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Polik

Adult/student continuing grades while at university, but complicated

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Vaganova and cecchetti are training methods and philosophies of movement conceived by one person and handed down through generations whereas the RAD is an examing body so you’re not really comparing like with like. There are syllabi for those methods in this country but there are different ones in other countries based on the original principles. There will also be cecchetti and vaganova trained dancers who haven’t done exams. So the dancers won’t have had the exact same training as each other, whereas RAD syllabus is the same internationally I believe. So you can’t really compare although as someone has already highlighted vocational students need to be versatile and won’t just study any one syllabus

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Could we say that all three or four of the approaches under discussion share a common end goal (if we focus only upon vocationally oriented training and recognize that each approach defines its own top (advanced) level, one that corresponds generally with the mid to late teenage years); is this a reasonable assertion I wonder?  So there is some sort of rational progression structure in place conceived by design (some kind of syllabus) with or without examinations.  That end goal would be to prepare youth to qualify for entry level into the professional ranks.  Are all of these pathways equally effective at facilitating this aim and is there an objective way for us to know this?  All other things being equal, then one could benefit from pursuing any one of these pathways?

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Of course. Ballet is ballet.

 

Exams mean very little in the broader scheme of things, except to show that you have studied a particular version of the fundamental ballet repertoire to a certain level. Exams don't necessarily mean a person dances well, or that they've been taught well. Or that the dancer dances badly ... etc etc

 

@BeaverElliot, I found it hard to read your post responding to mine - but you seem overly focused on external qualifications & validation.

 

I think the advantage, fun, fascination, (obsession??) and joy of being an adult ballet student is that we dance for the enjoyment of dancing and learning about this amazing art form. We don't need such validations or qualifications, because we're dancing because we want to.

 

Graded exams give bragging rights perhaps, but honestly - in all my years of adult dancing, I've seen adult dancers with achieved exams who can't point their feet or hold their turn out ... The anxiety about the level of any particular class is real, of course - I feel it myself! And you can ask on messageboards like this - I do all the time!

 

Most studios try to give an idea of the expectations and style of a class in their descriptions. And one can always have a quiet word with a teacher beforehand, to say that you're either stepping up to a more advanced level and will try to follow along and not get in anyone's way, or that you're taking a beginners' class because you need just to focus on basics - I've done both these things, and as long as I follow standard class behaviour & etiquette, it's been fine.

 

So my overall advice to @Polik would be to use the amazing resources of this messageboard - do a search of the threads discussing adult ballet. There's a very loooong thread with useful information, but because it's so long, and includes blog-like posts, it's hard to find the information that might be useful. I'd advise that you play around with the Search function - it's pretty good for this kind of software. I've bumped up a really helpful thread which I hope you'll find useful.

 

And an off-topic tip about how to use this messageboard to @BeaverElliot: it's very easy on this messageboard to quote selectively from other people's posts. You don't have to quote the entirety of someone else's post - just use your mouse or trackpad to select the bit of someone else's post on which you want to comment, and the software will automatically copy it into your message. It's as if it's magic! (I don't enjoy being shouted at in all caps).

Edited by Kate_N

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@Polik from the following links you can gain some insight into how syllabus graded ballet (a way of packaging and progressing) is just but one part or aspect of classical dance overall.

 

https://www.boysballetlondon.com/non-syllabus-ballet

refers to RAD recommendation to supplement graded syllabus together with non-syllabus training

 

https://www.boysballetlondon.com/ballet-technique-class

refers to male technique classes supplemental to RAD syllabus, non-syllabus snd choreographic training

 

https://www.boysballetlondon.com/ballet-choreography

refers to learning works of dance, i.e. choreographic sequences and staging, performing. There’s lighting, costumes, makeup, mime and gestures, cues, marks, entrances, exits... all components of the ballet product, which is ultimately a form of entertainment.

 

 

Edited by BeaverElliot

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I have found this thread interesting and most of the points have been awesomely  articulate, detailed and correct. However, I feel a little depressed reading through it because overly intellectualising ballet in this way really kills the spirit and magic. Amazing dancers are the ones that that can connect to their inner being and passion and bring forth an honesty and sincerity that produces an authentic and tangible performance. So, the question for me, which of the many syllabi’s nurture that most in a dancer and which suffocate it, in an endeavour to be the most distinct and historically correct in style.

