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aileen

Where are all the girls in ballet?

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Yes, I wouldn't have noticed it yesterday evening if it hadn't been at the top of 'recent topics'.  Might it be possible for one of the administrators to move it into another forum?

Done. Aileen, I hope you don't mind but I agree that this discussion is more suited to "Performances Seen and General Discussions". I've left a link so that Doing Dance folks can still see the thread.

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This year's Royal Ballet intake from the RBS is heavily weighted towards boys, but that is simply because the graduating year had an unsually large number of exceptionally talented boys and I believe that KOH wanted to take advantage of that.

 

Thanks.  I shall always think of Kevin O'Hare as "potassium hydroxide" now :)

 

Perhaps his perceived difficulty in casting someone in place of Alina (why else would there be such a long delay in announcing a replacement?) is influencing his thinking unduly at the moment?

 

I was assuming that, with the company on holiday, and Carlos rehearsing for his forthcoming Coliseum show, any replacement wouldn't be announced until the company was back at work.

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I don't know enough to fully agree or disagree with Carlos' statement, but at last year's YBDY award, I remember being rather surprised that most of the best dancers were boys, and the awards certainly seemed to reflect that. I haven't been able to attend this year's award so don't know if it's a trend.

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It's been very noticeable over the last few years - I've often felt the girls have been a bit hard done by - yes, there have been successes but most of the awards have gone to boys (if my memory serves me right).

 

 

Edited to sort out dodgy predictive text!

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The quality of dancers is not only influenced by talent but also by the quality of teaching and leadership within the art. Those who are wonderfully talented dancers do not always have the necessary attributes to further the profession or mentor young dancers. I find it very difficult to believe that out of all the little girls who do ballet there are not a few who are prodigiously talented.

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It's been very noticeable over the last few years - I've often felt the girls have been a bit hard done by - yes, there have been successes but Missy odd the awards have gone to boys (if my memory serves me right).

 

I thought it might be useful to have lists of the names of the prizewinners of the YBDY. I've only managed to go back to 2005.    Apologies for the mix of formats - the result of a lot of cutting and pasting.

 

2005

1st Prize Ruth Bailey

2nd Prize  James Barton

3rd Prize Claire Calvert

Sibley-Dowell Award for a promising student with potential James Hay

Commendations for - Oliver Till and Jade Clayton

 

2006

1st Prize James Hay 

2nd Prize Delia Mathews 

3rd Prize Andrew Peasgood 

Commendations Bethany Kingsley-Garner and Katy Harvey

Sibley-Dowell award for a promising dancer Yvette Knight.

 

2007

1st Prize.Sergei Polunin

2nd Prize Delia Matthews

3rd Prize Nancy Osbaldeston.

Commendations went to Nicola Henshall(17) and William Bracewell(15), 

and the SIbley/Dowell prize for promising student with potential, to Freya Thomas(16)

 

2008

1st Prize William Bracewell

2nd Prize Tristan Dyer

3rd Prize Laurretta Summerscales

Commendations: Jonathan Hanks and Brandon Lawrence

Sibley Dowell award for promising student: Sean Bates

 

2009

Winner: Yasmine Naghdi

2nd Prize: Sean Bates

3rd Prize: Dominic Whitbrook

Sibley/Dowell award for a promising student with potential: Brandon Lawrence

Commendations: Barry Drummond and Evie Ball

 

 

2010

First Prize: Francesca Hayward

Second Prize: Anna-Rose O'Sullivan

Third Prize: Bruno Micchiardi

Sibley Dowell award for promising student: Dominic Whitbrook

Commendations: Sean Bates and Roseanna Leney

 

2011

1st Prize: Anna Rose O’Sullivan (16)

2nd Prize: Teo Dubreuil (17)

3rd Prize: Matthew Ball (17)

Sibley Dowell Award for a promising student with potential: Reece Clarke (15)

Commendations: Tierney Heap (17) and Greig Matthew (17)

 

2012

1st Prize: Reece Clarke

2nd Prize: Barnaby Rook Bishop

3rd Prize: James Stephens

 

Sibley Dowell Award for a promising student with potential: Suzan Opperman

 

Commendations: Georgio Garrett and Alexander Bird

 

2013

1st prize Chisato Katsura

2nd prize Isabelle Brouwers 

3rd prize Jerome Barnes

 

Special acknowledgement from the jury: Scott Mackenzie

 

Commendations: Joseph Sissons and William Beagley

 

Sibley Dowell Award for a promising student with potential: Barnaby Rook Bishop

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Thanks.  I shall always think of Kevin O'Hare as "potassium hydroxide" now :)

 

 

Hahahha!

