Jump to content

RBS JA - any tips for a novice mum?


KatyCustard
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hi, I was wondering if any other parents of ballet dancers would be able to help me.

 

My daughter began ballet lessons in September (she will be 8 in April). Her teacher has moved her up a class this term and wants her to take grade 2 next term (she hasn't done any grades yet).

I'm assuming she shows some potential if the teacher wants her to go straight to grade 2, or is it just that the grades are linked with age? I really don't know anything about the RAD grades, or much about ballet for that matter.

 

I haven't had a chance to talk to her teacher yet because it's always a bit hectic at the end when the classes change over. However she was given a book about ballet by Darcey Bussell for Christmas and has become obsessed with the idea of going to the Royal Ballet School. I know there must be plenty of little girls out there who dream of this, but whilst looking at the RBS website I read about the Junior Associates. I understand that it is incredibly hard to get into, and she probably isn't anywhere near ready, but I was wondering - can anyone tell me a bit more about the JA and what experience you need to audition? Should my daughter be having more than one lesson a week?

 

I don't want to sound like a pushy mum, but I really want to support her in this. She has a tough time in school because reading and writing don't come easily to her, but when she dances she takes my breath away.

 

If any of you have any tips I'd be really grateful.

 

Katy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Katy

 

Could you try calling her teacher for a chat, at a time when she is less busy with class changeover etc.

 

You struck a chord with me - seeing how some of the academics dont come easily to your DD but she loves to dance - sounds just like my DD (who is older and is 13yrs now). Definitely encourage her whilst she's enjoying it - that's not being pushy. Pushiness is when you make them do something they don't want to.

 

To a certain extent grades are related to age - but don't get too hung up on grades they are a guideline only, and I know that the RB don't need children to be at a certain grade in order to audition, they are looking for potential.

 

What area of the country are you? There are probably lots of other associates schemes around too. Good luck! There are lots of other more knowledgeable people than myself on this forum who i am sure will be along soon with some more thoughts!

Gingerbread xx

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The best person to advise you on whether your DD is ready or suitable for the RBS JA programme is her teacher.There is still plenty of time to apply for this year's auditions.Any child can go along to the auditions just for the experience of an audition class.Although photos have to be sent prior to the audition for the JA programme no child is turned down on the basis of the photos .The Royal Ballet School does tend to place significant emphasis on a good physique so some very good dancers do miss out though I am no more qualified than any other parent to guess what the Royal Ballet School are looking for in their selection process! The audition takes the form of a very simple ballet class with a standard pattern of barre work centre work and some flexibility. RAD grade 2 standard sounds fine for a 7 year old child.There are 8 JA centres across the country .Children who are selected for the JA programme attend a weekend ballet class 2 to 3 times a month during term time ( some Fridays in Manchester).The ballet class concentrates on technique at a basic level together with body conditioning.Depending on how close you live to the JA centres this can be quite a commitment for parents.The majority of the places are given to children going into Year 5 the following September though there are a few selected going into year 4.The audition is a great day out and worth going to for a fun experience for the children.My DD auditioned at 7 for the experience and to keep an older friend company and she and I were shocked when she was selected for a year 4 place.She subsequently had 3 happy years as a JA and made many new dancing friends..For children attending I would advise looking on the day as an opportunity to show off their lovely dancing and keep it low key as many more children audition than there are places. The other opportunity worth considering is attending the RBS JA for a day sessions.I think you may have missed these for this year but they give children the experience of what a JA class is like -details tend to be in the Outreach section on the RBS website.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Your best guide is your daughter's teacher. At her young age, assuming she is now doing one lesson per week (judging by your question), I would give her two lessons - and see what happens. If she's happy with that and the teacher agrees....in a few months - three lessons - but no more than that at this age.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for taking the time to reply.

 

I plucked up the courage to phone her teacher today (I needed courage because I didn't her to think "Here we go, another one who thinks her princess is the next Darcey Bussell"!) I asked her to be completely honest and give it to me straight. She was lovely, and said that she thought that T (my daughter) is one of the better ones in her class - rythm, grace etc. but that JA is extremely competitive and that she thought the turn out from her hips was not quite right. (Habe absolutley no clue what this means!!!) This made me a bit sad, because it seems a shame that if she does have potential it's her physique that may stop her from going down that particular route. But then it sounds like that is quite common. Are other schools less worried about it? Still, at least the teahcer agrees that she's a good dancer, and she advised me to be open minded about other ballet schools. The Royal Ballet School seems like such a fantasy that I can hardly believe I actually said it all out loud!

 

I do appreciate your responses, they were very helpful xx

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For a professional career in the ballet turnout from the hips is essential. No one (or very, very few) have perfect turnout - so it is a matter of degree. You do have the option of getting a second opinion on that aspect of your daughter's possibilities.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Don't be disheartened Katy. Your daughter has only been dancing a very short time and whatever the future holds the main thing is that she's loving her dancing and having fun. Some people have more natural turn out than others, but it's something that every ballet dancer has to work at. In my (admittedly non expert!) opinion, the fact that she doesn't have great turn out after one term of lessons doesn't mean that she never will have, so I wouldn't stress too much about that at this stage.

However, it's undeniable that physique is very important in ballet and there are good dancers who no matter how hard they work simply don't have the right body type to be professional dancers. That can be a hard thing for a child to learn (I speak from experience as my daughter is a fairly good dancer but she really doesn't have the right body to dance professionally, at least not ballet).It's a conversation that you may or may not have to have with your daughter one day - only time will tell and I wouldn't fret about it yet.

