Jump to content

Height question for classical ballet career


Dragonlady
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hi all,

 

I am hoping that a few dancers already in a company may see/respond to this one.

 

My DD is in year 10 and looking to audition for a classical ballet course/school next year and it has been hinted at that she may not be quite tall enough and to "widen her horizons".

 

She is a strong, flexible, petite dancer with all the usual 'correct' proportions to do classical but is only 5'2" tall. does anyone know if this will be a huge impediment to getting a 6th form place or an offer at sowehere like (say) Central? I am not sure that she will have a sudden growth spurt as I myself am only 5' tall :(

 

As a parent I want to guide her as best I can. She is already at vocational school but the 6th form/dance college step is a big one and we want to make sure she doesnt audition at a place that has a preference for taller girls!! It is hard enough getting rejections anyway.

 

all advice/information gratefully recieved.

 

Tx

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 82
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Hi Dragonlady,

Sorry I am not a dancer or anyone who has experienced the 6th form auditions myself, but have seen lots of others go through it. Personally I would think 5'2" is perfect for classical ballet. The height range that is usually seen as being ideal for CLASSICAL BALLET is 5'2"- 5'5".

 

I know loads of people will come back and say Darcey Bussell was 5'6" and Sylvie Guillem was 5'8" but frankly they are a couple of exceptions and always struggled to find partners. Also, there are some European companies that specify minimum heights of 5'5" but not many and they tend to be more at the contemporary end of classical. There are also some American companies that specify a minimum height.

 

I have watched a class at RBS Upper School and the girls ranged from about 5'0 to 6'0 and they said that as they train for all over the world, they have a range of heights. However, unless you're going to the Dutch National, most companies in UK and Europe still like smaller girls because pointe shoes add 3 inches to height and they still like them to be smaller than the men for partnering. The most notable is BRB - all their girls are on the small side - only one or two over 5'4" in the whole company I would say.

 

If you look outside classical ballet, there are roles/companies for a whole range of heights/shapes etc.

 

Therefore, I would encourage you not to listen to people who say 'well they only take tall girls at such and such a school' - they are usually trying to justify why their child didn't get in. Most schools will take the best talent they can get, regardless of height. 5'2" is not unusually small.

When it comes to a classical ballet company, they may have a preference, but most will still be smaller than taller.

 

Good Luck to her! :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can see why this may be a problem for you or at least appear to be. However many of the famous ballet dancers were quite small. Anna Pavlova was only 5ft 2 and her small frame was renowned for its grace and classical beauty. It may not be a bad thing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In Dancing Times I have seen a couple of adverts for European company auditions which have a minimum height but I only remember one of them which was 5'4 or 5'5. That definitely seems to be the exception though because I remember thinking how unusual it was.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My daughter recons she is 5' 2" although I think she might be slightly under this and is currently at Central. Whilst it is true that some of the girls are a lot taller she is by no means the only small one. I would also say that she has a fairly long body and other 'undesirable' ballet physique characteristics but so far these have not stopped her. As well as Central she was also offered funded places at two other good schools and even made finals at ENB (she did not apply to RBS). I would echo Ribbons comment that often height is used as a good reason to believe why your child didn't get in somewhere. Schools/companies look at each dancer as a whole package and one 'less desirable' feature may be offset by another highly desirable one.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wouldn't worry too much about it. When my dd was auditioning there were certainly companies which specified 5'5'' minimum (she's 5'4''), but there are plenty of artistic directors who like small girls. Most schools seem to not be too fussy on height, although I felt Rambert seemed to prefer taller girls, but that is just my perception.

 

However the advice to broaden horizons is not a bad one as there are lots of other reasons why you may not get a classical job, and a well trained classical dancer can often turn her feet to just about anything.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am also rather small under 5 ft 2, and like Lil, I have reached finals... I really think height is taken too seriously in the ballet world - I was watching Paris Opera Ballet on TV yesterday, and there was a female lead who was well over 6 ft off pointe... And I have seen others who are under 5 ft!

 

I wouldn't worry too much about it, as in all honesty, there isn't much one can do about height!

 

LB x

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The ballet teachers I've encountered along the way, who have all had professional on-stage ballet careers, have all been quite a lot smaller than me; I'm 5'5". Yet a couple of years ago when the Bolshoi were performing at Covent Garden, DD and I came across a couple of their dancers trying on leotards in Bloch! They were so tall I was quite taken aback, probably at least 5'9". They were wearing high heels on top of that, though, and were in full stage makeup, which added to their look of being an entirely different species!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Everyone's made some very valid points. There are girls I know at Elmhurst sixth form ranging from about 5' to 5'8" and similar at other upper schools/sixth forms. Granted, some of the shorter girls have been turned down for auditions due to their height, but that really has been the minority of auditions. (And one of our tall friends certainly has her own concerns about being able to find a company who will like her.)

 

There has been an observation made by others on the forum (and on the old one) that ENBS seemed to like taller girls, but we know shorter ones there too, and as we can see from Littleballerina's experience so far, her height being 5'2" has not stopped her from getting some good final auditions, so the directors are obviously interested in seeing more of her :)

 

I appreciate you're trying to limit the possible "rejections" for your daughter next year, but unfortunately, if she wants to have a good shot at this, it may be something she'll have to live with.

