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RAD or ISTD ballet?


balletboy6
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Hello there my son aged 6 is due to start taking his ballet exams, we have the option of taking rad or istd, not really sure on which is the best route to go down, his interest is musical theatre so looks like this is the possible route he will head down. would be very grateful of any help in making the right decision .... thank you :-)

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Both have their merits! My dd moved from ISTD to RAD at 7 partly because she wanted to learn Character dance, which the ISTD teacher didn't teach. Are both syllabi taught at one school, or do you have the option of two schools/teachers?

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Welcome to the forum balletboy6 :)

 

I'm smiling to myself at the thought of your 6 year old having a particular interest in a musical theatre route - you've got a long way to go yet, but good luck to him (and you) :) :)

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My DD has always done RAD but I know children who have done other syllabi and are beautiful dancers. I think it's probably the quality of the teacher that matters more than the syllabus. If they are both offered at the same school I would ask the teachers which they feel would suit your son best, and if it's two different schools I'd opt for whichever teacher you think is better. Both RAD and ISTD are well regarded organisations so I doubt you can really make the "wrong" choice. You can of course do RAD ballet and ISTD or IDTA tap/modern etc - you don't have to be confined to one examination board forever.

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Can he try both, and see which one he enjoys the most?

 

He might like one of the teachers and other children in the class more than the other.

 

Because he's so young there's plenty of time for him and at 6 he needs to really enjoy what he is doing.

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I have done RAD and am now doing ITSD with some Cechetti thrown in. They all have merits.It used to be said that RAD was all technique and ISTD all expression, but that has changed now and I like them both.

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My dd does both RAD and ISTD ballet (at different schools). She is happy with both but she feels ISTD has more 'free work'-she is much older than your son at 14 but she is also keen on musical theatre and just feels any good ballet technique will be a great foundation for this career. I agree with Pups_mum it is the quality of teaching which is the important thing.

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Hi to everyone forgot to mention that i am new to the forum :-) my son's dance teacher prefers istd but is happy to do rad if we choose to.....it has also been suggested that we do both,,, getting a lot of mixed messages as to which is the best option :-/

 

julie,,,, bizarre isn't it my son's only 6 but already been offered 2 opportunities of casting for professional theatre, there are roles out there for young children who have the ability to act sing and dance. its comes down to whether you choose to send them or not, personally i decided against sending my son as mentally i don't feel he's ready :-)

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Hi to everyone forgot to mention that i am new to the forum :-) my son's dance teacher prefers istd but is happy to do rad if we choose to.....it has also been suggested that we do both,,, getting a lot of mixed messages as to which is the best option :-/

I'm a bit confused...does the teacher regularly teach both syllabi, or would she be running an RAD class specifically for your son? I would tend to go with ISTD if it's what the teacher generally does, as s/he will probably be better at teaching that, especially since the RAD syllabi for your son's age group have recently changed.

Personally, I wouldn't do both at 6. I think older children and adults can manage and may benefit from learning different syllabi simultaneously, but at 6 I think it would be confusing. That's just my opinion though, I'm no expert!

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my son's dance school teaches istd, he also takes a ballet class at his theatre school which is istd,,,we have decided to take him out of the group lesson at his dance school and go down the one to one route in september, his dance teacher is happy for him to do rad or istd....

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Do you mean that he will only have private ballet lessons from September? If so, that would make me a bit anxious as he is still very young for such concentrated intensive coaching; I must stress that that is just my own gut feeling. I am also conscious that spatial awareness and the ability to dance with or alongside other children will be important when he performs and when he does his exams, unless of course he will do his exams as a lone candidate.

 

Will he continue with the group ballet classes at his theatre school? He may become confused if he continues group ISTD ballet lessons at the theatre school but chooses to do RAD exams at the dance school.

 

If there is no need for him to start doing ballet exams just yet, perhaps he could try some RAD and some ISTD work and then, with his teacher's input, decide which he prefers? He could always start at a grade 1 or higher level if he wanted to do that, he wouldn't have to start at pre-primary or primary. He could then pick up whichever syllabus he doesn't choose at a later date if he wants to do that.

