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sarahw

Intermediate Foundation- hours per week?

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This is a question which has arisen from the thread on RAD exams and age.

 

I would be interested for your opinions on how many hours of ballet a week would be the ideal minimum for a 12 year old starting IF and who wants to retain the option of vocational training in the future.

 

I know the answer is as long as a piece of string! !

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IMHO (!) two classes of IF a week, plus grade class, and ideally a non-syllabus class and/or an associate programme somewhere... 

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Inter Foundation is the first of the 'vocational' grades. With the RAD they do regular grades up to grade 8, none of which include pointework. The vocational grades introduce pointework at IF.

 

The grade classes also have character work which isn't in the vocational syllabus, so many people do both.

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I would agree with taxi - an ideal would really be two IF classes, 2 grade classes plus something like associates , stretch or Pilates or free work.

 

At vocational school in year 7 dd did 2 IF classes & 5 non syllabus classes per week

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Our IFs get two 90 minute ballet classes a week, plus two or three other dance classes (modern etc) .  In our school they do IF after they have finished Grade 5, so there wouldn't be much point in taking the grade classes again.  I usually add on an extra half hour to the schedule once we start pointework.  I imagine a lot depends on how long their actual IF syllabus classes are (60 or 90 minutes).

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DiL, if your students don't do the vocational exams do they continue doing the graded exams?

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The RAD seems very similar to BBO then.

For those younger students who are more serious and possibly contemplating a career in dancing the vocational Intermediate Foundation is the equivalent of grade 6. And Intermediate the equivalent of grade 7.

 

None of the grade classes for exam purposes at any rate have to do pointe work.

 

However for those students who want to carry on doing ballet but not as a career they usually do the grade classes but by grade7 even if not doing an exam there is usually some pointe work introduced for those students who want to try it.

 

Regards your DD by the age of 12 if a possible career is being considered then above advice by other posters seems about right.

One way or the other the equivalent of at least 4- 5 classes a week seems about right.

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Let me make sure that I understand your question, aileen. Did you mean do they do Higher Grades if they don't do Vocationals? In our school, everyone learns the same syllabus and moves up with the class each year, whether or not they have taken the exam.  Not every student is capable of or wants to take exams. Not every parent can afford to pay for the exams, so we do not insist on that being the criteria for moving up.  They have enough weekly training hours to cover the work properly, so it's not a problem to move them all up together.  I do let as many as I can take the exam if they want to, but sometimes that backfires.  In the past I would only let the better ones take the exam, but then I realised that if I allowed the weaker ones to take the exams they invested more effort in their training and usually improved quite a lot.  The problem is that they are used to getting very high school marks, so find it hard to accept that they have passed ballet with a mark in the 60s, which sounds to them very low!  Of course, I am delighted when they manage to pull off a reasonable Merit mark, especially if I thought they might fail!

 

After Grade 5, we do IF, then Grade 7 and then Intermediate. We do sometimes continue on with the Advanced Vocational levels, but the costs of the exams are so prohibitive, that we often prefer to just give them non-syllabus advanced classes and not bother with exams.   Occasionally I have taught Grade 6 instead of IF, but I think I get better results when I teach them IF.  I don't bother with Grade 8.

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DiL, I'm surprised that the parents of your students can afford to pay for so many classes if they can't afford to pay for exams. I'm pleased to hear that you now allow the 'weaker' students to take exams. I've heard of schools who only enter their better students for exams because they only want very high marks in their results. By not offering Grade 6 and Grade 8 classes you free up more time in the schedule for additional IF, Grade 7 etc classes. I'd be interested to know how many students your school has.

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Students at DDs school get 2 x IF classes a week, 2 x grade classes a week and 1 x non syllabus class each week. Not all do the vocational grades some the non syllabus class is optional. Classes are 45 mins long. Students start IF within a few months of starting grade 4. generally speaking IF students are grades 4 & 5, Intermediate students are grades 6 & 7, and Advanced students are grades 7 & 8. Students take exams when they are ready rather than a whole class at a time so each grade tends to be a mix of year groups. When I say 'ready', the teacher recognises that some students would never get a distinction no matter how long they spent in a grade so they are entered when they know the syllabus and stand the best chance of getting the best grade they can.

Length of class time is however a little misleading as if most students are in the same class for grade and vocational grade (which often happens), they will concentrate in the last month before the exam on whatever exam they are taking. In addition, the school puts on extra vocational classes in school holidays - 2.5 hours long - just for those taking the vocational exam.