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I disagree with you there amazing dancers are those who have worked incredibly hard to get an awesome technique AND who have a passion and expression. Ballet is all about aesthetics and expressing yourself but in a way that is pleasing to the audience. In ballet you have to express yourself in a way which looks beautiful and you’re not going to be off balance and fall over etc! That combination of the knowledge and scientific principles with the artistry is what makes ballet unique and special and irresistable for me! Everyone is different and on a spectrum, some more technique, some more expressive, many of us prefer one style over another. Personally if I see that a method ‘works’ and by doing a movement with a particular head/ body etc I’m on balance more and able to perform better then I think that’s a good thing and not stifling? I have certainly caught myself doing things that feel wonderful and expressive but look awful (must just be the distortion of the mirrors I’m sure🤣). This is why for me free classes aren’t ideal under a reasonable level of ballet because you can very easily end up looking like a bit of a mish mash of everything and it doesn’t look that pleasing to the eye

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From a technical aspect, then I agree ballet has to be aesthetically pleasing but I’m afraid I can’t agree with ‘expressing yourself but in a way that is pleasing to the audience’. It’s every artists job to present a truthful and authentic performance/ art work/ music/ literature etc, and if that doesn’t please the audience then so be it. One can never please everyone, and artists must always push the boundaries ( though not for the sake of it) even in ballet, and be honest  and integral to themselves. I am not in any way trying to disregard the relevance of perfect technical prowess and totally agree that in having that, allows freedom for artistic performance but I felt the thread was a little oversightful in why we dance in the first place. 

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And I’d counter by saying the basic schooling in technique means that dancers don’t move naturally in a way that is displeasing, which is why teaching technique is so important! It becomes the natural way to move and you naturally express yourself in an aesthetic way, it isn’t a conscious decision. I agree with you that for me, some of the syllabi are not my cup of tea and I feel that I’m being taught to be a bit ‘mechanical’. However I think maybe it’s just that they don’t mimic my natural learning and movement so they feel unnatural to me whereas other people are much more comfortable. I remember free movement in exams when I was young, not great for me. On the surface yes this is a chance to express yourself but I’m not that type of person. I need to step back, think, research , try a few things and only then would I be able to really give my best. Which is actually more what you’d be doing in real life as a dancer. Different type of personality that likes to jump straight in would I’m sure perform much better! To be honest I’d expect any good teacher to be incorporating non syllabus work in to grades etc anyway

I didn’t really read it as a thread about why we dance but I’ll be honest in saying I didn’t really quite get the jist of all the replies either!

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Sorry, yes, it was a bit off topic! Apologies Polik.

It was all the talk of exams, exams, exams. Sending me crazy 😜 

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Valentina, I think I’d go back to the various comments on this thread (and others) that point out that a specific named syllabus is not really the issue. As others have pointed out, most of the major ballet schools with International reputations, don’t adhere to the named examination syllabi. 

 

All  these named syllabi are simply  ways of offering a graded framework for teachers, and a set of recognised standards and qualifications. But frankly, those qualifications mean little in the performing world. 

 

So so I don’t think that there’s a single answer to your question about which syllabus best encourages “passion.” They all do, and they all don’t - because it’s technique we’re learning mostly. It’s up to the individual dancer to find her or his expression. 

 

Personally, I actually don’t care about named syllabi and their relative merits and demerits. Ballet is ballet and it can be well or badly taught. I think people should be looking for the best possible teaching. That’s the main thing. 

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16 minutes ago, Kate_N said:

Personally, I actually don’t care about named syllabi and their relative merits and demerits. Ballet is ballet and it can be well or badly taught. I think people should be looking for the best possible teaching. That’s the main thing. 

Hear hear to that :) The quality of the teaching is the most important thing, and not the specific syllabus taught.

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Yeah, it is interesting seeing everyone's responses, just to clarify (although no one is disputing it), I want the more graded/set work to broaden my vocabulary so-to-speak, so that if i do end up going into an amature ballet company in my spare time I will be 'fluent' in anything and everything, although there is always time to learn and improve. I do agree that expression is also very important, but then again this is a fine balance between technique and expression. An expressionless dancer who does the most spectacular moves will probably still get a round-of-applause from the audience, although if it was done with expression it would probably of had a better response. I know the essence of dancing is expression through movement, but Ballet also has that technical side, well all dancing does but Ballet in particular, and that's why in this case I want this side, expression will come with the familiarity with the steps. But overall I agree after listening to everyone's replies that it doesn't really matter what board I go with or what class necessarily, as long as the teaching is good and I enjoy myself that is most important. ANd in Grades anyway (for ISTD at least, I expect RAD as well as it is more 'expression') you get marks for expression and 'performing', so doing exams wouldn't put you aside from needing to express now and then.

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To broaden your vocabulary now, you probably need to start attending non-syllabus classes at an appropriate level for you. 

