swanprincess Posted July 24, 2016 Share Posted July 24, 2016 I just wanted to warn people; I made a huge mistake with my summer school applications this year, and applied for a course that isn't very well known, declining a summer school scholarship offer at a UK vocational school, because I wanted to do a course in France. It could've easily turned out much worse than it did; at least now I am home safely!!! A summer school called "Ecole Europeanne de Danse Classique" was recently advertised in Dance Europe magazine, as an idyllic ballet retreat set in a castle in picturesque countryside 20km south of Bordeaux, with daily classes in ballet, pointe, repertoire and pas de deux, taught by Silvie Legrand. It was the worst summer school I have ever been to, and I'm very glad to be safely back in the UK!!! The "castle" was in fact a very dilapidated, dirty building, not dissimilar to a cheap, neglected holiday home. Despite paying £450 for the week, the accommodation was filthy, with four girls cramped into a tiny bedroom, and one bathroom between nine of us, with cobwebs and spiders everywhere!!! The "dance studio" was a small barn like room, with no air conditioning; some days we danced for 3 hours in 42Celcius heat! The floor was exceptionally slippery wood, coated with a very thick layer of roisin which made it no more suitable to dance on; the floor was uneven, and after a few days I began to have a grinding pain in my knee and ankles which I've not had before. Having recently recovered from an injury, I was aware that the potential to get injured again was very high due to the unsuitable working conditions- also, despite the fact that all but one of the other dancers looked as though they'd never danced before, the classes that we were given were well above RAD advanced 2 standard!!!! The teacher made no attempt to adapt to our needs as dancers- she said she was teaching us the classes that she had done aged nineteen in the graduate year of the Paris Opera Ballet School, despite the fact that we were no where near that standard!!! I felt reluctant to try any new steps, firstly incase she was teaching them wrongly (despite telling me beforehand that she spoke English, she could speak only a few words of English!!!) and secondly due to the risk of injury. The food- advertised as "organic, with vegetarian and vegan options" was on more than one occasion reminiscent of 18th century workhouse gruel!!! The breakfast every day comprised of a choice of 4 cereals; coco pops, sugar puffs, Frosties or another chocolate cereal (no oats, weetabix, granola, yoghurt, eggs, fruit etc etc) and bread. For lunch we mostly had melon (the only fresh fruit we got all week!!) and plain pasta or couscous. The dinner was frequently soup and bread- snacks were readily available, although the snacks consisted of brioche, crisps, bread and icecream..... Hardly appropriate dancer food, although we were offered tomatoes a few times! I politely explained that in England we eat a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables so could I please have an apple or banana with my breakfast- I was told that the week's food was purchased in advance so nothing extra was possible!! I have been an ethical vegetarian (eating fish & eggs) for 2 years now, but would've devoured a steak by the 3rd day, my body was so desperate for protein! We were given no protein whatsoever, with the exception of one night when our soup was made from lentils and oats!!! Obviously, this impacted hugely upon my dancing, as I felt weak, my muscles felt heavy and lethargic! On the 3rd day, I asked when we would have the pas de deux and repertoire lessons that had been advertised- only to be told that we would not be studying either, only ballet and pointe!!!! I could've studied both of those at home and learnt far more! She then went on to insult my teachers and my training, saying that I am not of a high standard so shouldn't be studying pas de deux or repertoire anyway (despite being at vocational school....!!!) she also told me to not do any conditioning or stretching outside of class, then contradicted herself by saying that I was weak technically and physically! Okay I'm not the strongest dancer in the world, but my teachers at ballet school are excellent, so for her to speak badly of them made me livid!!! Also, I recently brought a new pair of Apple headphones- I used them in the afternoon & put them on my bedside table- the following afternoon they had vanished! I told Silvie, she helped me search for them- then she concluded that the other girls were all too kind to have stolen them, so I must have put them somewhere else and forgotten!!!! The day I was due to go home, I asked again whether they'd been found. Silvie replied no, then said "if they turn up when you are home, Silvie Legrand knows your address & will post them to you." I stared at her in shock and said "But you are Silvie Legrand?!" (Before I went, mum and I had liased via email, phone and Facebook message with Silvie Legrand, the woman who claimed to be running the course, and who told me she would teach all classes herself.) Silvie was in fact an admin assistant; the woman claiming to be Silvie was actually a woman called Laurence!!!! Thank God she wasn't anyone with malicious intentions!!! When I was due to return home, we dropped another girl off at the train station; the woman watched to ensure the girl was safely on her train before taking me to the airport. I had informed her that I would need help obtaining my boarding pass- but she didn't park her car, instead pulling up outside the airport, telling me that she couldn't stop and that "it is a small airport, you will find your way okay." So I was alone in an airport in a foreign country, able to speak very little French, not knowing how to get my boarding pass!!! My poor parents have been physically ill with worry all week; I arrived on the Monday & by Tuesday afternoon was desperately trying to find an earlier flight home!! So I just wanted to advise people to be very wary in future- if ever I apply to another summer school (which I don't think is likely!!!) I'll make sure that it's a well known one run by an established vocational school! Luckily I got home safely (after a 3 hour flight delay!), but... "Ecole Europeanne de Danse Classique" is NOT a real ballet school The conditions in the "school" are neither suitable to live in nor dance in "Silvie Legrand" is not a ballet teacher The advert in Dance Europe magazine was not placed by the woman who taught there; she did not even know of the advert! 1 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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