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hellogoodbye
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Hello there,

 

I just have a few questions and have been directed here - hopefully somebody can advise.

 

DD is 8-years-old. She currently attends a musical theatre school, as well as a ballet and a contemporary class during the week. We've been advised that she has talent and that she should be doing more classes. Her dream is to be in Matilda the Musical and after getting to the final few for the main role, she was asked back next time and is now too tall... so she's determined to get to grade 4 dance so she can go for the ensemble. She'd love to get to grade 4 by the time she's nine or ten.

 

Her ballet school only has the one Grade 2 class a week. So how could she be doing more dance? I've heard of many children who do multiple classes a week. When people do this, are they generally doing grade 2 classes in several different schools? Or are they doing a grade 2 and a grade 3 class? Or is DD right by doing a ballet class and a contemporary class? Is it too early to be doing several ballet classes a week?

 

I suppose my question is, if she wanted to do more ballet - how would she do this with the school only providing one grade 2 class?

 

Another question - the school where she does contemporary want to put her forward for a solo. They're charging extra for her to do a solo, as she'll need solo rehearsal time. I presume this is normal but thought it worth asking... as it seems pretty mean if there were talented children who couldn't afford to do solos? But that's life I suppose?

 

Help appreciated - I'm a bit of a novice as you can see! :huh:

Edited by hellogoodbye
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Welcome to the forum, hellogoodbye. Hopefully someone on here will be able to offer some advice. Sorry I can`t .I have no children who dance; i`m just an ex professional dancer and nosey parker who is fascinated by everyone`s journey to become dancers !!

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Hi,

 

Ill try to answer your questions from our experience as best I can but my dd although she now attends a vocational school comes from more if a musical theatre than ballet background

 

Like your dd my dd attended a part time stage school where she did drama, dance. & singing. She also did ballet at a dance school & like your dd had one 45 min class per week.

 

The minimum age for Grade 1 in some exam boards is age 7 so if you go by the average of taking an exam every 12-18 months then your dd sounds about right for her age.

 

It would be very unusual & not really reccomended for a child that she to take syllabus classes at more than one school. Dd added modern classes to her schedule & also did RAD associates. Her dance school then added an extra class per week at Grade 3 level

 

I would say that Grade 4 by the age of 9-10 would be unusual & your dd would then have to wait until she was 11 before she could take Grade 5. If its RAD the new syllabus is much more mature & the strength/technique takes time to build up. No point rushing through the grades just to get the piece of paper but not having the technique nailed

 

I'd also advise your dd not to get too hung up on one role in one show. Yes, there is the odd 8 year old & your dd obviously did very very well but most ofvthe girls playing Matilda are older around 9-10 but just happen to be tiny for their age. Similarly forcthecrnsemble. - it's luck as to whether a child has the right look/sparkle etc

 

I'm surprised actually that they specify Grade 4 as I know several children who have gone into Zmatilda from a non ballet background (& not all dance schools do exams). Is this a new requirement. As far as I was aware the only requirement for Grade 4 ballet was for Verruca in Charlie (& I know a girl who got down to the last few for that role who hasn't taken Grade 3 yet. She had however done lots of non syllabus stuff like Associates & EYB)

 

If Jo Hawes likes you she will see you.

 

Saying all that in hindsight my own dd was held back by the limited number of classes available to her at her old dance school. At she 11 she had been studying Grade 3 for two years due to syllabus change, circumstances of her teacher & non syllabus classes not being offered. She was still on 2 45 min classes per week plus tap. & modern & it want enough,she was behind.

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And yes if you want to have a private lesson to rehearse a solo for either a competition or a show, you have to pay. That's why dd never did comps.

 

Thank you for all the info. I know it's not a good idea to set your hopes on one role, but DD can't seem to help it! There are quite a number of kids at her musical theatre school who have been in Matilda, so she looks up to them and is dying to do the same. Getting so close last time has only increased her ambition of course.

 

It does say they should be grade 4 to audition for ensemble, but one little girl in DD's class got cast without any dance grades. She really is a fantastic dancer though - it didn't surprise any of us. So I agree grades aren't the most important thing, and maybe we'll put DD forward in a year or so - with or without grades -and see if she gets called.

 

I think she's probably at the wrong dance school because it doesn't extend to 2 classes at grade3 or grad4 either (at least I can't see that it does from the timetable). But after lots of research there doesn't seem to be any 'serious' dance schools in the area - and she's happy at this one. We travel to London every week for musical theatre so I'm not prepared to travel for other classes as well.

