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Everything posted by Viv

  1. @DeveloppeD how did you go about requesting a more detailed report? Was there a fee involved? I didn't know this was a thing you could do and wish I'd known a while ago, I would have been tempted to do it for all exams just to get some actual comments and direction to improve...
  2. My thoughts are with you all in the UK right now, it must be devastating to head back into lockdown and zoom classes Hopefully this will cheer some dancers up, it is a short snippet about dancers at the Australian Ballet School in Melbourne and the semi-virtual performance they have been able to put on despite the challenging circumstances. https://www.abc.net.au/7.30/a-special-performance-for-aspiring-ballet-dancers/13037538
  3. I don't really know what my opinion is, but I stumbled across this from Sander Blommaert, former first artist of the Royal Ballet, which might be of interest. He seems to agree that if professionals with nice feet wear fake arches, it sets the bar even higher for students aspiring to be professional, and may make students without great feet think they don't have a chance. However, he thinks beautiful dancers with feet that aren't 'aesthetically pleasing' should be able to wear fake arches. I think that could potentially open up a whole other kettle of fish to decide "what is an aesthetically pleasing foot" but there you go...
  4. Changing not just the UK, but potentially the world. I saw the below article on the Australian news last month and immediately remembered this thread. Thank you, Primrose, for continuing your advocacy. I'm sure it can't be easy for you and your family, but the changes you are fighting for will save lives xx https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-22/disability-royal-commission-hears-of-drugs-effect-on-teenager/12689418
  5. I'm sorry but this makes me very uncomfortable... Not meaning to attack you or your comment but I feel like if we reverse the genders here, these are the kind of comments that perpetuate the dangerous views we're discussing in this thread. If I said "I have thought about her body shape in relation to ballet, it's not that she's too big I just don't think her muscles look long and lean. She doesn't have the body of a ballet dancer. She puts herself out there in a leotard, she's inviting these comments". That's obviously not what you said, I'm taking it a bit further to try and make the point, and I am definitely not trying to offend. I appreciate that you say the way he looks bears no reflection on his dancing, as obviously he is one of the dancers of his generation. Yes Steven is showcasing his journey in a controlled way. I don't think anyone on social media acts any differently. I also think this is probably a very personal journey for him that possibly took a lot of courage to share. Pressure to look a certain way, from ADs and from social media, also impacts boys and young men and I just think we need to be very careful about the language we use when discussing anyone's body, whether it's musculature or body fat percentage. If Steven is defensive or sensitive to comments about his changing physique, I think we need to respect that. Ballet dancers are asked to operate in a world that makes subjective, often arbitrary decisions about body, and where a dancers career can live and die on the shape of their bodies - see some of the other MCB dancers who have recently come out on instagram stating they were fired because of the shape of their legs!
  6. I think there's a difference between helping children and young adults to understand barriers in the career they want, and building those barriers up for no apparent reason. In the ballet world, children learn about failure and favouritism and not being right for this particular part through the process of auditioning and exams and other things like that. They get to experience the rejection, or the joy of success, and they learn resilience on a small, child-size scale. That is a normal and healthy way to prepare children for the life they want and the obstacles they will face. What is not normal is creating an artificial environment with extra stress and pressure heaped on for no reason other than to make things tougher and to see who can handle it. I mean, you wouldn't crank up the heat and make kids do three hours of allegro in 50 degree heat purely because 'it's a tough profession and if you can't handle it you should quit'. Ballet schools enforcing archaic rules, making students weigh themselves multiple times a year, forcing kids to repeat the same moves over and over without correction and expecting them to magically fix themselves - that is the mental equivalent of cranking up the heat. It's unnecessary and it serves no purpose. It doesn't prepare students for the real world because those situations are unlikely to happen in the real world. And if they do, we need to question why they're happening. Should we really be preparing students for the tough so-called 'realities' of the ballet profession, instead of encouraging the profession to change and holding it to a higher standard? If a child wants to be a ballerina because they enjoy the pretty costumes and being on stage, but they aren't prepared for the hours of hard work and sacrifice, they'll drop out pretty quickly when the latter starts to outweigh the former. I don't think there's any need to force kids out of a career that they might be unsuited for. If they are unsuited, they'll naturally start to move away from it if given enough time. And perhaps, if given the opportunity, they may rise to the occasion and surprise you! I hear a lot of talk about kids today being special snowflakes and parents not allowing their kids to fail, which breeds entitlement. I'm sure there are some kids and parents like that (I've even met some of them) but I think the idea that as a generation kids today are bratty snots who are sheltered from ever failing is a bit of a straw man. I think there's a very clear line between never allowing a child to fail, and deliberately setting them up for failure.
