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Doing more than one grade at a time


junedancer
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We are trying to get enough ballet classes and it looks like the only option will be to do two grade classes at a different level.  Is this to be advised or avoided?  I have seen classes where they teach two grades at the same time which is obviously tailored to work with those in it but will two separate classes work?

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I encourage certain children to study 2 grades one higher than the one they are working on. Some kids are able to adapt and not confuse the 2 grades others find it too bewildering. I have never mastered the art of teaching 2 grades in one class however!

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Several of my keenest students do a class a Grade above the one that they are officially in. Its good for them to get as much variety as possible rather than only work on one set of exercises. If a teacher is only working on syllabus it can be restrictive.

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It's absolutely the norm in DD's (good, non-vocational) dance school.

 

As far as i remember (it's a while ago now) they attend their own grade and the one above from Grade 2/3 level. A grade or two higher and it's 2 classes at their own level and 1 at the level above. At this point, all those from the 'lower' grade attend the same one of the two 'higher' grade lessons offered, so the 'pure' higher grade class will focus very much on the 'top' of the syllabus and free work for that higher grade (it's ISTD so free work from Grade 1) and the 'mixed' one will cater for the crossover between the two grades.

 

So at the moment DD attends 2 Intermediate classes, plus 1 of the two Advanced 1 classes (plus pointe, groups, and lots of other stuff, but those are the syllabus ballet classes she attends. There is another Adv 1 class that is at the same time as one of the Intermediate classes and is reserved for those working on Advanced 1.

 

Works well, and keeps hours up for stamina. It also means that DD has occasionally moved quite quickly through grades when she has known the syllabus well from the crossover class. She averages a grade per year, but sometimes the gap between exams has been a term, sometimes 4 terms!

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I am eagerly keeping an eye on this thread as I have the same issue as OP.  My DD cannot get enough ballet in her life.  Prior to this year, her school only offered once a week, half an hour classes.  After almost 2 years of this, they have only just taken their pre-primary ISTD exam last June/July (can't remember exact date).  I spoke to the teachers and was offered the opportunity for her to take both primary and Grade 1 classes, but would still take the primary exam with her primary class.  However, this still equated to just once a week, 1.25 hour classes.

 

I have now added Grade 1 RAD classes (1 hour, once a week), which I know is probably frowned upon.  However, as she is still very young, I don't think she has experienced any confusion between the syllabus.  What's important to me is that she is much happier now with more ballet in her schedule.

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There is no requirement in RAD grades (different in the vocational grades) to take the exam grades sequentially. DD didn't take grade 2 exam as it was felt that she would benefit more from moving straight on to take grade 3. Funnily enough this also happened with her piano exams at one stage!

 

This does still sometimes happen at her dance school where it is definitely the norm to take class a grade above the current exam class level. Obviously exams can't be missed out at vocational graded level, although DD missed out Advanced Foundation because the teachers all felt that the Advanced 1 syllabus suited her better. Most students take Intermediate Foundation as an introduction to the very different vocational grade exams, unless they are older and it is felt that they can start with Intermediate instead.

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Tropicmama if your child is 6 you are in the same position I was 12 years ago. My daughter was at an excellent RAD school, I spoke with her teacher and we set out a plan for each year. Grades are for all children that wish to dance, but if you are the parent of an obsessed dancer, who has facility for ballet, explain that the grades are very important as they are the basics and the exams are great for making sure you are able to focus but the real fun begins with Majors.

Mine auditioned and went to vocational weekend classes at 7 which suited her hunger for more ballet.

In Grade 2 she was invited by her RAD teacher to join in a major class where she worked hard at the back, keeping out of the way of the big girls. She stayed there for years until she was old enough to take the exam. After that at around 11 she went to as many classes as I could afford.

If your child doesn't have the ballet facility but has this huge need to dance continuously then introduce her to Irish Tap Jazz Etc and feed her hunger that way.

Edited by Canary
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Canary, my little girl just turned 7 and the reason I was prompted to seek more ballet for her (apart from her constant nagging) is because when she started, the teacher told me that she displays natural ability that is not often seen.  Add that to her extreme enthusiasm (definitely obsessed dancer) and love for ballet, I felt it was best to nurture something she is so passionate about.  It does seem that she has the ballet facility and has on occasion been pointed out as an example in the class that is above her actual one.  Apologies for sounding clueless, but what are majors?  I am tempted to ask her current RAD school if she can attend both the Grade 1 and Grade 2 classes but am a bit worried they might think I'm too keen as a parent, especially as she just started there.  She also does tap and modern, and thoroughly enjoys them, but she would often remind me that ballet is her "love".

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I am not aware of a couple of grades being taught within the same lesson.

 

However, my DD does take ISTD and RAD lessons Grade 6 and Intermediate lessons weekly. Not aware that she has any issues of confusing the grades just me as a mother remembering what time I'm picking her up!! 

 

Last night, still in last years timetable mode turned up an hour early to pick DD up.Grrrrr  One ruined supper, silly me.  :D

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Some students respond really well to the extra challenge of doing the class above and enjoy it much more. I still remember dd's teacher once saying that dd danced better during the Inter class than she did in Inter Foundation, which was her grade at the time.

