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About Dance*is*life

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  • Birthday August 15

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    My family, ballet, theatre and musical theatre, music, books,films etc etc.

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  1. Basically Polish mazurka is with the hop step shunt in arabesque, whilst Russian mazurka is with the hop step hop swish through to the front. When I danced in Onegin, we had to do the Russian mazurka whizzing around the stage and really moving. The Polish one as in RAD Grade 5 and 6 seems to move less almost stopping in the arabesque.
  2. I adored doing Festivals! Of course in my day it was different - pianists played for the dances! And the mums made all the costumes! Our school was selective - apart from the All England, we only participated in two or three other comps. I usually had 6 different solos, 2 duets and 3 groups. Wonderful for stage experience and the variety of dance genres (with ballet as the main one) that we danced, gave us a wealth of experience for our future dancing careers. If I may reminisce - I will never forget the year that I came 8th in the London Semis of the All England. Polish national dance it was. I think I was 8 or 9 years old at the time. I knew that only the first 4 went through to the finals and if someone didn't want to come down from the northern semis, maybe 5th place would get to dance, so wasn't expecting to compete. However the day before the finals, I got a phone call - no one was coming down from the northern semis and I was to dance! My Dad was working and couldn't take me, so Mum and I, with the pianist and my costume, travelled into town on the bus! Unfortunately, when we got off the bus with everything, the pianist suddenly realised that she had left the music sheets on the bus! Luckily for me she was able to play it by heart, so I went on and did my best and won!!!! From 8th to Ist place against the same girls! Different judges of course, so I suppose you can never know what might happen! I really do think that competitions if taken in the right spirit can be a wonderful addition to regular dance training. Dance is our way of expressing ourselves and being technically brilliant is not enough - dance is a performing art not a science of technique.
  3. Yes agreed that it's a fantastic opportunity and a great achievement. I believe that even if you can't afford three years of training even one or two years will make a huge difference. I had a student who managed to pay for two years training and instead of the third year he got an apprenticeship with a pro company. Talent will out!
  4. A good way to practise is an exercise that was in the old, old Grade 5. It was to practise pirouettes at the barre from 5th , rather than 4th. Start with one hand on the barre and turn 3/4 en dehors to finish with both hands on the barre with the leg still in pirouette position. The best pirouettes are those where you finish with the leg still under the knee facing front and then lower with control. It's good to practise finishing "up". Try it first finishing with both hands on the barre and then with a whole turn finishing with one hand on the barre. Pirouettes from 5th are very good preparation for those from 4th, because you have to push from the floor and use both arms and head more than from 4th.
  5. I used to teach spotting as leaving the head behind as long as possible and then whipping it round - then I realised that that actually wasn't how I myself spot! First of all don't choose a small focus point but rather more of a direction. For example I might tell my students to focus on the piano or the fire door! Then don't leave your head behind for more than an 8th of the turn, almost immediately bring it round to the other side - it keeps you straighter on balance. For a double you just have to do the head movement again. Since I started teaching it this way I find my students have become better turners, so maybe it will help you!
  6. Yes - you know your own kid the best and would know if she's ready. A week is a long time for a nine year old. They do spend a lot of time travelling in the chaperoned buses going backwards and forwards from the residency to Headquarters. If you can be available, it probably wouldn't be a great deal more expensive for you to stay in a hotel or rental apartment for the six nights together with her. Take her to a show suitable for her age, visit places with her that you know she'll enjoy. And you can shop till you drop! Or visit museums whilst she's dancing!
  7. I am wracking my brain to uncover memories from well over 50 years ago. I was in the Upper School in the 60s. There were definitely separate classes for non UK or Commonwealth students, when I was there. I also know that there were also some during the 50s, because I know of someone who trained at RBS then. She was put in to one of these classes, decided that the level was too low for her and so, she told me, she demanded an interview with Sir Arnold Haskell in order to get him to transfer her to a regular class, which he did! It's possible that others were moved too, if the staff saw that they were promising. Britain joined the Common Market in 1973 - but I don't know if that made them drop the classes or if it happened earlier. Even if countries accepted other nationalities in their ballet companies, at that time priority was still given to their own nationals. I lost a contract for the Zurich State Opera Ballet company because they had two Swiss nationals to whom they had to give priority. I wonder if Brexit will mean reverting to that situation?
  8. How sad to read all this. I had three years in the RBS US in the 60s and it was so different then. The White Lodgers automatically got into the Senior School and had their own truncated training all together of just two years - 3A and the Graduates normally. The rest of us who were talented but not WL usually had to have three years of training. We were very much in awe of those from WL! You were only accepted into the company if you were British. I remember one talent was finally accepted because she found a long lost British relative! The "foreigners" had their own separate classes and the standard was lower. Topsy turvy world eh?
  9. Also the cafeteria seems pretty good with a wide selection of meals and snacks to suit various dietary demands. It has a fantastic standard of students, teachers accompanists and also the Master Classes are wonderful. I have had a couple of students there for the last two years and have watched classes. Brilliant experience. Anyone who gets in is very lucky!
  10. My student got a no for week 2 - I gather it was closed ages ago, but after she applied. Really disappointed for her - she was so keen. I wish the schools like Central and ENB had chaperoned residences. Is there another one in or near London anyone would recommend?
  11. Really?! That is comforting news! I always tell my students that as far as I'm concerned the work that they put in to preparing for the exam is what's important - anything can happen on the day! If you're only 14 you still might get a chance to take Advanced Foundation before you need to apply for vocational school and passing that will impress far more than Inter with a slightly higher mark.
  12. I am not sure if this is the place to put this, but I am sure a kind Moderator will put it where it should be! In the 1990s the Beeb came out with this delightful drama about competition life as it once was - with pianists and rivalry and all! I recorded it on video, which I have been meaning to put on DVD and then suddenly found it on youtube today. Such a blast of nostalgia from the past and I believe the rather good young male dancer had quite a career. https://youtu.be/GOjBaF68EsI
  13. Depending on his age and level a teacher can simplify a male variation, but I agree that the RAD male variations are age and level appropriate, as I presume are also ISTD dances. You could also check youtube for male competition solos.
  14. We split the show a few years ago when we realised it was getting too long. Now we have two - Junior and Senior. Junior is from Pre-Primary to Inter Foundation plus 2 or 3 showcase senior dances such as advanced pointe. We actually limit the number of tickets that each parent can buy to 4 in the beginning and later on open it up to whoever wants to buy the remaining seats. The Senior show starts from level 7 and we don't limit the number of tickets that each parent can buy, because there are less groups and less students, but we still fill the town performing arts centre. I have to say that although the senior show is very impressive and professional I do miss the babies!! The thing is that the little ones only do one dance and it's more suitable for their parents to sit through a shorter show where the older students from Grade 3 upwards still only do two or three dances. The Seniors have five or 6 dances each level and the dances are longer. Younger children get tired hanging around too long and until their kids are older and taking their dancing more seriously their parents are not going to be happy sitting through a whole evening in order to see their kids on stage for a couple of minutes😕
  15. To be honest even before the RAD allowed split soles some of my students wore them and no examiner ever commented on that to me! I am sure they are not allowed to mark down on something like that - if on the other hand your daughter doesn't stretch her feet to the maximum that she is capable of, well that's a different story! I really can't see the harm for your daughter to use them if her feet look better in satin split soles. Basically though it comes down to what her teacher prefers!
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