 

I agree with some of what has been said here - and I think a lot of the issues are to do with how we train dancers in the UK. Sorry for not quoting correctly but someone earlier mentioned American dancers being more versatile\skilled at a younger age. I agree with this very strongly. It is not until a dancer has a good - and reliable - skill set including technique and virtuosity, can they REALLY start acting pieces and putting the artistic flair. Musicality and performance can be developed, for sure, but at every age of student ive observed pure technique and virtuosity tend to suffer once a dancer needs to act a role. Once professional, they are expected to be technically flawless enough to fully immerse themselves in the acting of the role. I'm not sure British trained dancers can cope with this....

 

I think mr Acosta has an issue with there being a lack of principals that he feels are suitable for him to dance with.... I'm not sure if that is true or not, and if, suggested, that British women are not 'feisty, sexy or mature' enough for him then it might be because PEOPLE CALL THEM GIRLS! I get really annoyed by this, and it is changing in some schools, but if you want female dancers to dance like women, you have to treat them like women. Adult, mature, strong women - not little girls.

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Maybe some of our schools need to be less focussed on insisting on short torsos and hyper-arched feet, and look at the types of dancers employed by ADs. I've said this before and will no doubt say it again, but when you watch ENB and RB, there is a wonderful mix of heights, leg length, body length, some hyper-arched "banana" feet and some really straight feet - and loads in between.

 

I believe that ADs are more concerned with talent, grace and musicality than they are in measuring someone's photo to see the ratio of torso to leg, and it is high time some of our schools realised this. If they continue to insist on "hyper arched feet" for MDS recipients then they are going to miss some beautiful talented dancers who happen to have feet more like Leanne Benjamin and Agnes Oaks than, say, Tamara Rojo.

 

Just because RBS Upper School - for whatever reason - seem in Carlos' eyes to be taking in more boys than British girls does NOT mean there is a dearth of talented girls. Perhaps he should pop along to Elmhurst and Central.

In all the audition forms for the vocational schools they ask for height of mum/dad.  Tamara Rojo is just under 5'3 so based on our vocational school's vetting process would she have got in or been processed out.  

 

At RAD associates there are a lot of very very little girls in my DD's group who are feisty and very talented. My DD always comments on the fact that they are always full of energy but keep getting told off for talking.

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At the risk of making enemies, I feel that a lot of the approach to ballet in the UK is archaic, and needs to move with the times. There is now wonderful new work by the RAD that really energises young dancers, secures their strength from an early age and gets them moving, performing, interpreting etc 

 

Of course no young dancer should be rude, and if someone is talking to them then they should be listening, but they want to dance, not stand still and be talked to! As a secondary school teacher, our lessons are judged on pace. If the kids are engaged and enthralled enough by what they are doing then they won't misbehave. If they are being talked at for any longer than a minute or two, their minds will wander and the pace of the lesson slows. That's reality of how to get the best from young people today. 

 

Little robots standing in lines being quiet, placid and 'nice' might make the class easier for the teacher, but will not produce exciting, passionate dancers who are free to think and question, and learn and discover the ins and outs of what they do.

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As a non-dance person, but one who reads this forum and other related things regularly, something that pops up repeatedly is an apparent lack of communication/understanding between the vocational schools and ballet companies. In some cases, even between secondary level vocational schools and post-16 schools, and from there again to companies. I'm sure this isn't always the case, but it seems to be a consistent niggle that the schools might not be training the kind of dancers the companies want - even those which act as feeder-schools. Monica Mason's comments (sorry for not quoting correctly) about wanting flashier 'foreign' dancers ring massive alarm bells - if that's what companies want, why on earth aren't they telling their schools this, so they can train the students in this way?! Do the schools just close their ears?!

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I haven't read the article but I have been reading the comments. I've watched student performances from many of the world's leading schools recently and noticed a dominance by the make roles and it bothered me for sure - maybe because I have a dd who I want to have opportunities in the future so I am biased, But then I started thinking about the differences in male and female capabilities.

