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Bio-banding could cut risk of injury for ballet dancers, says study


Waitingmum
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I've heard of this for other sports, and I think it could be a good idea, but like you, not sure how they could arrange it.

 

Perhaps it would be a help for dancers to find out their 'bone' age (or whatever it is called) and then maybe postpone auditioning for 16+ training to 18+ if necessary? We know of two dancers who would have found this information helpful. 

 

Don't know how that would work with students in the vocational schools that do A-levels though. 

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Interesting, but like a lot of the dance medicine and science research, it will take a while to filter into vocational schools. I think a lot of dance teachers who work outside of vocational schools are already naturally attuned to different development rates and take this into account. It's really only vocational schools and programmes that group dancers by age, and expect them all to make the same amount of progress. Most associate schemes (correct me if I'm wrong here) group dancers slightly more generously so might have a wider age range in a group, which then takes into account the different levels of physical maturity, but I believe it is at vocational schools such as 'the big 4' where children are expected to make progress at the same rate as others in their school year. I wonder if the directors of these schools are aware of this research, and whether they consider it worth changing a system that they are used to, grew up with, trained with and could create headaches with timetabling etc. Personally I think it could work, but only if dance classes for similar year groups were timetabled together, to allow students of 2/3 year groups to be mixed and then split into appropriate classes. That way, academic classes (such as GCSE or A-level work) could still be taught by year group (although again, personally I am a fan of the american school system where pupils progress at their own rate!).

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I think this is very interesting and believe that this country is too fixated on age. We seem to get hung up on doing things by a certain age and it is a real struggle to get people to understand different rates of development and that it does not mean someone is not good or not progressing well. On my own personal experience of a child at vocational school I have found a good understanding from the staff of development rates. While the year groups are kept together, the banding of students within that is very useful, but again, I wish it could be seen as more a development issue and less of an ability issue.

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We seem to get hung up on doing things by a certain age and it is a real struggle to get people to understand different rates of development and that it does not mean someone is not good or not progressing well. 

 

But sometimes it's parents wanting bragging rights "Oh my daughter's only 9 but she's already on pointe" - I'm sure there are Dance Mums who've said that!

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I wish our schools would adopt this system, not just Lower Schools but 16+ dance schools and colleges as well. I have no doubt it would lessen the risk of injury in 6.1 where you may have a wide range of physical and skeletal levels of maturity.

 

It would need to filter through to Artistic Directors of Classical companies though, so they were prepared to audition grads ranging from 19-22 without feeling that 22 is too old for a first contract.

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But sometimes it's parents wanting bragging rights "Oh my daughter's only 9 but she's already on pointe" - I'm sure there are Dance Mums who've said that!

Yes, you're right about that one! ;) We are all used to people asking about what age their dd can start pointe, and the advice being that it isn't to do with calendar age but physical maturity.

 

Perhaps one day the vocational schools may begin to start looking more closely at this from the perspective of whether dancers (both female and male) are physically ready for the demands of 16+ training as well. They probably do already turn down candidates where they can tell that their physique isn't yet ready for that level of intensive training, but they won't spot everyone. As I understand it, a lot of the more contemporary-based courses do tend to take more older students, so if it works for them, then maybe it could work for classical as well.

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Absolutely agree with most things above especially where Dance is concerned and have thought this for a long time now.

 

However am not sure that the American School system is as free as it may seem. I always thought they held pupils back who couldn't pass certain tests so they had to keep repeating years .....which may be academically appropriate but eventually not very socially appropriate. Whereas here groups tend to move on as a cohort by age.

British schools do have some leeway however and will let particularly gifted children move ahead into a year group one or two years ahead of their age.....but the children have to be very obviously gifted to be able to do this so is a fairly rare occurrence in the end.

 

I met a problem a few times though where children in Year 6 who could speak and write fluent Spanish .....coming from Columbia or Chile or even mainland Spain .....on transference to secondary school went into beginners Spanish lessons there!! This was inspite of liaison with various schools who said they would take account of this! I'd meet the kids down the line and they would say they were just helping the teacher in the lesson by being used as examples etc but basically they were bored. It usually got better by Year 8 when they could choose a second language and so on.

I think though overall whether Dance or Academic schools could be a bit more flexible about age. I always think the Middle School system which never really took off here except mostly in the Leicester area is better able to accommodate this sort of flexibility and gives pupils longer to develop on the whole.