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My DDS did 3 hours of IF, and three hours grade ballet plus tap, modern and jazz.

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My DS did 3 1/2 hours a week on IF straight after taking grade 4 and did it on a year. It took 2 years from there to get intermediate with a similar number of hours. Along side that he did modern, tap and musical theatre. But as you say, how long is a piece of string? Different growth rates, physical development and mental development all make for many variations at this sort of age. I think developing a sound technique, and having a teacher that understands your child's needs is far more important than age - this may mean that at 16 a child may be taking advanced 1 or advanced 2 but both have potential for a professional career.

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aileen - there is a basic fee for two lessons a week and then an extra charge is made for each additional class.  However, the more classes you add, the less you pay for the class, so the 6th lesson would cost an extra pound a week and the 7th one is free.  Thus the exams at the advanced levels  are considered very expensive here at around 140 pounds sterling.  They could pay membership and so pay less for the exam, but there are no real benefits to that (apart from a magazine three times a year) especially if they don't take the exam in the end.  In the school where I teach, I would say that the majority of the parents are able to pay for the exams up to the lower vocational levels, although some are against exams in principle. Then there are those who really can't afford it (single mums for example)  who get a discount from the school for classes, but sometimes even that isn't enough and they have to cut down on the number of classes.  I often help out if there's a particularly promising student, who can't afford the exam, by paying for them and letting them pay me back in installments.  Learning to dance is an expensive business!  

 

Kiwimum6 - I think that the majority of vocational schools only offer RAD classes once a week.  The idea is that if you are getting high level ballet classes on a regular daily basis, then you just need one class a week in order to learn the set material, because the technique is already being taken care of in the non-syllabus classes.  That is of course the ideal way.  A male student of mine who went to Elmhurst, joined that school having passed his Advanced 1 with me at 16.  He then had one class a week for about 4 terms so as to learn the Advanced 2.  He had to go down to London to take the exam and even so there were no other boys with him!  And he got a fairly high Distinction.

 

I have thought a lot about why so many RAD schools in the UK offer so few hours and I think it may be related to the fact that it is presumed that children who want to take it up seriously will go to one of the vocational schools, and that those who don't are therefore classified as recreational dancers. Would anyone agree with that?

Edited by Dance*is*life

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I imagine that may be the case DIL. Your school sounds well set up for those continuing seriously as they get older. Most schools around us don't. I guess you have to have enough pupils continuing at that level to make it work financially.

 

It seems to me that most teenagers around here do ballet only as a support to the modern and tap which they prefer.

 

My dc loves ballet above all else but there aren't enough others like them to support the intensity of ballet classes you describe. DC would think they were in heaven at your school!!

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When students come to our school they know up front that they have to do ballet first and foremost, and I suppose we must be doing something right, because they rarely drop out of the school to escape it !!!!   We're the only school in the town to teach ballet seriously though and everyone knows it, so that helps.  We don't have entry auditions, so have a mixed bag of students, but luckily the intensity of the training is enough to enable the talented ones to reach a high enough level for acceptance in company trainee positions.  And the less talented ones, without the physical attributes, still enjoy their training, love dancing and show an acceptable level of technique. 

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I have thought a lot about why so many RAD schools in the UK offer so few hours and I think it may be related to the fact that it is presumed that children who want to take it up seriously will go to one of the vocational schools, and that those who don't are therefore classified as recreational dancers. Would anyone agree with that?

I don't think so at all - firstly there are nowhere near enough vocational schools! Also, you are extremely unlikely to be successful in auditioning unless you have been receiving good tuition in the first place.

 

The majority of schools will only have a certain number of hours available in their timetable, and the vast majority of dance schools offer not only ballet, but other dance styles too. There will always be a limited number of students with the ability, aptitude and physique to progress to the higher levels, and dance teachers have a living to make. They won't have three classes at Grade 7 or Inter (for instance) if there are only two or three students in the class. They will put on a class where they will have more students in it, so they can pay the bills...

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I think size of the studio is probably more relevant than the presumption that children who take it seriously will mostly go to vocational school. Even if you are in a larger city, the number of classes on offer is limited by the number of children, hours in the week and number of studios. Our studio offers classes for pre-schoolers twice a week during the day but the majority of classes have to be fit in after school and on Saturdays. Ours is the opposite to Sarahw in that all do ballet and some do modern alongside but by no means all. Most are recreational dancers and although there are fewer dancers in the higher grades, a lot stay until they go off to university at 18, usually taking their grade 8 in their final term.