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Indeeds that's what I'm looking into, I might try out the Scottish Ballet  adult ones, see how they are, as when I looked they are the least out of the way in terms of getting there from where i'd be going to University, although I still have a while to look until then. But also as said before I know they are over subscribed so I'll make my mind up before the summer. But thanks anyways, I think grades are just too late for me, as in adult classes do not do grades so it is unlikely to be accessible for me. So I will just try out the intermediate/improver ballet classes. And I will have 5 years and 10 semesters to try out different schools if needs be.

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13 hours ago, Polik said:

 I think grades are just too late for me, as in adult classes do not do grades so it is unlikely to be accessible for me.

That's really not the case: if you are interested in continuing to take examination classes you most certainly can. There are plenty of adults - including quite a few of us on here - who take graded and vocational graded exams. You don't even need to seek out specific adult classes - regular higher grade and vocational classes  will generally include students close to your age not only 12 year olds. The students in my inter class last year were aged 17-21 plus one 40 year old and me (aged 60+). However adult classes do have a different vibe and way of doing things, corresponding to adults' different way of learning. Personally I like to take both free adult classes and a syllabus class - they answer different needs for me. I enjoy both the structure and challenge of an exam curriculum and the breadth and openness (different kind of challenge) of a free class.

Edited by The_Red_Shoes
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I’m currently doing four different curriculum classes, though I’m only actually  doing exams in two of them. Three are adult only, one is 10-60+.

 

You’ve got to the master the craft of your tools before you can make art with them.

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I do agree with your last sentence Colman.

And that's the problem for amateur ballet dancers isn't it?

Unless you have studied ballet for a while as a child/ young adult ....and so have the basics in the body so to speak it's very hard for adults ...certainly those post 25 etc ...to take up ballet from scratch as an adult......time is against you ever making art...it takes so long to get the technique to a decent level.....and all the while you are getting physically older!!

In other arts you can learn at a later age and reach a very good level eventually ( eg painting/ pottery etc) but because ballet is so physical it's not easy to get to an acceptable performance level. You can make art in the classroom of course but it's all a bit dead if it just remains there. 

Still it's good that so many of us do try!!

 

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I have to say from reading this thread that I wouldn't be too keen being taught by peers in the classroom situation .....they are not trained to teach and will not have enough experience generally ....may be just a grade up from you ....so you may well pick up some bad habits!  

Obviously if its peers collaborating to choreograph a piece that's different because you are not involved in passing on training just in sharing dance ideas. 

It is important to find good teachers ...at least one anyway....who has been INSPIRED to WANT to teach and has enough knowledge and experience to have some wisdom to pass on. 

 

Just a a little share here. I started ballet at 7 years old....an unlikely dancer really as when I was young I was VERY shy. I loved ballet....the discipline of it and the progressive learning. But I couldn't say I was in any way expressive. I always looked so serious! One of those little girls who always looks like they are frowning!!  I did the RAD exams up till the old Elementary level ( now Intermediate) and then stopped.

Continuing later as an adult I did improve expression a bit once I started performing.... but ironically was really nervous of performing...it was a sort of love/ hate relationship. I did find a couple of really good teachers as an adult though who kept alive that love of the Dance......I was attracted by their passion and knowledge and wonderful Dance connections. Then Injury stopped me again.

it was to be many years before I restarted ballet but in those years I did many other forms of Dance including a style called Five Rythyms based on Gabrielle Roths teaching.......this was to change everything! 

Its a very free style dance with really no technique as such but brings different aspects or "waves" to follow in making the expression in your dancing. 

Well the very first class I went to .....and luckily this was a therapeutic Five Rythms class with a properly qualified teacher ....I didn't do a thing ....I just stood there and hardly moved off the spot for a whole hour ...even with all the years dancing I had done up till then. I couldn't understand why I couldn't move and just watched others flying stamping floating weaving around the room.

Of course this came up in private discussion.... why I couldn't move but it was really about that inner connection ....and not really having it ...connecting with what really goes on with you emotionally. It's so easy to talk about it but not so easy to actually connect with yourself. In 5 Rythms it's almost just you and the music! No steps! 

Well to cut a long story short ....Five Rythms started it off ...and before long I wasn't only  joining in the Dance sessions ( still took a while) but was coming from within myself instead of looking for an external framework .....the authority for my dancing had to come from myself ....And I was soon in to other ways to deepen this connection.

 

When I did come back to ballet I was in a completely different relationship  with it. I can still enjoy the technique and external framework ....that discipline so essential to ballet ...but now feel I can connect more with my inner passion to it and bring this into more expression than I ever had before. 

