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Everything posted by Kate_N

  1. Oh wow! Thanks for this. I used to take class from her in Birmingham. A very demanding but precise & helpful teacher. I remember her pointing out to the very young & slender teenage dancers in the class that we older women could turn more easily because we had hips! Very heartening, as sometimes it was tough walking into that class in tights & a leotard, and seeing all the young ones.
  2. Oh yes, I get the boredom! Learning as a child & teen, I found pliés and tendus really boring. Now, they're my favourite bits of class. Sounds like a good mix of experiences, and 9 is still young. Are there opportunities for her to mix it up a bit with some jazz or street or contemporary dance? The pre & young teens at my studio do wonderful contemporary dance -- really serious stuff not silly competition tricks.
  3. Are exams such a problem? Slow, steady good training is surely the most important thing, rather then what exams you do? Just a question ... I know from my own experience that exams can get to be the be all and end all, and you can forget the main reason behind doing exams. They're not an end in themselves, rather a way to mark progress. So, if progress is being made, and the teaching is good, then that's the main thing (most vocational schools don't do graded syllabus exams). I've seen young dancers who are supposedly RAD Intermediate who sickle, can't pull up their knees or keep a stable core, mistake hitching a hip for turning out, hyperextend their backs, and so on ... but they're proudly "Intermediate" grade. That's the tail wagging the dog in my view. No need to answer my questions here -- it's more offering another point of view. If the teaching is good & slow & steady at age 9 is preferable, rather than "tricks" -- then I'd be inclined to help my child not worry about exams.
  4. Amie, I think it's great that you're thinking so carefully about what you want to do over the next 5 years. Take it step by step, and work smart (as well as moderately hard!) so that you keep as many options open as possible. The other thing I was thinking -- you could look at a Drama or Theatre Studies course at a "good" university. Not a drama school or conservatoire (equivalent of vocational dance training), but a BA Hons. At some universities (generally the older more established ones you're thinking about) it can be very like an English degree. Some universities allow you to do combined Honours in Drama and English. Some places to look at where there'd be good ballet as well would include: Bristol, Birmingham, Glasgow, Royal Holloway (only 40 minutes to central London), Manchester. You'd then be able to do some performing work, and probably dance or choreography as part of your course. I know several drama/theatre departments include dance, although not necessarily in their title. If you go to each department's website (go beyond the UCAS stuff) you can look at the expertise of academic staff, and also see the module options open to students. Most drama degrees offer some sort of dance/movement option. By the way, no need to answer my questions online in public -- they're just things for you to think about! I don't want to seem too inquisitive or get you to say too much online. Good luck, and what I've learned from seeing several generations of undergraduates over the last 20 years is that people always get to where they need to go, but sometimes, not by the route they expected.
  5. It's your life, and your future. In my university department we get a lot of kids who are under this sort of pressure. The compromise is that they are doing a humanities & creativity-oriented degree in a "good" university -- I've always taught in that grouping known as the "Russell Group." It's basically just a grouping of elite universities, which are research led, and expect very high standards from their students. We push them hard, but they can do it. And parents are happy because it's a Russell Group/good university. (My department is regularly in the top 5 for our subject). You need to have a good talk with your parents: where did they go to university? If you're heading for 4 As at AS, then you are likely to achieve the AAB/ABB that will get you in to most "good" universities. AND -- you need to have a good think about the way you want dance in your life. Is it realistic to aim for some sort of professional-level dance training? Did you ever audition for a vocational school? Are you in that league? The hard truth is, that if you are not in that league, then you need to focus on doing as well as you can in dance, but balance it with academic achievement. That balance will give you freedom to choose. And you can still dance -- I"m 56 and I still do class 3-4 days a week when I can get the classes. If I had access to the classes, I'd do class 6 days a week ... Caveat: I'm afraid I see too much bad teaching from amateur ballet teachers -- my own view is that just progressing through the RAD (or equivalent) vocational grades is not enough to become a dance teacher. I think that good teachers need a lot of training as dancers - preferably professional -- then as pedagogues. But that's just my view.
  6. In Devon, I'm paying £5 for an hour long ballet class taught by the studio owner [beginner unfortunately] . EXCELLENT value as she's a very good teacher. I pay £6 for an hour long contemporary class, taught by an outside teacher (so I guess she has to pay studio hire). I'd pay more, but then I earn a reasonable salary. I'd also be happy to buy a class card up front.
