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Fiz
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Thanks for posting this Fiz.. As an ex dancer, i used to secretly hope that one day i would have a daughter, who i would encourage to take ballet lessons, and who, i would be determined to try and see if she could get into White Lodge. I`ll always remember my slight disappointment when my 15 year old son was born.Wonderful and beautiful though he was, and still is, i wanted a girl so i could ,i suppose if i`m being honest, ram ballet down her throat.! I did try with my son when he was younger, but he was having none of it. Now,i read this Forum every day, and the stresses and competition required to get into White Lodge and other vocational schools. I`m now glad i have a son who isn`t interested in any form of dance at all. He isn`t interested in football either, with , i would imagine, similar levels of stress and competition .I have to say, wonderful and amazing though the journey your children are embarking on is[and following everyone`s trials and tribulations is fascinating], i`m so relieved to just be an onlooker, and not have a child a part of this "ballet rat-race".

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Thank you, Nana Lily. Both my DD's no longer dance seriously but the youngest is still doing ballet and tap and (ballet because she still loves it, as well as needing it) for her drama degree.

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I found that article fascinating Nana Lily. Of great interest to me was the part about feet: "FEET AND ANKLES: Feet and ankles should have sufficient flexibility for the line of the tibia (shinbone) to continue through the pointed foot. Hyperarched feet are a potential source of weakness, especially in pointe work."

 

 

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What I find frustrating as a teacher is that all vocational schools pay lip service to the fact that hypermobile feet and legs often lack strength and are prone to injury, but then nearly always select those dancers who are hypermobile. Is this one of the reasons that UK girls seem to have less technique than those from abroad? The wrong bodies are being chosen for training? For some reason the UK boys seem to do better than the girls and are right up there with those from overseas.

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Spanner, I believe that there is a difference between a well arched foot and a hyper- arched foot. Surely a well arched foot is an important pre-requisite because of the pleasing aesthetic that it creates? Agreed that this foot can be weaker but it can also be stngthened to some degree.

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Absolutely Jellybeans, but to my untrained eye Tamara Rojo has hyperarched feet; it would be interesting to know how many (if any) injuries she has suffered. I must admit I do have a bit of a bee in my bonnet about feet because my dd doesn't have a very high instep (i.e. the arch of the top of her foot) but her hugely experienced dance physio has told her that there is nothing wrong with her feet at all for classical ballet (apparently she has nice strong feet identical to Agnes Oakes...who knew!?).

 

Yet she would not even be eligible to audition for some schools; one of whom (not a British Vocational school but a foreign school auditioning in London) actually specifies "high instep" in its advert.

 

I would rather see a strong straight foot on an intelligent, thinking dancer with beautiful artistry than a so-so dancer with a super-arched foot! :-)

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What I find frustrating as a teacher is that all vocational schools pay lip service to the fact that hypermobile feet and legs often lack strength and are prone to injury, but then nearly always select those dancers who are hypermobile. Is this one of the reasons that UK girls seem to have less technique than those from abroad? The wrong bodies are being chosen for training? For some reason the UK boys seem to do better than the girls and are right up there with those from overseas.

 

This has often puzzled me too - the young students with amazing feet often look very unstable and not so 'attractive' en pointe. Given a lot of their time is spent enpointe does it really matter if students feet dont have outstanding arches but just great ones?

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Tutoo2much, I was just going to say the same thing! I think that the choice of dancers out there is such that the companies are able to choose dancers with both and, like it or not, the high arch is preferred! Of course, there is a difference between arch and instep, but I think they like both to be pronounced!

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Maybe it's just a case of the hyper mobile foot is usually weak but there are exceptions and the RBS can see whether or not the foot is strong enough for the risk of injury to be minimal. So they like very flexible feet visually and if they're strong enough too then they're picked (assuming everything else is there too of course!) just a theory, probably flawed :P

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I get the impression Tamara Rojo is an intelligent, thinking dancer with a super arched foot! I don't think they are mutually exclusive.

 

I absolutely agree! :-). I didn't mean to suggest she wasn't; far from it.

 

I just meant that in general, I think schools should not specify high insteps as a condition of auditioning. I hate to think that schools might focus on just physical proportions and therefore miss someone who could have outstanding musicality, expression, technique etc. but who had either been "paper sifted" out, or overlooked at audition once the panel had looked them up and down and decided that their feet aren't "pretty" enough.

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but isnt that the whole point of the Guardian article posted on another thread e.g. that many of the great dancers of this century wouldn't have been given places at RBS (and other vocational schools around the world) in the current climate because of the trend to value uniformity of physique and extremety of flexibility/technique over artistry and expression?

As a complete novice to the ballet world the thing that struck me most powerfully when I saw DS's school winter performance was that amongst the boys (who I was clearly more interested in!) the one who stood out by miles was the one with the most beautiful expressive dancing- there were others who were technically more proficient but had all the presence of a corpse- and made me feel I was watching acrobats, not dancers. This seemed so clear to me as an audience member I am astounded that those who train our children and run the companies don't seem to have the same sensibility....

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I absolutely agree! :-). I didn't mean to suggest she wasn't; far from it.

 

I just meant that in general, I think schools should not specify high insteps as a condition of auditioning. I hate to think that schools might focus on just physical proportions and therefore miss someone who could have outstanding musicality, expression, technique etc. but who had either been "paper sifted" out, or overlooked at audition once the panel had looked them up and down and decided that their feet aren't "pretty" enough.

 

 

As far as I am aware, all the vocational schools in the UK audition every single applicant.

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I was surprised to learn that apparently Rambert do not audition every applicant: for instance, if about 400 apply, they will go through the applications and choose 200 to audition in person. The decision about who to audition is taken by the director etc. I was also surprised that they only have one audition - it is decided on the day and no finals. I suppose the audition is the final.

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Sorry, Klaris, I was referring to lower schools as that is all I know about thus far!

 

Spanner, RBS summer school choose all their students on the strength of the photos submitted but for all their full time and associate courses they audition everyone. I think this applies to upper school as well but am not 100% sure.

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As far as I'm aware - out of all the ballet schools in the UK, Rambert is the only one to "sift" first (all a bit of a disaster a couple of years ago with DVDs I seem to remember - how on earth they have time to watch all the DVDs I don't know - personally I'd rather look at them all in the flesh in class) - all the others audition all applicants with some selected for "finals" - this applies to lower and upper schools.

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I thought that not all accepted into RBS Upper School auditioned in the formal sense. I'm sure I've read of some who have been seen at a summer school and were just invited to the Upper School and didn't have to audition. Also, don't some of the big international competitons have prizes where the prize is a place at the RBS or a place at another top school?

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