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How much is it about the body?


Flora
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Yes have watched this several times now and it does seem to have a bit of a ruthless touch. I felt that if I did have a talented DD or DS I'm not sure if I would have wanted her/himto live all the time at this school inspite of the excellent training......well not at 11 at any rate!

 

However the little girl Olga (Olya) who had been into gymnastics( and haven't they all) who they thought would be too small etc did get in because one of the teachers saw that "je ne sais quoi" in her and so when she heard she hadn't got in originally had obviously gone back and discussed it with the other teachers who then offered her a place even though she wasn't their "ideal" candidate.

 

I thought this was one of the positives of this film that they sometimes do look beyond the obvious.

 

Just to add not so sure about the Director though.....I thought his voice was so flat when introducing himself to all the new entries and their parents.....not any enthusiasm in his voice or manner at all!! A really wonderful dancer but not so sure about his interpersonal skills especially with young children!!

Edited by LinMM
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My daughter trained in Russia and I have to say the teachers were very kind. Their language makes them sound much harsher than they really are. They explain and work so hard with each student to get them to understand each move. They would often hug my daughter when she found things difficult. She enjoyed her training much better in Moscow than in England. Did you notice how supportive the children were of each other and my goodness they were super talented even at 11 years of age.

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Well I certainly nearly cried with little Olga ...she definitely had something!!

They certainly look very advanced for 11 year olds in physical ability.

 

Out of interest Primrose did your DD stay in a family home in Russia or was it a boarding school type situation?

 

I know the teaching is excellent it's whether the pastoral care is in place etc.

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I found it very upsetting to watch. Those girls seemed far more poised than any eleven year old dancers I have seen. Why do we lag behind Russia so much when it comes to developing young dancers?

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I found it very upsetting to watch. Those girls seemed far more poised than any eleven year old dancers I have seen. Why do we lag behind Russia so much when it comes to developing young dancers?

Actually here (in England) are some very poised girls (and boys) as well at entry level. And I really mean it, as personally know some who can make it into Vaganova or Bolshoi school. It's more about what's happening after entry... Especially those very important first 5 years of training.

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Going back to the topic of hyperextension at RBS/RBC - There was a longitudinal research study done possibly 10 years ago now by Moira McCormack, one of the main RB company physiotherapists, of students and professionals at the Royal.

I am now paraphrasing from the abstract found at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14705238

The results found were that hypermobility and Benign Joint Hypermobility Syndrome (BJHS) were both more common in dancers compared to non-dancing controls of the same age. Interestingly, the prevalence of BJHS decreased from both student to professional, and within the company from corps to principal. Arthralgia (joint pain) was commonly reported in dancers. The fact that the number of dancers with BHJS decreases, and the greater reporting of arthralgia with other features of BJHS in young female dancers, suggests that BJHS may have an important negative influence, and this may have implications for training. The same pattern was not observed in males, suggesting that their pain-reporting and injury are related to factors other than BJHS.

 

The article basically infers that the dancers at both the school and company were more likely to have hypermobile joints (ie, selected for their hyperextension), but that those who have BJHS (which is a whole-body issue) seem to become 'weeded out' of the system either during schooling or do not progress through the company. I wonder whether the physio screenings now look for the syndrome? 

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drdance, thank you for paraphrasing, I'd imagine the research study takes quite some reading! It all sounds extremely interesting.

 

So perhaps at associate stage they are looking for slight hyperextension preferably, but equally trying to identify hyper-mobility type BJHS as a negative as it could lead to a dancer's body not being able to cope with the rigours of a professional career. With the number of children auditioning and already in the associate scheme, they have no need to accept a child without hyperextension, or the long slim limbs they also have a preference for, so there will always be children who are extremely talented dancers, who will just never be selected. My Dd is an example of this. Top of her year at vocational school in ballet assessments, 98% in Intermediate Foundation RAD exam, chosen two years running by a top national ballet company to play Clara in their London production of Nutcracker, but never even making short waiting list for RBS Associates.

 

In my Dds case, I'm really glad it turned out that ways as RBS would never have been right for her, just as she is not right for them. The route she has taken has meant that there will be no 'assessing out' at any stage. She is allowed to enjoy her training without that looming over her and keep her friends right the way through to sixth form, which is a blessing for any ballet parent too.