  7. Sounds just like law school to me! And to a lesser extent, life in a top tier law firm (also not unionised I would note...) Pressure is heaped on young people because 'well they treated me worse than this and I survived', and also from the sense that you are toughening someone up for a challenging career. I recently heard from a friend that their coworker was bragging about belittling a graduate to the point that the poor grad burst into tears, and then the coworker continued to castigate the grad while they just stood there and sobbed! When seniors in the profession are challenged about the structural issues within the law, they tend to respond that there's a certain type of person who can survive in this life, and if you're not one of them then they're doing you a favour in forcing you out early. Which means that some of the best and brightest minds quit within the first 5 years and everything they could contribute goes with them... Things are beginning to change now, people are being much more open about mental health, but the focus in mental health discussions is still on resilience, not in the sense of bouncing back from a tough situation, but in the sense that if you are weak enough to succumb to depression or anxiety then you clearly aren't resilient enough! Instead of changing the systemic and structural issues that cause the highest rates of depression of just about any profession, let's just offer everyone free yoga... I see a lot of similarities in the ballet world. A small pool of jobs, a large number of people in training, some frankly indecipherable decisions being made to differentiate between the people who succeed in the career and those that don't. The fact that most of the people who make up the senior ranks are those who have survived and thrived in the frankly dangerous environments that cause other people to quit as juniors. A focus on hierarchy and tradition, where to question the status quo is the highest sin. The fact that many people aspiring to these careers are 'Type A' with a tendency to perfectionism. Long hours, high expectations, a great deal of work going unpaid or underpaid, the idea that there is always someone waiting in the wings if you're not up to it... In ballet, this is made all the more disturbing by the fact that most people training for and entering these careers are so young. In fact when people start complaining to me about law, I say the only thing I can imagine that would be worse is a career as a classical dancer! At least I don't have to stand before the judge in a leotard and tights 🤭
  8. I suppose it depends on what your goals are and what the alternative is. If you take the exam now by video, will you be able to move onto the next level and start progressing that or will there be some delay due to studio closures and summer holidays? If you don't do the video exam, how long do you think you would need to wait until you would be able to do a physical exam? Is there the opportunity to do class for a few months to regain strength and then do the exam, either in person or by video? Do you need to have passed a certain level to be able to qualify for the CBTS course? I can only speak from the experience of deciding whether to go ahead with an exam after recovering from an injury (so not still injured but lacking in strength). Since I would have had to wait a whole other year to be able to do the exam, I decided to push ahead, accepting my marks might not be as high as they might otherwise be. I still am not sure if that was the right move, but that is mostly due to other external circumstances that meant my next few years of training did not go exactly as planned... Perhaps if I hadn't done the exam back then, I never would have done it at all! A similar situation played out with two of the girls I have danced with over the years. One decided to push through her intermediate exam so she would qualify for certain other opportunities that required intermediate or above. Another girl decided to train for a further year to gain her strength back, but in repeating the material for two years lost all motivation and wished she had done the exam at the original time and just got it over with. I suppose the reality is that no one can know the future or how things will work out (hello coronavirus...) and no one can tell you what the right decision is for you. My only advice is whatever you decide, respect yourself enough to trust that it was the right decision based on the information you had at the time! No regrets
  9. If you're looking for inspiration or wondering why men might want to go en pointe, have a look at these Boston Ballet men killing it dancing La Bayadère! Obviously these men are at their peak in terms of technique and fitness and it would take years to dance at this level, but look at what can be achieved. If a man or boy wants to learn to dance en pointe, whether as a training aid to get stronger ankles, or simply because they think it looks beautiful, go for your life! The more versatile you can be as a dancer of the future, the better
  10. As a slightly different opinion, I have been recommended by a number of teachers that in order to get a flat grand jete in the air, it is necessary to be able to achieve a slight oversplit on the floor. You'll never be able to get your legs as high in the air as you can when sitting in a split so if you can sit in a slight oversplit, you'll be able to get your legs 'flat' in a grand jete. It could be argued that it's actually safer to have enough flexibility to achieve a slight oversplit, because then you're not right at the end of your range of motion in explosive motions like a split grand jete or grand battement. I don't think training an oversplit should necessarily be a goal to be achieved above a solid grounding in technique, but the two aren't mutually exclusive. I also think there's a big difference between an oversplit with your feet on two chairs (dangerous and aesthetically displeasing) and a slight oversplit on something like a foam roller. If the splits are already an extreme position but are now, I would say, a fundamental requirement for a career in classical ballet, why is 5cm more range dangerous and also responsible for the destruction of the classical line? I think you'd be hard pressed to find a professional ballet dancer today who can't do an oversplit on at least one leg...
