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Entry criteria to White Lodge Summer school + vocational schools at age 11


Clara
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Hi all!

 

Although I've danced myself since the age of 3, I've only just come across this forum as I am seeking some advice for my 9 year old daughter! She is a really keen and talented little dancer often obtaining the highest exam grades in her class....but as I'm aware being the top of your school is an entirely different thing to being at the top of your country! Having been an assistant teacher to my own ballet teacher for over 15 years I know my daughter has a lot of potential, but I also know her dancing is not flawless. I was just wondering if anyone could help me with the criteria schools such as White Lodge and Elmhurst look for when selecting applicants for their summer schools? Although I think Elmhurst is aimed at older students? I thought I'd apply for my daughter to attend summer school next year to see how she gets on and then take it from there. Is the selection process based on age versus grade? Exam results? Or are places usually offered to their associate dancers? Any information or advice you can give would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

 

Clara

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Hi Clara, welcome to the forum! Not sure about Elmhurst summer school but RBS at white lodge offers places purely based on photos they ask you to send in so no exams or previous experience is taken into account. My dd wad a rb ja and no preference seemed to be given to ja's

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Both Royal Ballet School and Elmhurst choose candidates based on photos. You need to be in year 5 to apply, and at Elmhurst about year 9.

 

I think quite a lot of the British students are associates but not all and of course a large number are from abroad.

 

 

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Morning,

 

Thank you both so much for your replies. My daughter is going into year 5 this September so would be the right age to apply for next year's White Lodge summer school. Do they specify a number of photos or positions they would like them photographed in? Failing that, can you recommend any other non-audition/pre-selection summer schools? I attended Chingford when I was younger and later on the first NYB residential summer school at Sevenoaks but I'm probably a bit out of touch now!

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Hi Clara, yes rbs will specify what photos and in what positions they want them taken i presume elmhurst would be the same. My dd has done NYB for the last two years and the standard of production and dancers is fantastic! They now do a two week rehearsal for show at tring at the end of august and then perform at em forster school tonbridge pretty much straight after rehearsals finish. The finale is normally at the start of sept and had been at the palladium and saddlers wells when my daughter had done it. Hope this helps good luck

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Brilliant thank you. The standard of NYB has always been exceptionally high. I loved it, although I was never actually strong enough to secure solo roles, I was just pleased to be a part of it! The last ballet I was in with them was Little Women many years ago! I've often thought my dd would love it. Rehearsals used to be weekly and my Dad had to drive to me to London every Sunday for weeks on end so the 2 week summer school is most definitely a good idea! Janet Kinson who I believe it still involved was my dance teacher for many years. I think I will apply for rb White Lodge just to see and if she doesn't get selected I'll send her to another one as it's all good experience for her. Thank you again!

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There is also Yorkshire Ballet Summer School to look at as they ask for 'students to have passed their 10th Birthday ...', if you were looking for a residential summer school. An application form, copy of last exam report and photo are needed to apply. (Plus deposit)

Lots of students attend from vocational schools and some from non-vocational schools, who all go for a week or two.

DS, who was non-vocational at the time, went for one week to begin with just to see how he danced compared to those at vocational schools. Then for a couple of years he went for two weeks. It gave him the confidence to apply for 6th form and is now at Central.

 

http://www.yorkshireballetseminars.com/

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Great thank you Lottie, I will definitely take a look at that one too as it's not one I was aware of. I would like my dd to go to a residential summer school as it will give her a taste of what it will be like to be away from home and the opportunity to see if she likes and copes with the amount of dancing involved. She already does between 6-9 various dance lessons a week (6 regularly and up to 9 when it's show season for the theatre company she's with) She's always enjoyed her dancing but in the last year and a half she's just really leaped forward with it and absolutely loves and thrives on it. Well done to your ds, he must be thrilled to have done so well! With my dd I know she's very talented but I don't know how she'd compare with ja's and those already receiving far more advanced training, so I guess I'll just have to see!

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Hi clara yes Janet (she is a fantastic teacher) is still involved with nyb and taught my daughter a lovely piece based on degas paintings last year . My dd was desparate to do it again this year but is due to start in year 7 at elmhurst in sept so we thought she needed a break

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Yes, she is a fantastic teacher and has choreographed many wonderful pieces for NYB. What ballet grade had your dd reached by the time she auditioned for Elmhurst and what sort of exam results has she achieved if you don't mind me asking? I don't want to give my dd false expectations but she is very keen to pursue this, so trying to do the background research first! Also how long has your daughter been a ja and what is required of them as far as classes are concerned? Sorry for all the questions! Although I have quite a lot of knowledge of the dance world and I had a ballet scholarship for my county and successfully auditioned for NYB several times; I was only ever a 'nice' dancer, not excellent or exceptional! My dd has a lot more confidence than I had at her age and absolutely loves to perform. She is also stronger at ballet and more advanced than I was at 9, so if it's something she is serious about she's probably now at the age where I need to be looking ahead for her to see what her options may be! Unfortunately the ballet scholarship scheme in Suffolk where Janet was also a teacher is no longer running, so it's difficult to decide the best route to strengthen my dd's ballet in order for her to progress further.

