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Raquelle

Deciding whether to apply for RBS junior associates

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Hello! I am hoping someone can help me as I don’t have much experience in the ballet world!! I am wondering whether to apply for my daughter to audition for junior associates with RBS or not. She is 8 in July will be one of the youngest. She has only been dancing for 1.5 years and has only just passed grade 1. She only dances for 45 minutes per week so will not be as experienced as other dancers. I know they say not much experience is needed but is this really true? If it’s just potential they are looking for then we may stand a chance! Her ballet teacher says she has a lot of potential. I just don’t know whether it is worth us applying or not! She does LOVE dancing which I think is important! She doesn’t stop constantly dancing round the house. 

My second question is how flexible do they have to be? She is fairly flexible as in she can almost do box splits but she’s not quite there....

Thanks for your advice! X

Edited by Ian Macmillan
More appropriate here in Doing Dance

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It's not about level of technique at that age or huge flexibility. At the entrance level it's all about physical aptitude for ballet and potential. If your teacher thinks you should go for it, it's because your daughter has flat turnout in the hips, full rotation. Which is the primary and most important component of a ballet dancer, it's mandatory. Then physical body, length of leg, back, proportions etc then dance and movement ability comes into it.

 

It doesn't matter how many hours she does at that age. As ruthless as it may sound the RBS looks for potential that will grow with training to be a dancer to enter the Royal Ballet or another top company. So, if your teacher has recommended your daughter try out for it, she clearly must think that she has the mandatory physicality and physical potential. Teachers see hundreds of pupils and rarely if ever put them forward for the RB associates or school, because they know what's being looked for, they don't want to appear inept to the RB teaching faculties by putting forward students they know don't have the physique and physical attributes demanded.

 

Put her forward, the worst that can happen is she doesn't get in.

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My daughter had only been dancing for two years with a one hour lesson per week. She got a place as a Year 4 JA :) Go for it! The audition is very straightforward. Like a normal ballet class and a bit of miming. 

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Go for it! It’s a wonderful opportunity and the staff are all very friendly and encouraging. They look for passsion and can see if the child has a love of dance even in a simple audition. Brilliant experience and nothing to lose! Definitely spotting potential and not expecting mini primas aged 8, plenty of the girls were unable to do splits and many of them were offered places. Good luck and enjoy.

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RBS are very nurturing, even through the audition process, and the audition itself is lots of fun for all candidates, regardless of the outcome. It is a big commitment, especially if you live a large distance from your JA centre, but it has absolutely been the right decision for my DD. Good luck if you decide to apply xx

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If you can put in the commitment, timewise and financially, you have little to loose.  Just treat it as a fun day out.  If you get rejected, at least you are prepared for the following year.    There are plenty of professional dancers who didn't get into JAs first, second or third time.  And plenty of JAs who took their dance no further.  Keep it all in proportion and you can't go wrong.

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Thank you so much for your replies! I think we’ll go for it, and even if nothing comes of it we will have a lovely day out together! Proballetdancer excuse my ignorance but what do you mean by flat turn out of the hips?! 

Thank you x 

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26 minutes ago, Raquelle said:

Thank you so much for your replies! I think we’ll go for it, and even if nothing comes of it we will have a lovely day out together! Proballetdancer excuse my ignorance but what do you mean by flat turn out of the hips?! 

Thank you x 

 

 

Turnout the degree of rotation of the hip bone in the socket, the degree of rotation we're born with and that can't be changed. A ballet dancer must have the full range of rotation 90 degrees in each hip, so that when he or she stands in one of the five positions of ballet, their feet are at a right angle to the front of their body. For entrance into a top ballet school or company flat full turnout (hip rotation) is mandatory. And the saddest thing for thousands of would be ballet dancers is that it's completely in the hands of the gene gods, you're either born with it or you're not. 

 

If the teacher thinks she has a shot at JA then she must have flat turnout or else she wouldn't suggest she go forward for it.

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19 minutes ago, Dancer123 said:

How can you measure degree of turnout at home?