  11. Does anyone know of any good jazz or contemporary classes that are streaming at the moment? I am getting some really good ballet classes at the moment but I miss other genres
  12. I was able to find some sheet vinyl for sale at at the hardware store, 50% off and it's working a treat. A bit sticky but better sticky than slippery, and perfect for pointework.
  13. @trog I worry it'll rip up the satin too much and may end up not being the safest for pointe work. Excellent for tap though! I have found some vinyl floor tiles at bunnings which I could stick to a sheet of masonite, though they're a bit textured and will be a pain to try and line up. May be the best option in the end though. At least the old wooden floors have a nice spring to them!
  14. Has anyone found any good flooring materials that aren't from a dance flooring provider like harlequin? A non-slip vinyl floor or pond liner of some sort that won't cost an arm and a leg? I saw on the American site that people were using PVC shower pan liners as an alternative, but they aren't sold anywhere in Aus. I am keen to lay some kind of non-slip dance floor over my normal floor boards so I can practice pointe, but I don't think the 1mx1m harlequin square is big enough, and the Dot 2 Dance is prohibitively expensive at something like $400! I would consider buying a proper dance floor if there are no cheaper alternatives, but I'm not sure they do them in such a small size, approximately 2mx3m. Has anyone had any experience of buying just a small practice floor, rather than fitting out a proper home studio?
  15. Actually, a friend of mine who has moved countries was reminding me of her old dance school the other day. I would definitely not trust them for ballet, but they have adult classes for jazz and contemporary that are later nights, close to my house and a much more reasonable price than most drop in adult classes. She raves about them and it looks like the adults are all having a lot of fun. However, the technique of their dancers I see on instagram (they have child classes and adult classes) show that 'fun' is more of a priority than technique. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I am wondering whether, if I could still get my ballet serious technique training somewhere, I could do those classes just for fun and socialising. But is it a bit of a waste of time and money to be paying for training that you recognise is, to be a frank, quite poor? I'm not sure if 4 years at my highly competitive kids studio has warped my ideas of why I dance in the first place. Feeling quite lost just at the moment Unfortunately, the reason the class has been rescheduled is that she is off somewhere examining for the RAD so I'm not easily able to contact her to ask for advice! And considering things are about to wind up for the year over here, the most likely response will be 'what a shame but we can start again next year!' @LinMM the opportunities I see for adult ballet in London just about blows me away! Actually, I have applied to my law firm to see if I could get a secondment to London for 6 months next year...it is a highly competitive position that I am extremely unlikely to get, but it would resolve my dilemma quite nicely!!! For a while at least
  16. Oh @LinMM you've pretty much hit the nail on the head! Two years ago the school started offering a classical/contemporary 'full time program' and since that point, everything has changed. Suddenly if you're not in the full time program you are simply there to pay your bill and stay out of the way of the future stars. It doesn't matter that I pay substantial fees and last year was dancing there 15 hours a week, or that I donate my time making costumes and helping with hair and makeup, sewing other peoples shoes, buying props with my own money, driving the girls with working parents home after every class...I will never be a professional dancer and I won't win any competitions that they can brag about on instagram, so I am a second class citizen. This year, despite having a full time concert and an after school concert, all the leads in the after school concert are full timers. In fact, there were too many lead roles and not enough full time classical students, so one of the lead roles in the ballet is a full time hip hop student...meanwhile there are 4 after school advanced ballet students who aren't in the ballet concert at all because they aren't 'committed' enough! Getting to learn advanced 1 is all I want, it has been my goal for so long, but I'm not sure it will ever happen at this point. @Kate_N I wish I was in Sydney/Newcastle/Wollongong, I know some fabulous studios there, but I am about as far away as you can get and still be on the same continent Where I live is not big and I know every ballet teacher worth their salt because I either attend or volunteer at every ballet related event/competition/masterclass that I can. If things don't work out at this place next year I will probably ask my ballet teacher for advice, but I am wary of involving her because she and the studio owner have been working together for many years and I don't know what could be said to her behind my back. I don't want to risk losing that relationship.