  7. Also, during ballet class, breathe! Think about breathing out on the effortful bit at the barre, and in the centre think about breathing to help with the flow of movements. Also think about the music -- try to combine the movement, your breathing and the phrasing of the music. And I second/third Pilates to get core strength. Re losing weight: you can't "spot slim" -- so think about a general fitness regime. Pilates, some sort of strength training (I do a weekly 'Pump' class at my gym), and aerobic exercise to build lung capacity & overall strength. I stopped regular exercise for a few years -- stupid decision, but I felt my workload was just too much & I was just working & sleeping. Anyway to get back to where I was, I did an all-over fitness regime. At base, I started to teach myself to run. I did the NHS app Couch to 5k on the treadmill at my gym, with (loud) music in my iPod! I can now run (slowly - 7kph) for 30 to 40 minutes and enjoy it. That has helped my dance enormously. I run to dance, but I do enjoy the gym as well.
  8. Re UCAS applications ... I suppose it depends on what & where your son is applying for post-school. I interview for a performing arts/standard humanities degree, and I'm afraid I don't tend to take account of speech exams, or ballet qualifications, except to maybe ask in interview how they connected with the applicant's academic work. But I teach at a very research-intensive competitive place, rather than a conservatoire/stage school sort of place. We don't count the points accruing to these extra-curricular qualifications, although they do contribute to demonstrating the applicant's interest in the performing arts outside of their schoolwork, which is one of the things we're looking for. But I know there are places where such extra qualifications are required. So it all depends ...!
  9. I should have added links for DanceXchange. Here: http://www.dancexchange.org.uk/classes You could do a ballet class at least 5 out of 7 days a week, with a mix of levels. There are classes at Improvers, and Advanced level 3 times a week, plus Beginners, and there was a privately organised Saturday morning class (9:30-11am), taught by the wonderful Jane Rosier. That's now moved to a new studio, which looks very beautiful, here: http://www.nicholsonschoolofdance.com/new-page/ I don't miss much about living in Birmingham, I'm afraid, except those classes & the beautiful Dancexchange studios.
  10. Great idea, SueBrett. I've started a thread -- hopefully, it'll be a good resource for future enquiries.
  11. I thought I'd start this thread, as there are several queries in here about places to continue reasonably advanced studies in ballet once people leave school/family home and go to university. I asked the question here after moving from a large city to a small city, and I'm sure others are in that position. So maybe we can pool experience & advice as a resource? If people don't want to give too many clues to specific studios, or give information on location which might compromise their anonymity, I hope we can respect that. I'm sure that the PM system can help there too! BIRMINGHAM It's a great city for the advanced but non-professional dancer. I'll start off by saying I used to live in Birmingham, and found the range of classes there excellent: you could do a serious dance class most days of the week just by attending DanceXchange, behind the Birmingham Hippodrome. The teachers are uniformly excellent -- often ex- or current BRB dancers. The studios are beautiful, big, good changing facilities, and very reasonable prices. I highly recommend DanceXchange. The only draw back there is the rather silly requirement (IMO) that you attend classes at only one level. Apparently, there were complaints about advanced dancers making beginners feel 'intimidated.' I tend to think that the real problem is beginner dancers in more advanced classes, and I like having more advanced dancers in class to follow! but that's just my view. The limitation on attending only one level seems to be pretty much ignored, though, particularly if you pay as you go. I think it's tougher if you want to pay for a whole term in advance. LONDON London is also the obvious place for continuing high quality dance training. My picks are Danceworks, and Central School of Ballet. I love, love, love Renato Paroni's Sunday class at Central -- it's challenging but not in terms of difficult combinations -- it's his requirements for clear and technically high-powered technique at a basic level. I always feel great after his class. Danceworks has a daily professional class, and a range of others. It's the nearest to the studios of New York (such as Steps) that I've danced at.
  12. Oh yes, the University of Leeds has an excellent English Department. I'm not as familiar with the dance provision there, so didn't mention it. Amie, what you could do is look for good ballet training -- I"m assuming you're at Advanced level in the RAD programme? and then choose your university on that basis. Although your parents may not think that the best way to do it, in my experience, a lot of intending undergraduates often choose their preferred course for factors other than just the course itself. At least this way, your criterion of a university in a city where there's good ballet training, you'll cut down on the number of Open Days you'll need to attend!
  13. I teach in a major university in the areas you're looking at (ie literature & performing arts). If you are really organised & dedicated, you should be able to do a full-time BA (Hons) in English, and keep up your ballet training as well. So you could do a degree, + move towards an RAD or ISTD teaching qualification as well. Privately, that is, rather than through a university. This would have some "future proofing": * a degree from a reputable University in an in-demand subject such as English means that you'll have that option; * teaching ballet is at best, a part-time job, unless you've had a really good professional dance career and can then land a job at Elmhurst or White Lodge etc (have a look at the backgrounds of teachers at those schools). * as far as I know, universities that offer Dance tend to offer contemporary rather than ballet, and frankly, most of them don't offer enough hours for a really full-time training. Most universities are not conservatoires! * a good result in your English degree, from a good university (you should be aiming for AAB to ABB) will make you a better bet for a PGCE. Entry to PGCE programmes is competitive -- teachers are not a penny a dozen any more & they need to be very well qualified. So maybe look for a good English Literature degree in a city which offers a lot of ballet options? That would help you determine a manageable range of universities to look at in terms of the vast number of English Literature degrees on offer. London is obvious, also Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, and Edinburgh. The main universities in all those cities are amongst the best in the country. I'd be more wary of the newer universities (eg Birmingham City University, Manchester Metropolitan etc) unless you can really work your socks off for a First Class or very high 2, i final degree classification. The other thing to think about is to do your undergraduate degree part-time, and keep on training with daily ballet to get to the very high standard needed to teach properly. You could study English at Birkbeck in London, for example -- it's an excellent degree, and classes meet from 6-9pm in the evenings. Good luck!
