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Viv

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  1. I don’t actually disagree with this. I think assiduously avoiding a topic can be just as bad as constantly bringing it up. However, I would like to see a change in the conversation from weight to nutrition. The medical world is starting to realise that all this talk of the obesity epidemic has actually not done anything to fix anyone’s health, it’s just made people overly focused on weight as an indicator of health, which it’s actually not a very good indicator of. Afterall, if you only eat 2 chocolate bars a day, you’d be very skinny, but I can’t say you’d be too healthy. Assisting someone with good nutrition like in the books discussed above is very different from shaming a child for liking sweets. I’d actually like to see discussion of nutrition normalised and completely separated from discussion on weight. Not to mention that in the ballet world, there are so many more things to be dissatisfied with your body about than just your weight. Your height, feet, rotation, length of neck...are all things to start disliking your body for if this isn’t managed correctly. Some of these things can be changed and others can’t. For a lot of dancers, the only thing they feel they can control is their weight. I understand how hard it is to teach your child self acceptance when they can see the types of people getting into associates when they’re not. I’m actually not sure how to fully change the conversation. But I’d like to try! Maybe changing the focus from how your body looks to a focus on what it can do. Or countering negative comments about their body with a focus on things they’re good at such as jumping or artistry. The same way I think society is being encouraged to stop telling girls ‘you look so pretty’ as the first compliment they regularly get and start commenting their abilities, not their appearance. I know appearance is a huge factor in Ballet that can’t be locked down and never discussed, but there are ways and there are ways to discuss things. For both parents and companies and schools. Just because something is hard, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.
  2. My physio says that for some exercises a wobble board is great, but for a lot of people they'd be better off just folding a pillow in half, putting it on the floor and standing on it. Surprisingly hard! Good for balance and ankle stability. So depending on what exercises your physio has set you, maybe consider other options before running out and buying a wobble board
  3. I know I'm coming to this thread late but I just wanted to add an additional note to please be EXTREMELY careful how you discuss food and weight issues with your young dancers! They're staring at themselves in a mirror for hours every week, they see their friends and notice they look different, the last thing they need is any sort of indication from their parents that how they look is in some way 'wrong'. Obviously we all know not to say that someone looks fat or big or any words like that, but you'd be surprised what these kids take as a criticism of their body. Last year I had one girl in tears because a teacher told her not to grip with her thighs in a developpe because 'that's why your thighs are so big'. That same dancer still brings up her 'big' thighs a year later because one poorly phrased comment has stuck in her mind like a barb. Another girl in full time ballet training is absolutely tiny, slim build but has started to develop boobs. A simple, very normal comment about considering wearing a body stocking under her leotard led to a panic attack because 'no professional ballet dancer has to wear a body stocking under their leotard, my boobs are too big, I'll never be a ballet dancer with big boobs, maybe if I lose more weight my boobs will get smaller...' Today she told me 'I think I'm dancing better at the moment because I'm happy, and I'm happy because today I feel really skinny!' 😢 And finally, most tragically of all, one of the girls in my grade 8 class is currently in hospital on a 28 day psychiatric hold because she has developed anorexia... She has done so much damage to her heart from malnourishment that a few weeks ago she actually had a heart attack. She's 16. So this particular issue is particularly on my mind at the moment and I just want to stress to teachers and parents or anyone involved with a younger dancer. They know. Seriously. They know every part of their body that is different or bigger or 'not good enough' and they beat themselves up over it when you're not looking. For most of them, this will not develop into disordered eating, and I note that a full blown eating disorder is a mental illness that is about control more than about the food itself. Food is just a mechanism for control in their lives. I just worry what impression our comments, about our dancers and also about ourselves, are making. I know every time I express dissatisfaction with my body, I am modelling that behaviour for those girls. Every time we talk about diets or 'good' food vs 'bad' food, we are making a value judgment about what we are using to fuel our bodies. Actually, for anyone interested I would encourage you to check out Weigh Free May, an initiative here in Australia aiming to educate people on just these sorts of issues. All I know is, when I'm in the hospital tomorrow visiting my friend, I'm going to be thinking of all the things I did or didn't do that might have contributed to this awful situation...
  4. The first girl (Milla) danced at my studio until she started at Tanya Pearson this year!!!!!! We actually did our Advanced Foundation exam together last October, though obviously she danced like a dream and me like a nightmare (or some kind of landlocked walrus). So exciting to see her achieving her dreams, can't wait to see where she goes next
  5. Has anyone taken a DR exam yet? I haven't done a DR class since November last year but I'm still interested to hear how people who have stuck with this class to exam readiness have found the syllabus.