  17. My ballet teacher only teaches at this studio and at an associates style program that caters to dancers under 15. I used to do private lessons with her but she has stopped offering them to all but a select few who she is coaching for international competitions. I can hope that she opens them back up next year but there's no guarantees. Based on some comments the ballet teacher has made recently, I feel like her days teaching at the studio are numbered but she will be there at least another year. I don't really want to keep giving them my money and putting up with the way they treat me. But when I'm in class with my ballet teacher, I forget all of that. If I knew that I could find a teacher that would give me that same joy I would be out of there, but I don't live in a place that has very many options. If I stay at that studio to take classes from the one good teacher, how can I limit my involvement with the studio owner? Also the studio owner is not an RAD registered teacher, she teaches jazz and tap, only two of the teachers are RAD teachers (and both of them are lovely!)
  18. I am an adult dancer in Australia who takes RAD exams with kids at a local studio. Over the past couple years, I have had a number of issues with my studio owner. These relate to timetabling (e.g. not running Advanced 1 despite people wanting to do it, but then running intermediate foundation for only 2 people because one of them is a favourite), issues with the communication (e.g. communicating that RAD exam fees are due within 3 days or you won't be entered for exams, despite fees being in excess of $600AUD last year!), rude/disrespectful comments in email and in front of other students, saying one thing and then, when questioned, completely denying that she ever said that, and most recently, bringing the only advanced foundation class I am able to attend forward one hour so it is impossible for me to leave work on time to be able to attend. There was no consultation on this change and I didn't even get the email telling me about it, another student had to send it on to me. I understand that the schedule has to change for a number of reasons, so I have requested a refund for that class as, due to their actions, I cannot take advantage of the service I am paying for. I have received no response to that email in over a week. My attempts to communicate get completely ignored. In the background to all of this, I also believe that the studio owner has been saying things about me to my jazz/contemporary teacher as the relationship there has deteriorated beyond hope of recovery practically overnight. I am deeply unhappy at this studio and dread going back there to finish out the year. Unfortunately, I absolutely adore my ballet teacher and she is the best teacher in the entire state of Australia that I live in. She keeps completely away from studio drama and wouldn't be impacted by any of the above. I don't want to leave this teacher, but I don't see how I can stay at the studio when I get treated so poorly. I have looked at other studios in my area and they either don't teach ballet above intermediate level, or refuse to allow adults into children's classes. I don't want to move to one of the only places that offers adult open classes as I have found that they are twice as expensive but I don't progress very much. I guess I'm looking for general advice about how to proceed with this situation. I have already decided not to continue with jazz or contemporary classes next year and, if I remain, would only take classes in ballet with the teacher that has been nothing but supportive of me through some very difficult personal times this year. My family wants me to pack up and leave but it would basically mean abandoning dancing at an advanced level and a serious decrease in hours. What would you do?
  19. You could always go the other extreme and cut the satin off the tips entirely and darn around the edges to stop it fraying. Might be a bit drastic but tends to look nice and neat. I'm a bit of an advocate for 'just trim it back and ignore it' though... Pointe shoes are scungey, as long as it's trimmed so it's not flapping around on stage, no one will even notice. It might seem like a bigger deal when you look straight at the tear but from 4 rows back the audience won't care at all. I'd be careful with doing anything with the tip of a shoe that might change the feel or make it sticky or slippery. There's a difference between sticking on suede caps and applying glue directly to the dance surface of the shoe, only on one side. If it doesn't feel right to dance on, your daughter could hurt herself and I think that's a far bigger concern than some ratty satin. But if people have used the Hi Tack stuff before without issue, and you think the tear is that bad, I guess go with your gut!
  20. I had Grade 8 today. I think it went well, the ankle held up and is feeling much better after some ice. Grade 8 is a tough one to predict though, it's marked so differently from the other exams, 50% for performance! So while I feel like I did alright, I'm not sure what they're actually looking for or whether or not I've achieved it. I didn't have the feeling of pure joy I did in the grade 7 exam so I worry the performance was a little forced, but I was trying to hide and compensate for the things I can't do too well at the moment. I suppose I'll know in 6 weeks time.
