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Cara in NZ

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  1. I found that teachers tended to explain things to the kids s they got older, who then paraphrased for novice mothers (if feeling kind). And when we started competitions in 2014, the only info I could find was from mothers with slightly older kids. Nothing online as you had to be on each comp society's mailing list to find out about entering. Definitely like a secret society!
  2. I agree that going to several shops could just confuse you, as the advice may well vary. If it helps, our only local shop fitted DD's entire class in either Bloch Sylphide or Heritage at age 11 when they were starting pointe in Inter F. They have to start somewhere, and as their feet are still growing you just have to resign yourself to them trying different styles until they decide what works for them. It's much easier once they have been en pointe for a few months and have more of an idea of what they and their feet need from a pointe shoe. (In 4 years we went through Bloch Sylphide, Heritage, Aspiration, and Russian Pointe/Energetiks – which she was happy with... THEN her teacher said "I'd like to see you in Freeds". I could have cheerfully strangled her as I'd stocked up on the Russian Pointes!)
  3. DD has worn a nude leotard to every class since she was about 12 (now 15). I originally got her a couple to wear under tutus and costumes but then found she was wearing them under her leos too.They have clear straps and are low-cut at the back. I think it's more about nipples than support though as she is pretty slender! She also figures it's an extra layer protecting against leaks during her period as they aren't supposed to wear undies.
  4. I would say that contemporary is almost non-negotiable from age 12. This is the age where they have learned the fundamentals to keep themselves safe from injury, but can start learning to move in different ways. My DD is a law-abiding soul and didn't enjoy it, but the aim of contemporary dance (as far as I can tell) is to learn how to move through space in different ways. You don't really learn that in ballet. My DD had one contemporary solo where her teacher wanted all of her turns to be 'off balance', which she found absolutely revolutionary at age 11, but she gradually figured it out. Ballet is very rules-based up to Grade 5, and then Grade 6-8 is much more about artistry. The vocational levels want you to combine rules with artistry, and contemporary helps you to start pushing your own boundaries safely. But if you look at the repertoire of professional companies now, the modern stuff is frequently a mix of neo-classical and contemporary. So DC looking at vocational training need to have some sort of grounding in contemporary, I think. The ideal mix around Yr 8-9 for someone auditioning for vocational is probably something like: 2 x RAD vocational (1 x RAD higher grade — not essential) 1 x pointe conditioning/strengthening (very important in Inter Foundation as there's very little pointework for them to develop strength) 1 x open class 1 x contemporary (Plus possibly Pilates/flexibility/Progressing Ballet Technique work) In Yr 8 my DD was doing 9 classes a week (ballet/Pilates/contemporary) and that was too much for us with normal school. But 5-6 classes a week at that age is probably a minimum — if your family can manage it. I only say this because you say she wants to go to vocational school, where she'd be doing a lot more so if she did get in, she would want to start at a similar level to her peers.
  5. Just answering the OP about hours, my DD did vocational up to Adv Foundation and they had to do three classes a week (one could be an open class) if they wanted to sit the exam. She has also done the Grade 6 exam in 2017 and will sit Grade 7 in Aug/Sept. What I would say is that they can do the higher grades on only an hour a week. DD did the exam after a year in Gr 6 and easily got Distinction on an hour a week with a couple of extra classes close to the exam. They've ended up doing Grade 7 for 18 months before the exam, and again it's an hour a week with a few extra classes before the exam. So the class commitment is quite a lot less than for vocational levels. When you say 'free work', do you mean open classes, ie not based on a set syllabus? These are useful but you don't need more than one a week. At our (RAD) school the dancers are encouraged to do vocational plus higher grade or Discovering Repertoire. For more recreational dancers who aren't keen on pointe, they can combine higher grades plus Repertoire without pointe. If your DD wants to keep her options open, she probably needs a contemporary class too as this seems to be not negotiable with ballet companies nowadays! Anything else is optional but I'd choose Pilates/pointe conditioning/strengthening over jazz, lyrical, MT type classes unless she is an all-rounder. Hope that might be some help!
  6. Completely agree with this. I know that Claudia Dean's take was that the *maximum* number of hours per week should not exceed the DC's age. So I would not be worrying that your DS should be doing 10-11 hours every week!
  7. NZ's most successful male ballet dancer of the 1980s and 90s stays with us when he is guest teaching. He is about 5ft 10 and partnered all sorts of famous people while at ENB and Royal Danish Ballet. He also partnered Sylvie Guillem for a guest performance and she asked for him to dance with her again but he had to say no as he found her too tall to partner comfortably! He always says that corps de ballet just need 'matching pairs', so if they have a tall or short dancer, they need another one to complement the appearance of the corps on stage. One girl we know here was accepted for pre-professional training at NZ's national school and she is about 4ft 10 at age 18. The companies in Asian countries often have smaller dancers. The other thing is the length of the feet. My DD is 5ft 3 and when standing is the same height as her peers. But she has tiny feet so when they are en pointe, the peers rise above her, to her annoyance! I don't know if that's another consideration for company corps de ballet though!
