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Importance of exams


Lilac
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Am having a very frustrating time with DD at present, who does say she wants to go on to dance college at 18, probably somewhere like LSC. Her small local dance school with which I have been frustrated for some time, is just driving me to despair. DD is very headstrong, and although the teacher treats her increasingly as the lowest of the low, refuses to entertain get input from anywhere else. She is year 12, where I believe students are usually working towards Advanced 1/2? In both Tap and Modern this is not happening for various reasons. A class at least exists for vocational ballet, but is regularly cancelled. The prime focus of the teacher is festivals, and as DD is not a bursary winner she seems to matter less and less. DD did ond dance college audition this year, and teacher couldn't even be bothered to advise. Tearing my hair as I feel this unwarranted loyalty to teacher will cost her the chance of dance college. Today we only suggested she picked up 2 extra classes at a local dance school where she has friends and she said this was disloyal and blew a fuse! I just can't bear to see her waist her talent with this misguided loyalty! I know she wouldn't leave, so just thought this could be a compromise. I know people say for auditions its not your grades but how you perform on the day, but surely if DD has not been gained beyond Intermediate, and others have Advancd 2, their technique and performance skills will necessarily be better? I am so afraid she will have regrets later through this.

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I think a lot depends on whether your DD will be auditioning for ballet or other dance. My DD looking to do MT at 16. We've been told most are approx intermediate in ballet but possibly grade 5/6 for other genres. However I think ballet courses auditionees tend to be higher.

Having said that, passing the exams isn't important, but having regular classes at the right level is.

My DD moved dance schools 6 months ago due to lack of progress (largely due to classes available). She was reluctant to move but we discussed options, what she wanted to achieve etc, but ultimately decision had to be hers.

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It must be frustrating for you but in all honesty if your DD does not want to do classes elsewhere, you do have to be guided by her. Her heart does have to be in it.

Re dance college at 18 - yes it will go totally on the auditions. Perhaps you could change tack and start looking at what auditions entail at each of the colleges she is interested in auditioning for? My DD had never done tap - but nor did she need do it any any audition, and her last exam in modern was intermediate. She had done no more than a handful of modern classes in advanced at the time of auditioning. What counts in an audition as much as anything is the ability to pick things up as obviously it is all non syllabus work? Is she willing to do some workshops or summer schools outside of her local dance school? If she is not willing to take regular classes elsewhere, perhaps these would give her some extra focus? Or could she do one of the pre-audition courses at somewhere like Urdang to give her a taste of what to expect?

I wish you luck as it is not an easy situation, especially since you cannot foretell the future and know if your DD is making good or bad decisions. But she knows you have her back - but the desire really does need to come from her.

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When you say your dd blew a fuse at suggestions of classes at another dance school, as it was disloyal, I think this tells you a lot about her perception of things. If she had grown up in a dance school where other classes elsewhere were encouraged, it wouldn't be a problem now. But her perception has come from somewhere and I guess it's the teacher or this particular dance school culture that has fuelled this. Is this related to competitions/festivals do you think?

 

We've changed danced schools 4 months ago and did competitions at the old place, and everything was very controlling and manipulative there. It's taken only a couple of months for my 11yo dd to realise that actually this whole loyalty/disloyalty thing is a load of rubbish. After the break from the school and the comp team, she's been able to actually make so many friends who were competing against us previously and there is a whole bunch of kids that she socialises with on social media and arranges London class meet ups.

 

Her new teacher is very much a go for it sort of person and has encouraged her to do other stuff with other schools and organisations as believes it all helps and compliments the training she gives.

 

Obviously my dd is only young and I have no idea whether this will help her succeed in the long term post 18 but right now I would like her to be as happy and confident as possible.

 

My gut feel says this whole loyalty aspect is old hat abs destructive to progress so I really hope you can find a way through this with your DD

 

What about classes at Pineapple, Danceworks, Studio 68 where it's not seen as a rival local dance school and she can feel she is benefitting from attention elsewhere in addition to her dance school?

 

The other thing we discovered was that old dance teacher wasn't qualified/experienced/didn't offer advanced 1 and 2 in modern tap or ballet whereas the new teacher was and does offer it? Is there a chance that there is a reason why your dd not being offered adv 1&2?

Edited by annaliesey
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I think we've had this discussion before, but usually about the importance of RAD exams for classical ballet courses. I am sure that auditions for general dance/musical theatre courses are similar to those at ballet school in that it definitely helps if you have been working at Advanced 1 level - purely so that the degree of difficulty in the ballet combinations and steps won't be a mystery. Auditions are nervewracking enough without being utterly flummoxed by the vocabulary used.