  6. While I was in London in January, I took the opportunity to get fitted in the Freed store. The fitter took one look at my incredibly narrow, low profile feet and said straight away she wasn't sure if there would be anything suitable for me. We tried anyway but even in the narrowest width available, the second I went en pointe I slid straight down in the shoe and got terrible big toe pain. After only 20 minutes we basically had to give up because freed, without major alterations, would never fit my type of foot without pain. I then managed to try repetto while in Belgium and, though they are more limited in styles than other brands, they're a bit more tapered than freeds and work quite nicely on my feet. I haven't had too much time to work in them due to an ankle injury but if your DD has narrow or very tapered feet, repetto might be an option instead of the quite square, blocky freeds (if the school will allow of course)
  7. I definitely agree with @The_Red_Shoes about PBT, it's not so much the various bands and balls and boards you can buy, it's about the exercises that you do with them. PBT gives well structured, age appropriate exercises that train core and turnout. For feet I recommend the Lisa Howell 'Perfect Pointe' pre-pointe program, it trains foot intrinsic muscles as well as various whole body exercises for calves, posture, hip alignment and control. With regards to PBT and 'age appropriate' level I definitely think that sometimes this can be hard to judge because the girls in the video are all vocational full time dancers with insane control! Even a lot of the juniors are in part time or extension ballet training. I went to a workshop with Marie Walton-Mahon who created PBT, which was very good, but the only indication given for the level was 15+. I am definitely 15+ but as an adult starter, I am not at the level that a full time, vocational level 15 year old is at! It was quite discouraging as only the full timers got any corrections or encouragement and I felt kind of like I was in the way...and was the only one cropped out of the video they put on instagram of the session 😂 But as part of the program they gave us short term access to the online portal, so I've been doing the 'senior' program instead of 'advanced' and it's been much more manageable, I've started seeing some good results too I would still recommend it for a ballet interested child looking to build up their strength and stamina.
  8. Interesting that the top prize winner decided to stay at the same school she was already attending. There was some discussion at the prix about this, wondering what the goal was for attending a competition like this when you're already at a very good school and not yet ready for a professional contract. Any thoughts?
  9. Can I just say wow!!! To have been accepted for something like this despite starting so late is really admirable. As for the social stuff, I am a 25 year old who dances with pre-professional 14-18 year olds (6 days a week last year). It can be awkward at first because you're getting to know them and they might find you a bit weird. I hid my age when I first started because the kids were all 12 and I felt like a total creep! They thought I was 15 until they saw me drive to class, and they still occasionally give me weird looks when I make certain comments, especially about movies and tv shows that are like, totes old omg. But now they know me and they're a little older, it's honestly fine. We have stuff in common, because we spend so much time together and we know so many of the same people, and we all love ballet! They see me as an older sister and come to me when they're having problems or need help sewing or want advice about life after high school. Plus being old enough to drive them to mcdonalds during rehearsals has been a big hit... You're actually fortunate because you're going into a program with mostly 16-20 years olds which really isn't that much younger than you. You are there for a common purpose with common goals, and with people who are often learning to be independent for the first time. I believe you'll end up having far more in common than you might think now and you'll end up having genuine friendships. Personality matters more than age for that, just give it some time and you'll find your people. When I started my first job I was 17 and my best friend was 33 with a 12 year old kid. We were in totally different places in our lives but we just clicked and we're still friends 9 years later (and now I'm friends with the kid, too). I think, don't make your age a thing. It's honestly such a small part of who you are. Don't try to hide it, like I did, just embrace it and within a couple of months you'll stop being 'the old dude' and just be 'oh yeah our mate NHenry'. Although I would remember to make time for people your own age because sometimes the teenage drama just makes you roll your eyes. I can't give you any advice about the finances or future career prospects or anything, but if you're concerned about being 'old' in a room full of kids, I can tell you that by the end of the first year it won't matter at all.