Frog stretch is a good indication, and used at some auditions, but need to be very careful as it can hurt knees if the degree of turnout is not there. I think turnout can be improved, rather than being solely genetic, as JAs are given daily exercises to develop turnout. They gently work on one hip at a time to prevent injury.

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Just to complicate the issue, some people with flat turnout don't have the strength or the propriorception (being able to feel the muscles working) to hold the turnout while dancing, doing barre, jumping or en pointe.  So while the hips may "flop out" when sitting or in the "frog" position, this isn't an indicator of strength or control, it just tells you how loose the hip joints are.  

 

The best person to assess turnout is an experienced dance physio.  

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59 minutes ago, Dancer123 said:

How can you measure degree of turnout at home?

 

I wouldn't suggest trying at home. :)

 

This is an old thread, but may be of interest:  

 

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1 hour ago, Dancer123 said:

How can you measure degree of turnout at home?

 

You've asked this before and were told, the only way to get a definite and accurate measurement is to go to a physio who specialises in dancers. Anything else is an estimation. You said that her dance teacher estimated she had 'around 90%' of rotation which means she's in the 150 - 155 ish degree bracket, which is fine for other types of dance, but won't get a child into a ballet vocational school. Those schools want children who have the potential for a career in ballet, with the mandatory requirement of full flat 100 % turnout.

 

The other problem is you asked her dance school teacher, who gave a guess-timate just looking at her and advised not to go to a physio, which was bad advice, I dare say because she wants your continued money for ballet classes.

 

I would strongly, strongly advise you, since a year down the line you're still asking the same question, to go to a reputable, dance physio, and get a full physical work up including turnout (which cannot change) and physical potential.

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Actually I thought it might be useful for others to know who are starting their journey! Glad you remembered me but we are fine thank you! I am just a mum with a daughter interested in ballet so would not be in a position to advise others! 

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11 minutes ago, Anna C said:

 

I wouldn't suggest trying at home. :)

 

This is an old thread, but may be of interest:  

 

 

Anna, the way the dance physios at ballet schools measure turnout is really simple, but I'm not going to put it here as I don't think it helps. People see what they want to see, that's why a good physio who can give unbiased advice is a godsend.

 

For starters flat turnout is unmistakeable, you know as soon as a dancer stands at the barre (though there's far too much cheating that can go on, people say 'if you knees are pointing outwards etc - that's not the case, I've seen so many students, especially on Youtube grinding their hips, pelvis and knees into positions that approximate flat turnout - and then they can't move.)

 

The OP's daughter clearly has flat turnout, otherwise her teacher would not have recommended her for JAs. 

 

For anyone wanting to know their child's turnout and potential, there is absolutely nothing better than going to an independent, good physio who specialises in dancers or who knows what the requirements are. It can save a huge amount of pain, money and heartache to be armed with facts.

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We visited an excellent dance physio who helped, have a new teacher who was a Royal Ballet trained teacher and DD has a place on The RBS Spring Intensive this year so I am very happy with DD progress. Just thought there might be a way ' normal parents' could see if their child had physical attributes. sorry I asked !!!

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2 hours ago, Dancer123 said:

We visited an excellent dance physio who helped, have a new teacher who was a Royal Ballet trained teacher and DD has a place on The RBS Spring Intensive this year so I am very happy with DD progress. Just thought there might be a way ' normal parents' could see if their child had physical attributes. sorry I asked !!!

 

It's a useful thing to ask and the advice seems to be to consult a good dance physio.

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3 hours ago, Dancer123 said:

We visited an excellent dance physio who helped, have a new teacher who was a Royal Ballet trained teacher and DD has a place on The RBS Spring Intensive this year so I am very happy with DD progress. Just thought there might be a way ' normal parents' could see if their child had physical attributes. sorry I asked !!!

 

It was a reasonable question, so no need to be sorry you asked. 

 

You seem to have wanted different advice re. measuring turnout at home, but it would be irresponsible of us to encourage you or anyone unqualified to start manipulating a child's body at home (which is usually how turnout is measured); not least because it can cause injury.  If you don't want to go back to the dance physio, then I think the best way forward is to decide whether you trust your dance teacher's judgement and see what happens in the future. 