 

As long as she's not missing out and doing less than what's required, that's fine. The rest is up to her as far as I'm concerned.

Edited by hellogoodbye
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Hi hellogoodbye and welcome from me too. :-)

 

Can you elaborate on your dd's "Contemporary" classes? It's just that if it is true Contemporary - e.g. Cunningham, Graham based - then it is unusual as far as I know for young children to study Contemporary as it demands a level of physical and especially emotional maturity. If it is Musical Theatre she is after then I would be inclined to concentrate on ballet, jazz/modern, and perhaps some tap too.

 

It's not unusual to only have one graded ballet class per week for the lower grades at "local" dance schools, but if you could add in a non-syllabus ballet class - or investigate Associate classes - that might help your dd to progress more quickly in Ballet so she can get to the grade required. :-)

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Welcome to the forum, hellogoodbye. Hopefully someone on here will be able to offer some advice. Sorry I can`t .I have no children who dance; i`m just an ex professional dancer and nosey parker who is fascinated by everyone`s journey to become dancers !!

This made me smile to myself as I too am a dreadful nosey Parker I can remember things written on here about other peoples children yet can forget half the things off my shopping list.

 

Welcome to the forum hellogoodbye your dd sounds like she is in around the right grade for her age . At 8 I would say most are only doing one class of ballet, tap and modern a week and is usually when many will start auditioning for associate places at Royal and Elmhurst etc.

Are there any classes you could tag onto the Musical Theatre when you are in London ?

I don't know if you are aware of another forum called Notapushymum lots of children going for roles in Musicals and acting too .

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Hi hellogoodbye and welcome from me too. :-)

 

Can you elaborate on your dd's "Contemporary" classes? It's just that if it is true Contemporary - e.g. Cunningham, Graham based - then it is unusual as far as I know for young children to study Contemporary as it demands a level of physical and especially emotional maturity. If it is Musical Theatre she is after then I would be inclined to concentrate on ballet, jazz/modern, and perhaps some tap too.

 

It's not unusual to only have one graded ballet class per week for the lower grades at "local" dance schools, but if you could add in a non-syllabus ballet class - or investigate Associate classes - that might help your dd to progress more quickly in Ballet so she can get to the grade required. :-)

 

I'm afriad I can't - I've no idea!! All I know is the class is called 'Contemporary for 8+'. She was doing modern and tap for a while but the dance school wasn't very good (I think they got to make up their own dances almost every lesson... I'd constantly walk in and find them leap-frogging!).

 

So we've just joined this new dance school and DD was keen to do contemporary because of 'Dance Moms'!! She also does modern there straight afterwards. No grades though. And then she does the ballet elsewhere.

 

She's always picked out for her dancing based on the fact she's quite fierce and really performs - now it's just getting her technique up to the same level that's the headache for me, because I don't know what/where is best. She loves singing and acting too, but dance seems to be her strongest and something I can see her taking seriously in future as well.

 

What are associate classes? The musical theatre side of things I know quite well, but the more technical dance side is all new to me - hence why I chose this forum.

 

 

You say you travel to London for musical theatre classes.

 

Do you live within the M25 as unless you do they won't consider her for an ensemble role. Only Matilda & Bruce can live outside that area (they then board with chaperones & tutors) all other children have to live within the magic area!

 

Yes, it's only 25 minutes on the train, but still a bit of a haul and I wouldn't be able to do it more than once a week for classes.

Edited by hellogoodbye
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Associate classes are classes run by various organisations, usually but not always auditioned & are designed to complement a dancers local training.

 

They are run by vocational schools (Royal Ballet Junior Associates, Tring CBA, Elmhurst & Hammond) by exam boards (RAD Associates, BBO Scholars etc) or sometimes by independent organisations.

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Personally I would try to find a dance school which offers syllabus tap and modern/jazz - ISTD is a very good syllabus for both styles, and both would be of benefit to your dd if her ambition is to go into musical theatre. I would probably drop the Contemporary and look for good quality ballet training. If the "Contemporary" is what I understand Contemporary to mean (as opposed to Modern/Disco style) then it certainly won't harm your dd to stop that for a while and concentrate on ballet.

