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How much Pointe experience required for vocational (senior) school


Wish22
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My daughter was a late starter to ballet (at age 14) but has made significant progress in the two years and wants to apply for vocational schools.  However she has had very little pointe experience and although she will be doing a weekly pointe lesson from September wondering if only a year on pointe would be sufficient experience.  Can those of you who have DDs at senior vocational schools tell me if pointe is tested at audition and whether or not one years training would be suffcient experience.

 

 

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They see pointe work in all the final auditions. It is a significant standard (rad advanced foundation/one level) many places do it in the prelims too this is more intermediate standard. I know at northern the director will tell students in the audition to not come off the barre if it is apparent they are not strong. However a lot can be done in a year so please don't be alarmed!

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Thanks 'balletqs'.  That is good to know.  She will doing her Intermediate exam in March so she will only be at that standard.  I wonder if they take the little amount of experience into account and look for potential as she would have another few months experience before the following September.  I suppose the best thing is just to give it a shot.

Edited by Wish22
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Perhaps you could speak to her teacher to see if there is a way to build up the pointework by picking up extra classes?  OUr local ballet school have a pointe class in addition to the vocational syllabus classes (where pointe often tagged on at the end so not very demanding). If that isn't feasible , RAD suggestion is a good one but also London Senior Ballet are auditioning in September and they have a one hour pointe class each week as part of the sunday associate programme. Perhpas also register your dd for the ENBS audition workshop  which covers all aspects of the audition including the pointe work I seem to remember so she will get a better idea of the expectations at upper schools.

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You say your DD is taking her inter exam in March? Auditions will be around that time and from my experience, they are at advanced foundation/ advanced 1 level in terms of movement vocabulary, strength requirements etc. I don't want to alarm you, and perhaps other parents with DC at vocational schools will be able to shed more light on this, but I would want any student of mine to be a very good advanced 1 level before going to auditions at that level to be in with a chance of gaining a place.

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Hi Wish22. While your dd has reached a good standard quickly and clearly has ability, the standard of those auditioning for vocational ballet schools will be advanced 1/ advanced 2. The vocational schools really only have 2 years In Which to get those students to company level when you consider the 3rd year is mostly performance related. My suggestion would be to audition for experience at 16 but aim to audition at 17 with a more realistic chance of getting in. The schools may see potential, but I would think, would not take the risk in injuring your dd when they will have a very high level of auditionees also with bags of potential.

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Wish22, does your DD want to be a classical dancer with a classical ballet company? To be blunt, 14 is very, very late for a girl wanting a classical career to start ballet. The only female professional that I have heard of starting as late as your DD (she was actually a year younger) is Misty Copeland at ABT who is regarded as a prodigy. Have you asked your DD's teacher for an honest appraisal of her chances? The problem is that by the time of the auditions next year your DD will only have done six months of weekly pointe classes, which is very little. I also wonder whether your DD is doing enough hours of ballet a week overall. She will be competing with students from all over the world who have trained intensively from a young age. As far as I am aware, the schools only look at what the students in front of them can do at audition; they are not interested in any 'back story'.

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I have no experience of the audition process myself - however I have known students in past few years who have successfully auditioned when at grade 6 / inter level (idta syllabus) so don't be put off by those saying that you need to be at advanced level to audition. Some schools do audition preparation classes - talk to dds teacher to see if she could have a private lesson with this aim.

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Thanks for all of your advice.  From September she will be doing a Grade 6 group class and 4 hours at Intermediate (including a pointe) with only two pupils in the class  . Her teacher knows she has ambition to go to a vocational college but does does tell us that she will be at a disadvantage at audition having started so late. She is already 16 so would be a 17 year old at entry if she did try this year.

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hi

 

I auditioned last year for Tring, Hammond, NBS and Ballet West.

only NBS and Hammond required pointe, it was aimed at around intermediate level and was optional in the sense that you didn't have to leave barre if you weren't very strong and they would offer alternate steps

 

hope this helps :)

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I've no personal experience as my DD has never auditioned for a vocational school and doesn't plan to,but for what it's worth,I would say, give it a go,but be aware that the chances of gaining a place at any of the top classical schools is very slim. I am a great believer in the "better to have loved and lost" approach - if she never tries she will never know and may always be left wondering what would have happened. But be very realistic. Just based on numbers alone,the odds are against anyone who applies to these schools, and the candidates will include large numbers of girls who have been in full time training since 11. The majority of those not already at vocational school will have been training for many years in their local schools and probably have done associate classes, youth ballets, summer schools etc on a regular basis. Your DD will be competing in a very tough field. But as i say, nothing ventured...

Do think about the possible effects of rejection though. How will she take that, and does she have a plan B and C? Does it have to be classical ballet or would she consider other dance genres, where her late start may be less of an issue?