Historically, male dancers in ballet had a primary role of supporting the ballerina. The romantic lead to showcase the female. But, with modern, contemporary pieces and choregraphy, that isn't the case anymore. And the male dancers can jump higher and perform feats that the women are not either trained for or simply not as strong for. It's not uncommon now to see choreography strictly generated for male roles that has an entirely different flavor to classical ballet and yet is still pure ballet. And the result can be quite spectacular. The downside is that the focus on the prima ballerina has shifted and perhaps since training hasn't shifted, our girls are losing out.

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I'm afraid I have to disagree with you drdance.  If children are unable to focus and listen, they are not going to get very far in the ballet world.  Many years ago I taught at a Conservatoire in Spain.  The respect for the teachers and concentration of the children was far more than is common in UK and it is the same in other countries too, which is why many of these foreign students are so far ahead in their training.

 

It is a parallel to normal school work.  There is a theory that you should not correct spelling and grammar in case it stifles creativity, but then universities and employers complain that students do not know how to write correctly and are unemployable.  The same in the ballet world,  Aspiring professionals have to accept that it takes hours of polishing of technique, slowly and carefully from a young age, not just rushing around having fun.  

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drdance..... we abhor and critique the harsh ways of Russian ballet training. And then we applaud and idolize the results.

The strength ballet requires does not come from making it up as you go along.

 

"who are free to think and question, and learn and discover the ins and outs of what they do."  - try getting a job in the corps with this attitude.

Edited by audsjcanuck
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I don't think it is one or the other - polite/nice versus thinking/questioning.  I think - actually, I am sure - we can have both.

 

Ballet class can be a place where one learns - along with the technique - courtesy, respect, discipline. 

 

There are many ways students can be given opportunities to expand their creative abilities.  That's the teache's task.

 

Some of the things I incorporated into regular ballet class work:

 

Student choreographer workshops - twice a yr students were invited to choreograph for a recital both for themselves as well as others in the class.

 

Make up your own barre - music was provided and each student made up an exercise to that music

 

Mime - tell a story thru dance and mime

 

Select a style - do the exercise as it would be done by a romantic/neo-romantic/classical/contemporary dancer. 

 

Teacher for a day - a student presents either barre or centre or both to the class and offers corrections. 

 

Student selects music for the class

 

It's amazing how much they learn when they teach.

 

It's amazing how much effort they put into this.

 

It's amazing how much they had a new appreciation for what went into constructing a ballet class.

 

It's amazing how much fun they had.

 

It's amazing that there was no lack of discipline or diminution of ballet class courtesy.

 

A lively class does not mean an undisciplined one.

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As a secondary school teacher, our lessons are judged on pace. If the kids are engaged and enthralled enough by what they are doing then they won't misbehave. If they are being talked at for any longer than a minute or two, their minds will wander and the pace of the lesson slows. That's reality of how to get the best from young people today. 

 

 

 

Oh dear, I'm afraid this just epitomises everything that is wrong with today's education system. Lessons judged on pace and making sure that kids are 'enthralled and engaged' so that they don't lose focus after a minute or two - poor darlings. Goodness me, how did we ever cope at school without teachers who were trained to be entertainers so that our precious little minds didn't wander and we didn't get bored!?

 

No wonder these kids can't get a job in the real world. Imagine if I lost focus after my boss talked to me for more than a minute or two and I got bored because he doesn't enthral or engage me or work at pace and keep me entertained? 

 

Lots of children benefit enormously from the focus and discipline provided at ballet lessons. You can still be a feisty dancer if you are focussed and disciplined; it doesn't go hand in hand with being badly behaved and rebellious.

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Anjuli I so agree with you here - and the fact that you work in the USA rather than the UK says it all. 

 

 

drdance..... we abhor and critique the harsh ways of Russian ballet training. And then we applaud and idolize the results.

The strength ballet requires does not come from making it up as you go along.

 

"who are free to think and question, and learn and discover the ins and outs of what they do."  - try getting a job in the corps with this attitude.

 Firstly I hope that this did not infer that I suggest 'making it up as you go along' - I am well versed in the strength requirements of ballet!

 

Secondly - It saddens me that people believe that dancers who think about what they do will be unable to get a job! How else do we learn if we are not allowed to think, ask questions and understand?

