Jump to content

RBS Statement on Ballet Competition Culture


AllAboutTheJourney
 Share

Recommended Posts

This would presumably be consistent with the RBS dissociating itself from whichever ballet competition it was earlier this year.  I must admit that I've had concerns about competitions for younger dancers for some years now.

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Two points - if Prix de Lausanne is worthy then why don’t Royal Balket students attend and if he has distain for other competitions then why does he not only take students from there but also push them up years rather than putting them in a same age year group and working on technique? 

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just now, alison said:

This would presumably be consistent with the RBS dissociating itself from whichever ballet competition it was earlier this year.  I must admit that I've had concerns about competitions for younger dancers for some years now.

 

YAGP I think, alison.  

 

What strikes me as interesting is that historically, RBS Upper School has recruited competition winners, some of whom have been under 16.  Is that practice going to stop now, I wonder?

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 minutes ago, Dancermum2003 said:

Two points - if Prix de Lausanne is worthy then why don’t Royal Balket students attend and if he has distain for other competitions then why does he not only take students from there but also push them up years rather than putting them in a same age year group and working on technique? 

 

If I remember rightly, the reason that RBS Upper School students don’t attend PdL is that one of the prizes was for a scholarship place at RBS.  

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Funny though how he said “I have however been concerned about the impact it is having on the students & parents” when he  actually shows very little concern for his own students already at WL & who have worked their backsides off & gone all the way through from yr7-11 to find they’re not being offered a place at US, why? Because his very own students can’t compete with the YAGP competition winners! Even after 5 years of training at WL!... sad but true. 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

From what I can see, there's an open Comment section under Mr Powney's statement on the Royal Ballet School website.  It would surely make more sense to take him on there?  You would, of course, have to disclose your name .... but that's surely not an issue to someone with a valid grievance?

  • Like 10
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, Ian Macmillan said:

From what I can see, there's an open Comment section under Mr Powney's statement on the Royal Ballet School website.  It would surely make more sense to take him on there?  You would, of course, have to disclose your name .... but that's surely not an issue to someone with a valid grievance?

 

If this was for me then yes, I have already raised my concerns with my DD’s then WL ballet teacher when we had one of their parent ballet meetings. So they do know my feelings & that of other parents who are brave enough to ask those sort of questions. 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Ian Macmillan said:

From what I can see, there's an open Comment section under Mr Powney's statement on the Royal Ballet School website.  It would surely make more sense to take him on there?  You would, of course, have to disclose your name .... but that's surely not an issue to someone with a valid grievance?

 

I could smell the hypocrisy from here so I posted a comment, moderation of which I await with bated breath:

"This sounds very positive for child development and support. Except it comes from a man at the head of a school which brags on Instagram that it will be recruiting students from "selected international competitions", and who himself spends considerable time on competition judging panels. I don't understand."

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, Anna C said:

 

If I remember rightly, the reason that RBS Upper School students don’t attend PdL is that one of the prizes was for a scholarship place at RBS.  

 

RBS is one of the partner schools which offers a scholarship as a prize, but winners get to choose which school they go to.
Upper School students are not eligible to compete for scholarships, only aprenticeships.

 

I think the RBS have stated in the past that they don't allow students to enter competitions because of timetable constraints, which does make sense.

 

4 hours ago, Anna C said:

What strikes me as interesting is that historically, RBS Upper School has recruited competition winners, some of whom have been under 16.  Is that practice going to stop now, I wonder?

 

Not only historically but also this year they gave a scholarship to at least one competiton winner who was under 16 and maybe even under 15. Interesting that they are making this statement now, and I believe said something similar before this academic year even started. (i.e in the same year that tey were still recuiting fomr such competitions)

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have posted this in the comments section under Mr Powney's statement will very interested to see wether it is shown.

 

I totally agree with everything in Mr Powney's article, but this is not new, most ballet professionals have been saying the very same thing for years. So how is it that this has only just dawned on Mr Powney? Especially since that in his capacity as the director of the RBS he has spent much of his time travelling back and forth to Australia, Japan, Spain, France and America to teach master classes and adjudicate, often as head judge, at YAGP the biggest and most exploitive competition of them all. Last March the 14 year old winner of the Paris leg of this competition was offered a scholarship by Mr Powney and began training at the  RBS upper school in September this year, at least a year earlier (if not more ) than the required age of 16. How does Mr Powney explain this in the face of his recent enlightenment ?     
How does Mr Powney expect ballet students and their parents to feel about competitions, since during his tenure as director, nearly all the students that have been singled out in recent RBS performances and have gone on to take Royal ballet company jobs, have originally been head hunted and given scholarships from the various competitions Mr Powney has attended. All to the detriment of the students that have been training in the way Mr Powney is now advocating. Mr Powney himself has perpetuated this competition culture in his high profile position as director of the RBS often attending competitions rather than being present at his own schools auditions. Of course aspiring dancers and their parents have started seeing competitions as the only way in. And it appears that although the RBS is no longer endorsing YAGP Mr Powney will continue to perpetuate the competition culture by sitting on the panel of judges at a new competition, the IB prix in Barcelona taking place in February 2019. This competition will be attended by some of the very same school and company directors that attend YAGP, but as the competition directors of IB prix have published a few pointe work rules and added the word ethical several times, I guess this makes this particular competition ok. Seems very hypocritical to me.  It will be very interesting to see where the 2019 intake of RBS students originate from. Will they be the students that have been slogging their way through Mr Powney's advocated training program or will they be yet another batch of (now ethical) competition winners?  I am not holding my breath.