It might be worth looking out for any workshops or short courses in the run up to auditions. As well as helping your DDs technique,it may help her gauge where she is compared with other girls with similar aspirations.

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aballetlife, I assume that the alternative steps were offered because the schools didn't want the students who were not strong on pointe to attempt things which were beyond them and risk injuring themselves. Do you know whether any of the ones who were weaker on pointe actually got a place at Hammond or NBS? I'm surprised that Tring didn't require pointe at audition.

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hi Aileen ,

 

yes or if you had not done that step before, if I remember I think they offered an alternate when doing posé turns (although I can't remember what).

no sorry I can't say, I didn't know anyone at my auditions so don't know who got in or not.

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The chance of getting a place at any vocational school is slim as there is tough competition and even harder to get a funded place so your DD does need to be realistic. It may be that another year on and she would be in a stronger position - some schools do take at 18.

 

I too know of people getting into vocational school at intermediate level - but with several years experience of pointe and it should be said that these were all people caught up in the RAD changing syllabus situation ie those that started on old syllabus but switched and took the new syllabus for the exam.

 

I suspect that some weaker on pointe may have got a place at Hammond but don't forget that the first year at Hammond is a common year for dance and musical theatre and if they were weaker on pointe/at ballet, they would most definitely have been very strong in others areas - like singing or acting and probably aiming at going down the musical theatre route - not dance. Having said that Hammond, like all schools, has their pick of applicants and will only make offers to those they want - they do not 'fill' places in a year group.

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Aileen, yes for classical ballet.

 

The main thing to remember is its about how well they dance on the day not what exams they've passed. That's why i suggested audition preparation classes. This will allow the teacher to ensure a wide dance vocabulary, on different ways of putting steps together, and for working on any areas of weakness, rather than purely on syllabus.

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I think it also depends upon how "classical" the school in question is, and the likelihood of getting a contract in a classical ballet company at the end of training. That will undoubtedly have a bearing on the audition. For example, if you are auditioning for a course with a general first year, after which most students might choose a Jazz, Commercial, Musical Theatre or Contemporary stream for 2nd and 3rd years, chances are the school will be more laid back about the current standard of pointe work, hence "optional steps".

 

If one is auditioning at a very classical school where the only course available is essentially three years of classical ballet with the aim of most students wanting a contract in a ballet company, then I would assume they would want around Adv 1 standard, or three years (or more) en pointe.

 

To give you an idea, ENBS Summer Course for 15-19 year-olds asks for "Entry Requirements

Summer Course A: Students should be studying Advanced 1 or equivalent (if doing syllabus work) and three years of pointe work for girls."

 

Edited to add: I agree with Harwel that if a student is what the school is looking for then exams and experience aren't the be-all and end-all. Can't hurt to have a chat with your dd's teacher about expectations and which schools to look at.

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I agree it's not about what exams have been passed. However, exam levels are indicative of standard and unfortunately in this country, most teachers follow a syllabus which leaves little time for free work to explore greater dance vocabulary outside of that level. I think there is more acceptance, over the last few years, of dancers who do not follow a syllabus and there are always exceptions where some very talented dancers will get places at vocational school who, on paper, appear to be less advanced. There will always be a space for a truly exceptional dancer.

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Hello at all auditions I have done for vocational schools you need to do pointe work. There is always echappes ( in second / 4th / passes ), at only one audition have I had to do pirouettes en pointe. There is usually bourrees from the corner, which gives you the chance to be more expressive. Also there are sometimes posse turns from the corner which sometimes is quick sometimes slower.

I hope this helps

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These comments are so useful - thank you.

 

She did do the ENBS Spring Course and at could see then that she knew less technically than some of the girls but also that she had much more flexibility and a good body shape compared to some, She will apply for o the Audition Course too to prepare.

 

She knows that ENBS is out of her reach and probably Elmhurst too (of course RBS no way) The vocational schools she is considering are Tring, NBS, Central and maybe Ballet West and BTUK.   She does have a back up plan in that she will be doing her AS levels this year and so if unsuccessful for this next years auditions she would continue to A level and then is she still is determined reapply for dance schools but also Uni too. At 18 there is LSC and Rambert but not entirely sure if the others would take an 18 year old.

Edited by Wish22
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Sounds like a good plan. Central's classical training is very strong though and personally I would put it in the same category as Elmhurst. Just as a heads-up.

 

Ballet West certainly take at 18, as does Rambert, LSC, The Place etc. Does your dd do any Contemporary at the moment?

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BTUK, Ballet West, Hammond and NBS all definitely take students at 18,

so unfortunately if your daughter didn't get a place at 17 she could at least get a feel of these schools and reapply at 18 if she wished:)

Edited by aballetlife
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She has only done Contemporary workshops - no regular classes.  I'm a single parent and the 5 hours of ballet she currently does is already financially stretching me.  Wish I could give her so much more...

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