But remember that there's more to ballet than the RBS, and more to dance than ballet. Your daughter has just discovered ballet and by the sounds of it she's loving it and doing well. My advice is to let her have her dreams, however fantastic they seem today, but encourage her to work hard with her teacher and take up whatever local opportunities there are. Maybe another class a week would be an idea? Take advice from your teacher and do your own research about what is involved in ballet training (this site is a great sense of info.) Just take things one step at a time and see how things progress. There are loads of great things about ballet as a hobby, whether it leads to full time training or not. Don't be too downhearted that your teacher isn't keen on her applying for JAs this year - there's always next year and there are loads of other exciting things that young dancers can get involved in too. Chin up!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Katy - Certainly the Royal Ballet School associate scheme is probably one of the most prestigious so inevitably they can pick and choose. You may find that there are other schemes local to you which you could consider where she might stand a better chance. Maybe you could ask the teacher about this at some point. My dd never got a place for RBS associates, but did get places on other associate schemes. As your dd gets older there will also be the chance of summer schools, easter courses, youth ballet companies, festivals. Lots of things to give her wonderful dancing experiences and to develop her as a dancer.

 

As to what turnout is - it is the amount of rotation in the hip joint. Ballet dancers need this to be flexible so that they can hold their legs in the right positions. It enables them to lift their legs higher and looks neater! Perfect turnout would be where you lie on your back on the floor with your Knees out and heels together ('Frogs Legs') and your knees go flat to the floor WITHOUT FORCING! Very few dancers have perfect turnout, many are able to 'improve' their turnout over the years but for everyone there will be a point at which it won't go any further because of the construction of the hip joint. That is my non-expert understanding anyway. Perhaps Anjuli can correct me if I'm wrong!

 

Its good that your teacher was honest and realistic with you, but I do know of many young people who have been told by teachers that they won't get a place at a vocational school due to some physical characteristic and then have gone on to prove them wrong so don't be too put off. And there are several other schools besides the Royal Ballet School. And many dance styles other than ballet which your dd may discover she loves as she gets older.

 

In the meantime I wouldn't worry about your dd having an 'unrealistic' goal at this stage. There's nothing wrong with having a dream. A dream can keep you going through the tough times at school, and give you a reason to strive for something, and if you don't achieve your dream (as most of us don't) it may have put you in the right place to achieve something else pretty amazing.

 

To quote a tacky card which I sent to my dd once....'Shoot for the Moon, and you'll land amongst the stars.'

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Katy,

 

To be honest it is early days for your daughter as she has only recently started taking balling classes. Take the advice of the teacher and see how things develop. Whilst her natural turnout may not be ideal at the moment with good teaching who knows what will happen in the future. As is often mentioned rarely dancers are born with perfect turnout, many never achieve it but it can be greatly improved by hard work and good teaching.

 

RBS take so few associates in at school year 4 that it is probably worth getting a years good training under her belt and perhaps approach the teacher next year and she what she then thinks about applying for Year 5.

 

Central, Elmhurst, Hammond, Northern all offer associate schemes too have a search on their web pages - not all teachers are aware of them if they havent had pupils attend previously (my daughters previous teacher had no idea they all did associate classes). We independantly researched Elmhurst and with our teachers permission auditioned for their PVP classes, you will be amazed at how far people are prepared to travel for good teaching.

 

Good luck, :)

Edited by BankruptMum
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'd like to echo what has been said in the above posts and also wish to add that seven is very young in the ballet scheme of things. I know it might not seem like it when every ballet school is full of tiny tots doing "ballet", but really it is. See how it's going in another year's time. The other schemes and holiday courses and youth ballets also tend to need a teacher's permission and they often have to sign the forms as well, so do check that the teacher is OK with it all. As for the physical stuff... Unfortunately, there is what seems to be an absolutely insane list of physical attributes that are desired or not desired for ballet, from the length of the neck to the shape of the feet, all of which seem quite ridiculous to the parent who simply sees a a graceful and musical child with a love of dance. But absolutely no dancer has all the attributes. All of them have faults. And none of this matters at your daughter's age! Best of luck!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ages and grades in ballet do not have much impact - certainly if your daughter is doing RAD syllabus. They have to be min age 7 for grades 1-5 and min age 11 for grades 6-8, so very wide age bands. The fact that the teacher wants your DD to take grade 2 so quickly is probably a sign she has potential but the fact that the new syllabus for grades 1-3 has just been introduced in January will no doubt also be a factor as like all teachers she will be looking at who can take the exam whilst the old syllabus is still being examined and when she can start classes on the new syllabus. For your DD it is in effect saying she would like her to do grade 2 (old syllabus) rather than waiting and starting grade 2 again on the new one. To answer your question on how many lessons a week, at my DDs school they start taking 2 lessons a week in the last month or so before their grade 2 exam and 2 lessons a week is the norm for grade 3. Your DD is only young and has not been doing ballet that long so I would echo the advice of others and see how she develops over the next year. Your teacher is the best placed to advice you.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another point is that JA's is a very long ballet class, over two hours I think. For some children, especially 8 year olds, this can be quite hard. The classes can be quite basic and repetitive. Children on higher grades might not enjoy it so much and actually find it boring. I do know some parents who have struggled to get their child there as they didn't want to come. Even more so if it is an early class and a long drive! I think there was a time in the past where teachers had to write a reccommendation for Year 4 children, and at one stage I don't think they even took Year 4s. I must admit though my dd enjoyed them.

 

Depending on where you live you might be able to acsess some of the RAD short courses. They do workshops based on ballets such as Sleeping Beauty for younger children. I am sure my daughter would have loved them when she was 7. This is a link http://www.rad.org.uk/article_pink.asp?id=169&realCat=124

They hold them in quite a lot of different centres!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...