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Personally on the academic side I do not like the school systems where children can get held back and repeat a year.  I do prefer the British system where gifted children can sometimes move ahead and where it is possible to repeat a year in exceptional circumstances.  I know of two individuals who have not moved up with their peer groups after missing significant chunks of a school year due to illness.  I used to teach in a German school. In Germany at the time (don't know if it is the same still) students were allocated schools aged 10-11 - either an academic school where the eventual aim was university or a less academic one.  I taught in the academic school and the last 3 year groups in the school had age ranges of 15-23.  Not the best mix socially.

 

Like LinMM I also like the middle school system.  I am far from Leicester yet in my area all schools are first, middle and high and I think it does allow more flexibility and time to develop. Especially perhaps for some of the late summer birthday children.

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When I was at school there was a girl in my year who had lived in a French-speaking country for some time, and she took her A-level French when we were all taking our O-levels. Her brother was only about 12 and he did his French O-level exam with us.

 

We've got the lower/middle/upper school system here too, and I think it works well. Children move schools at 9 and 13 rather than 7 and 11, and they seem much more ready for the challenge. I remember going to secondary at 11, and being at school with hulking great 6th-formers was really daunting!

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I wasn't meaning that I was a fan of the 'being held back a year' approach - certainly not, and I hate to think of the psycho-social impact of that. But I was thinking more about flexibility to move up as in my experience that doesn't happen in this country. But I'm happy to be corrected!

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Interesting, but like a lot of the dance medicine and science research, it will take a while to filter into vocational schools. I think a lot of dance teachers who work outside of vocational schools are already naturally attuned to different development rates and take this into account. It's really only vocational schools and programmes that group dancers by age, and expect them all to make the same amount of progress. Most associate schemes (correct me if I'm wrong here) group dancers slightly more generously so might have a wider age range in a group, which then takes into account the different levels of physical maturity, but I believe it is at vocational schools such as 'the big 4' where children are expected to make progress at the same rate as others in their school year. I wonder if the directors of these schools are aware of this research, and whether they consider it worth changing a system that they are used to, grew up with, trained with and could create headaches with timetabling etc. Personally I think it could work, but only if dance classes for similar year groups were timetabled together, to allow students of 2/3 year groups to be mixed and then split into appropriate classes. That way, academic classes (such as GCSE or A-level work) could still be taught by year group (although again, personally I am a fan of the american school system where pupils progress at their own rate!).

I found the link on the RBS Twitter feed - not that that means Christopher Powney has read it of course!!!

Certainly when I look at my DDs class in year 7 at WL , some of the girls look about 10 and others about 15 in physical maturity - I think it does make a difference.

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I believe (but I could be wrong, please correct me) that at Rambert now they are streamed for ballet across the whole school rather than a class for each year group.

Is that streamed by ability though? Or targeted work based purely on physical strength and skeletal age?

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Our ballet classes are streamed according to ability and I often find that the youngest ones are the most talented.  However, when they go to the Senior High School Dance Stream, they will be in a mixed ability group,  according to age not level.  I currently have a 14 year old in Advanced Foundatiion, if she were to go to the High School next year, she would be at Advanced 1 level, but be together with other of our students who are at Inter or AF level, and with girls from other schools, who might not have done much ballet.  It's problematic........ 

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Actually Im not sure I agree with the idea that being held back a year is detrimental. Both my boys and one of my girls are dyslexic, DS1 is the youngest in his school year (august 18) and would have massively gained from being kept back a year. I am sure DS1 went through a developmental shift at 15 (he went from being as straight D/E student to straight As and now has a reading speed the same as DD1 who got 11A stars at GCSE), and DS2 looks to be following a similar pattern. It would have helped him hugely if this shift had occurred in school year 9 instead of year 10....

One of my close friends is from the Netherlands where it is standard practise to hold children back a year if they are not coping. Far from destroying their social position she remembers from her childhood that those who are held back are looked up to by the children in the year below, partly because they are older and partly because they have already done the work for that year so are seen to be more able and experienced. So they actually gain in social standing.... 

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This is why I think the Middle School system is the most accommodating to children's development.

 

First schools can be set to change at 8 usually then the Middle school is 8-14

 

Then there is upper school and sixth form college depending on what choices pupils make.

 

I think it is expensive though as could be building heavy in some areas and probably why it never really took off.

 

When I was training in the 60's it was thought very highly of from educational perspectives but would have required some considerable reorganisation to get established.

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And just wanted to say too that August birthdays can be tricky and I wonder if in certain instances there could be a choice right from the start of some children delaying starting school for a term or two or even a year!! They would then become the oldest rather than the youngest in the year group.

This would help some children I'm sure though others are fine.

 

At reception class level though there is often a noticeable difference in general maturity between late summer births and those born in the Autumn.

It's a perennial problem though and is worse in areas where they won't stagger school starts for Reception children so ALL have to start in the September regardless.

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