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Should the Royal Ballet begin a European Project Plié???


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This was announced by ABT today:

 

http://balletalert.invisionzone.com/index.php?/topic/37780-abt-launches-project-plie/#entry326490

 

Wonder if Balleoforum members think a 'Project Plie' would be a good thing for the RB to spearhead on a European basis???   Would this be something the Royal Ballet School could buy into?   I had thought the RB had started a not dissimilar 'inclusion' incentive about 15 or so years ago, but it does not appear to have been overly successful in terms of practical placement within the ranks of the company itself given the rigors of time.  The issues highlighted in the above press release's outline (inclusive of arts administration) represent much of what Benjamin Millipied has said he intends to tackle at the POB.   

 

Here is a follow-up article in the WSJ:  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323392204579071071121764480.html

 

Certainly such incentives - no matter how long they may actually survive - can't hurt. 

Edited by Meunier
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They've been running "A Chance to Dance" for, as you say, I'd guess 15 years.  And note that the stated aim is "to increase racial and ethnic representation in ballet".  ENB's Shevelle Dynott is one of the products - I don't know about any others: I just happen to remember him from a TV documentary on the scheme, when it was obvious that he was one of the stand-outs.

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A couple of ds closest friends started on chance to dance and are now professional ballet dancers. And they are by no means alone!

However I believe that chance to dance quite rightly doesnt just cater for children of certain ethnic backgrounds even though the majority seem to be. And those who make the grade as dancers do so because they genuinely have talent not because the fulfil some desired quota.

 

There are thousands from all walks of life to whom starting Ballet wouldnt occur to them and even if it did wouldnt be able to afford it. The ABT looks great but I would like a scheme that was inclusive of encouraging talent from all backgtouhds/situations.

Edited by hfbrew
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There are thousands from all walks of life to whom starting Ballet wouldnt occur to them and even if it did wouldnt be able to afford it. The ABT looks great but I would like a scheme that was inclusive of encouraging talent from all backgtouhds/situations.

 

While agreeing with the sentiment expressed above I applaud ABT's initiative in wanting to bring to fore the diversity issue in terms of females in ballet.  Men it seems (and as has been well noted) have succeeded with a stronger suit in this regard.  I do think ABT are right to highlight this specific issue and I celebrate their attempt to bring it to a wider public for overall consideration.  As the WSJ journalist (quite rightly in my estimation) states, if the major international representative companies do not attack such they will be 'irrelevant in 50 years'.  Some might argue it won't take that long for world tides in popular taste to completely turn. 'But look at us', audiences will understandably cry if they attend at all (a certain death knell).  Provincial companies, of course, serve a more limited reach so I can see such surviving in certain insular enclaves although even they I'm certain will become more and more challenged and isolated in time.     

Edited by Meunier
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A couple of ds closest friends started on chance to dance and are now professional ballet dancers. And they are by no means alone!

However I believe that chance to dance quite rightly doesnt just cater for children of certain ethnic backgrounds even though the majority seem to be. And those who make the grade as dancers do so because they genuinely have talent not because the fulfil some desired quota.

 

There are thousands from all walks of life to whom starting Ballet wouldnt occur to them and even if it did wouldnt be able to afford it. The ABT looks great but I would like a scheme that was inclusive of encouraging talent from all backgtouhds/situations.

 

Actually I think the fact that they are offering ballet classes through the Boys and Girls Clubs, which cater to lower income groups, takes care of that. The fact is, though, that in the US, those neighbourhoods will be more predominantly non-white.  I don't think ABT is saying anything about a quota, are they?

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My children's (Lambeth) primary school participated in the Chance to Dance scheme. All children in year 3 participated in the initial workshop(s) but children who already attended ballet lessons were ineligible for the (CtD) lessons, which took place locally.

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Never said they were! (In response to comment about ABT saying anything about a quota)

 

As I said the ABT scheme looks great. But I was responding to topic question about the Royal doing a similar project.

 

And yes many are benefitting from projects designed to help those on low incomes, but many, many more are not. Id like to encourage EVERYONE to at least give Ballet a try!

Edited by hfbrew
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Actually I think the fact that they are offering ballet classes through the Boys and Girls Clubs, which cater to lower income groups, takes care of that. The fact is, though, that in the US, those neighbourhoods will be more predominantly non-white.  I don't think ABT is saying anything about a quota, are they?

No, but as they stated: "a comprehensive initiative to increase racial and ethnic representation in ballet" suggests that they will be looking for children who are non-white. I would rather see an initiative which gives children from low-income families,who would not be exposed to ballet, the chance to experience ballet - regardless of gender, race, or skin colour.