 

With regards to flat turnout in general, I think we've discussed before whether fully flat turnout is 100% necessary for JAs and I seem to recall that there was no definitive answer; partly because some aspects of turnout can be improved (although some can't).  

 

Raquelle, getting back to your original question, I agree - go for it, have a lovely day out and I hope the audition is successful! Best of luck to your dd. :)

 

 

Edited by Anna C
Edited for clarification.
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16 hours ago, Anna C said:

 

It was a reasonable question, so no need to be sorry you asked. 

 

You seem to have wanted different advice re. measuring turnout at home, but it would be irresponsible of us to encourage you or anyone unqualified to start manipulating a child's body at home (which is usually how turnout is measured); not least because it can cause injury.  If you don't want to go back to the dance physio, then I think the best way forward is to decide whether you trust your dance teacher's judgement and see what happens in the future. 

 

With regards to flat turnout in general, I think we've discussed before whether fully flat turnout is 100% necessary for JAs and I seem to recall that there was no definitive answer; partly because some aspects of turnout can be improved (although some can't).  

 

Raquelle, getting back to your original question, I agree - go for it, have a lovely day out and I hope the audition is successful! Best of luck to your dd. :)

 

 

 

It's more a question of being accurate rather than safe in home measuring. The way turnout can be easily and safely measured is lying flat on your back on a raised surface such as a table with your legs dangling over the edge from the knee joint. Then gently rotating the leg supporting the ankle and knee inwards so it forms a sort of hinge, this allows it to be safely rotated with support in the socket and the degree of turnout measured. 

 

The reason why it's not a good idea to do this at home is because you won't have the measurement tools to properly calibrate the degree of rotation and also because people cheat to get a best case scenario. Either by warping the back, hips etc or forcing the leg.

 

Also Anna, the problems you mentioned regarding flat turnout are a given, especially with young children, which is why excellent training is essential in order to build up the musculature in order to be able to control turnout.

 

Dancer123, I'm sorry if you thought I was being confrontational, it's just you previously asked about turnout on the board and I was quite surprised you hadn't gone to a physio. You said you have and he's been most helpful, what did he/she say? It is very thoughtful of you to ask about measuring turnout for non ballet mothers, but like Anna said best left to the professionals. May I ask, how are your endeavours going you were seeking a place at vocational school again last time we were in contact.

Edited by Anna C
Edited by Mod to remove personal information.

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My DD is very happy. No joy for Elmhurst which was a shame as a lovely school.Highly unlikely she will get into RBS. Has a place on the Spring Course so that's a dream for her to dance once at WL in her lifetime. Has auditioned for YDA so we will wait and see. She is such a happy girl passed her 11+ so if nothing happens for her she will be happy at her local grammar school and doing ballet as a hobby. Got to trust that fate will show us the way to go! The physio lady we saw said she had excellent turnout but not strong enough muscles to use it so gave her exercises to do to build up strength. Sorry really wish I had never said anything. Just meant before people had the cost of physio as it was expensive!!!! 

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7 minutes ago, Dancer123 said:

My DD is very happy. No joy for Elmhurst which was a shame as a lovely school.Highly unlikely she will get into RBS. Has a place on the Spring Course so that's a dream for her to dance once at WL in her lifetime. Has auditioned for YDA so we will wait and see. She is such a happy girl passed her 11+ so if nothing happens for her she will be happy at her local grammar school and doing ballet as a hobby. Got to trust that fate will show us the way to go! The physio lady we saw said she had excellent turnout but not strong enough muscles to use it so gave her exercises to do to build up strength. Sorry really wish I had never said anything. Just meant before people had the cost of physio as it was expensive!!!! 

 

I haven't been following this thread but I like your attitude, Dancer123. There is a 'reality check' for many of us with talented DC, when whatever limitations they have (physical or mental) become more apparent around/after puberty. My DD has the body but not the feet or the passion. So we've just been discussing what she DOES want to achieve in her last few ballet years. Life feels much more balanced without dance being in control!