 

So few of our DCs will ever make it into top companies, some will get injured, some will realise that they'd rather study medicine at Oxford (!), but my belief is that the journey of trying to achieve the dream should be thoroughly enjoyable, whether training vocationally or at regular school with ballet in the evenings. It's the only stage of your career that you'll get to dance every day, amongst friends, with the freedom to dance just because you love it and nothing more :)

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But surely they have long legs? I know of some too of course, but they've got very RBS proportioned bodies, with long legs.

 

I'm not trying to put anyone off RBS associates. My daughter's friends have loved the experience and adored their teachers. I'm trying to make the point that if your Dc is rejected many times by them not to feel that they don't have what it takes to continue.

There are other options, such as London Junior and Senior Ballet, who offer a JA programme and take children based on talent alone, Tring Park CBA is wonderful and again the criteria is ability, not body shape. YDA Associates is great too. I'm sure there are quite a few over the country, with fantastic teaching, but we are all indoctrinated into believing that it's all about RBS.

Many newer parents especially may not realise that these other wonderful places exist, in fact 6 years ago before I learned so much from the contributors in thus forum, neither did I.

 

I'm also not saying that RBS associates have just been chosen because if their bodies, they would obviously need to be talented and have a sense of musicality as well. Purely that there IS a body type criteria for RBS and if your child doesn't fit that, try one of the other wonderful schemes out there!

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Actually here (in England) are some very poised girls (and boys) as well at entry level. And I really mean it, as personally know some who can make it into Vaganova or Bolshoi school. It's more about what's happening after entry... Especially those very important first 5 years of training.

 

 I thought the teachers seemed very caring, and I would say having just done finals for lower school here in the UK, this is the general standard of my dd and her peers who were all auditioning.

 

I would be interested to hear more from you ballet coach about 'what's happening after entry...Especially those very important first 5 years of training.' This to me seems the crux of an interesting discussion about training in this country, but not perhaps for this thread! Maybe you could start a new one?

 

Thank you for posting though, having just done the rounds of final auditions I thought two things after watching this film, specifically - a) the painful waiting period was removed, although of course it was painful for them to find out on the day, and B) the feedback given to Olga was so detailed and precise that I was impressed as again it seemed to be a sign of the caring attitude taken. 

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I would have thought that every associate scheme selects candidates (and assesses candidates out?) based on physique to some extent? Obviously some will have more or less extreme preferences. Classical ballet unfortunately does require a particular body aesthetic along with the necessary physical capacity, talent, musicality, performance ability etc.

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I would have thought that every associate scheme selects candidates (and assesses candidates out?) based on physique to some extent? Obviously some will have more or less extreme preferences. Classical ballet unfortunately does require a particular body aesthetic along with the necessary physical capacity, talent, musicality, performance ability etc.

No Legseleven, this is not the case. As far as I know, other associate schemes do not assess out based on physique, certainly not London Junior and Senior Ballet, or Tring Park Classical Ballet Academy where my Dd went. It's a totally different approach. If a child has talent, a great work ethic and determination, what right minded associate scheme would having chosen them in the first place, take away that child's dream? Many deficiencies can be improved on with hard work, both by the child and the training facility if they are prepared to nurture that child.

 

If you look at a company like English National Ballet for example, you can see that classical ballet can embrace many body types. I love watching companies like this, I have no desire to watch a company full of dancers who look identical to each other.

 

Most professional dancers will concede that there were aspects of their body shape that were not right for ballet, but they have worked hard to compensate for them, disguise them and become brilliant in other aspects of their repertoire. Tamara Rojo has said many times that she was told endlessly that she wouldn't make it because of her body, Misty Copeland is another great example. Leanne Benjamin, who we've mentioned earlier on in this thread, trained in Australia and then went to Upper School after being spotted at Prix de Lausanne. But she wasn't taken into the Royal Ballet Company, she danced in many other companies for nearly ten years before the RBC took her and she then became a principal with them for the rest of her career.

 

Yes, if you look at the RBC they are all of a very certain type, as are Russian companies, but look further to the American companies and other great UK companies such as ENB or Birmingham Royal Ballet and you will see dancers of different shapes, leg lengths, neck length, head shape etc. etc.

