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To summer school or not to summer school


CeliB
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Apropos of Paris Opera SI I was penning a reply and realised it was a bit off topic so thought I would start a new one. Am interested in people's opinions...

 

I mentioned on an earlier post DS planned to audition for the Paris Opera SI. But following a 2 hr end of term discussion about progress with DSs ballet teacher we were persuaded not to send him in favour of him attending his own school's 6 week SI.

 

Argument from teacher was

1. DS is relatively late to start vocational training (started the month he turned 14) and not experienced enough yet to get much out of being exposed to different styles of teaching

2. He is progressing very well (having seen DS dance in the school production can't really argue - e.g. he was one of only 4 in the school name checked by the professional dance critic who saw the show; he is one of 4 that the artistic director of an internationally renowned company said he would be watching after having done a master class at the school...)

3. He needs to focus on getting perfect in his specific style of training and not get distracted/sidetracked/put off by suddenly being taught a different way

4. Teachers at SIs don't know the individual children well and may not always give them much attention

5. Often children come back injured as they are pushed too hard or in wrong way (because of 4. above I suppose).

6. He has time enough to experiment with different styles of ballet and different companies once he is closer to being ready to dance professionally

 

He quoted a saying (from Japan I think) that if you are pushing a large boulder up a hill and you let it go, it doesn't just stay in the same place it rolls a long way back down the hill and you have to push it all the way back up again. E.g. if DS goes off to be taught by someone else he will not just not get better, he will get worse....

 

It made me think about the reports one sometimes hears about ballet teachers/schools being anti pupils applying for courses elsewhere, and how this is generally presented as being slightly 'sour grapes' or concern that their star pupils will be poached. The conversation above made me see it much more from the teacher's perspective- DSs teacher has invested and continues to invest a huge amount of effort and care into his training (and the school is fully funding him) so perhaps it is fair enough not to flit about getting distracted trying other places whilst he is only half trained...

 

Anyway thought it was an interesting perspective and am sure people may have opinions that are more informed than mine (given my experience in the world of ballet is a big fat zero!!!)

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Am I right in understanding that your Son is being trained in the Russian method. If this is the case then I can fully understand what your teacher is saying. My dd will now only go to her Russian teachers in Bristol when she comes home from the Bolshoi school in Moscow. She finds that when she has attended classes here in Britain the teachers try to change the Russian style, which is not the best thing for her.

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yes indeed, he is being trained in Russian method. Perhaps it does require a greater commitment to that particular style than other disciplines, though i am sure I have come across this issue in other schools of ballet....it's not really that I have a problem with it, I just found it interesting to see the teacher's perspective....

Edited by CeliB
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I think the teacher has very good points to make here. Especially as he is also able to offer a summer school. And he is right, many summer schools don't always take individuals into consideration- I was horrified to attend one (as a teacher watching) a few years back to see that at the end of a week most girls were still having to wear name tags despite having the same teachers daily. It was actually an excellent summer school in many aspects but definately geared to whole class teaching, and the classes were crowded.

 

I encourage my students to experience different teachers but I do prefer to vet them first to ensure my students will get positive experiences and stay safe. But I don't teach continuously during the holidays so I feel I can hardly stop students for having the initiative to keep doing classes elsewhere f they wish.

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I would agree with much of what the teacher said except for point #3 - one never gets perfect. Generally speaking, for the first three years or so (depending upon the age and progress of the student) one should stick with one teaching method. But to wait till that is "perfect" is not reality.

 

I think a lot of it also depends upon the maturity (both emotional as well as dance related) of the student. If one is used to being a significant occupant of a smallish pond - any exposure to a larger and/or different pond can be devastating. Others enjoy seeing "what's out there."

 

From my observations of a number of SI classes - often taught by world name teachers - one should not expect individual attention. The classes are usually crowded. And the pressure of hours and hours of dance with very little individual supervision can lead to injury. On the other hand - it does gives the student a whole new window and recognition that there are indeed different ways of doing things.

 

I don't recall seeing how long your son has danced - perhaps i missed it.

 

Another question might be - what would attending his present teacher's SI give him that he is not getting in the teacher's regular classes? Will there be guest teachers?

 

Some questions you might ask yourself: how would your son react to being anonymous in a crowd - would that upset him? Is he able to juggle different concepts at the same time? What are his views?

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I seem to remember from another thread that your son was not overly keen being taught in another style at his summer school last year! Is the POB summer school a week or two. Maybe he would just like to do it for the 'experience'.

How long does he have off this summer? Would a physical and mental break from his school be equally beneficial?

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They are indeed in Bristol. Yury trained at the Bolshoi and was a principle dancer in the companies. Chika his wife trained at the vaganova in St Petersburgh and again danced in the companies. If you type into google Bristol Russian Ballet School you can get all their information. Heather will be taking classes with them during the summer. However she needs to rest. The training out in Russia is very intense. Mind you she has mentioned going back to the Bolshoi early to do their summer school, however we will see what happens later on. Her summer break starts at the end of June until 1 september. I would say about 3 weeks rest and then getting back to a class a day isnt a bad thing.

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All very sound advice. And yes you are right tutoo, he was completely unimpressed by last year's RBS summer school teaching wise (everything else he loved!). Does the Bristol school actually do a summer school or would it just be joining classes (we are too far away for anything non residential)?

 

Funnily enough I was chatting to him last night and he expressed a desire to not do a summer school at all, or at least do a short one (his school one is 6 weeks but he can choose to do only 3). Which brings me to another related question- how important is it for them to keep up class during summer break? Primrose you have mentioned 3 weeks off then daily class, but I know your daughter is quite a bit more advanced than DS- I'm not sure how much difference it makes...

 

In response to Anjuli I have to say the comment about being perfect was my paraphrasing- I think he meant at a stage where your basic skills are almost hard wired so you can experiment without losing your basics... Re being a big fish in a small pond I don't think he's so precious- he has lots of very talented boys in the years above him and knows he has a lot of hard work ahead of him and doesn't seem to have a sense of his own importance- i think his comments about the (lack of) individual correction at RBS was that he feels unsure about how he can improve if no-one points it out when he does it wrong, or shows him how to do it better. Again maybe this is about being relatively young to vocational training so being less able to self regulate?

 

But thanks for helpful points everyone....

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Just to add another recommendation for the Bristol Russian Ballet School/Youth Ballet Company! As a guy, it is amazing to be taught by Yury in 'male technique' and variations - he has seemingly boundless knowledge and constantly teaches me new things :)

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Oh, and I'm pretty sure the Bristol SI was only a week long last year [i only joined in September] although Yury and Chika want to make it two weeks. It's held in the same place as the Youth Ballet Company rehearsals - the studio is part of a larger gym/racquet club and the students can use the pool/jacuzzi after class for a nice cool down :) I don't know what level your son is but Yury and Chika are great at teaching to range of levels - I've only been dancing for around 2 and a bit years (starting at the tender age of 23!) and might take class there with boys who have spent years at vocational school and we all get a lot of benefit from it.

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