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Is it really still potential? (Royal Ballet School 2021 intake)


Momapalooza
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49 minutes ago, Bluebird22 said:

I may be mistaken but I’m sure there was no upper age limit on the BRB Swan Lake Dreams. I used to teach a lady who would frequently express frustration at the lack of opportunities available for the dancer who had never stopped but equally never danced professionally. 

The discovering rep from the RAD is a step in the right direction I suppose.

 

Yes, that’s true, if it’s available in your town.

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I haven’t read all the replies, but I’ve been thinking exactly the same @Momapalooza  My dd is a JA, and got to the WL finals this year, but it was a no. I feel now that perhaps I was naive in thinking they only look for potential (although this was what her JA teacher told me!), and have thought exactly what you said about the ones who got in looking ‘polished’ (although this is based only on the social media posts, as you say!). Although I appreciate that there may be others who don’t do social media, and may not be like this. My dd has only even done one show, and has never done a competition, so she won’t have the confidence in performance of others who are more experienced in this regard. I was a dancer myself, albeit only for a short while, but it feels like the whole thing is tougher these days! 

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35 minutes ago, PetitJeté said:

I was a dancer myself, albeit only for a short while, but it feels like the whole thing is tougher these days! 

There is almost no comparison.  I was training 35 years ago and it’s a different world now.  The standard is phenomenal. 

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2 hours ago, Harwel said:

There is almost no comparison.  I was training 35 years ago and it’s a different world now.  The standard is phenomenal. 

Totally agree here. My daughter is learning steps now that I wasn’t even aware of at her age and there was never the same push for flexibility! 

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2 hours ago, PetitJeté said:

I haven’t read all the replies, but I’ve been thinking exactly the same @Momapalooza  My dd is a JA, and got to the WL finals this year, but it was a no. I feel now that perhaps I was naive in thinking they only look for potential (although this was what her JA teacher told me!), and have thought exactly what you said about the ones who got in looking ‘polished’ (although this is based only on the social media posts, as you say!). Although I appreciate that there may be others who don’t do social media, and may not be like this. My dd has only even done one show, and has never done a competition, so she won’t have the confidence in performance of others who are more experienced in this regard. I was a dancer myself, albeit only for a short while, but it feels like the whole thing is tougher these days! 

Same here.  We are one of this year's WL finals 'no's.  Although never a JA, I felt my dd would still stand a chance, based on potential and being considered one of the best in her ballet class of pre-selected girls.  (Although all of it basically ended last March, when the school closed and hasn't reopened to children's classes.  They tried their best by still keeping at it by giving a couple of weekly classes via zoom until summer holidays, but then closed completely.)  We are not part of a social world.  Through all these lockdowns and schools' struggles, I assumed the situation was the same for all ballet students.  Especially as all we hear is how different this year is in terms of fallen (!!!) standards.  Those like me, who don't use social media and just get all their info from BBC or local radio, just took it at face value.  When then, at the end of November, I learnt of WL and their auditions, I actually exclaimed to my dd, what a fantastic opportunity it is, now of all years (!) to try to audition for such a demanding institution.  What, with all the 'lowered' standards, dd would surely have a fair chance, as everyone else would have suffered lack of practice as much as she has!  How pathetically naive :)!  So all of December she practised herself alone in her bedroom, trying to remember all the routines they did in class and trying to work out, what exactly the auditioning list of exercises involved, as she learnt it somewhat differently.  I told her not to worry and just do whatever she knew how to, and that the auditioning panel would surely take it into account that all entrants are underpractised and are understandably below expected standard...  I then filmed her at home on the last day before the deadline and, miraculously, she got through to the finals.  This reinforced my believe that this year must indeed be different in 'lowered standards' sense (I didn't realise of this forum's existence yet or had any contacts with the ballet community to be guided in any way), and dd just continued on whatever she could do to herself, going over routines she still remembered.  Then a few zoom ballet classes were added to her already busy academic/extra-curricular schedule, when by chance we found one of her former teachers doing it online to groups of 8-10 girls, but that was that. 