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For me I believe that ballet dancers do require a certain physique. A long torso, short neck and short legs just wont cut it for me. Ballet as we all know is very visual. I want to see a dancer who has the nice elegant neck and shoulder line, long legs, beautiful long arms, high arched feet. I also want to see a ballet dancer who can actually dance but also convey a story to the audience. I want to see the dancer show the love of their craft. However if I go to watch a Mathew Bourne production then I expect to see a different physique in his dancers. They tend to be more muscular (in a nice way). I love watching Mathew Bourne and his contemporary style of dance.

Vocational schools are looking to train professional dancers. Purely classical schools do have to look at the physical requirements that elite ballet companies are looking for. If their students dont get jobs then they wont get funding. Other more rounded vocational schools can be more forgiving in their selection of students as not all styles of dance require a ballet physique.

There are some fantastic associate schemes in this country, some as in RBS are purely classical. Others may offer other genres such as contempory, so in my opinion can include other body shapes. Associate schemes are looking to enhance the training of talented children who will benefit from their style of training. The likes of RBS can be very choosy as they have so many children wanting to train with them. They have an excellent reputation and offer wonderful training.

It is always hard for children and parents when their child is not selected even though they have had many sucesses previously. However if you think its hard now wait until you get into the world of auditioning for jobs. Now that is brutal and often cruel. It would be wrong for schools to train a student who had no chance of getting work once the training was finished.

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It is always hard for children and parents when their child is not selected even though they have had many sucesses previously. However if you think its hard now wait until you get into the world of auditioning for jobs. Now that is brutal and often cruel. It would be wrong for schools to train a student who had no chance of getting work once the training was finished.

Completely agree. Unfortunately, there are too many schools who, while trying to remain viable, pick students who will never work professionally as dancers.

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I very rarely post on the forum but occasionally have a little peek to see what is going on.

 

Thank you Primrose for your post....couldn't have said all that better.

 

As a parent of a DD in second year RBS upper school I feel that I just need to clarify that in my daughters year there are many different shapes and sizes.....some are very tall with...yes....long legs and many are much shorter with not so long legs. They all have their special bits that they excell in. Some are brilliant at jumps and turns,some are more suited to slower more lyrical movements. Each has there own charm.....but really all quite unique.

 

The same can be said of the boys as well...different shapes and sizes.

My daughter also auditioned twice for JAs and didn't get offered a place either time. Things change and children progress at different rates. After not being offered a JA place we were delighted when she gained entry into WL. But it has been very tough and gets tougher every year.

Next year she will be in graduate year....and that thought scares the hell out of me. It will be like starting all over again with the audition process only this time for a job.

 

And contrary to what people may think and what the little girl says on the promo video.....the students there do not think they are the best far from it. They are never allowed to have that attitude....they would be brought straight back down to earth believe me.

 

There are ideals for the perfect ballet body but very few students actually have that and if they do...they get snapped up. But believe me RBS is not made up of clones.

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I agree regarding false hopes primrose, but a child with a long body and short legs, but with every other attribute should still be given a chance in the view of many other schools.

 

There is a dancer in ENB (I see them perform a lot, so I have a knowledge of this company particularly), who was trained at English National Ballet School and has a long torso and short legs. She is a soloist, so clearly despite her look not being to your preference, she is desirable in the eyes of Tamara Rojo, their artistic senior management and the audiences who watch ENB perform. There is another who has joined the company in the last year who I've noticed does not have the long neck you prefer, quite the opposite, but still there she is in one of our countries top ballet companies. They have some very short, muscular dancers as well as tall and a few very tall dancers. Most ballet companies, including RBC now have some form of contemporary in their repertoire, so classical dancers these days are having to become more athletic than they've ever been in the past.

 

As for getting work after training, I know a stunning dancer who went all the way through WL and Upper School and didn't get a regular contract with a ballet company for nearly five years afterwards, so no vocational school, even RBS can guarantee their pupils will get work.

 

I guess everyone is different and while some prefer the uniformity of watching (the very talented) RBC, others like me prefer the individuality of other companies.

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Thanks so much Juliet for clarifying that RBS dancers do indeed come in all Various heights and proportions! I have seen this for myself too when catching glimpses of the upper school and Senior Associates classes. It's always been very reassuring for me to know that these dancers are chosen based on their own unique set of qualities. Some may not Be very tall but they can jump like a gazelle. Some may not like to turn but have beautiful artistry. They are all there for many different reasons and it's certainly not just because they have swayback or long legs. Anyone reading this thread should not be deterred in applying for RBS associates because we may never know what magical ingredient RBS are looking for but your DD or Ds may well posess it and if you never try you will never know!