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15 minutes ago, Dancer123 said:

My DD is very happy. No joy for Elmhurst which was a shame as a lovely school.Highly unlikely she will get into RBS. Has a place on the Spring Course so that's a dream for her to dance once at WL in her lifetime. Has auditioned for YDA so we will wait and see. She is such a happy girl passed her 11+ so if nothing happens for her she will be happy at her local grammar school and doing ballet as a hobby. Got to trust that fate will show us the way to go! The physio lady we saw said she had excellent turnout but not strong enough muscles to use it so gave her exercises to do to build up strength. Sorry really wish I had never said anything. Just meant before people had the cost of physio as it was expensive!!!! 

 

Sorry to hear about your no and all the best for the YDA outcome - from what I have read it is very hard to predict what each school is looking for.  A yes for RBS Spring is definitely something to celebrate.  Hopefully if she follows the exercises suggested by the physio she can build up strength over time.  Good luck to her whatever happens in the years to come.

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Back to the original question....

RBS JAs is a very sought after programme and the candidates exceed the available places in a ratio of around 10:1 most years. So from a statistical point of view, nobody has much chance of getting in! But of course some do, and if you never try you'll never know.

I think that as long as you go in with a realistic approach and both you and your daughter realise that an awful lot more children get the "no" letter than the "yes" then there's nothing to lose.

It is all about potential, and a lot of that is to do with physical attributes but you could drive yourself insane trying to work out exactly what they are looking for and whether your child has it or not. And you still won't know if you don't go!

So my advice is have a go, treat it as a nice day out and see what happens. If she gets in, wonderful, if not, she's still the same lovely little girl that she was before. 

In my experience at least, things like this can become a problem for those who aren't prepared for the likelihood of rejection, and for many this will be their first experience of it. Remember that the vast majority of applicants are likely to be amongst the best in their age group at their local schools so it can be a bit of a shock to the system to discover just how many very able children there are seeking very few places. I'm certainly not trying to put you off trying, but I do think it is worth preparing your DD so that she understands exactly how many children will be auditioning and that if she doesn't gain a place, especially at this very young age it does not mean she is a bad dancer or that there won't be other opportunities in the future.

Of course she may be exactly what they are looking for, but there's only one way to find out! Good luck with everything.

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Is flat turnout really mandatory ? I thought that 180 degree was just aesthetic? And as long as one had reasonably good turnout then it would be okay? As I started late I cannot acquire flat turnout, and though it has much Improved and my hips/legs naturally turn out day to day now, it never will be perfect. But surely some professional ballet dancers don't have full turnout? I know long legs are meant to be necessary (which I have fortunately!) but I know of a select few classical dancers who have average sized legs? Hurdles can be overcome with good technique, willpower and passion? 

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My daughter certainly didn't have flat turnout (decent amount but was never going to be "good enough" to be a professional), but was a RBS JA for 2 years. Good job she wanted to be a vet 😁

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40 minutes ago, ArucariaBallerina said:

Is flat turnout really mandatory ? I thought that 180 degree was just aesthetic? And as long as one had reasonably good turnout then it would be okay? As I started late I cannot acquire flat turnout, and though it has much Improved and my hips/legs naturally turn out day to day now, it never will be perfect. But surely some professional ballet dancers don't have full turnout? I know long legs are meant to be necessary (which I have fortunately!) but I know of a select few classical dancers who have average sized legs? Hurdles can be overcome with good technique, willpower and passion? 

 

 

Yes, flat turnout is mandatory for entrance into the top ballet schools and companies. It's the first thing looked for in potential students.

 

It's not a question of whether or not you start late, turn out capacity is something you're born with, a late starter can have a career is they have the physique, Michael Nunn started at 17. But the mandatory requirement is turnout.

 

It's not an aesthetic, it's the position from which all ballet movement starts from. The aesthetic comes from the technique.

 

I cannot say this enough, full turnout capacity is mandatory for entrance into the top vocational ballet schools and companies.

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5 minutes ago, JulieW said:

My daughter certainly didn't have flat turnout (decent amount but was never going to be "good enough" to be a professional), but was a RBS JA for 2 years. Good job she wanted to be a vet 😁

 

Well there you go, she didn't get into the school and her turnout wasn't sufficient for a career.

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