message for the audition about swimming costumes or shorts/T-shirts and were just told to pull hair back off the face into a pony tail. It was only after a whole year in the progamme that buns were needed. 

 

https://www.sab.org/winterterm/admission/auditions_for_6_to_10_year_olds.php

 

I have to agree with those who thought the children look sweet - like little children!

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Personally I don't find the pictures shocking at all. To me it just looks like a bunch of very normal kids trying out for an after school activity. 

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Hi Snowflake,

It is quite fair enough for gym to get more acrobatic. I think the reduction in artistry coincides with me having a dd - I had no knowledge of ballet in the past.

 

I felt a bit glum after these European s but saw some lovely floor at Glasgow in December. ......

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