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Juliet- It's a bit unfortunate that comment on the RBS trailer made it through the cutting room. I guess the school was in sell mode and so it should just be seen in that context...

 

Even so, I have to say I'm struggling to relate to the experience schools are totally open minded about body shape. Perhaps things change a bit at 16? While in fairness, my DD was taken into RBS MAs and SAs despite not having particularly long legs or stunning feet, I did think her body shape was rather different to the others who were generally very leggy. Some ( not all) were also not particularly fluid in their movement/coordination which often seemed to me down to the disproportionately long legs.

 

I really hope the focus on body will shift a little in the future as I agree with atacrossroads there are some fabulous lyrical dancers who don't have that attribute. We would not have the truly sublime ballerina of her generation Alina Cocajaru who has limbs perfectly in proportion to body, if all schools were to insist on a giraffe look. 

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I can understand vocational schools like RBS and others having to be very selective.....only a few will attend these in the end..... but am not so sure why Associate schemes have to be quite so selective.....at least where pure body type is being judged.

 

I thought these were formed to give really enthusiastic and keen students a chance for some excellent teaching in addition to the usual ballet classes they attend. They were not meant to be some sort of possible feeder to the vocational schools of the schemes concerned surely??

 

There are separate auditions for vocational schools.

I would hope that the Associate schemes could be a little more inclusive of all body types and give places to students who show some reasonable degree of talent in and keenness to learn ballet.

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Luckily other schemes are.

 

It seems that the purpose of particular JAs isn't so much to 'nurture young talented students' (as they state on their website) but to seek out potential candidates with the right body types, that with training and time might be right one day? Again, I'm not saying that these children aren't talented!

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I agree, LinMM but I assume that associate schemes will also sometimes end up being selective about body type as they have to make hard decisions as to which candidate is accepted out of a group of equally dedicated and talented students who are all achieving very highly in exams, at festivals, etc.

 

If RBS is known to be usually prescriptive re body type, then at least it can be taken into account and students may choose not to audition there. There will always be exceptions to the rules, however and 16 year old students may have grown into a body shape that is quite different from their body shape at 10, happily or not so happily. As Juliet said, RBS upper school students are not all physical clones and I don't think failure to get into their school or associate schemes should automatically be blamed solely on not having the look they seem to favour at that time - it may simply have been that someone else at the audition had the 'it factor' or had more of whatever it is they were looking for at the time. 

 

And many roads lead to Rome, as has been said previously! The vocational schools sometimes do get it wrong, as the selection process is not perfect and some very gifted dancers with international principal artist potential may be rejected by RBS or other schools but will find their own path, which may well suit them much better.

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On a positive note, has everyone read this article on super talented South African dancer Leroy Mokgatle? He is forever being told that his small stature is an issue for classical ballet, hasn't stopped him from wowing people all over the world with his masterful artistry, phenomenal technique and brilliantly positive attitude. Winning awards at both the Genee and the Prix are testament to him, I can't wait to hear who he chooses to train with for scholarship year and v much hope it's rbs!

 

http://www.theguardian.com/stage/dance-blog/2016/jan/26/dancers-diaries-leroy-mokgatle-rising-ballet-student

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On a positive note, has everyone read this article on super talented South African dancer Leroy Mokgatle? He is forever being told that his small stature is an issue for classical ballet, hasn't stopped him from wowing people all over the world with his masterful artistry, phenomenal technique and brilliantly positive attitude. Winning awards at both the Genee and the Prix are testament to him, I can't wait to hear who he chooses to train with for scholarship year and v much hope it's rbs!

 

http://www.theguardian.com/stage/dance-blog/2016/jan/26/dancers-diaries-leroy-mokgatle-rising-ballet-student

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Someone commented in the Prix de Lausanne thread that they were surprised when they realised how short Leroy Mokgatle is, as his legs look very long. I suppose that confirms that it's about body proportions rather than absolutes in terms of actual length. Perhaps he will carry on growing - if not then at least there is the stellar example of Wayne Sleep to follow.

 

I seem to think that he is going to the Netherlands for his Prix scholarship, but can't remember where I heard or read that!

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