 

Now, from finding this forum and this thread in particular, I do begin to learn of a completely different world out there that I had no idea about.  It is so very interesting and enlightening!  Were I aware of all the issues highlighted in this thread, I would probably never had entered WL auditions at all, realising that dd would probably never stand a chance in the first place in light of such high quality, intense training happening backstage that we had not only no access to, but not a clue about.  But then again, were we to have a glimpse of it all beforehand, it would totally paralise us to even try as, being a low-income family, we could never afford such training anyhow.  Whatever it is worth for, it must have been for a good reason that we were so totally blind and super naive at the time, and went for it with open minds and brave hearts.  It gave dd a great experience of auditioning, of the historic WL - an absolutely gorgeous place, breathtaking nature of the Richmond Park, flocks of stunning deer.  Ignorance is indeed bliss! :)                    

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@BalletBliss - don't take this lightly when I say that it was a HUGE achievement for your DD to get a place in the finals.  There are hundreds of wonderful dancers who audition and don't get that far.

 

Please encourage her to keep going (if that is what she wants).  You will see from other threads that there are many other opportunities out there.

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34 minutes ago, glowlight said:

@BalletBliss - don't take this lightly when I say that it was a HUGE achievement for your DD to get a place in the finals.  There are hundreds of wonderful dancers who audition and don't get that far.

 

Please encourage her to keep going (if that is what she wants).  You will see from other threads that there are many other opportunities out there.

 

My goodness, I absolutely agree.  @BalletBliss any child who gets to WL finals clearly has so much potential.  Remember how few places there are compared to how many talented dancers there are.  I’m with glowlight, if your dd wants to aim for full-time training in future, your family should be eligible for means-tested assistance.  Having got to WL finals, it would be well worth her trying again, and not just at WL.

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9 hours ago, BalletBliss said:

Same here.  We are one of this year's WL finals 'no's.  Although never a JA, I felt my dd would still stand a chance, based on potential and being considered one of the best in her ballet class of pre-selected girls.  (Although all of it basically ended last March, when the school closed and hasn't reopened to children's classes.  They tried their best by still keeping at it by giving a couple of weekly classes via zoom until summer holidays, but then closed completely.)  We are not part of a social world.  Through all these lockdowns and schools' struggles, I assumed the situation was the same for all ballet students.  Especially as all we hear is how different this year is in terms of fallen (!!!) standards.  Those like me, who don't use social media and just get all their info from BBC or local radio, just took it at face value.  When then, at the end of November, I learnt of WL and their auditions, I actually exclaimed to my dd, what a fantastic opportunity it is, now of all years (!) to try to audition for such a demanding institution.  What, with all the 'lowered' standards, dd would surely have a fair chance, as everyone else would have suffered lack of practice as much as she has!  How pathetically naive :)!  So all of December she practised herself alone in her bedroom, trying to remember all the routines they did in class and trying to work out, what exactly the auditioning list of exercises involved, as she learnt it somewhat differently.  I told her not to worry and just do whatever she knew how to, and that the auditioning panel would surely take it into account that all entrants are underpractised and are understandably below expected standard...  I then filmed her at home on the last day before the deadline and, miraculously, she got through to the finals.  This reinforced my believe that this year must indeed be different in 'lowered standards' sense (I didn't realise of this forum's existence yet or had any contacts with the ballet community to be guided in any way), and dd just continued on whatever she could do to herself, going over routines she still remembered.  Then a few zoom ballet classes were added to her already busy academic/extra-curricular schedule, when by chance we found one of her former teachers doing it online to groups of 8-10 girls, but that was that. 