  21. Shoes are a big part, fear is a big part and experience is a big part. The reason why you can't dance in the centre is partly because...you never dance in the centre. The more experience you get the more natural it will feel and the more you will be able to do. Remember how strange everything felt in your first ballet class? This is like starting over again, except 5 inches higher up. But oh what those 5 inches of extra height does to our brains! Being an adult, pointe is scary. All you can think about is how unnatural it feels and how you're going to fall and hurt yourself. The problem with fear is it becomes a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. I was having huge issues with my pointe coming back from an injury (in fact I posted about it here - see below). In 2017 I was struggling to do releves on one leg at the barre which seemed like the end of the world at the time. Looking back, having completed my advanced foundation exam and started working towards advanced 1, I actually have to laugh a bit at myself. I have just injured myself again so I mentally I will probably go back to being scared for a few months, but I know there's a path through it now. What I've learned since then is that a lot of the time, your fear is holding you back physically as well as mentally. When we are scared or in pain, we hesitate, hold ourselves stiff and don't commit fully to the movement. I feel like when I'm scared I hold my arms in closer to my body instead of supporting them from the back. I am scared to go up so I kind of hop up en pointe and immediately come back down because I'm scared. And then I go well look, I can't do it because I didn't stay up! Ummm...you see the flaw? Chances are you're also looking down at your feet to make sure that they're behaving (trust me, they're still there even if you can't seen them). Where your eyes go, your body will follow. If you look down, down you will go! The trick to confident, strong pointe work, is being confident and strong. It sounds like you're strong enough or your teacher wouldn't have put you up there. The confidence is something only you can control. Next time you are doing echappes or releves in the centre, pull up taller, support yourself properly and trust yourself! Feel yourself grow taller at the waist as you go up en pointe, try to feel like there's an extra inch of space between your hips and your ribcage. Keep your chin up, project out from your sternum and engage your back. All of this will help to lift you up, you'll find you're more stable without even realising how you're doing it. Don't dance small! Do your exercises like you're performing them for an audience. Trust that you can do it and throw yourself into believing that you can. There's some element of 'fake it till you make it here'. Believe that you can, and you will. Do it and you will believe that you can! And also, give yourself a break. The more stressed you are the tenser you will be which certainly won't help. Remember, inside all of us adults who try their hand at pointe is some sort of desire to feel beautiful, ethereal, effortless. So feel beautiful 😊 And let us know how you get on!
  22. This is very selfish of me but I don't want it to change because I have absolutely zero chance of ever getting a high distinction now I only have advanced 1 and 2 left 😂 There's something really satisfying about getting the top grade, even if you barely scrape in. I know the people who do manage to achieve highly should be recognised but since I will never be one of them, I cannot support these change haha
  23. @The_Red_Shoes thank you, and I am wishing you the best in your grade 7 preparation as well! I am doing Demi-caractere, poetique and dance russe. Dramatique has the turning temps leves in the middle section which I would not be even allowed to attempt at this stage! The biggest jump in the poetique is the parallel pas de chat (commacht? I can't spell it...) which thankfully isn't in turn out and I can bring the second foot down quickly to take some of the force into it. There are some longish balances that I am concerned about but if it doesn't work out, that's just how it is. I am currently 'lilting' my jumps in demi-caractere while I build up my confidence, I will aim for slightly more height (at least so I can fully point my feet) over the next week.
  24. I adored Grade 7. I was getting bored of it in class towards the end of last year, but when I was in front of the examiner with a live pianist it was like I came to life, I don't think I have ever danced better than that exam. And the character does slowly become more manageable 😆 I am sitting Grade 8 in exactly one week! I was actually aiming my sights high for this one, wanted to beat last years score by 5 marks and get my first (and only) 90! Nice to have a dream haha. Unfortunately, I sprained my ankle 8 weeks ago really badly. Two high grade ligament sprains, a suspected fibula fracture (thankfully ruled out) and a low grade high ankle sprain (this is the only real issue, it has slowed down my recovery significantly, but currently it looks like I will get to avoid surgery). I spent 2 weeks in a moon boot and have been mostly out of dancing since August. I thought I was well out of the exam which seemed like such a shame, I was so ready for it and I won't repeat grade 8 next year (don't have time in my schedule since in November I will finally be a certified lawyer!) so I would have to leave my graded exams unfinished. However, after talking to my physio on Saturday, she has cautiously cleared me to do the exam. Apparently it will hurt like hell but is unlikely to actually do any more damage since after 9 weeks the ligaments should be almost fully healed, if still tender. If it was any other exam I wouldn't be doing it, but grade 8 has no pointe, no double pirouettes and the dances I have chosen I have barely any jumps. Because it's a performance exam I can make up marks in the upper body and face. My teacher, physio and I have had a big discussion and decided to go for it, accept that my mark won't be as high as it might have been (goodbye 90 😣) but I will be able to finish the grades with my girls, most of whom will not be continuing with ballet after this. Would I recommend this to anyone else? No. Am I endangering myself and ignoring medical advice? Absolutely not! I cautiously attempted the full exam yesterday and got through it all with only minor discomfort, so I will just do everything right between now and next tuesday, then cross my fingers and hope...
  25. Unfortunately I am on the other side of the country and haven't made it over east for more than a couple of days since starting pointe. I have a list of shops I want to go to but time and money are the issue.
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