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What is a festival?


rowan
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I'm finally putting my hand up to say I don't understand what the "festivals" are that are sometimes mentioned on this forum. To me, a festival is a big event lasting several days involving mainly professional companies. I've googled both "ballet festival" and "dance festival" and up come references to events like the International Dance Festival Birmingham, which is on now. Are people referring to this sort of thing, or are they more local events in which dance schools are doing performances?

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My dd's school does not do festivals, so my knowledge is very limited, but from what I understand, festivals in this sense seem to be competitions. If I'm right, the All England competitions would be an example of one: http://www.all-england-dance.org.uk/index.html

 

Hopefully someone with experience of these events can tell us more but that is my understanding. :-)

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Not clear is it Rowan - well done for your admission :)

 

When we "ballet mums" talk about festivals we are talking about dance competitions which come under the umbrella of All England Dance (not all of them are affiliated to AED but most are). To generalise and try to sum up for you - dancers under the age of 21 can enter - usually entered by their dance school but you can do a "private entry". Dancers then compete in their age group (usually one year band, but often two - eg aged 7 & 8) doing a short solo, or duet/trio/quartet. Length of the solo varies according to the age and discipline but start at 1.5 minutes and go up to 3 (I think) for some duets. Groups can also be entered (5 or more dancers) and are in wider age brackets (9 & under, 12 & under, 15 & under and 21 & under).

 

Different festivals have different disciplines available but the usual ones are ballet, tap, modern, song & dance, character, contemporary, Greek, National, lyrical (sometimes with modern). Think that's it......

 

Clear as mud probably ;)

 

And I see spanner has put the link on for AED

 

Edited to add:

 

There's one adjudicator (until you go to finals - that's another discussion) who watches and marks all the dances. In each class the dancers dance one by one and at the end of the class they all come back on stage and the adjudicator awards 1st, 2nd and 3rd places - usually a medal for those - sometimes mentions others and different adjudicators talk about the section in different ways. Some will sum up the whole section, some will mention things specifically about dancers. Afterwards the dancers can collect their certificates and a "critique" - again differing amounts written on there depending on the adjudicator.

 

Some festivals are "qualifying" festivals for AED regional finals - then the dancers need above a certain mark to "qualify".

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Yes, that's right. Festivals are basically competitions. They might be soley dance, or are sometimes combined with a music and/or speech and drama festival. They vary hugely in size from small local affairs to big national competitions like the All England,

The British and International Federation of Festivals website will give you an idea what it's all about. http://www.federatio...stivals.org.uk/

People tend to have strong views on the subject - some very anti, some very pro. I'm somewhere in between personally. My DD does do festivals but only a few a year and we don't take it very seriously. I do think she's learnt from them though, in life skills terms as much as performance and as long as she enjoys doing them it's fine by me. I think as long as you see the festivals as your slave not your master they are fine, but some people do seem to take them very seriously and I dont think that's too healthy myself.

Edited by Pups_mum
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My dd's dance school doesn't do festivals, but we went to watch a friend in one - in Northampton, I think - a year or two ago.

 

It was particularly interesting watching the ballet solos for dd's age group and listening to the adjudicator's comments afterwards, although there are so many categories the festival can go on for days!

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Well, well! Thank you. I've never heard of All England Dance. Is this the British equivalent to Youth America Grand Prix?

 

Hmmm - no, I don't think so but I'm not that up on YAGP to compare

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To expand the this topic a little, are those that always do well at festivals normally also the ones that do well in auditions for vocational schools and associate places?

No, not in my experience. It's a totally different ball game. At a festival the adjudicator is making a judgement on who s/he thinks performs a 1.5-2 minute dance best on the day. Those selecting for vocational schools/associate programmes are more interested in potential and are taking a longer term view. My DD does moderately well at festivals overall, and quite often wins the ballet but would stand no chance of a place at vocational school. Of course there are those who both do well at festivals and go on to vocational schools (I know some such chldren) but I don't think there's a strong link.

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It is right that they are like Marmite , you either love them or hate them !!! Our dance school does enter festivals involving solo s , duets and groups and both my DD S love them .

My eldest doesnt ouse confidence so she is happy and enjoys dancing in groups such as Tap , song and dance and modern, My little one (age 8 ) on the other hand has 5 solo s , duet and numerous groups and would do more if i allowed it or could afford it , she loves the festival scene , loves performing and people watching her.

It is correct that people can take them a little to seriously thinking they are the most important thing in the world , but you get that with alot of things not just festivals . It is very easy to get carried away and the progression from the regionals to the semi s to the Finals is very exciting as we found out last year when my DD made it to the All England Finals last year with her Ballet Solo, the experience of dancing on a west end stage at that age is second to none .

The adjudicator s are mostly lovely and are very knowledgable in the world of dance and for the most part give constructive critisism The competitors especially the ones aged 14/15 plus looking to go on to further training find this valuable.

It is very sociable , you get to know a great deal of people from different areas and different schools and my DD S have made many friends , it also improves confidence. Our experienece of festivals is a very positive one but im sure as with anything peoples views will differ.

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Rowan: The link you posted works fine to get to the trailer, and I see that the YAGP documentary "First Position" opens in the States on 4 May. I spotted a first bit of press coverage for Links the other day, and I suspect we'll be in for many more in the weeks ahead. Here are a couple to be going on with:

 

Review - Variety

Michaela DePrince - Philadelphia Inquirer

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