 

Bringing the question back to sarahw's original post, I would suggest talking to your child's teacher so that they know what your child hopes to achieve. If he/she wishes to audition for vocational school at 16, he/she would probably want to be in advanced ballet class at the time of the audition. A good teacher should have the flexibility within their school to help those with potential aim for vocational school aswell as cater for those who just wish to work their way through grades because they enjoy it.

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You say yours is the only serious ballet studio in the area.

 

In the UK there are far far more Dance schools & many are run by primarily ballet teachers with other classes as an add on.

 

In my town of 75,000 there are around 7 or 8 ballet schools that I know of. Very close by in the next town/city - Population 250,000 there are at least 10-12 ballet schools.

 

Classes have to be fitted in between 4pm- 8pm each night or Saturday mornings. Schools that don't have their own studios & have to hire church halls are restricted further (maybe 1 or two evenings plus Saturdays at most)

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I wonder how many ballet schools have their own studios. Many schools hire church halls and day school premises.

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I dream of having my own studio! Sadly have to make do with a myriad different venues varying from scout huts to school halls!

 

And even if the timetable allowed for it most children in the area I teach have many other commitments (brownies, flute, tuition, karate, football, netball, swimming etc etc). Ballet to many is just a once a week hobby!

 

Come to think of it, its a miracle any of my students have gone to vocational school!

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hfbrew - I agree very impressive! You must be a very good teacher!  Thank you everyone for your info. I hadn't realised quite what teachers are up against.  I know that many RAD schools get excellent exam results in spite of only having their pupils once or twice a week and I really take my hat off to them!

 

I teach in a town of 85,000 and of course there are lots of other dance schools and studios.  However, there is just one senior high school with a dance stream (no vocational schools) and although the emphasis is on modern, they only accept students with ballet training.  This means that suddenly at the age of 13 and 14, girls realise that they will need to improve their ballet technique if they want to get in at 15, so they come to us.  Some of them have been dancing for several years at the other schools, when they join us.  We invariably have to place them in a lower age group in order to teach them some basic technique and they are way behind our own students.  We get children from all over the town, so that's how I know we're the only school offering serious ballet training. We only have two studios in the same building as the music department, but they are ours, so classes can run 5 days a week!  I am very, very lucky to work here. I tried starting my own school, but I prefer just having to teach! 

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I suspect our town has a lot of dance schools per head and therefore smaller schools with less classes per grade.

DIL which country are you in?

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In the UK the majority of high schools have dance departments run by PE teachers. To study dance at a state run high school you don't need any prior training at all. It is mostly contemporary style with varying amounts of technique.

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Been reading this and thinking.

 

At DD's dance school, it looks as if there is only 1 IF class per week. In fact, every student attending it will also do at least 2 hours of other ballet classses and all except the boys will do pointe.

 

DD started attending IF after she passed her Grade 4. She attended Grade 5, Grade 6, IF and the first Pointe class - so 3.75 hours of ballet. Now she's passed her Grade 5, so does Grade 6, IF and Intermediate. This is part of the 10+ hours per week she spends at the studios, doing tap, modern, stretching, solo work, group work etc etc. In the term before an exam, there would be an additional hour of ballet lessons for that grade for the exam students - so 4.75 hours. There are 2 Intermediate and 2 advanced lessons on the timetable - although these are some distance away for us, I should imagine that once she has passed grade 6 she would be expected to fo IF, Intermediate x 2 - i don't know whether she would also do the Advanced lesson - and there is lots of associated body conditioning type stuff and longer pointe lssons. Nobody does Grades 7 or 8, all do the 'vocational' grades. 4-8 students leave for full-time dance studies at some point before or at 18 each year.

 

So the number of hurs 'labelled ' IF don't necessaril;y reflect the number of hiouyrs a student doing IF would normally do IYSWIM?

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ParentTaxi - how does your daughter keep all those different syllabi straight in her head?  Doesn't she get muddled?  It's actually quite a clever way of getting more hours, because in fact she's working at a higher level than the exam she's taking.  Do you have an end of year recital?  If so it must be complicated working out what level she should dance with!

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