 

 

 Aspiring professionals have to accept that it takes hours of polishing of technique, slowly and carefully from a young age, not just rushing around having fun.  

 

I realise that people disagree with me, but I do believe that ballet training can include both careful polishing of technique and fun - the two are not mutually exclusive!

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Oh dear, I'm afraid this just epitomises everything that is wrong with today's education system. Lessons judged on pace and making sure that kids are 'enthralled and engaged' so that they don't lose focus after a minute or two - poor darlings. Goodness me, how did we ever cope at school without teachers who were trained to be entertainers so that our precious little minds didn't wander and we didn't get bored!?

 

No wonder these kids can't get a job in the real world. Imagine if I lost focus after my boss talked to me for more than a minute or two and I got bored because he doesn't enthral or engage me or work at pace and keep me entertained? 

 

Lots of children benefit enormously from the focus and discipline provided at ballet lessons. You can still be a feisty dancer if you are focussed and disciplined; it doesn't go hand in hand with being badly behaved and rebellious.

 

Ribbons - the teachers are not entertainers. The idea is that the students are involved in their lessons and their learning so are not passive robots. You can deliver a lesson that involves the students, as Anjuli suggested above, so that they are thinking and engaging with what they are doing. 

 

They are children - they have not got the concentration span to focus for the same length of time that adults do - so the comparison does not work. 

 

I have NEVER said that ballet should lose focus or discipline, either - it seems that people see only two types of ballet class, one where children run around without the teacher knowing what's going on, or another where children must stand in lines like regimented soldiers, follow instructions and never speak! There IS a happy medium.

 

Of course if the delightful Gove gets his way, children will soon be sitting in rows all day, every day, reciting mind-numbingly boring facts parrot fashion. 

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drdance, while I agree with you regarding young children, there is an age and timeline where if a student chooses to persue ballet with the intent of a career, the discipline must fall in place. Classical ballet is an exacting art form. Passion comes from within but first you must earn your place in the any environment.

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Secondly - It saddens me that people believe that dancers who think about what they do will be unable to get a job! How else do we learn if we are not allowed to think, ask questions and understand?

 

True, and thinking, questioning dancers are often the most rewarding to watch, even if they can be a pain to their bosses, but there has to be a time and a place for everything.  I seem to remember someone who was working as a ballet master/mistress saying something to the effect that, if they were coaching the corps and had to discuss each individual dancer/character's role and motivations, the ballet would never get to be on stage in the first place.  So presumably, equally, there is a time to pretty blindly follow instructions, and a time to think and question - and a dancer needs to know when it's appropriate to do both. 

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As an ordinary teacher of many years but now retired I do object to this idea that children are not taught spelling or grammar because it is feared their creativity is being stifled!! Have people not heard of the national curriculum then, the National Literacy and numeracy strategies which have been in place for 10-15 years now with as usual London being the leader but now in virtually all schools in the state system!!

In my time different approaches to reading have been tried eg 70's-80's the whole book approach which did not concentrate so much on phonetics because it was felt reading for meaning was better.But even then most good teachers had weekly spelling tests!!

Recently there has been a return to the phonics method but in truth no one method really suits all children.

But ALL children are expected to read, be able to write poems, stories, and factual articles, have a good basic grammar knowledge and be able to spell....knowing most common spelling patterns by the time they leave Junior school with some children far excelling beyond this without the aid of private education and MUCH smaller classes(though I am not against this) and some as always who don't achieve as well as they should.

These days children are expected to sit and listen and then work experiment and perform. But it is obvious to me that the more interesting you can make a lesson the more the children will be involved with what they are doing and it is one of the skills of a good teacher to find ways of doing this. It is NOT one or the other it is BOTH........AND. The grammar and spelling with being ale to use ideas creatively. And yes to me pace is an issue too. there is a group dynamic energy and it is as well to be aware of this as an effective teacher. This does not mean going too fast but keeping the purpose of the lesson to the fore so the children can remain motivated to achieve their best results.

Phew sorry a bit didactic but I do get a bit tired of hearing this view. Perhaps some people have not actually been in a primary school for a very long time though.

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As if I haven't gone on long enough just like to add that I think this is the same for ballet classes.

