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RAD Grades and Age


Balletmad97
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This is a bit of a bizzare post but I just wanted another take on it. Often I find different people of the same age can be on completley different grades for example someone aged 13 could be working for grade 6 and inter foundation and someone else who is 13 is doing grade 5 but intermediate. I wonder if this makes a difference to the dancer or when applying to dance schools. I often find the vocational examinations far more technical than graded examinations but I have heard of dance schools where the children stop graded exams when they reach completion of grade 5 or 6 and continue only with vocational grades. Sorry if this is confusing to people who are not involved with th RAD system. Just curious on what other people think and what level their DD/DS are working at.

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As I understand it, until relatively recently the RAD graded exams only went up to grade 5, so after that the only option was to do the vocational exams or stop doing exams altogether. I believe grades 6 to 8 were introduced primarily for those children who want to continue dancing beyond grade 5 and enjoy the challenge of exams, but don't intend ballet to be any more than a hobby. As there's no pointe work in grades 6-8 it does mean that girls who for whatever reason can't or don't want to go onto pointe have some exams that they can aspire to.

Most children who are "serious" about their dancing seem to concentrate on the vocational grades after grade 5, though as was discussed here on another thread very recently, it isn't essential to have done any exams at all to get into a full time dance school, and in many other countries there is no comparable exam system anyway. The consensus seems to be that schools are interested in what they see at audition, not what certificates a dancer has.

For what it's worth, my DD is 13, just coming up to 14 and she did her intermediate and grade 7 last year, and is now working on both advanced foundation and grade 8. I think she would agree that the vocational exams are technically a lot more challenging but she enjoys doing the grades as well as they are (in her words) "more dancey". I don't think she would say that the grades are easy mind you - she's certainly finding the "valse printemps" in grade 8 has it's challenges.

That said, she has no aspirations to be a professional ballet dancer, though I will be very suprised if dance has no place in her adult life. Since she enjoys both syllabi, and seems to actually like doing the exams I'm happy for her to do both.

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I think it all depends on your local dance school which is why so many schools do things at different times. Some teachers like to take years over a syllabus; polishing and polishing, while others are happy to be a bit more speedy over the process. To be honest, you could work on a syllabus for ages, be on track for a distinction, and be ill or have an off day on the day of the exam anyway! :-)

 

As has been discussed, exams themselves won't help get a place at Vocational school, but step vocabulary, the ability to follow enchainements, good technique and a sense of performance probably will help (physique dependent). If doing exams is one way to practice these skills then it's no bad thing. My DD's local school does Vocational exams by invitation of the Director, but the Vocational girls all continue with Grades as the higher Grades concentrate on artistry and can be a nice contrast to the Vocational Grades.

 

I do think now that the newer syllabi for Vocational Grades have fewer exercises because several old exercises have been combined to make "mini-dances" there is perhaps less of a need to do both. But my DD does both in any case because it's one more class she can do, and there are no freework or repertoire classes at her school.

 

She is just 13 and working towards RAD Grade 6 and Intermediate, if that helps.

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Agree with Spanner that this usually depends on how each teacher choses to do things. At my dds old local school (she is now in vocational sixth form) all children were invited to start intermediate foundation when they reached grade 4 if they wished. However this class was stated to be a strengthening and preparation for point work class. The amount of time before taking the exam depended on each individuals progress/growth and could be anything from one to three or four years (or even not at all). At the same time they would all continue with grade classes. Thus a group could progress through the numbered grades togther but could be in completely different vocational grades even within the one school.

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My daughter is 8 and taking her grade 2 exam in June.

I think it's beneficial to do both the higher and vocational grades but I imagine schools that have low numbers at that sort of level might struggle to offer both. Plus the higher grades haven't been around as long so maybe some older teachers choose to stick with just vocational levels.