 

Now, from finding this forum and this thread in particular, I do begin to learn of a completely different world out there that I had no idea about.  It is so very interesting and enlightening!  Were I aware of all the issues highlighted in this thread, I would probably never had entered WL auditions at all, realising that dd would probably never stand a chance in the first place in light of such high quality, intense training happening backstage that we had not only no access to, but not a clue about.  But then again, were we to have a glimpse of it all beforehand, it would totally paralise us to even try as, being a low-income family, we could never afford such training anyhow.  Whatever it is worth for, it must have been for a good reason that we were so totally blind and super naive at the time, and went for it with open minds and brave hearts.  It gave dd a great experience of auditioning, of the historic WL - an absolutely gorgeous place, breathtaking nature of the Richmond Park, flocks of stunning deer.  Ignorance is indeed bliss! :)                    

 I am so pleased you went for it, and yes, ignorance can be bliss.  I personally wish I haven't been on social media the last few years.  At the same time, it's also good that you have now seen and experienced what you have this year.  Although the last year has been very different, I still think the trend will continue and auditions will be more frantic and frenzied in the coming years.  There are definitely kids out there who have been training for at least the last 2 or so years solely with the goal of gaining a place in vocational school in mind.

 

Your DD has done amazingly well, especially if she is not a JA.  There are very few non-JAs who get a place in WL at Year 7 certainly in the last few years.  I suspect those who are not are either from overseas or have had very high quality pre-vocational training prior to starting Year 7 and are most likely associates for other programmes/schools.  Happy to be corrected here.  It does make sense for their incoming groups to be predominantly JA though as I assume the programme was started to feed into their full time school.

 

There are certainly still schools out there, I know of some overseas, whose auditions I think are carefully designed to look more at physical suitability and potential for entry at Year 6/7.  Apart from basic exercises to check for musicality, the audition is more a check of whether or not the child would fit into their kind of training.  These schools appear to me, my personal opinion, looking more for blank slates with the right ingredients to mold into their specific kind of training.  I quite like this idea, because a child of 10/11 still has so much growing and changing to do.  This also places less emphasis on prior training or performance experience.  Somehow, it feels more like an even playing field. No need for intensive training before auditions, no need for fancy photographs, etc.  Ironically, I think these are also the same schools where a high percentage of students who enter in the lower years go on to the higher years, on to their junior companies and finally their companies.

 

 

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14 hours ago, PetitJeté said:

I haven’t read all the replies, but I’ve been thinking exactly the same @Momapalooza  My dd is a JA, and got to the WL finals this year, but it was a no. I feel now that perhaps I was naive in thinking they only look for potential (although this was what her JA teacher told me!), and have thought exactly what you said about the ones who got in looking ‘polished’ (although this is based only on the social media posts, as you say!). Although I appreciate that there may be others who don’t do social media, and may not be like this. My dd has only even done one show, and has never done a competition, so she won’t have the confidence in performance of others who are more experienced in this regard. I was a dancer myself, albeit only for a short while, but it feels like the whole thing is tougher these days! 

I personally feel this as well, how it's so much tougher these days.  I am just thinking 6 or so years ago and I don't think it was anywhere near like this.  I have been wondering why, I think a big part of it is obviously social media and everything is just so much more visible and the world so much smaller.  But it almost feels like ballet in general seems to have exploded in popularity and has become more "mainstream".  With this comes what feels like a more and more intense and frenzied audition preparation to get into full time training, almost the younger the better. I expect the volume of applications into lower schools have steadily grown larger and larger certainly in the last 3 years or so.

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39 minutes ago, Momapalooza said:

These schools appear to me, my personal opinion, looking more for blank slates with the right ingredients to mold into their specific kind of training.  I quite like this idea, because a child of 10/11 still has so much growing and changing to do.  This also places less emphasis on prior training or performance experience.  Somehow, it feels more like an even playing field. No need for intensive training before auditions, no need for fancy photographs, etc.  Ironically, I think these are also the same schools where a high percentage of students who enter in the lower years go on to the higher years, on to their junior companies and finally their companies.

 

Which schools in particular are you thinking of, @Momapalooza?  Are they the overseas equivalent of the Royal Ballet School?  I’m just wondering because I recall a thread a few years ago about Paris Opera Ballet school and in terms of physical attributes, they seemed even more strict than White Lodge.  If you are below or above certain height and weight range, there’s no point in even applying to POB.