  14. My mother (ex-dancer & actress, now actor-trainer) is almost 80 and does between 30 & 60 minutes of Pilates + Feldenkrais + Alexander exercises every day before she starts her day. I've seen what she does: it would have my 20 year old students curling up in agony. But it's how she keeps mobile and fit to keep teaching.
  15. Pilates is great, so is yoga -- although yoga can be quite tough, I find! Also: try to take a longish (30-40 mins) walk each day at a speed which makes you just out of breath, but still able to talk. Gets the heart rate up, and gets all the major muscle groups moving. Make sure you do that after you start back at class too! I run (I used the Couch to 5K app) as a way of keeping fit for balet. It really helps with fitness & strength I find. The Couch to 5k programme is downloadable from the NHS website (or an App store such as iTunes) and takes you in a very gentle graded series training sessions from walking to running non-stop for 20-30 minutes. It took me a couple of months to work through it, but it's now so easy to run (slowly) for 30 minutes and I feel the effects in ballet class, because I can jump without getting out of breath, and my legs are very strong, so in class I can worry about technique rather than basic strength. I know running isn't for everybody -- I really thought it wasn't for me, but it's been great over the last 2 years to build gradually in aerobic fitness -- it means ballet & contemporary class, plus PIlates, are all building on a basic level of fitness.
  16. A reminder about this. There are all sorts of events, including participation by gallery visitors. Is anyone going? Here's a link to the events: http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/eventseries/bmw-tate-live-if-tate-modern-was-musee-de-la-danse
  17. This isn't bizarre in my view -- but to be expected. The way we learn something like dance (a very complex set of skills) is through repetition, to develop proprioception: muscle memory. My advice would be to struggle through the more advanced class, after a discussion about your CURRENT limitations with your teacher. Slowly, slowly, it will start to stick. Edited to add: I'd take a bet that over say, 6 to 12 months, those current limitations will have shifted, and you'll slowlty see progress. BUt you need to have courage don't you, to go into a class where you know that half of it is *currently* beyond you? But only *currently*! Some advice I read ages ago on the other ballet site was that one way to learn is not to worry about the details, but to try to get the big overall shapes and rhythms. So in petit allegro, think about directions of travel and rhythm. And the steps will come gradually, although I know -- you'll feel like a big hot mess! Would that be an approach you could use just for now?
  18. RachaelMarie, that's great news! I'm nowhere near that geographical area, but I know that there are always people looking for good ballet (and other dance forms) classes which welcome adult students. I've found a lovely studio in my town -- I've recently moved ito the deep deep south west, and one of the few things I missed about the city I left were very good and frequent advanced ballet classes. NBut I've now found a lovely studio, with a really excellent teacher. Not very advanced classes, but I'm getting up to speed after 2 years away from the barre, and happy to work on the basics. Not sure about the next bit, but anyway ... [mods, please remove if it's contrary to your rules here] I hang out on another ballet message board and help moderate the Adult Studejts section. And I know there are a few people there looking for classes in the area in which you're setting up your school. So I'll post a link to here, and hopefully you'll have some more students!
  19. I first saw the RB do this, and loved it. Little did I know then that I would be so lucky as to meet Mr North and see many more of his ballets, and indeed see Troy Game several more times. It's still being performed bu the company in Germany where Mr North is director.
  20. Thank you everyone for the welcome, and the ideas about Bristol studios. During the university term I'm generally working too many hours to do the travelling, but I will keep looking at those studios to see if they offer summer classes. Meanwhile, a colleague has just given me contact details for contemporary classes at a new studio. Did my first one tonight and it was great!
  21. Hello all, I'm pleased to find this forum again. I was a regular reader & poster on the old Ballet.co.uk site, and so pleased to find its next version here (I also help to moderate the Ballet Talk for Dancers site, particularly the adult ballet students' sections). So it's great to find you all here! I've just moved from a ballet-class rich city (Birmingham) to the West Country. I"m starting to find a few classes here and there, but thought you people would have the inside knowledge. I'm in the cathedral county town, and can find one hour adult ballet clases, but I'm starting to want a bit more. Any suggestions?
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