 

 

  • Like 14
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

2 hours ago, Sadielou said:

Last March the 14 year old winner of the Paris leg of this competition was offered a scholarship by Mr Powney and began training at the  RBS upper school in September this year, at least a year earlier (if not more ) than the required age of 16.

 

The young lady referred to was already known to RBS through their summer schools. 

One avenue has closed for now, YAGP, but there are certainly other ways that international young dancers can and do get themselves seen - RBS intensives and auditions...

 

I think it highlights the questions raised by a few people here.... what is the standard now expected of a  15/16 year old?  Is the Lower School training that a student receives going to get them to the required standard for Upper School?  Is selection at 11/12 years old for a vocational school logical?

Edited by DD Driver
  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wonder what the impact of this statement will be on YAGP and similar competitions? Is it likely to put anyone off? One potential outcome for those international students that are particularly focused on trying to achieve an offer from RB Upper School might be an increase in the numbers of students applying to participate in RBS' own new international auditions perhaps? Who knows?

 

Personally, I could not agree more with the points about artistic expression and connection outweighing the value of competition tricks but we (and young people especially) do now live in an Instagram/Snapchat etc. culture so speaking out against competitions may be just the tip of the iceberg. 

 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

13 hours ago, Ribbons said:

Because his very own students can’t compete with the YAGP competition winners! Even after 5 years of training at WL!

 

But that is likely to be the case at the international elite schools all around the world.  

 

I think we need a balance - we can't have it both ways: developing and maintaining one of the top ballet companies in the world (really one of the top 3 or 4, I'd say) and training UK nationals. At the level of the Upper School, training potential tends to convert to actual pre-professional capacity, talent & ability. It is inevitable there is a rethink of the cohort. It's brutal, but it happens everywhere. 

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

In view of his statement, there is no reason for Mr Powney to attend these competitions, ethical or otherwise. Those students that can afford to enter competitions, now a great expense. could probably save money by simply flying to London and attending auditions along with everybody else. Mr Powney should spend his time with his own students, foreign or otherwise, and make sure that his own training methods attain the standard required for a healthy career in dance.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, DD Driver said:

I think it highlights the questions raised by a few people here.... what is the standard now expected of a  15/16 year old?  Is the Lower School training that a student receives going to get them to the required standard for Upper School?  Is selection at 11/12 years old for a vocational school logical?

 

To have the best chance of success at a ballet career, training really does have to be started young. A school cannot take an unlimited number of students, thus they do need to select and they obviously select the best they can find at that time. Of course, lots of things change between te ages of 11 and 16, and the most promising student might not develop as initially expected. Likewise, a student who was not so outstanding at 11 might blossom with training.

 

At Upper School level, the field broadens with applicants from all over the world. All those incredible competition winners have also come from schools where the majority are not receiving offers from top institutions. They are the one or two oustanding ones from any one year.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Of course "incredible competition winners" should get places at top training institutions RBS or otherwise. But any of the top schools can still be entered by the conventional audition method and scholarships at any of these schools always seem to available for the most talented. There was an article in Pointe magazine a few weeks ago on the expense of successfully entering competitions. Initial entrance fees, the cost of travel and lodging for the student, chaperone and also apparently a coach who is expected to be on hand for training sessions and to network with the judges on their students behalf. Add studio hire and costumes and the bill runs into thousands. Surely it would be to the advantage of all if, these competitions were just attended for experience, fun and a medal for the kudos of winning. Leaving the scholarships / apprenticeships to be given out at conventional auditions. All foreign students are able to send in video auditions to schools and companies to wave the cost of attending preliminary auditions,  surely the cost of one trip to the school or company of your choice is far more viable (especially for those in monetary need of a scholarship) than the horrendous expense of a competition.

  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

15 hours ago, Anna C said:

 

If I remember rightly, the reason that RBS Upper School students don’t attend PdL is that one of the prizes was for a scholarship place at RBS.

This makes sense for the younger students who are looking for Upper school scholarships but what about the Grad students ? At least 8, if not more RBS Grad students will not be offered jobs with either the RB or BRB and therefore will be looking for contracts / apprenticeships like all the other same age students world wide. There is no reason these older students should not at least have a chance to compete for jobs or network at the Prix de Lausanne, especially if Mr Powney continues to endorse this ethical competition. In my opinion it is either apathy on the part of the RBS or a fear that their training may not stand the rigours of the competition circuit. Scholarships are given to the John Cranko School, Monaco, Zurich, Vaganova to name but a few, this doesn't stop these schools from actively entering their own students. 