 

And as Glowlight says, there may be other reasons why your daughter cannot end up having a classical career, but the ballet training will be good for other dance styles if she chooses to change direction (I'm now thinking of a friend of ours who went through WL and US to find out she had a problem with her feet which meant she couldn't do pointe work - she changed direction and has been very successful since).

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for everyones replies.

 

On reflection it was an odd thing for her dance teacher to hint at but may get more of an idea when her assessments come out in case there were other concerns. At DD's school they do not 'assess out' and so trying to get a clear answer as to a possible classical dance career is very difficult as there are other paths she could choose (which she has rejected in favour of her beloved ballet).

 

I think we will take everyones good advice and keep on going with the usual goals and audition preparations for the autumn and just deal with whatever happens when it does happen.

 

Both lildancer and little ballerina are inspirations and fingers are firmly crossed for both of you in the finals.

 

Tx

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My dd went to Rambert and was 5ft 2 when she first started there (she grew an inch since then and is now 5ft 3!) they were other girls of similar height there too and she had a friend who is 5ft 10 in the same year at Rambert so I would say from our experience the heights of the dancers excepted are very varied! Good luck to your dd Dragonlady :) .

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well that just goes to show how wrong personal impressions can be. Lol.

 

I think the top and bottom of it is that the schools don't rule people out on height as there is such variation in what artistic directors are looking for. Maybe it could be slightly harder for a very tall or a very small dancer to get a job, who can say, but there are so many other factors that make it hard I think its the least of your worries!

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I find all your replies and the discussion reassuring.

My Dd has the opposite problem, she is 15 and already 5'8" which I have always thought would prohibit her from going along the classical route.

However I love Glowlights response

there are so many other factors that make it hard I think its the least of your worries!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

Found this topic whilst going through old posts.

 

Just wanted to ask your opinion please.

 

Was speaking to a dance teacher about my dd applying for vocational school & she suggested not applying for Elmhurst as she doesn't have long limbs - would others agree? Part of me thinks let her do it for the experience and the other part of me thinks the money for audition/travel etc could be better spent on extra lessons or something.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Difficult one; I've found from experience that sometimes teachers have opinions of schools based on slightly outdated information; for example remembering what a school looked for when the previous Director of Dance was there.

 

I've always refrained from sending my dd to RBS auditions on the basis that she doesn't have a very short torso in comparison to her legs, but as far as I know, Elmhurst don't rule students out on the length of their limbs....?

 

This might be an occasion where a second opinion may be useful, if you can get one. Is your dd an Associate?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Whilst it is always valid to listen to dance teachers' advice, I don't think it hurts to audition where you can because it is valuable experience (if you can afford it of course). My dd's ex-teacher told my dd -in a kind way-' I don't think you are right for RBS'-this was 2 years ago-and she has just got an SA place.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

spannerandpony and swe,

 

dd is auditioning for associate classes in April & May

 

The advice came from a teacher my dd started going to this month for 'extra' classes. Unfortunately her teacher who does her 'core' classes usually has pupils who apply at 16 but will give my dd as much help as she needs & has said she will support any application she makes.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Gosh yes, I remember! :-)

 

Lots of helpful and knowledgeable people here, thank goodess. :-))

 

You don't know how lucky you are, there were so few on here when I needed info... Although the ones that were gave me invaluable information... you know who you are ;)

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Was speaking to a dance teacher about my dd applying for vocational school & she suggested not applying for Elmhurst as she doesn't have long limbs - would others agree? Part of me thinks let her do it for the experience and the other part of me thinks the money for audition/travel etc could be better spent on extra lessons or something.

 

Hi, Smallbythesea. I just wanted to draw attention to the fact that your dd's teacher mentioned her not having long limbs, which is different to saying that she isn't tall enough. It's just that the subject of this thread is about being too short, and I don't think your teacher is saying that about your daughter. (I could be completely wrong, obviously - I'm just making an assumption!) When choosing children for MDS at any school, they are looking for certain criteria, physically speaking. One of them is having long limbs in relation to the torso. (I was told this by Rachel Rist and she was talking about the criteria for MDS across all the schools.) They obviously are strict about this to varying degrees, depending on how much they want the dancer. Obviously, if you're not wanting MDS then the school has more leeway in making decisions.

 

And, specifically to Elmhurst, my dd made the waiting list for Year 8 MDS last year and she is tiny with legs that are more 'proportionate' than what I would consider 'long'. If you think your daughter can handle potential rejection and if you can bear the expense and all the emotions that come with auditions, then I don't see what harm there is applying to any school. That is, if the teacher thinks there is potential for a vocational school education generally.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Regattah,

 

She is small. I myself am only 5 foot 1 so she's not going to be a giant.

 

I would say she is in proportion & I do think she has a small torso.

 

Rejection is something that as dancers they will have to experience, she is totally aware that this is the case so maybe it's worth a shot?

 

 

Without MDS ,unfortunately, she wouldn't be able to go, again, even at a young age, something we have made her aware of as she is very mature for her age & we believe in being completely honest with her (not that others don't).

 

Her teacher thinks there is potential and is willing to support her application - and you only live once, if you don't try you'll never know :)

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have always worried about the height question, but like Little Ballerina my dd is 5' 2" (nearly!) and it doesn't seem to have stopped her so far! I think just go along with the journey. Different choreographers/teachers will have preferences which is normal in an aesthetic art....but small doesn't seem to be the big problem I thought it would be.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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...