 

You talk about WL not being an “even playing field” but you could say the same about any elite, world-class institution, from Oxbridge to Manchester United Junior Academy, whatever.  Of course WL JAs have a good chance of getting a year 7 place; they’ve probably taken class at WL once or twice, they have the reassurance safety in numbers, wearing their JA uniform, and if necessary, the panel can get more detailed feedback about how they usually dance.   But this would be the same for Elmhurst Young Dancers, Tring CBA dancers, Hammond Associates and so on, just as it is later on for Central Pre-Seniors applying for Central.  It still doesn’t guarantee a place though!  And the tough fact is that a career as a ballet dancer, just like all those other elite sports and academic institutions, isn’t “an even playing field”.  But then, neither is life. 🤷🏻‍♀️ Even if you get a Year 7 place at WL, the chances of making it into RB Upper School, surviving all three years there, and getting into the company, are *miniscule*.  Just as they are in Paris, Moscow and so on.

 

To be honest with you, if your child has the physique, potential (no school wants the “finished article” at 11), talent and desire to get finals at auditions, doing one good Associate Scheme as well as say, two classes a week *good quality* local training is not excessive in terms of time or money - and I say that as a low-mid income family; it’s the same as you’d be doing in football or if your child had aspirations to be a chorister or musician.  And even if they’re not successful or don’t want to train full time, it’s still all great experience, a wonderful decompression from academics, gives fitness, self discipline, uses the brain, and above all, you know where your child is on a Saturday! 

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I do not know if anyone noticed, but the most of girls who got WL yes this year were seasoned performance professionals having a history of either performance with the professional ballet company or on/near on West End or in top dance competitions.This is a massive part to achieve success in WL audition - being able to perform. Having a track record to be a safe pair of hands/feet in past.   I think it was one of the most dicisive factor between candidates this year. Yes, you have to have a right physique, amazing facility and musicality, but without performance these will not stand out. Please correct me if I am wrong about this, but none of the extra classes could give you this special magic. 

 

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It’s really interesting to hear everyone’s views on this. On the social media side, I’m sure others may have a different opinion, but personally the thought of putting my dd out there in pics wearing a leotard in front of hundreds if not thousands of followers does not sit right with me at all. I also notice with some of these girls on there that it’s all still images, no videos, and I think a false impression can be created with a photo. I think ultimately my dd not being chosen was the right thing, and I was not particularly happy at the idea of sending her off boarding at 11 in any case. But all this has made me think if the dance world is a place I want to encourage her to pursue anyway. I think for now we’ll focus on her just getting enjoyment out of it, and see where the next few years take us. 

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1 hour ago, Mum of unicorn dancer said:

I do not know if anyone noticed, but the most of girls who got WL yes this year were seasoned performance professionals having a history of either performance with the professional ballet company or on/near on West End or in top dance competitions.This is a massive part to achieve success in WL audition - being able to perform. Having a track record to be a safe pair of hands/feet in past.   I think it was one of the most dicisive factor between candidates this year. Yes, you have to have a right physique, amazing facility and musicality, but without performance these will not stand out. Please correct me if I am wrong about this, but none of the extra classes could give you this special magic. 

 

How do you know this???? 

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1 hour ago, PetitJeté said:

It’s really interesting to hear everyone’s views on this. On the social media side, I’m sure others may have a different opinion, but personally the thought of putting my dd out there in pics wearing a leotard in front of hundreds if not thousands of followers does not sit right with me at all. I also notice with some of these girls on there that it’s all still images, no videos, and I think a false impression can be created with a photo. I think ultimately my dd not being chosen was the right thing, and I was not particularly happy at the idea of sending her off boarding at 11 in any case. But all this has made me think if the dance world is a place I want to encourage her to pursue anyway. I think for now we’ll focus on her just getting enjoyment out of it, and see where the next few years take us. 

I’m with you on the social media side - it seems to me that there is a privacy/consent issue with posting pictures and information of such young children on a public forum. Privately for family and friends I understand.
 

Edited by Sally-Anne
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Can we be careful to remember the rules around discussing vocational schools and children who are not our own (or our pupils), please.  There’s beginning to be quite a bit of hearsay and speculation on this thread and we don’t want to have to lock it.