 

Are the London MT classes at the weekends? Do they run all day, or could you possibly fit in ballet classes too if you don't want to travel separately for more dance classes? If so then it would be worth searching the forum for "Associates" and reading up about them. :-)

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Thank you very much - I really appreciate all this information.

 

I've looked into associates - from what I've read, it's just for ballet? It seems very interesting, though I think DD is more of a fierce/sharp MT dancer than a light/graceful ballerina. But maybe that's exactly why she should do it. I'm keen to look into it... does anyone know of any associate classes than run in London on Sundays? That's when she does MT from 12.30 - 5.

 

Perhaps I've done the wrong thing with the contemporary :unsure::wacko::blink: . She does enjoy it though. Here's where the headache begins again.... do I let her just do what she enjoys because she enjoys it and is good at it... or do I make a more serious decision based on a feeling she'll want dance in her future? And why aren't there enough hours in the day?!!

 

Can I ask, how much were people heres DC's doing at 8-years-old, and what are they doing now?

 

Thank you again x

Edited by hellogoodbye
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My dd is only just 9 years old, and is currently doing grade 4 in ballet, grade 3 tap and grade 4 in modern. She is ballet ballet ballet, from the age of 7 she always goes into her grade and the grade above so seems to be moving along the grades a lot quicker than some other girls in the school, she also does festivals so she has a few private lessons which has really helped her, then from the age of 8 she went to Tring parks classical ballet academy which is every other Sunday.

Class times she dances about 8 hours a week, but you really don't need to do this much is only that ballet is her life and would not have it any other way!

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Gosh trying to remember!

 

At age 8 dd had just gone into Grade 2 ballet & modern & Grade 1 tap

 

She was going

 

45 mins each of tap, ballet & modern & 3 hours of Stagecoach (drama, dance, singing). She also had half an hour lamda drama a week.

 

By age 11 she added an extra ballet class once a fortnight, RAD associate class once a month & a contemporary class. She also had show rehearsals for a musical she auditioned for all day Sundays.

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Laines in London associate classes would be ideal for your daughter. Also why not consider excellent structured training where your daughter can still have fun now, this would give her the best chance possible if she was lucky to Persue a future out of it. If you are already in London look up ballet classes on offer eg Anna De Bioson, Russian ballet London, and lots more. Keep the ballet class in the week and see if the ballet school offers graded modern classes. Your daughter can still have fun, but look for good quality classes or your daughter will fall behind the others.

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I cannot remember what my DDs were doing at 8 , My youngest I think it was just one lesson ballet ,tap and modern plus festivals. She was a Royal Ballet associate a Hammond Associate now currently at Vocational School.

Only my opinion but I believe a strong foundation in ballet will help any dance style .

 

The best advice I have , coming from the viewpoint of hindsight is at such a young age keep it fun !!

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London Junior Ballet is a Sunday Associate scheme, as is Tring Park's Classical Ballet Academy. If I remember rightly LJB is held at Arts Educational School in Chiswick?

 

The decision whether to keep Contemporary is really up to you - if you can fit it in, no problem. But if you find you need to add in more ballet classes and are short of time then that would be the one I would drop.

 

An interesting exercise might be to try to get an idea of the timetable and/or dance styles studied at good Musical Theatre schools. I would hazard a guess that the Junior students would take ballet at least several times a week.

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I would echo the advice to keep it fun and be led by your DD to some extent but the foundation for all dance styles is ballet, as others have said.  Roll the clock forward many years and if your DD is still on the path for musical theatre at college and as a career - then it is ballet, singing and acting she would be required to do at audition to get a place.  Often jazz/contemporary also but they are often picked up at a later age.

 

At DDs school they do 1 x 45 min lesson a week up to grade 2 and add in a second class in grade 2 in the last few months before the exam.  Grade 3 onwards it is then 2 classes a week.  They also do IDTA modern jazz for 1 class a week and 1 class a week of non syllabus work.

 

We had no associates close enough for us to attend - extra dance came in the form of local musical theatre shows.

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My dd only started taking ballet lessons on her 9th birthday but after about a year, she was lucky enough to take a non - syllabus class with an excellent teacher who never lowered his expectations even though the other girls in the class were much older. When she was 11 she went to summer school on this teacher's recommendation and there we were advised to get her as many lessons as possible and at 13, she was accepted into vocational school. I must add that she had danced other styles since the age of 3.