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Hi clara yes we are very proud of her she was offered an mds funded place so that was even better as well as being offered places at hammond and tring. My dd was a ja for two years and absolutley loved her time there. She has only been taking her ballet more seroiusly since she was about 8 she is now idta higher grade6 having got a mark of 94 in her previous ballet exam and was put forward for an idta scholarship in manchester in feb this year gaining a special commendation and doing her rad intermdiate grade having gained a distinction in her rad pre-elementary. However saying all that (i think you can tell we are very proud of her lol!) there was a boy in her ja class who was spotted at school and did no ballet classes and had taken no ballet exams before being accepted onto the associate programme! So what i guess i am trying to say they are def looking for potential and not previous exams the audition is a very basic class which i am sure your dd would have no problems with.

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My dd is also 9 and going into year 5.She wants to try for summer schools next time too.Also she will audition for year 7 places.I also don't really know the standard of dance in the Uk as I live abroad but have found out so much from everyone on this forum.Thanks to everyone xxx

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Thank you so much for all of the info. It's so difficult to know which road to direct her towards! She just knows she wants to dance! My dd is in a bit of a strange situation I suppose because she has been dancing at the school I was with since she was 3 which is Janet's old school and is the Cecchetti syllabus. However, because the ability of the school is incredibly varied and it's a relatively small school where the emphasis is on the enjoyment of dance, not necessarily achievement and the pursuit of a career (Unlike in Janet's day!!) she is very behind for her age because they take both standard and class exams i.e. standard 1, grade 1, standard 2, grade 2 etc and they also wait for the least capable student in the class to have reached an acceptable exam standard so the process can be quite slow. However, since successfully auditioning for a local theatre company who work in association with another ballet school she has had to move over to the affiliated school to train with them which is the ISTD syllabus. She has only just taken her grade 2 with them but should now progress a lot quicker as they submit students for exams as and when they are ready. She has a lot of catching up to do, but that said she has just taken her first ISTD ballet grade 2 exam with them and was only one of 2 who are school year 4 whilst the majority were school year's 5 and 6. She received a distinction with a mark of 87 and her previous Cecchetti class standard 2 exam with distinction and a 97. She also only started modern and tap classes last September and had her first exams (Grade 1 tap & 2 modern) almost a month ago. We’re just waiting on results for those! I guess I’m just concerned that she is behind grade wise and should be more like a grade 4, but fingers crossed she has a couple of years to make up some of the ground work and then like you say, auditions can be based on that elusive 'potential' more than anything else!

 

You must be understandably bursting with pride regarding your dd! It sounds like she has the making of a fabulous little dancer and hopefully a good chance of a successful future in the industry if she maintains the passion and drive she currently has for it!

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My dd is also 9 and going into year 5.She wants to try for summer schools next time too.Also she will audition for year 7 places.I also don't really know the standard of dance in the Uk as I live abroad but have found out so much from everyone on this forum.Thanks to everyone xxx

 

Which summer schools are you going to apply to for your dd? Will you come over and stay here with her or opt for a residential school? It's difficult to decipher whether the standard which I deem to be very high regionally is high enough to cut it nationally!! This forum is great though and I'm really glad I stumbled across it!

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As for grade work - I had a pupil (now at WL) who was only in RAD grade 1 when she joined JAs in year 4. She skipped grade 2 and then took an exam a year and was in grade 5 RAD and Inter foundation RAD when she went away to WL. So grades don't really matter. In fact I know that RBS will spend considerable time with all of the children accepted going over the very basics of ballet technique in a lot of detail. What they look for, at least in JA and WL auditions is potential, physique, an innate love of dance and if already trained, they would rather kids had a 'generic' good technique and natural performance, rather than be able to do a lot of things but perhaps with less than good technique or with particularly stylised ways of moving/performing. I don't know if that makes sense - you know how sometimes you get kids who are very able but perform their ballet in a very particular way?, sometimes festivals can bring this out of kids! Anyway the RBS tend to prefer kids who are 'purer' in their technique and performance. I hope that helps!

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Brilliant thank you and yes that does all make sense! My dd is very fortunate as she has naturally strong, good feet (A family trait! :D ) and powerful legs. However, her arms are sometimes a little rigid and carry a bit of tension when she dances, but it is something which is improving. She hasn't got a naturally perfect turn out (although not bad by any means!) either but works very hard at it and it obviously hasn't detracted from her exam results. I guess they will be able to tell whether she has enough potential to work with and whether her strengths outweigh her weaknesses allowing them to iron out anything which isn't in line with their training! She is with a theatre company which she loves but I do worry slightly that she will have picked up some of those 'stylised' dance habits (E.g. the forced show smile!) that come with the territory! Although that said, I know several dancers from the company past and present who have successfully auditioned for JA's, White Lodge and other renowned schools with no problems so fingers crossed! You have reassured me that she isn't way too behind to consider auditioning though, so thank you! DD is 10 in September so does that mean if she auditioned for the next session of JA's she'd be in the next age group or would she still be the right age for them? Does anyone know when to apply for next season including summer schools as I know I've totally missed out on it all for this year!