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Tomuchtallent, as I understand it, the majority of ballet schools in the UK follow a syllabus set down either by The Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) or by The Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance (ISTD). Cechetti comes under the umbrella of the ISTD. The graded exams are designed for students who are doing ballet as a hobby whereas the vocational ones (which are more demanding and require much better technique) are aimed at students who are considering a career in ballet, but many students who are not planning to become dancers do these exams anyway for the challenge. At my daughter's ballet school you have to be invited to join a vocational class but I don't know if this is a common practice. Pointe work is not included in the RAD graded exams (even at the higher grades) but some pointe work is included in even the lowest of the vocational exams. The exams on their own don't really seem to mean anything. The reality seems to be that if you want to pursue a career in ballet you have to attend a vocational school or at least an associate programme attached to a school.

 

I assume that most teachers have a teaching qualification from one of the two boards.

 

If anything I have said above is inaccurate I hope that someone will correct me.

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With reference to my earlier post, has anyone ever heard of a dancer who has been accepted by a ballet company without having gone to a vocational school even for a year or two? There are dancers who have got into companies via unconventional routes. Did Melissa Hamilton, for example, go to RBS or RB after her private coaching in Athens? There is a very young American dancer in the RB called Patricia Zhao. I read that, amazingly, she only started ballet at 13 and got into RB at 17! Does anyone know what she did for those four years?

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Aileen, Patricia Zhou might have been a late starter, but she trained at the vocational world-famous Kirov School in Washington and is also a Prix de Lausanne winner. Melissa Hamilton went into the RB after she won the Youth America Grand Prix. This is how good young people have to be!

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Rowan, so am I correct in understanding that Melissa Hamilton never attended vocational school other than Elmhurst for a brief period? And I don't think that she had done a huge amount of ballet before she went to Elmhurst either.

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I believe that's right, although I have heard varying reports over how much ballet she was doing beforehand, but two to three classes a week, it seems to have been. I think she also did some of the RAD vocational exams too. Those of us without children at vocational school, including myself, like to focus on her story because it's just so magical!

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MY daughter is 14 and is now working on grade 7 and intermediate, seems she's ahead of some in grades but behind in vocational. Her teacher is rather keen to do plenty of prep work before they do pointe though so she was probably late starting pointe compared to others. As with other schools my daughters teacher invites students to do vocational exams and even then will hold them back a year from doing the next exam if they haven't performed to a good standard in the last exam.

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This is a bit of a bizzare post but I just wanted another take on it. Often I find different people of the same age can be on completley different grades for example someone aged 13 could be working for grade 6 and inter foundation and someone else who is 13 is doing grade 5 but intermediate. I wonder if this makes a difference to the dancer or when applying to dance schools. I often find the vocational examinations far more technical than graded examinations but I have heard of dance schools where the children stop graded exams when they reach completion of grade 5 or 6 and continue only with vocational grades. Sorry if this is confusing to people who are not involved with th RAD system. Just curious on what other people think and what level their DD/DS are working at.

 

Hi i dont really think it should matter too much.... some children may have started dancing a year later and started from the initial grade whereas others may start later and be put into a specific grade which is sometimes why there can be a mixture of ages in the class, my DD is 11 and is currently doing RAD Grade 5, 6 and Intermediate foundation (the grade 6 was as an extra class) bur her teacher has said she can take this exam in November although i understand that the RAD are setting an age limitation on exams but i'm not sure what these are yet, she has been doing IF for around 2 years now as she studied the old syllabus but was too young to take the exam and she has been doing the new syllabus since it commenced last year.... i wouldnt worry too much about it they all progress at different stages too but i would imagine by the time they get to 16 / 18 they will have completed all of the graded work and vocational work. :)

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When my DS was applying for Vocational Schools for entry in September 2011, so October 2010 and aged 15, he had just done his RAD grade 6 and was taking his RAD Intermediate in November 2011. He took RAD grade 7 in March 2012 and Grade 8 in November 2012 even though not actually necessary. We know several dancers that seemed to stop taking grades but continued just with Vocational lessons.

He was successful in getting a place at a Vocational School.

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With reference to my earlier post, has anyone ever heard of a dancer who has been accepted by a ballet company without having gone to a vocational school even for a year or two? There are dancers who have got into companies via unconventional routes. Did Melissa Hamilton, for example, go to RBS or RB after her private coaching in Athens? There is a very young American dancer in the RB called Patricia Zhao. I read that, amazingly, she only started ballet at 13 and got into RB at 17! Does anyone know what she did for those four years?