 

Maybe if ISTD has more free work, that might be of more use to him in that he will be accustomed to picking up new choreography quickly when he attends musical theatre auditions and rehearsals?

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He is so young. Syllabus at this age is secondary to enjoyment. In the long run in does not matter one jot what syllabus you do. Trust me I say that as someone who was told RAD was best. There are differences. Character etc. At 6 no-one "knows" what they really want to do. If you really feel his future is in dance, be it muscical theatre or whatever, at his age the key is to variety and enjoyment. Even when one decides a career in "dance" is what you want syllabus is not the importance we, as parents, give it. I apologise if this upsets anyone but it is the way it is. I remember asking a well known "teacher" who laughed and said syllabus bothers parents, talenet , ability and "future" bothers us!!!

 

What is important is quality of teaching. A teacher who says they are "happy" to teach RAD would worry me. Is she an RAD teacher? The styles do differ and a teacher needs to know what they are doing. If she is able in both fine. What does your son enjoy?

 

Remember as well as ballet there are modern exams, tap, possibilities for jazz exams but again at 6 I would not even be worrying. I would find a teacher you have confidence in, he is happy with, and a class he enjoys.

 

Re castings so many young children do get work that does not translate later on in life. At different stage s different things are looked for. I think it is wonderful your son is enjoying himself but would really caution against this being an indicator of later ability or desire.

 

So RAD or ISTD does not matter. Sometimes a mix is good. Certainly later. Choose a teacher you like in the syllabus she is really confident in and enjoy:-)

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I have to agree that six seems exceptionally young to be starting private/one-to-one lessons, particularly if they are instead of group classes, as opposed to as well as.

 

There is indoubtedly a place for one to one teaching; my dd finds her private lessons invaluable, and she and the teacher work on whatever needs focus at the time, covering a mixture of freework and syllabus - BUT she is 13 and the private lessons are in addition to six group classes during the rest of the week.

 

At 6 my dd was doing ballet and tap, starting to learn piano, taking swimming lessons, in short, giving everything a try and seeing what she liked. Dance classes at six are as much about socialising and learning to move and dance with other children as they are about technique.

 

If he will be doing ISTD at one school and you want him to continue there, I would stick with ISTD at both schools. Learning both RAD and ISTD ballet would be very confusing at six.

 

May I ask why you have decided to take him out of the group class?

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I agree completely with spanner. At the school my daughter attends quite a lot of the students have private lessons alongside their regular classes but the principle does not allow anyone to have only private tuition. There is an awful lot to be gained from dancing in group classes.

Also, from a purely logistical point of view, remember that if he is the only pupil doing RAD exams in the school then he will have to go elsewhere to do exams. As I understand it, a teacher has to put together an exam schedule that lasts a certain minimum amount of time in order for an examiner to come - a school couldn't run an exam session for just one pupil.

From what you've told us, it sounds like your son is attending a basically ISTD school. That being the case, I would stick with what the teacher knows best and follow the ISTD syllabus. If you really want him to do RAD exams then I think it would be better to switch to a school that teaches the RAd syllabus regularly.

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Oh dear where do i start lol :-/ my son has been taking dance classes for 2 years, he takes ballet, modern and tap, he also has singing lessons, and loves his gymnastics and football lessons.... he took a keen interest in dance and singing at a young age so i took him along to a theatre school, he then asked to join a ballet class which I wasn't to happy about as it was all girls and no boys, i instead opted for private lessons for him which he took for a few months and really enjoyed, his dance teacher then suggested he take part in a ballet summer school which he loved, he was the only boy but that didn't seem to bother him. he then went on to join in the group lessons after and he still attends them up to now, we now face the problem that his ballet lessons are held at his school, a lot of the children in his dance lessons attend his school and my son is aware that he's the only boy, he has had to listen to many comments over the last year from parents and children asking why a boy has ballet lessons and he is now at an age where he is aware of the remarks, he hasn't asked to stop the group lessons but i feel its time to pull him out as i dread the thought of him being bullied over his ballet lessons and don't want him to be forced to quit something he enjoys due to ignorant peoples opinions,,,, this is the reason we will opt for the private lessons, he will still continue doing group ballet lessons at his theatre school which is out of our area once a week as its more acceptable there for a boy to do ballet........ it was me who suggested rad to my sons dance teacher as i was told that was the better of the two,,, she didnt agree but told me she could put him through rad if that was what we wanted as she was able to teach both, she is also an examiner for istd so i assume she knows what she's taking about.... anyway thats how it is, it would be a lot less easier if my son was just interested in football like his older brothers, it would be a lot cheaper too, but its his choice and he loves his dance, how long he continues with ballet who knows? but if he quits i want it to be because he wants too, not because he's forced too, i imagine a lot of boys give up ballet at a young age due to this reason which is a shame :-)