  10. @Kate_N That's very interesting! When was it that you did your RAD work? They've changed the vocational syllabus names so many times over the years that I find it a bit hard to keep track of at times. I know that a few iterations ago, it used to be that what is now Intermediate was called Elementary and what is now Advanced 1 was called Intermediate. And Advanced 2 is what used to be Advanced. So I suppose it might be that what you were doing in 'Intermediate' would be new Advanced 1 standard, which would explain why some of it is now included in Advanced Foundation? Sorry if you already knew this, I can see you use Elementary in your latest post and I'm not sure if before you were just trying to use the modern terms for comparibility. Because the whole system has changed names and marking schemes 100 times I get easily confused!!! 😂🙈 I suppose it really just goes to show how arbitrary syllabi and exams and marks are in the end because in 50 years time it'll have changed 8 more times and a top mark will be a zebra sticker and a pass mark will be a raincloud or something... If a child (or an adult) is in a class that they enjoy and find challenging, and they're at an equivalent level with other people their age with similar aspirations, then RAD or Checchetti or ISTD or non-syllabus is completely irrelevant haha! 😊
  11. I'm not sure that's really an accurate comment. Based on my discussions with various teachers, including an RAD examiner and teachers at the closest thing to a 'vocational' school we have here, the new RAD Advanced 1 and particularly Advanced 2 are much harder than they were previously and the examiners now expect a lot more from candidates. While there's no specific exercise requiring 16 fouettes en pointe (yikes!) the pointe work is now all included in longer, more exhausting enchainements that require a different kind of dance ability to be able to put them together and perform to a high enough standard. Teachers I know who used to skip the 'foundation' levels have now started adding them to their timetables because the jump between intermediate and advanced 1 is a nightmare! So I'm not sure they're spreading them out to 'dumb them down' or cater to people with less ability, I think it's more like they've built an extra floor on top of the building, so they've had to build more steps to get to the top of that building. As far as the difficulty of RAD vs Cecchetti is concerned, most serious ballet schools here in Aus do non-syllabus, RAD and Checchetti exams so their students can qualify for more competitions. At the advanced levels of both, the two syllabi are fairly comparable. From my understanding, Chechetti reaches a more advanced stage younger, but in the top levels they start to balance out. I think it's the same with pretty much all syllabi, and the aim of all ballet classes in the end - they're simply a different vehicle that you can use to get to pretty much the same end point, if you're willing to put in the work. Find the one that suits you as a dancer, with a teacher that inspires you. @Rein2019 Good luck with everything, it sounds like you made the right decision to move her! Even without all the red flags (and there were many in your posts), it sounds like you were overall not comfortable or happy with the training your daughter was receiving, and once you feel like you can no longer discuss this with her teacher, it is time to move on. At 15, if your daughter just wants to improve for the sake of the challenge and being the best she can be, don't worry about a particular syllabus or exams, just find a teacher that she gels with, that pushes her and makes her come out of class buzzing I wish her all the best!
  12. Including the boy from my hometown! Very exciting, and so glad I get to be in Lausanne watching it all (even though I did have to wake up at 3.30am this morning in order to catch a plane from Munich in time for morning selections...) Tomorrow's final is going to be so good! Number 315, Beatriz Kuperus who trains at ENBS, has been an absolute standout for me all week. I watched her in class on the live stream and I have to say she shone even brighter in person, I couldn't take my eyes off her, even in the contemporary which normally isn't my favourite section. Does anyone else have someone who has consistently caught their eye this week?
  13. Great job @balletgremlin! They normally mark the vocational levels more harshly than the grades as well so you should be really pleased with yourself
  14. As far as 'does anyone not go', I would say financial circumstances would limit people as much as unforeseen circumstances do. I have a girl at my studio in Aus who is absolutely stunning. Despite coming to ballet quite late, she has well and truly blossomed this year, and after years of getting turned down for every single program she has applied for, this has been the year of yeses! On top of a number of other successes this year, she has now been accepted into Covent Garden SS. Unfortunately, coming from a single parent family on the other side of the world and with siblings that also must be considered, it may not be possible for her to take up her place. The application form discusses financial aid being available and encourages everyone to apply regardless of their circumstances, but I think some people might be relying on that financial aid when they make their application, and when it comes time to accept their place they realise that it's simply not possible. The girl at my studio is doing everything she can to fundraise currently, but she's also being very mature and has accepted that it just might not happen. She's very aware that her family circumstances might limit the opportunities she's able to take up. However, she is utterly thrilled just to have got a yes, finally. It's been a huge boost to her self-esteem and an acknowledgment that at least one big international school likes her. And if it doesn't work out for and she has to decline her place, then another talented dancer will get the opportunity of a lifetime
  15. Hahaha I didn't mean to be understated, anyone who knows me in real life knows I'm usually the exact opposite of that! And I really am thrilled with Advanced Foundation and Grade 7. It's only Intermediate I was a bit disappointed with, I felt so comfortable coming out of the exam and while I got a distinction, it was only just a distinction (75) and I'd dropped several marks from Intermediate Foundation. Perhaps it's the same as @DeveloppeD, sometimes the things you're most comfortable with don't actually end up being your best section? I was happier with my lower mark in Advanced Foundation because it was above expectations, and a bit disappointed with Intermediate because I thought I could have done better. But, I've had a few days to reflect on the circumstances again and have decided to stop being silly and just appreciate what I've managed to achieve! Although the other day, after my teacher and I jumped for joy a bit, she said 'we'll need to work really hard over the next few levels if you're going to compete for solo seal' 😶😖😧 Where on earth she got that notion from I will never know!!!
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