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I do understand how intensely parents and ex parents may feel about all this but may be a bit unfair to accuse Mr Powney of favouritism towards his own daughter before it has actually happened!! Although of course she is a very talented young lady. It must be difficult enough to for her to be in this situation. I'm sure the best talent will be chosen ......though of course Beauty is often in the eye of the beholder as they say.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

52 minutes ago, bangorballetboy said:

Worth mentioning that the minimum age for the RBS is measured at the end of the academic year (31 August), so someone who turns 16 during the academic year is eligible to join the Upper School.

 

Indeed.  Let’s not forget that bringing younger students into Upper School (and then into the Company after as little as a year) is nothing new.  Marianela Nuñez was working as a Corps de Ballet dancer at the Teatro Colon aged 14 and joined RB aged 16 after a year at Upper School.  So this is something that RBS has done for many years, and aren’t we privileged to still have Nuñez with the company 20 years on.

 

Where I do struggle slightly with Mr Powney’s statement is the disconnect between what he says and his recent recruitment, making such statements as: 

 

Some schools require pre 16-year-old dancers to train between six and eight hours a day, six, even seven, days a week to perfect their solos.”

and

Most top ballet schools schedule just three or four hours’ ballet training a day for under 16s, five days a week, encouraging rest at weekends. In order to grow healthily in adolescence, the body needs rest to avoid long-term and irreversible damage. If a child’s energy is used up training intensely for such long hours, then there is little left for growth and mental focus.”

 

Now I agree wholeheartedly with this.  However, one recent and notable addition to Upper School was, by her own admission, training 40 hours a week aged 14.  Mr Powney must have known this when he awarded her a place.  Not only that but he also speaks of the competition culture fostering “foster a culture that fails to encourage the development of artists – where technique is emphasised over artistry and students seek to reach extremes before they have mastered the basics. We see audiences agog at the elaborate physical tricks on display.”  

 

We have spoken here before about the dangers of young dancers having and seeing public social media accounts showing photos of shouldered legs, overstretching, tilts and so on because of the high risk of hip injuries these can cause.   Yet look at the social media account of the young dancer mentioned above and it is full of photos of her in all these positions.  

 

I am not picking on or criticising this dancer but due to the press coverage about her and her enormous number of followers on social media she is the example that springs to mind.   Her training and her social media pictures are a direct contradiction to what Mr Powney is now quite rightly saying.  As she is still a minor and a pupil at RBS, wouldn’t it set a good example and cement Mr Powney’s statement if the school were to monitor the PUBLIC accounts of its underage pupils - who do, after all, represent RBS - and ask them to remove and no longer post photos of themselves doing the very tricks and extreme positions he rightly dislikes? 

 

  • Like 12
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Sadielou said:

This makes sense for the younger students who are looking for Upper school scholarships but what about the Grad students ? At least 8, if not more RBS Grad students will not be offered jobs with either the RB or BRB and therefore will be looking for contracts / apprenticeships like all the other same age students world wide. There is no reason these older students should not at least have a chance to compete for jobs or network at the Prix de Lausanne, especially if Mr Powney continues to endorse this ethical competition. In my opinion it is either apathy on the part of the RBS or a fear that their training may not stand the rigours of the competition circuit. Scholarships are given to the John Cranko School, Monaco, Zurich, Vaganova to name but a few, this doesn't stop these schools from actively entering their own students. 

 

RBS have stated in the past that they simply don't have time in their schedule to prepare students for competitions.

 

Also, not all final year upper school students are eligible to enter the PDL as they're too old. It seems that most other schools around the world have their students graduate at least a year earlier, in fact the three year upper school courses are relatively new also in the UK. It used to be two years, coinciding with regular 6th form courses.

 

It's a topic for another thread but I do wonder whether the 3 year course would not be better condensed into 2 years, with more rigorous training happening earlier on in years 10 and 11. It's interesting that most of the 3 year courses (as far as I'm aware) use the third year to provide lots of performance practice, but now we have lots of graduate courses which students are enrolling on to get yet another year of training before entering a company.

Good point about other schools entering students in spite of being partner schools themselves. I'm curious about how Vaganova in particular select who will compete. Princesse Grace Academy is different to many of the other schools in that it now only has a 4 year training programme and a number of their PDL entries were themselves recruited into the school from other competitions.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, bangorballetboy said:

Worth mentioning that the minimum age for the RBS is measured at the end of the academic year (31 August), so someone who turns 16 during the academic year is eligible to join the Upper School.

so  someone could join the upper school when their peer group is  entering Yr 11 ? 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Perhaps Mr Powney should take a look at the biographies of the international scholars on his own web page, all of whom have entered and won major prizes at "unethical competitions" performing age un appropriate pas de deux's and solo's on pointe. Perhaps this contradictory information should be removed from the web site in light of his recent statement.

 

Edited by Sadielou
spacing and spelling
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 minutes ago, Dancermum2003 said:

Not in my understanding. RBS runs the same way that a traditional state school runs. A child would be expected to turn 16 by August 31st  and would then be Year 11.

if the minimum age is measured at END of the academic  year   and that minimum age was 16  -  'rising 16' applicants  could be considered ... 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Anna C locked this topic
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...