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Ah, I see; thanks for clarifying. Isn't it a shame that in this day and age, people still have a problem with boys doing ballet?

 

I would stick with ISTD as the teacher is an examiner. Plenty of time to change to RAD when your ds is older, if necessary.

 

In the meantime, have you seen this? http://www.boysdoballet.com/

 

It's a fabulous site for dancing sons and their parents. :-)

 

 

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It is such a shame that boys who do ballet are still, in some circles, seen as strange. And what a shame that the cruel comments of ignorant people have made you feel that you need to pull your son out of classes in order to protect him.

 

It is, however, something that he will have to deal with at some point. All of the dancing boys and men that I know have had to deal with this, but they seem to handle it with confidence and strength because they are doing something they really want to do and they know that there is no reason why they shouldn't be doing it. Many are even proud to know that they are doing something which people don't expect of them, especially when they are able to show of the exceptional strength and fitness they have developed through dancing.

 

It sounds as if your little boy, although still very young, is quite determined about his ballet, so in the long run I don't think he is likely to be put off by people talking. But in the meantime it sounds as if you have a good compromise for his current situation.

 

A couple of other thoughts and ideas

  • Talk to his friends' parents and see if you can encourage any of them to go to ballet with him, perhaps through the theatre group.
  • Look out for boys only events for your son to attend.
    You will find that there are actually lots of boys doing ballet, although I think many start later than girls which may be why your son is the only boy in his classes at the moment.
  • Make sure you spread the word quietly but firmly that there is nothing wrong with boys doing ballet and that you are proud of what your son is doing.
  • Don't forget that Rio Ferdinand trained in ballet: http://news.sky.com/home/uk-news/article/15545631

Good luck to you and your son

 

(and if the teacher is an ISTD examiner I would stick with ISTD. As others have said, it doesn't really matter which syllabus you do!)

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I would also stick with the ISTD for the moment as that seems to be where the teacher's strengths lie. I agree that it does sound like you have found a good compromise for your son and would echo the comments above about looking out for 'boys only' events. He may be a little young for most of them at present (I don't know age limits) but certainly RAD run workshops (non syllabus based so he would not have to be doing RAD) and so do Tring. I do not have a DS so it is not an area I know much about. Good luck to you and your son.

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O, she is also an examiner for istd

In that case i would definitely stick with the ISTD syllabus as the teacher is bound to be more expert in this syllabus.

I'm sorry to hear that your son is being bullied about his dancing. That's such a shame, especially when he's so young. My daughter has a number of male friends who dance and though they have all experienced this type of thing at some point, it's tended to be when they are bit older so perhaps better equipped to deal with. It's very unfair. My DD has a number of friends (girls) who have what would generally be considered male hobbies, like rugby and cricket, but they don't seem to come in for the same stick as boys that dance. Hopefully the tide is turning though. My DD did English Youth Ballet in Newcastle earlier in the year and there were 13 boys in the cast. Although that's still a small number compared to the girls, it's a lot more than there have been in the past, so hopefully it reflects a generally increased number of boys doing ballet.

There are quite a few parents of boys who post on here regularly so hopefully they will be able to let you know what kind of things have been good for their boys, but I would say that the most important thing right now is to make sure he's doing classes that he enjoys.

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well, it's great for you to have persevered so far. i am a dad of a dancing boy, and the comments above are all so helpful.