 

In terms of tap and jazz, I am sure Intermediate level would be fine. If your dd wanted to study for her DDI qualifications at college then it would be worth checking the minimum level required.

 

If any of the schools/colleges run audition workshops and open days where you can ask - or see - what standard they like, I think these can be hugely useful.

 

Let's face it, it's more important for auditions to be working at roughly the right level so that you can show your technique, performance, musicality etc without being out of your depth with regard to the steps. IF your dd wants to teach at some point I definitely think Advanced 1 and even 2 are a huge advantage. But what would worry me more is her loyalty to a teacher who doesn't appear to be repaying that loyalty - and finding out what is making her so stressed at the thought of leaving a school where she doesn't seem to be valued.

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Is there a 'respected 3rd party' that your DD might respect who she could talk to about this?

 

I am a non-dance mum - I didn't dance, I knew nothing about dance until DD started. So if I say one thing, and one of her dance teachers (fortunately, it is a dance school with several teachers, even though one is clearly 'the head of the school') says another, then the dance teacher is right, because I know nothing about it....

 

So if I had a similar dilemma, i would be seeking out someone she respected in the dance world but who wasn't necessarily a current part of her dance school, IYSWIM? A previous pupil at the dance school who is now at dance college, for example, or a summer school teacher or an adjudicator / judge from something that she had been in, or even a school; teacher if there is one with an interest in dance.

 

I think when it is a question of 'local rivalry' wrt to festivals etc, then i might be useful to seek out opportunities further afield - holiday courses, one off classes or a dance school further away - rather than just attending classes in a school seen to be a 'direct rival'? Perhaps a CAT that does modern / contemporary - see http://www.nationaldancecats.co.uk/ Or something like Tap Attack?

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It really doesn't sound as if she's in a nurturing environment and no - Intermediate is not a high enough level for year 12.  I try and get everyone through Inter by 14, maximum 15  - ideally it should be 13, but that doesn't happen often. I think what is important, more than passing the actual Advanced level exams, is that she's working on a higher enough level in class to develop and strengthen her technique and widen her vocabularly.  Non syllabus classes at an advanced level are very important.  Could you take her to watch classes in a studio where there are more advanced classes for her age group, so that she can see how limited her level is?  Perhaps a talk with someone influentual as someone suggested.  It would be a real shame if misguided loyalty (however admirable it is) were to hold her back from achieving her goals.  Another thought, if she knows which 6th form college she wants to attend, could you take her along for an interview to find out what they will expect of her?

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I'm afraid she is already at sixth form college,crow terms in,Chris is my concern to be ready for dance college auditions for 18. We are not dance experts, so not sure how I could find an impartial person and get her to listen. I fully agree she needs the maturity of the higher vocational grades. The timetable is biased at the upper end towards one year 13 who is not going to dance college who gets her own class in advanced 2 modern while the advanced 1s get nothing tailored at them. The teacher is very partisan so favourites get wonderful service, the rest get endless broken promises. The main focus of the school is increasingly becoming festivals, teacher has qualified as an adjudicator,cand private lessons are reserved for favourites to win lots of festivals. We did change dance schools before, possibly a mistake, which has made DD totally anti ever stepping foot in any other dance school. I am hoping to get her to do the LSC Summer school as that's the sort of college she wants to go to.

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Not sure whereabouts you live, but if you are within reasonable travelling distance of London, maybe she would like to do some of the open classes at Pineapple or Danceworks?

 

Lots of the vocational colleges do open days and audition workshops - it is definitely not too early to start looking out for them, and for her to attend as many as she possibly can. Not only will she gain valuable experience which will stand her in good stead at her auditions, it will also show her the standard that other people her own age are working at, and whether or not she thinks she will be able to hold her own against them in the auditions.

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Has your DD had the experience of a summer school where she will be with other children her own age and have excellent teaching in Ballet, Jazz, contemporary and musical theatre and which will to give her an idea whether she is the same standard as other girls her age?

I suggest you look at York Dance Assembly which is a five day residential summer school where there is an excellent faculty. There are students from the age of 10 years from local schools as well as students from vocational schools. It will give your DD experience and confidence in her dance ability and you will also be able to watch her at the end of the course. If you require more information please message me. I wish you well.

 

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Lilac one of my friends has 2 dd who both got into LSC to do MT degree course in recent times. Please feel free to message me if you have any specific questions about level of study in e.g ballet.

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I have worked at vocational level for 10 years. I have a good understanding on this matter. Please pm me if you wish. I agree with the above though Intermediate is a good basis, as long as it is being taught correctly etc as it will help with picking up the classes in auditions

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