Of course there is the discipline of learning the technique in a safe and graded way and taking exams to keep a check on this but there should also be room for more creative approaches to some classes especially encouraging children to work on their own choreographic pieces and I wish there was more of this to be honest.

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Just adding another note. My dd's school has annual choreography workshops as well as compostion classes. And I googled to see that all the top British schools likewise have these opportunities.

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Just adding another note. My dd's school has annual choreography workshops as well as compostion classes. And I googled to see that all the top British schools likewise have these opportunities.

Very true. Many of the schools have choreography competitions which are considered vital to the students developments

 

Even my own weekly ballet school years ago had them.

 

And students in the schools I teach at are frequently allowed to choreograph, I often use their ideas in shows.....

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I'll admit I haven't set foot in a Primary school for many years, but I have several dozen pupils in that age group.  They mainly go to about 5 or 6 Primary schools within a 1 or 2 mile radius.  Then I always have a few from schools a bit further away.  Therefore, with the things both they and their parents tell me, I think I have a very accurate overview of what is happening in schools in our area.

 

For choreography I welcome ideas from pupils when setting a dance for shows.  With younger ones it might just be a particular step they feel would fit the music/theme.  With older ones we have made it a joint project, choreographing to music they have chosen. 

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I'll admit I haven't set foot in a Primary school for many years, but I have several dozen pupils in that age group.  They mainly go to about 5 or 6 Primary schools within a 1 or 2 mile radius.  Then I always have a few from schools a bit further away.  Therefore, with the things both they and their parents tell me, I think I have a very accurate overview of what is happening in schools in our area.

 

Then you'll know all about the literacy focus that spans every element of every other subject - and the over-arching literacy focus in OfSTED inspections, and the requirement of teachers of every subject to correct spelling and grammar during marking and feedback!

 

The total opposite, and extreme, from any theory of not correcting spelling and grammar in case it stifles creativity!

 

As for dance schools having choreographic comps, classes, using student choreography in shows etc Well that's great but it does feel a bit like it's something kept very separate from the 'sanctity' of the ballet class.

 

What would be great to see (and I'm sure this does happen) is people moving away from the ideal of students in a ballet class "being seen and not heard", and encouraging them to ask questions, to think about different ways of improving their work or each others, to share hints (especially for things such as pirouettes - those who find them easier could help those who find them harder by talking about what they do or think about), to work in pairs or small groups offering each other feedback or having their peers look out for corrections that have been given/discussed. 

 

There are other points to think about, in terms of why the UK may not be producing high level female dancers. Should ballet students all have acting/drama classes? Should they all learn a musical instrument to help improve their musicality? Should female dancers spend more time on training jumps and turns like the male dancers do, to allow them to reach similar levels of virtuosity to men? As much as people seem to dislike ballet dancers performing 'tricks', you can guarantee that a soloist performing a divertissement with multiple turns and dramatic, high jumps will receive at least a smattering of applause.

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I'll admit I haven't set foot in a Primary school for many years, but I have several dozen pupils in that age group.  They mainly go to about 5 or 6 Primary schools within a 1 or 2 mile radius.  Then I always have a few from schools a bit further away.  Therefore, with the things both they and their parents tell me, I think I have a very accurate overview of what is happening in schools in our area.

 

For choreography I welcome ideas from pupils when setting a dance for shows.  With younger ones it might just be a particular step they feel would fit the music/theme.  With older ones we have made it a joint project, choreographing to music they have chosen. 

I have to say that going just by what parents and pupils tell you about a school is never going to give a very accurate overview of any school. It is very important to meet with and speak to teachers and headteachers. I would always recommend this whether it's a case of "normal" school or indeed a ballet school.

Edited by Gingerbread
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I will have to agree to disagree with your thoughts drdance. But I do get the sense that you lack knowledge of how professional ballet classrooms are conducted. Perhaps I am wrong about that but your comments about robots and lack of self-awareness is entirely incorrect.

Edited by audsjcanuck
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Please do a very small amount of research before making assumptions about people, especially when you are questioning someones professional credentials. As well as the rest of the work I have done,  I have been an observer at classes at several vocational schools during recent years. I have had pupils at vocational schools, and talked to many professional dancers and people who attended vocational schools.

 

I would be very happy if I am entirely incorrect. I hope I am! I did say that "I am sure this does happen" when discussing how I hope learning happens in ballet classes. 

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