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What does the RBS look for?


Balletmad97
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It has always baffled me, what do the Royal Ballet School actually look for? I've never had much experience with the Royal Ballet School apart from an unsuccessful summer school application form years back. But I have heard of many cases of people being turned down for physique. Little, silly reasons like small arches or long backs. Has anyone had any experience of this before and what are they actually looking for?

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Well, I must stress that this is only my personal experience, but my DD has never applied for RBS or RBS associates as her teacher says that she doesnt have the RBS physique, which apparently is a shorter torso and long legs. Despite having long legs, she also has a long - as far as RBS are concerned - torso.

 

Of course they will also be looking for beautiful feet with - I assume - high arches and insteps, flexibility in turnout, hamstrings etc, and musicality.

 

I hope anyone with more experience of RBS will correct me! :-). That is literally just what DD's teacher told me. Fortunately different schools look for different things and my daughter's Associate classes don't think she has anything wrong with her proportions. :-))

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My dd was a RBS associate in London, I have to say thay they were not all alike in their physiques. Most were tall, all were slim but certainly not underweight. Yes they did all have long legs. No they didnt all have perfect arched feet. They all had musicality and seemed to enjoy ballet.

Nobody can say exactly what RBS look for. My dds first teacher didnt think she had the RBS look but could have a try anyway. Just aswell really as she was offered a place with them. I firmly believe that you dont know until you have a try. I do not believe that the RBS associates are looking for a perfect physique,(obviously, they wouldnt I assume take a child who does not have a classical shape) childrens bodies change all the time as they grow, and I think that RBS take that into consideration. I believe that are looking for much more than that.

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Spanner is right. It's all about the physique and proportions i.e.long limbs and short torso, long neck, small head, flat turnout, arched feet, all over flexibility and then musicality and artistry. In fact a recent article in DT by Kathryn Wade (ex RB Outreach) said that often physique is chosen over everything else.

 

All classical schools are looking for the same thing, its just that so so few children have everything and so 'compromises' have to be made. Its the classic Balanchine look.

 

Edited to add 'classical'.

Edited by Ribbons
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Hi Balletmad

It's a question I've asked myself many times as I wonder whether my daughter is too tall for RBS. (she is certainly one of the tallest in her JA class but not in her class at school) There certainly seems to be general consensus that there is a RBS 'look' but what that is exactly seems difficult to pinpoint. I agree with Primrose about a slim physique and certainly flexibility (even hypermobility in the joints) Proportions seem to be a key too - my dd has long arms but these are in proportion to her long legs!! (not that I'm saying she has 'the look') I'm guessing slender hips and shoulders might be a consideration - but how they can assess this in pre teens is a mystery.

DD is an Elmhurst PVP too and there is much more conformity in the physiques of her JA group than her Elmhurst group to my (untrained) eye.

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I would definitely agree with primrose and angela_stapleton. It is fascinating how ballet teachers appear to know what 'the look or requirements' are to encourage certain students to apply to RBS. It maybe in some cases their own personal assumptions of what is required. I would say that from years of experience auditioning thousands of children the RBS must be quite expert in being able to ascertain what body types or abilities have a chance in responding to their type of training. After all there are always plenty of children to choose from for such few prestigious places.

I would agree with primrose if you dont try you will never know and it is a lovely experience by even just going along to the audition which can be a very positive experience for a child.

 

Ax

Edited by amber21
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Thank you because I did hope that someone with experience of the RBS system would be able to post! :-). As I said, this was just what I was told by my DD's teacher. It certainly does seem to be along the lines of the classic Balanchine body type, which I find fascinating because if you look at what the companies go for, it isn't always that body type - look at Darcey Bussell! Surprisingly long bodied! :-)

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Read this with interest. Always wondered the same thing, and to me, sometimes the Royal Ballet make some decisions that I simply cannot work out. I happen to know that they always look for 180 degrees turnout and rotation in the hip, from a young age. I agree about the physique developments too; At the start off the audition when they look at each individual candidate from different angles, I assume this is when they check this.

 

In terms of height, when I have been at my auditions so far (Elmhurst, Royal and English National), I have been one of the shortest there. I don't think I am small, or tall, but mostly in the middle. I'm around 5 foot 3 inches. I always feel exceptionally small at auditions, and rather well-built in terms of muscle, which I certainly am not! My legs are no where near as strong as they should be, yet, in comparison to other girls legs, mine seem like a sprinter's legs! For tall dancers, I would advise ENB, as their dancers seem very tall, stick thin, and with legs that never seem to end.

 

Anyone ever felt like this?

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My DD is very tall for her age (although given that she is 14 and stopped growing she is probably about right at 5 ft 8") and did successfully audition for RBS Mids - seems to me that they do seem to like long long legs and necks and shorter torsoes...

F x

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And of course, sometimes they think they've got it right, but the girls change at puberty and get assessed out.....

 

 

So, as experienced as they are - they, too, don't always guess right.

 

And, even with the greatest assets in the world, the dancer will only succeed if the "heart" is there. I've seen that ......a male student with EVERYTHING - given full scholarship plus stipend to one of the world's top three schools.....didn't do well his first year (age 15-16) but had such great potentials he was given the scholarship and stipend the second year.....and flunked out....he didn't have the "heart" - he didn't have the discipline. Even with his assets it takes work....and he wasn't willing to discipline himself. He never understood this...and he had no idea even when encouraged by teachers and friends, spoken to plainly, told of the consequences...he still had no idea why he wasn't automatically a star - let alone flunking out of the school.