  8. One word of warning about fleece — if it has a dark fleecy lining you can get fluff balls all over their tights. Our favourite one was a black corduroy type that didn't shed. Might have been Sansha. (You may have already figured this out if DD wears fleecy track pants over ballet tights!)
  9. The best one we had had ties at the shoulders and waist, and also drawstrings down the calves (vertically) so you could 'let it out' as they grew. Great for keeping kids decent over a nude undertard when they are between costumes or tutus.
  10. I had some success with a pink tutu that had a slub silk bodice with grease marks at the waist (probably from hands/fingers). Just part-filled bath with warm water and 'delicates' washing liquid then dunked the whole thing and rubbed the marked bits gently. Erected clothes airer outside and laid it on there upside down so the bodice was hanging down through the gaps. It was fine (and I echo Sheila's 'tougher than they look' comment!)
  11. New Zealand doesn't have any vocational schools at age 11. The only real option is to go to one of a handful of private ones that integrate dance and education for Year 9, 10 & 11 before auditioning for full-time training. Having said that, a brother and sister from here have been accepted into RBS this year! The girl is Year 9 and going to WL and her brother is Yr 11 and going into US. NZ has many dancers going into pre-professional full-time training without ever going to vocational schools (I know of teenagers currently training in Australia, Amsterdam, Houston, John Cranko, Rambert). As others have said, quality of training is the vital thing. The young girl actually said that after dancing in American summer schools and at Princess Grace, Monaco, she realised how good her training has been (as obviously you can feel a bit apprehensive going to another country, particularly to a prestigious school). It's only from reading this forum's posts that I've come to understand just what an achievement it is for these two (and think how awful it would have been if only one of them had been accepted!). To get back to the original question, if vocational school isn't an option/wouldn't suit your family, I don't think it has to stand in the way of a dancer's progress.
  12. Completely agree with Pups mum. DD did comps age 11-15 and was happy to stop 6 months ago as she found the adrenaline rollercoaster exhausting with eight solos by the time she gave up. Do explain to your DD that the other dancers at the festivals are probably the more/most talented ones from their dance schools so it's much harder to shine. Adjudicators can be lovely or miserable. One told DD in his early comments the he wasn't going to place her until he saw her 'connect with the audience'. She had always struggled with this and so her teacher had given her two solos where she was either in a dream or a flashback type of scenario. So she felt she couldn't do anything right! The best adjudicators will recognise what DC did well and encourage them while also offering some constructive feedback – DD's teacher always checked the comments and they would both smile at the same corrections that she was constantly raising! I think it builds great life skills too – eg DD (who is a reserved introvert) does well every time they have speeches in her class. She says that after dancing on stage on your own, just having to speak seems easy! So we never know what skills they are learning that will stand them in good stead whether they continue dancing or not. Do enjoy the whole experience – I bought 3 or 4 inexpensive replica trophies for significant things my DD won (first classical, first variation, first aggregate), so she will still have some dance mementoes on her trophy shelf even after she's returned all the real ones. But we all celebrate differently. For me it was about building her confidence, but as they get older they compare themselves with the DC who want a dance career and are training much more seriously, so the time came when it was no longer a positive experience for my young perfectionist. Others adore performing and keep going as long as they can. You will certainly find out which camp your DD is in!
  13. Sounds to me like she is doing quite a lot already! I once watched an Instagram video by a dancer in our national company, where she said that the absolutely most valuable exercise for strengthening is daily 'Calf Raises'. This is literally just standing on one foot (you can hold on to something, feet in parallel but one off the floor, obvs) and slowly rising up to high demi-pointe and down again. She said she still does these daily even as a professional, and recommended doing repetitions that match your age. So your DD could do 10 per day on each foot. It's excellent strengthening and also gets kids thinking about all the different parts of the foot that need to be strengthened as well as the ankle – all good prep for pointe too!
  14. I've recently returned to adult ballet at the grand old age of 56 and like the fit of Eurotard leos. I'm a size 12-14 but a shortie and I wear size L. I can wear an enormous sports bra under it (14DD) without it showing, which is the main thing I care about! Not sure where you can get them in the UK but I'm sure someone will know.
  15. Sounds good! I believe Bloch often work best for wider feet. But your DD will gradually figure out what works for her, with the help of her teachers. My DD went through 5 styles in 4 years without ever finding the perfect pair. We were told just to wear them round the house with socks at first so that the feet warm them up and they mould to the feet a bit better. But don't try any dancing at home in them to start with! Good luck with it!
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