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This is the audition scedule for 2012. I imagine 2013 will be similar.

 

http://www.royal-ballet-school.org.uk/audition_dates.php?s=2

 

This is a link to application form for JA's which also has the poses for the photos on it. Summer school ones are the same I think, may be one less pose.

 

 

http://www.royal-ballet-school.org.uk/media/dloads/JA_Audition_Application2012.pdf

 

 

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I don't know how they select from photos - seems very strange to me, but then they have a set number of places and they must have thousands of applications, so from all of those applications there must be at least 100 that show good physique and line in the photos. After that it just must be a case of some get places, some don't. My pupil who's now at WL didn't get into the summer school when she was a JA!

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Morning all

I have to agree with everyone's input on this topic the key word is ' potential '. From my experience and I can only comment on the RBS as that's where I trained they were not interested in what grades, exam results, festivals you had won its all about what they see on the day and if they feel the child has the key word ' potential '. Sometimes I feel you could run yourself round in circles if you try and analyse what the schools are looking for and it can take away the enjoyment of dance!! My daughter often asks me if I think she will be accepted into the RBS and I always reply I can't ever answer that question. What I can tell her though is how much enjoyment I can see she gets from her ballet classes each week and that is the most important thing. Everything else will follow if it's mean't to be!!!!!!

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Clara, perhaps your dd might like to do the short residential course at Tring just before Christmas - it's a ballet weekend, they rehearse & perform a short show for parents on the last afternoon, and also go up to London to see something in the West End.

 

My dd has been several times and loved it!

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My dd is keen to audition for w/l & poss elmhurst, does anyone know how hard the academic tests are for these schools if she is lucky enough to get final auditions, only asking as dd finds maths hard, but fine at other subjects, just wondering if they choose gifted academic children as well as dance!

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Clara I suggest given your location that you look at DanceEast in Ipswich www.danceeast.co.uk. I have no first hand experience of their CAT scheme which started just too late for my dd but I think there are others on here who have. If you look through previous threads on here about entry to vocational school at 11 I think you will see that it really doesn't matter what standard your dd is or what exams she has/hasn't taken All the schools seem to look for a body that is physically capable of ballet training, good musicality and an enjoyment of dance. As well as summer schools why doesn't your dd try for ja's or one of the other associate schemes.

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Thank you all for the feedback! The info and suggestions you have all provided has given me plenty of options to think about! I will definitely send her to a residential summer school next year. I will probably try for the RBS one just to see whether she is accepted based on her posture and physique within photos, but I am sure there are a lot of fantastic alternatives that some of you have suggested if she isn't successful. I may well see if she would like to audition for JA's too.

 

I am quite familiar with Dance East as I had a ballet scholarship with them myself years ago before they scrapped the scheme in favour of the academy. There are a couple of students at the ballet school I assist at who have places with them and are both lovely dancers. But just from a personal perspective and it is just my opinion, I'm not a massive fan of the scheme and I know a lot of the top ballet teachers in Suffolk who taught at the original scholarship scheme do not endorse it which is why I would like to consider other options for dd. They are particularly strong in the training they provide in contemporary but classical ballet is a lot weaker by comparison with the exception of a few top guest teachers.

 

For those wondering how dancers are selected from photos, they are looking at a lot of things from turnout, through to the arch of the dancers foot, their body proportions, fluidity of lines in arabesque, posture, body shape......a multitude of things! Unfortunately sometimes even if you are a lovely dancer, if your body is working against you, it's almost game over before you've started!

 

Thanks again for everyone’s help and advice! Much appreciated!!

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Balletjack, the written paper at WL, tends to be an 'all about me' type paper which they then use as a discussion point for the interview. At Elm, it is a non verbal reasoning test - both schools go at length to say it has no bearing on the result - they are chosen on talent, potential etc alone.

 

As for summer school photographs, who knows! The year my dd got offered WL SS, we'd decided at the last minute so took photos myself....got two sets printed when we received them in one particular pose you could see her feet in one photo but not her hands and vice versa, so I stapled them together, said 'what the heck, can't really afford it anyway' and she got offered a place! It was hilarious.

 

She didn't do it in the end as thru JA's she had an amazing opportunity to dance with the Bolshoi at the Opera house which she and a number of her peers chose to do instead....reason I mention is not to boast but to point out that should you apply and get offered waiting list then don't despair as some students do turn places down! ;)

 

Anyway good luck to all those starting out - keep an eye on RBS website as they offer insight days, such as be a JA for a day which is also something to try.

 

WF x

 

Edited for typo!

Edited by wildflowers
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Taxiforballet - my dd has also done the Tring Christmas weekend. She absolutely loved it, both the dancing and the boarding experince. And I've never seen her smile on stage as much as she did at the last day performance. She wants to do it again this year!

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