 

Here are the guidelines about vocational school threads:  https://www.balletcoforum.com/topic/18707-from-the-moderators-forum-policy-for-discussion-of-all-vocational-schools/

 

 

Many thanks. 

 

Anna C on behalf of Balletcoforum Moderators

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I wouldn’t read to much into those picked for performances tbh. While an amazing opportunity and lots of fun it is much more about fitting into existing costumes and location/availability of the child and parent. My son was picked after his very first JA lesson so definitely not based on ability (we joked that it was probably his wild-child look that matched the look they needed for the character 😂). Most roles are non-ballet/dancing roles and if they are it’s a tiny part. Often it’s just seated to fit in with the stage scenery/environment, a stage ‘prop’ so to speak, or to walk across the stage carrying something. If lucky, some mime or skips. It’s great fun and the whole experience is exciting but the actual being on stage bit is very minimal. 
While not as grand a stage as somewhere like the ROH, a child would get far more performance confidence/experience from local school’s end of year shows or festival performances etc. If your DC doesn’t get to do this already, definitely seek something out - it’s the best!

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1 hour ago, Dancing Kitty said:

 Social media: teachers and pupils are all posting results.  

You are making very big assumptions and speculating and generalising un-necessarily here - I can’t even begin to work out how you can say that all those children are “seasoned performance professionals” - honestly?  And so what if they are?

I am beyond baffled.  
How about we simply say well done to the children and wish them good luck at whatever school they may be attending, vocational or otherwise.  That old mantra - be kind.

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Well said @Anna C

I completely understand the disappointment of not gaining a place. In some ways getting to finals and then getting a no must be tougher than getting a no from prelims. It's also natural to want to dissect the results and try to figure out what's going on - we've all done it.

But speculation really doesn't help anyone. I think social media makes us feel that we know people, but for the reasons already discussed on this thread and others, a lot of that isn't completely real. And I've said it before  but I'll say it again (in fact I've said it thousands of times in my working days!) Correlation does not necessarily mean causation. Even if people have correctly identified commonalities between a number of successful candidates those things may or may not have been factors in the decision - we simply don't know and probably never will. 

I also don't believe that the RBS, or any other school for that matter, take dancers to finals who have no prospect of a place. If your child has got that far they clearly have a lot of potential and did very well in the prelims. And please parents, don't blame yourselves - you all sound like lovely supportive parents but so much in this whole ballet world is beyond our control. Try not to think "if only I'd known or done XY or Z". My DD didn't go to a lower school so I don't have first hand experience but many friends whose children did have told me that its very much back to basics at the beginning of year 7. So its very unlikely that parents not being able to afford private lessons with "big names" etc will have much, if any impact. 

All the finalists have done wonderfully well, whatever their backgrounds. I'm sure that new and exciting opportunities will come the way of all your lovely little dancers if they keep on dancing with joy. Those opportunities might not be right now, and may look quite different to what you imagine now but these experiences are never wasted.

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1 hour ago, TwoDancers said:

You are making very big assumptions and speculating and generalising un-necessarily here - I can’t even begin to work out how you can say that all those children are “seasoned performance professionals” - honestly?  And so what if they are?

I am beyond baffled.  
How about we simply say well done to the children and wish them good luck at whatever school they may be attending, vocational or otherwise.  That old mantra - be kind.

 

I am sorry but I have obviously either misread or misunderstood something in the posts.  I was in no way taking anything away from the achievements of those who have places at WL or any other dance school, vocational or otherwise, for that matter.  I thought I was answering as to where the information about what training and experience dancers have was coming from.  To quote me as having said that the children are "seasoned performance professionals" is so far away from what I believe.  A child starting in year 7 at vocational school is only at the start of a journey and regardless of their prior learning and experience will go back to basics and schools are looking for someone with potential.  Apologies if I have offended anyone.