 

I saw his lack of discipline and attack in the first class I shared with him. It was evident in the second pirouette he did. But his potentials were so great that if the teachers at the audition saw it - they set it aside. When I saw him after flunking out the second year I was sad - but not surprised.

 

It's not all physique.

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All I can say is thank goodness not all schools look for the same thing. My DD is 5' 5'' and has been somewhere in the middle for the auditions she has been to this year. She has long legs but is also probably long in the torso. She did not try for RBS as her teacher advised not to. There was a lot of variation in the girls auditioning at Elmhurst but it was evident seeing the year 11 girls that there was an 'Elmhurst type'. At Northern ballet we met quite a few older students in the canteen and they ranged in height and build condsiderably - from about 5' 2'' to 5' 10'' perhaps. We did not meet students on the course anywhere else so cannot comment.

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Yes I agree with most of you about the physique issue. I also have to agree with JulieW and Anjuli_Bai about the issue of children being assessed out because they do not have the correct body shape, etc. I've always been an odd one and the physique issue has always been a problem for me at auditions. I have always been praised for my high arches, long legs and slim figure but been told I have an undefined waist and athletic body type. Can anyone explain this to me?

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I don't think its anything to do with height - there are very short and very tall girls at RBS and they will say that they train for all over the world. It is about the physical proportions.

 

Such a shame though that dance teachers are ruling children out and children/parents are ruling themselves out of auditioning for RBS on their own assumptions. My DD was a bit borderline for RBS associates according to her ballet teacher but she auditioned anyway and got into MAs. You never know till you try and a slightly less than perfectly arched foot may be more than compensated for by something else! Just go for it and enjoy the experience.

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That is a very good point Ribbons. I even seem to remember my DD's teacher saying that she wouldn't be happy to sign the application form for RBS because there was no point. But three years on I'm inclined to let my DD at least audition next year, if for nothing else than the experience.

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In my DDs no letter for RBS WL finals today (Manchester prelim) - the letter stated that they are looking for" technical facility,theatricality,musicality,physical proportions and suitability for classical ballet training" .

Certainly her physique is no different from when she was a JA yet - disproportionately long legs and neck , well arched feet , marginally short torso , hypermobile ankles and good flexibility.

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Small arches and long backs are, I'm afraid, not silly things in the ballet world. They are majorly important! My DD apparently has the physique that makes ballet teachers dewy eyed but lacks somewhat in "performance". Her teacher said she simply would not get into RBS because she was a late starter in ballet and wouldn't compare well with other girls. I'm sure there are some girls out there who can be accepted with very little previous experience - and the RBS does say you don't need any experience in ballet - but my DD doesn't have enough of the other X factors! Her teacher entered her for MAs and she was placed on the short waiting list, but nothing more. It's probably worth noting that even when children leave RBS, I believe that their places aren't necessarily filled by other applicants, even though the RBS sees hundreds of keen and talented students every year.

 

(Edited to make font bigger!)

Edited by rowan
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Hello,when i auditioned 20 odd yrs ago for voc school at 16 i hadn`t danced for 18 mths. Was nowhere near as technically good as most of the other girls,but at the interview later[we were told on the day whether we had been accepted or not],the Principal and Deputy BOTH told me i had a beautiful face. In fact they kept going on about it.!!They practically told me this is the reason i had got in,because of the way i looked.!!! Obviously,today it is far more competitive,but could it be that if there are 2 girls standing next to each other at the audition,both equally as good as each other,it may come down to which one is physically more attractive? Let`s face it, you don`t see many plain ballet dancers on stage.!

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thequays makes a good point - whilst there are certainly physical attributes which the schools look for which relate to the body's suitability for classical training, and whether the individual will 'fit' in a corps de ballet, but there are other more subjective attributes which I am sure come to play. Visual appearance is one, performance quality, presence. Things which you can't quite put your finger on but make a great artist to watch. These kind of things cannot be quantified but I am sure that they come into play when audition panels make their decisions.

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Who knows i still believe a dancer is born and not made. Therfore the shape and size of the body does

matter .I also agree with glowlight Visual apperance and performance quality are also very important as we all know ourselves when watching a production there is always some one who stands out more than others therefore in my opinion this is why the rbs have a long list of advantages and they do state that it could only be one thing that knocks a dancer of a place in their school.

 

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I agree with you to a certain extent rachael, but I do believe certain attributes can be improved upon if physical, and learned, in the case of "performance", and that in a learned attribute, some children will find this later than others. I don't believe a child should be written off at 10 because they may find that at 13 or older, they come into their own and suddenly something "clicks" for them.

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It has always baffled me, what do the Royal Ballet School actually look for? I've never had much experience with the Royal Ballet School apart from an unsuccessful summer school application form years back. But I have heard of many cases of people being turned down for physique. Little, silly reasons like small arches or long backs. Has anyone had any experience of this before and what are they actually looking for?

 

Balledmad97 - so are you saying that the RBS have actually told people that they were turned down because of wrong physique/small arch/long back etc etc? I didn't think they gave feedback to unsuccessful applicants. Or do you mean people who have been assessed out? Just wondering! :)

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I agree with you to a certain extent rachael, but I do believe certain attributes can be improved upon if physical, and learned, in the case of "performance", and that in a learned attribute, some children will find this later than others. I don't believe a child should be written off at 10 because they may find that at 13 or older, they come into their own and suddenly something "clicks" for them.

agree with this - my DD is very different to how she looked she might turn out when she was 9 or 10 if you see what I mean!

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