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I believe that Chance to Dance operates in several inner London boroughs whose school populations have a high proportion of minority ethnic pupils and so many of the children who are selected for the scheme will be from minority ethnic backgrounds. Actually, the son of my friend, who is white, middle class and highly educated, was selected but he dropped out fairly quickly and his mother wasn't too upset about it as she wasn't keen on him going to a rather run-down community centre off Coldharbour Lane for his lessons. I also know of a white girl who was selected for the scheme and went on to attend classes at Central. I'm probably wading into dangerous territory here, and I'd prefer not to get into a discussion about the reasons for this, but, in my experience (which may of course be completely unrepresentative) there aren't too many white low income families living in inner London.

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True. But then thats probably the case of some participants whatever their ethnic background. However these children would still possibly not have got their chance to dance otherwise. The vast majority of parents do not consider dance lessons for their offspring.

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No, but as they stated: "a comprehensive initiative to increase racial and ethnic representation in ballet" suggests that they will be looking for children who are non-white. I would rather see an initiative which gives children from low-income families,who would not be exposed to ballet, the chance to experience ballet - regardless of gender, race, or skin colour.

 

As I said,  they are hoping to increase non-white representation in ballet. They are going to lower income neighbourhoods which de facto have more non-white residents. The Boys and Girls Clubs serve low-income families: both sexes, all races, all colours. Some poor white kids may well benefit as well.

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My child also started ballet through Chance to Dance and attended the Coldharbour Lane ("Murder Mile") centre. The majority of children on the scheme were from ethnic minorities, and, as Aileen says, this is owing to the intake of the primary schools which the programme visits. From my child's primary school year group of 60, four were chosen to do the initial audition. Neither of the two boys, both from African backgrounds, even attended the audition. One mixed-race girl attended, but did not get through. My child, who is white, did get in. Household income is not assessed, so there were children from very deprived backgrounds there, and those who were relatively wealthy - again, a feature of some inner-city London schools. While most parents were supportive of their children taking part in the scheme, which was entirely free and offered some amazing experiences, one thing that did shock me in my years of visiting that centre was the limited horizons of some parents/carers. The parent of one child (white) who was selected for additional lessons at the ROH, was worried about how to get there because she had never even been into the centre of London.

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Yes, it's a feature of London that wealthy people often live cheek by jowl with people on very low incomes and this is reflected in the intake of the more popular state schools. In theory, children from very well-off backgrounds could benefit from the scheme which, as rowan has said, has no element of means testing. I wonder how much it costs the RB to run the scheme and how they assess its effectiveness.

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The RB doesn't run Chance to Dance, Aileen. It's run by the ROH education department. The RB has its own scheme, called Primary Steps, which was set up only a few years ago, and operates in different locations not in central London.

 

The scheme is about exposing children and families to ballet who would not have previously considered it, not just those who couldn't afford it. That's why it's limited to children who don't already do ballet. I think the proportion of parents who would have even considered ballet for their child would be extremely small.

 

To add to my comments above, some parents found it difficult for their children to attend the lessons because of the difficulty of getting to lessons after school when the parents had jobs (often low-paid and lacking flexibility). If children were going to a childminder or after-school club they would need someone who could take them to the centre and bring them back.

 

I don't know how the ROH would assess the scheme itself. But it turned my child into a dancer and my family into ballet goers.

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I believe that Chance to Dance operates in several inner London boroughs whose school populations have a high proportion of minority ethnic pupils and so many of the children who are selected for the scheme will be from minority ethnic backgrounds. Actually, the son of my friend, who is white, middle class and highly educated, was selected but he dropped out fairly quickly and his mother wasn't too upset about it as she wasn't keen on him going to a rather run-down community centre off Coldharbour Lane for his lessons. I also know of a white girl who was selected for the scheme and went on to attend classes at Central. I'm probably wading into dangerous territory here, and I'd prefer not to get into a discussion about the reasons for this, but, in my experience (which may of course be completely unrepresentative) there aren't too many white low income families living in inner London.

 

Aileen, did your friend's son enjoy the classes, and did he continue with ballet elsewhere?

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Taxi4ballet, I don't think that he particularly wanted to go to the classes right from the beginning. He didn't continue with ballet elsewhere. I don't know whether he came in for some teasing from some of his classmates. Tbh, I don't think that his parents were particularly supportive although they made the effort to take him to the lessons. They are quite traditional in outlook and are devote Christians (he wouldn't have been able to attend further lessons on a Sunday for example, although they would probably have made an exception for a one-off performance) and one thing that put my friend off about the centre where the lessons were held were the safe sex posters which were on display and could be seen, and probably read, by her 7 or 8 year old son.

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