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When it comes to fitting in more than one ballet class a week when the school only offers one class at that grade... Could it be possible to ask the teacher if she could join in the grade 3 class as well, or if there is a non-syllabus/free work class that would be good too.

 

When my dd was 9 she started in the grade above "just for fun" and she really enjoyed it; and improved a lot as she enjoyed the challenge of having the older ones to copy and look up to. This isn't right for everyone though, some dc's might be put off by finding the work too difficult, and lose confidence.

 

As others have said, the main thing is having fun at this age!

 

Re contemporary - most don't start taking these classes until their early teens, as the work needs much more physical strength and solid technique. The majority do ISTD modern and/or jazz instead (alongside their ballet classes which are essential for posture and alignment).

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I am really just echoing what others have said. Good training in ballet is essential if you want to become a dancer in ANY genre. Think of the old dancing groups who used to be on TV. Hot Gossip,Legs and Co. Pans People. Although not doing ballet,every one of those dancers would have had many years of classical ballet training from a relatively young age. I honestly don`t think in this day and age you could call yourself a dancer without a good few years of good quality ballet training behind you. The tap,jazz, contemporary, hip hop, whatever other style,can all be learned later ,but ballet can`t.

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Thank you all, you've been very very informative.

 

My dd is only just 9 years old, and is currently doing grade 4 in ballet, grade 3 tap and grade 4 in modern. She is ballet ballet ballet, from the age of 7 she always goes into her grade and the grade above so seems to be moving along the grades a lot quicker than some other girls in the school, she also does festivals so she has a few private lessons which has really helped her, then from the age of 8 she went to Tring parks classical ballet academy which is every other Sunday.
Class times she dances about 8 hours a week, but you really don't need to do this much is only that ballet is her life and would not have it any other way!

 

Wow balletmum, that's great. That's exactly where DD would like to be.

 

 

London Junior Ballet is a Sunday Associate scheme, as is Tring Park's Classical Ballet Academy. If I remember rightly LJB is held at Arts Educational School in Chiswick?

The decision whether to keep Contemporary is really up to you - if you can fit it in, no problem. But if you find you need to add in more ballet classes and are short of time then that would be the one I would drop.

An interesting exercise might be to try to get an idea of the timetable and/or dance styles studied at good Musical Theatre schools. I would hazard a guess that the Junior students would take ballet at least several times a week.

 

Thank you spannerandpony.

 

Currently in the week she does: 1 hour ballet, 1 hour "contemporary", 1 hour modern, 3 hours musical theatre (2 of these are dance), private singing and an after-school dance class that I'm not sure counts!!

 

I think I will keep the contemporary because there's little point in dropping it (she'd still have to do the journey, as she does modern in the same place straight afterwards). And I will look into the ballet associates.

 

I just wish - and have always wished - there was a (local) dance-school where she could do ballet, modern, tap all back-to-back on the same evening. They all seem to timetable all the ballet grades one evening, then modern a different evening. It makes things so difficult as we can't logistically get her places on multiple evenings. That's why she's doing the contemporary - it just fits because its scheduled with modern!

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Hello,

 

In DD's - reasonably serious - local dance school, the norm is for a child to do the grade of ballet they are studying for plus attend the class above, from Grade 2 onwards. So a child doing Grade 2 would attend Grade 2 and 3 classes to reach their 2 hours per week. In the term running up to an exam, then it is usual for there to be a 'coaching' class as well, either 30 or 45 minutes, which would bring the total amount of ballet up.

 

Unfortunately, I don't think that your dream of having all classes together is going to work anywhere! To do so, a chld would have to progress at exactly the same rate in every genre - so e.g. move from a 3 hour block of Grade 1 Modern, ballet, Tap to a separate block of Grade 2 lessons in each of these, by taking 3 exams in a single term / exam session...

 

We heave a sigh of relief when we have a 4-evening term. Next term is not only a 4-evening term but we FINALLY lose all Saturday classes (it is the term when DD takes no exams) ! For DD it is a split between 3.75 hours of ballet (Grade 6, Interfoundation, Foundation, Beginner Pointe), 45 mins private leson for solos, 45 minutes each of Grade 5 Tap and Grade 6 Modern, an hour of Stretching / Body Conditioning, and between 2 and 3.5 hours of Performing Groups. She's 11 and has just done Grade 5 ballet - I would say that Grade 4 at 10 is entirely possible but Grade 4 at 9 would be unusual, at least at DD's dance school.

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