But in a way ballet isn't so much about self expression .....one teacher I had said "its not you doing the dance so much as the dance coming through you.....the dance speaks for itself ...you don't have to DO anything!" 

Perhaps just stay in that connection to yourself which allows the dance to happen.

And yes the music .....the most important thing in Dance! Listening and connecting to the music has to be pretty much in a dancers soul!! 

 

 

 

Edited by LinMM
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7 hours ago, The_Red_Shoes said:

Personally I like to take both free adult classes and a syllabus class - they answer different needs for me. I enjoy both the structure and challenge of an exam curriculum and the breadth and openness (different kind of challenge) of a free class.

 

 

Very wise & sensible. I think the real bonus of being adults learning ballet is we can choose the ways that we like to learn, and how we best learn. We're not children, whose progress must be checked and ascertained all the time! We can decide for ourselves.

 

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@Kate_N

Sorry that you found my style and format of responding to your earlier comment so novel.

It is a technique whereby comment responses are intentionally dovetailed, rather than quoting.

That being said, I prefaced my comments by explaining I used Upper Case font in order to make my comments stand out visually, because ordinarily the way to do this in dovetailed responding is by setting them off in a different colour, or by using italic or bold face... but that this isn’t possible on this forum. So I explained that I resorted to using Upper Case for that reason and was //not// yelling.  Sorry if this aspect escaped you.

 

Getting back to the OP’s concerns and the digressions, I am happy to read what everyone has shared because I have learned and benefitted quite a lot from reading every comment.  Agreed that in order to be able to best excel artistically (expressively), one has to be able to first master the craft via some appropriate progression of technical personal development: attain a level of competence.  (I am assuming that the quality of teaching is high (otherwise why pay for it?); take it for granted as it’s a given.)

 

Art and science; heart and head; intuition and cognition: spontaneity and intention, but founded on a strong, not incorrect physical and mental foundation is how I have been perceiving and processing the challenges myself, as an adult late starter who can never go back in time to pick it up the ‘right’ way (i.e. from age 8-18).  I wish the OP all the best pursuing his passion(s) in his next chapter.  I hope he will write back here and share how things are going ballet-wise.

 

All great classical dancers probably were examination takers at some point.

But probably not all examination takers turn out to be great classical dancers.

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On 02/03/2019 at 05:20, Colman said:

I’m currently doing four different curriculum classes, though I’m only actually  doing exams in two of them. Three are adult only, one is 10-60+.

 

You’ve got to the master the craft of your tools before you can make art with them.

@Colman wow that sounds very enterprising of you!  May I ask you to elaborate more about the differences (features) of the four diff curric classes you are engaged in? You mean to say that you are attending dance four times per week? And not doing any open / drop in / non-syllabus? (where curric = syllabus).

 

I think you might have a blog(?) that I once read.

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On 28/02/2019 at 05:13, valentina said:

From a technical aspect, then I agree ballet has to be aesthetically pleasing but I’m afraid I can’t agree with ‘expressing yourself but in a way that is pleasing to the audience’. It’s every artists job to present a truthful and authentic performance/ art work/ music/ literature etc, and if that doesn’t please the audience then so be it. One can never please everyone, and artists must always push the boundaries ( though not for the sake of it) even in ballet, and be honest  and integral to themselves. I am not in any way trying to disregard the relevance of perfect technical prowess and totally agree that in having that, allows freedom for artistic performance but I felt the thread was a little oversightful in why we dance in the first place. 

Digression...

I guess that it may boil down to a question of dancing for oneself vs dancing for others (same for any other form of self expression), or some mutual combination, thereof; expressing personal truths vs. (at the extreme) making a living.  

 

If nobody is in the forest does the falling tree make any sound?  It’s invariably the ‘who cares?’ ‘does it matter?’ ‘is it relevant to one’s society?’ issues perhaps.  How does stage dance (like ballet) differ from grass roots, village, folk dance? High culture? Who’s to say?

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@BeaverElliot I’m doing ISTD grade 3 & 4 (one class) which I’ll do the exams in, RAD Grade 5 and RAD Intermediate Foundation, which I won’t. There’s a non-curriculum class too and a two hour practice session in studio, which makes four hours class and two hours practice in studio.

 

All in the local ballet school, not aware of a lot of open classes in Dublin. Generally end up travelling for workshops and the like to get that sort of thing.

 

For my impressions of the differences between the curriculums, see my comments in response to the OP.

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36 minutes ago, BeaverElliot said:

@Colman

Very cool!  Many other guys in your RAD sessions?

 

Does my son count?

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