I understand that Patricia Zhao started ballet at age 7 in her local dance school where she lived, her parents then took her to the Beijing Dance Academy and then went to the Kirov in Washington.

Ax

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  • 1 year later...

I'm 17 and I did my advanced 2 exam this spring, but I haven't done my grade 8 exam yet ! Is that kind of strange ?

Not at all. And congratulations on doing your advanced 2.

 

I've known many 18 plus students do grade 8 and quite honestly think its more appropriate then than for young students barely into secondary school. And I too have advanced students who look forward to doing grade 8.

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My DD's school (non-vocational) move into IF after grade 4. DD did grade 4 at just 10, IF at 11 and intermediate at 12, although she has always had older students in class with her. She has always gravitated towards spending time with slightly older girls in any event so this hasn't been an issue for her, in fact she thoroughly enjoys it, although one of her friends in class is the same age and is now struggling with being one of the 'babies' of the group now that they are with the Advanced 1 and 2 students. Each child is different and different 12 year olds may flourish in grade 3 or in Advanced. It is my understanding that as long as students aiming to pursue dance professionally are at Advanced 1 level by say 14 or 15, that will suffice?

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I don't think they have to have taken Adv 1 by 14 or 15!! To be studying at Adv 1 Level is fine, IMHO. Dd is 14 and just about to take Intermediate and both her teachers - local and associate - are completely happy with that.

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emsloves2dance - the new minimum age for IF is 11. If your daughter is already 11 then she can take her IF in November. Grade 6 or 7 also have 11 as minumum age. My IF students range between 11 and 13 and then I spend a year preparing them for Inter and also teaching them Grade 7 (they take the Grade 7 exam that year). The following year they take Inter, when they are between 13 and 15. Occasionally a talented child will jump a year, so that they take Inter when they are 12. I have one student who passed Advanced 1 with Merit at 13. I would have preferred to hold her back a year, but it was either then or not at all, as I didn't have an Advanced group the following year. I'm not sure that it really matters what they do as long as they advance and widen their horizons with different styles and dance regularly.

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Sorry spannerandpony, I didn't mean to imply that I thought that students aiming to pursue dance as a career should have taken their Adv 1 by 14 or 15! As I said, I had understood that they should probably be working at Adv1 level by that age.

 

As Dance*is*life says, sometimes it is necessary to push students on or to hold them back because of dance school groupings and in the long run it won't matter when they take a particular exam, as long as they are at the necessary level by the time they apply to vocational schools.

 

Having said that, I do know of a 12 year old who wants to teach ballet and to apply for vocational schools but is still working at grade 3 ballet level because her dance school is so keen on festivals and on all students studying a lot of different dance styles. Whereas festivals provide performing experience and it is always good to study different dance styles - and actual exam passes at a certain grade will not be required as long as students are able to work at an advanced level - it seems to be possibly a moneymaking exercise when added to the fact that her teacher insists that each exam grade is taken in turn, even for talented students? I do hope I am just being cynical here.

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emsloves2dance - the new minimum age for IF is 11. If your daughter is already 11 then she can take her IF in November. Grade 6 or 7 also have 11 as minumum age. My IF students range between 11 and 13 and then I spend a year preparing them for Inter and also teaching them Grade 7 (they take the Grade 7 exam that year). The following year they take Inter, when they are between 13 and 15. Occasionally a talented child will jump a year, so that they take Inter when they are 12. I have one student who passed Advanced 1 with Merit at 13. I would have preferred to hold her back a year, but it was either then or not at all, as I didn't have an Advanced group the following year. I'm not sure that it really matters what they do as long as they advance and widen their horizons with different styles and dance regularly.

HI Dance*is*life

 

my post was in April 2012 wasn't sure if you had realised, she did Grade 5 that June, Inter foundation in the November and Grade 6 a couple of weeks ago so no problems with age for us she is progressing quite happily :)

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