Edited by taxi4ballet
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My DD started doing more then one grade when we moved schools, her old school / ballet teacher refused to let her overlap, refused to let her do private lessons in order to catch up to her peers so along with that (and several other reasons) we moved. When she moved she was grade 2 ballet and initially wanted to do all of her grades she didn't want to skip them (despite new teacher trying to convince her to just forget about g2). It was a bad idea and she did get confused but that was because she wasn't use to it. She went from doing 1 x g2 class a week to 1x g2, 1x g3,1x g4 and 2 x IF, it lasted about 6 weeks I think before she said she couldn't do it she was getting mixed up between so many grades, so she dropped g2 and instead started doing 1 x g3, 2 x g4 and 3 x IF.

 

We have seen a vast improvement in her from doing so much ballet and being pushed as much as possible, in her old school she was never corrected on anything, as long as she sort of knew the syllabus that was all that mattered, her teacher never taught her to point her feet or extend, even her posture was never corrected, so many little things (like holding her arms correctly) that not once did her old teacher mention and it has made the world of difference being corrected/reminded of everything (feet, arms, turnout, posture, neck, chest)! 

 

Would it be possible to get additional classes at another school as well? So if your DD does her current grade plus the one above but also try and get another of her current graded class elsewhere, also what about some free work classes to get extra hours in?

Edited by MuddledMama
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I wish i had known you could do 2 grades at the same time to get more hours in a few months ago.

My 7yr dd was at a small dance school. She did 1 40 minute class a week and was wanting to do more.It was a good school, she got 96% in her first exam -Primary. I did mention to her dance teacher twice about doing more ballet and she said she would sort something out. Maybe this is what she meant. Anyway after asking twice over 6 months and nothing happening i decided to move her to a bigger dance school with a big timetable of classes and as she did a summer school there and enjoyed it and i thought there would be more opportunities for her.

She is enjoying it but every week she asks to go back to her old school. She misses her old dance teacher so much, The school was very cliquey and none of the girls spoke to her. They all went to the same school apart from my dd so i didn't think she would be bothered but she is.

I feel so bad that i have moved her now when she was happy where she was.

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My daughter has taken classes in the grade above her for the last few years now. 
Mainly it has been a good experience and the pros outweigh the cons. 

One drawback though is that if they remain in their original group for exam work then it may get repetitive. eg if she is doing grade 4 exam but also taking grade 5 classes as an extra and then moves up to grade 5 'officially' how would your daughter feel about the fact she's already covered that work? 

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It seems to be ok for most students as when they take an exam and 'officially' move into the next grade, having taken those classes in addition, they will usually start the higher grade classes too. Unless they want to concentrate on the next grade for a time, e.g. if they will be taking that exam within a short period of time.

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It seems to be ok for most students as when they take an exam and 'officially' move into the next grade, having taken those classes in addition, they will usually start the higher grade classes too. Unless they want to concentrate on the next grade for a time, e.g. if they will be taking that exam within a short period of time.

This is exactly what is happening with my DD, she took her g3 exam this term but because she has been doing g4 as well she is taking her g4 exam next term (she has started learning g5 now that her official grade is 4) and once she is officially g5 she will do g6 as well and so on. It's not just ballet she is doing the higher grades in, she is g5 modern but also goes into the g6 class, the only thing she is unable to do it with is tap.

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It seems to be ok for most students as when they take an exam and 'officially' move into the next grade, having taken those classes in addition, they will usually start the higher grade classes too. Unless they want to concentrate on the next grade for a time, e.g. if they will be taking that exam within a short period of time.

Yes that's what happens. For instance my dd took her grade 3 exam and was already in the grade 4 class, so she started grade 5. Shortly after that she added inter foundation as well.

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Sorry Tropicmama Majors are the RAD exams which are now being referred to as Vocational. They are designed for the ballet dancer who has more natural ability - or as the teacher might say 'facility' and require a lot of focus.

Intermediate Foundation you have to be 11 when you take the exam Then Intermediate is 12. Advanced foundation 13 Advanced 1 is now 14 and Advanced 2 is 15 and you have to get a Distinction in Advanced 1to to take the Solo Seal or enter the Genee.

So you see there's no rush. RAD Majors also give you UCAS points which is brill. Mine took every exam on the syllabus but hasn't done Solo Seal. (Expense)

 

RAD web site explains it all

 

Ask dancers at your child's school what they think of the new syllabus'

Edited by Canary
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Thank you everyone for your advice and comments.  I am always intimidated by having to speak to DD's dance teacher as this puts me so out of my comfort zone as I know nothing about dance.  Well I didn't even get to the end of what I had prepared to say and she came back with so why doesn't she come to the next grade up as well as she is more than capable.  DD is over the moon and asked Mummy what made you suggest this idea - so thank you!

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I wish i had known you could do 2 grades at the same time to get more hours in a few months ago.

My 7yr dd was at a small dance school. She did 1 40 minute class a week and was wanting to do more.It was a good school, she got 96% in her first exam -Primary. I did mention to her dance teacher twice about doing more ballet and she said she would sort something out. Maybe this is what she meant. Anyway after asking twice over 6 months and nothing happening i decided to move her to a bigger dance school with a big timetable of classes and as she did a summer school there and enjoyed it and i thought there would be more opportunities for her.

She is enjoying it but every week she asks to go back to her old school. She misses her old dance teacher so much, The school was very cliquey and none of the girls spoke to her. They all went to the same school apart from my dd so i didn't think she would be bothered but she is.

I feel so bad that i have moved her now when she was happy where she was.

Try not to feel bad, you weren't to know she would miss her old teacher. She will thank you when she's older.

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