Edited by Dancing Kitty
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10 minutes ago, Dancing Kitty said:

 

I am sorry but I have obviously either misread or misunderstood something in the posts.  I was in no way taking anything away from the achievements of those who have places at WL or any other dance school, vocational or otherwise, for that matter.  I thought I was answering as to where the information about what training and experience dancers have was coming from.  To quote me as having said that the children are "seasoned performance professionals" is so far away from I believe.  A child starting in year 7 at vocational school is only at the start of a journey and regardless of their prior learning and experience will go back to basics and schools are looking for someone with potential.  Apologies if I have offended anyone.

 

Dancing Kitty, I think @TwoDancers thought you were Mum of unicorn dancer, because you answered TwoDancers’ question “how do you know” (the children are seasoned performance professionals) which TwoDancers was asking Mum of unicorn dancer. 

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6 minutes ago, Anna C said:

 

Dancing Kitty, I think @TwoDancers thought you were Mum of unicorn dancer, because you answered TwoDancers’ question “how do you know” (the children are seasoned performance professionals) which TwoDancers was asking Mum of unicorn dancer. 

 

Thank you @Anna C  I have to say I was a bit confused as to what had happened. 

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1 hour ago, Dancing Kitty said:

 

I am sorry but I have obviously either misread or misunderstood something in the posts.  I was in no way taking anything away from the achievements of those who have places at WL or any other dance school, vocational or otherwise, for that matter.  I thought I was answering as to where the information about what training and experience dancers have was coming from.  To quote me as having said that the children are "seasoned performance professionals" is so far away from what I believe.  A child starting in year 7 at vocational school is only at the start of a journey and regardless of their prior learning and experience will go back to basics and schools are looking for someone with potential.  Apologies if I have offended anyone.

Sorry, I was replying to an earlier message that you had replied to and quoting the original poster not you!

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4 hours ago, TwoDancers said:

How about we simply say well done to the children and wish them good luck at whatever school they may be attending, vocational or otherwise.  That old mantra - be kind.

 

Thank you so much @TwoDancers and @Anna C for your wise words. Some of the speculation about children on this thread is close to the bone at times.

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On 28/03/2021 at 23:22, Pups_mum said:

Maybe there needs to be more development opportunities for dancers who don't aspire to a professional career? The process of selection as a potential professional starts so young, when a child can't possibly understand the implications. Really what is needed are enrichment opportunities- the chance to do more of what they love, without it being a precursor to, well, anything  - art for art's sake if you like. I

Yes, this - absolutely this. It's sadly incredibly difficult to find workshops etc without a vocational focus for teenagers dancing at Advanced level. And this vocational focus also seems to stimulate an element of competition among the participants, no matter how friendly they are .... and conversations that inevitably lead to questions such as "Where are you auditioning?" etc etc. For my own daughter, who isn't on a professional pathway, this whole atmosphere has put her off joining workshops and summer courses at a level that she would undoubtedly have enjoyed if there had been more of a focus on enrichment rather than vocation!

Edited by glissade
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I know of two dc who have been offered places at WL this year. Both of them go to local schools I'm aware of, which are run by exceptional dance teachers. The schools have a strong track record of getting students into full-time training, both lower and upper (and by that I mean several each year, every year), and associate programmes. Neither school does competitions or festivals, and as far as I know, the young dancers do not have a big online presence themselves either.

 

The reason these two got offered places this year is down to their natural ability and potential, and the truly outstanding teaching they have received.

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To me the word “potential” has been very nebulous.  What does that really mean?  Having seen RBS summer parent observation, DD opportunity to take Summer class last year virtually with Powney, I came to at least part of the equation- your child’s ability to follow lengthy instructions for combinations, remembering them without watching other kids and staying on the music as they have the confidence to know what to do ( as they get older I am amazed at how some can do this so well), do a variation in time with the music with a group after having practiced it only a few times with said group and not having the benefit of a personal coach for weeks on end to teach you), and finally actually applying the corrections. And if after all that and more you can still manage to have some artistry, that is potential. Although these observations were for age 14 plus, they could be scaled down for age.  What other specific components of potential have others seen and observed with RBS? 

 

 

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