 

our son started dancing at 3 or so, and still dances at 13. Key is getting your son to boys only workshops if you can at all. as well as getting him specific boys training, they also mean you can start to chat with other parents of boy dancers. if you mention which area you are in, maybe people can suggest workshops.

 

with regards to the school, or son also did tap, modern and these classes were local, and with girls from his school. However just because the teacher that was recommended (Cecchetti method) was not so close, we never had the issue of ballet training near his school. I think it did help though.

 

It is a difficult one, but I would not stop the really useful group lessons because of what people might say. if things get said, then they need to be addressed, not just for the sake of your son in that immediate circumstance, but for all those who will follow. Generally, the children are all right. It is the parents that have the problem. And if he is enjoying them, that is key.

 

point to Rio and others - there are some good videos around with boys and ballet - also some good ballet company members around who have created some good videos. The Boysdoballet site may help (I do have to declare an interest there though!).

 

good luck, and remember before getting tied up in exams/styles - enjoyment is key.

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Stick with ISTD. If the teacher is good it matters not one jot what syllabus is followed - lessons shouldn't be all syllabus anyway but rather geared to the students. My younger boys class yesterday had a glorious time choreographing to "Under the Sea" portraying conger eels, octupi, sting rays etc!! They had just completed RAD grade 1 but only because that is the syllabus that their ballet school enters exams in.

 

But I digress. If the teacher is prepared to give your DS private lessons then why not see if he can get a friend interested? Before you know it,it might suddenly become a boys only class! Many years ago one of my classes suddenly attracted 2 boys into an already small girls class. My boss then agreed to gamble on moving the girls and leaving me the boys. We now have three boys classes and one of the original pair is still with me - in fact I have more secondary school aged young men than I do junior school boys.

 

And I agree with all the advice on boys only days etc. Incidently I kept my DS ballet lessons very quiet and advised him not to talk to his friends about it- a sad thing to do but I'd seen too many boys put off by comments from pupils at schools; usually due to their parents ignorance. And fellow dancers who were at also school with him were asked not to discuss it at school. As he grew older and more able to stick up for himself it became easier to talk about it specially as it became apparent that he was very, very good at it! But the younger a boy is, in my experience the easier it is for them to get put off as they are not necessarily emotionally mature enough to ignore unkind comments.

 

edited for clarity

Edited by hfbrew
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If he is worried about being teased you could always ring round the dance schools that are within reasonable travelling distance for you, but far enough away for it to be unlikely that there is anyone there that he knows.

 

Hopefully there may be a school that has boys in a class at his level.

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Thank you for all the helpful feedback, i have found it a great help, it really is refreshing to talk openly about my son's ballet for a change without being judged :-) over the last 2 years i have phoned around every ballet school local or within a reaonable distance to us to see if they had a boys only class but didn't even come across a dance school with a boy in it.... i have surfed the net looking for summer schools, day courses for boys but all seem to start from the age of 8 years.... i find the whole thing very frustrating and can see how easy it would be to throw the towel in :-/ we are based in East Sussex and happy to travel into London over holidays for easter/summer schools but nothing is available....rad have a boys only course and it looks great but they also only take from 8 years....

My son is currently working at istd grade 1 at his dance school, his dance teacher puts them in classes through ability rather than age, in my son's theatre school it is based on age and i know that my son is working at a lower level in his class pre primary/primary, i have spoke to them and they are not prepared to move him up as they feel it wouldn't be fair on the older children working at level 1 having a 6 year old in there class, due to this i don't know wether to continue with the ballet classes there as i feel they are holding him back and not beneficial to him....

my son is very competitive, hence why we are opting to take exams, we feel he needs something to work towards and like football , gymnastics he loves the fact he gets certificates or medals at the end for all the hard work.

my son has never danced with another male dancer which is such a shame, i really do think this would be a great boost to him to see that he isn't the only boy on the planet to take ballet lessons, i am amazed that the likes of rad are not offering opportunities to younger boys as i imagine between the ages of 4-8 years a lot of boys quit due to peer pressure :-/

if anyone does have any info on groups, summer schools, ballet schools etc that may be suitable please let us know :-)

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