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ISTD Modern Grades/Ages


Anna C
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Morning all,

 

Not so much ballet related but definitely "Doing Dance" related!

 

My dd has been studying ISTD Modern since about Grade 2, if I remember rightly. She has been taking an exam almost every summer and getting high Distinction every time. She looks fairly "balletic" when she dances (as opposed to particularly "funky"!) but still does it so sharply and beautifully that it looks great.

 

She's been studying Grade 5 and now only has the dance to learn, so I expected her to be taking her Grade 5 at the end of this term as usual.

 

The class has a cover teacher though who is delighted with dd but announced the other day that because they "shouldn't really be taking their Grade 6 until about 18" that they are too young at 13 to take their G5 and that it would probably be at least another year before they take the exam.

 

ISTD Guidelines say that the minimum age for Intermediate (which follows on from G6) of 13!

 

Apparently one of the reasons is that the G6 work is more mature and "sexy", and therefore that the group is too young, but ok, spend longer teaching that!

 

I'm just not keen for dd to be doing the same G5 work over and over again for 2 years.

 

Thoughts? :-)

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Hi Spanner

my dd is 14 and doing ISTD modern. She generally takes an exam every summer but not this year as she is working towards Intermediate and I believe there is a lot more work involved. Last summer she took grade IF -I could be wrong but I think this is the equivalent to grade 6. I watched some of the work and I am surprised the teacher has called it 'sexy'. Obviously as they progress up the grades there will be elements which are more 'grown up'. The dance was choreographed by the teacher and was very lyrical so that suited my 'balletic' dd! I wonder whether it would be worth having a quiet word with your dd's teacher to explain how keen your dd is on doing the exam.

I know our school don't always allow just 1 pupil to do an exam on their own so may be if your dd is the only one ready-would this be a possible factor influencing the decision?

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Mmm, could be. Thanks swe. All the others in her class are once-a-week dancers but even so, at least one other girl looks ready to take the exam. I understand that the cover teacher doesn't want to run an exam session this term as it's not really her class, but from a quick chat about it even the Director of the school thinks that the G5 and G6 work requires a more "sexy" approach.

 

I've said that I'm not happy about dd studying the Grade 5 work for another year and in that case would they consider an autumn exam when the usual teacher will be back. No reply....

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I was under the impression that Modern Majors were designed for 16+ so therefore there is no rush to get through the grades too quickly.

 

The class content, whilst very 'do-able' by a younger/able student wont have the same maturity or weight behind it as an older student. I think the teacher is being very sympathetic of younger children and not wishing them to feel uncomfotable by asking them to do moves which werent designed to be done by younger children. There is always a jazz or lyrical option with the Modern exams - perhaps there is a reason why your daughters teacher choose the Lyrical route swe?.

 

I think the larger competitions such as Janet Cram/Imperial Awards/Gene are a good guideline to the 'ideal age' for the various disciplines. I guess when a new sylabus is created they must have a 'standard student' in mind - there will always be more able students but it doesnt make them able to express themselves as maturely as an older dancer. I remember pushing for my daughter to take her Bronze Jazz award, she was the youngest age allowed and dancing with older children - whilst she was probably better technically it didnt look right, and I could understand why the teacher had concerns. Its not always doing the move - its feeling and understanding it.

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That's a good point Bankrupt Mum. I think that's what they are getting at and I can understand it. I think my problem is that I'm not sure that much maturity is necessary for the G5 work, so why not let her do that in the autumn and then take a bit longer over G6 and the Majors?

 

It's not that I want to rush the process but I know from experience that if dd has to study the G5 syllabus for 2 years she will get bored and demotivated...which is counterproductive.

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I think it would be very boring for her to continue with g5 for 6 months let alone 2 years if she already does it well.I think it would be much better to do a different modern class and then come back to it when the exam will happen,but thats just my opinion.

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That's interesting BankruptMum-I didn't realise there were options for jazz v lyrical-so you could be right that the teacher chose that to avoid anything potentially uncomfortable. I do think that children have to 'feel' ok and it's not just the technical ability. Having said that I don't think grade 5 has elements which are too 'adult'-but that's just my view x

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I know if there was a choice my dd would take the lyrical route every time; that's what floats her boat, as it were. But no, having watched several G5 classes now there doesn't seem to be anything requiring a higher level of maturity.

 

Honestly, I'm not trying to rush her through age-inappropriate exams in a hurry. :-). But conversely, she works best when engaged and stretched. I just don't want her to lose her love of Modern because she has to study the same exercises week in, week out for 2 years.

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It may just be S&P its not that she wants to hold her back from taking her G5 but knows she will be stuck in G6 if she moves in too quickly - perhaps consider dropping modern for six months and either do something else instead or have a rest!

 

Its a shame they cant alternate the classes with freework to stretch it out a little.

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Maybe she could consider dropping modern for a bit, perhaps replacing it with another ballet class or something in a different style all together. Modern can be easily picked up later. My dd never did modern until she was 16, but took her intermediate modern after a term or two at Northern Ballet School. If you had this in mind, you could perhaps ask the teacher whether she could take the Grade 5 before she stops modern for a bit. If none of the others in the school are taking it, ask the teacher if she knows of another school running a session where she could take the exam (my dd did this for one of her RAD ballet exams)

 

Edited to add: posted at the same time as BankruptMum - seems we had the same idea!

Edited by glowlight
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Yes, it does. Thank you everyone. I will have another chat with them and explain the problem. There isn't anything else she can do on a Monday instead of the Modern class but we'll see what they say. :-)

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This happens frequently with our modern dancers going through the modern grades (IDTA) and I know the teacher has to fill in a form asking permission for a child more than 6 months younger than the age set to take the exam. However, to avoid repeating the same exercises week in week out for longer periods the teacher gives them a break from the syllabus and they work towards medals instead. Perhaps the teacher has something in mind?

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Sadly I don't think she does. :-(

 

Dd isn't too young for the exam as far as the ISTD is concerned, just as far as the teacher is concerned. Need to have another chat with the school and see what they thought about my October idea. Fun and games! :-)

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I teach the ISTD Modern grades and vocational grades and disagree with the comments made about the grade 5/6 syllabus being too grown up!!! My grade 5 class has students aged 11-14 and they are due to take their exam in the autumn and will have been on that level for about 15 months. The grade 5 work does require a strong level of technique and knowing that your dd Spanner is also on Intermediate ballet I would think she would be at a suitable level for this grade and close to taking the exam. My students go onto to the Intermediate Foundation syllabus after grade 5 as most are hoping for a career in dance and I think it is good to enter at vocational level. This maybe more suitable for your dd Spanner? As a guidance my students who took their Inter Foundation last summer were aged 15 (most of the group)-16 and had been in that level for around 15-24 months and all gained Distinction! they also all gained distinction in grade 5 aged 13-14 which would indicate that they are age appropriate for these levels. There is no definite age for each grade and I do have some varied ages in each grade I currently have a 9 year old in grade 4 who is due to take her exam so will be aged 10 in grade 5! and also older students in each level too and they all take their exams when they are ready some after 6 months in a grade and some after 2 years it depends on the student!

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Thanks Flowerdew, yes, in my opinion dd would be ready to take G5 in the summer. The school insists on the Vocational Grades following on from Grade 6 in ISTD, so they won't let her go from G5 Modern straight to Inter Foundation.

 

Yes, in ballet she is studying RAD Intermediate (where she is the youngest by 3-5 years) and taking her Grade 6 at the end of June. Out of all her local classes, she is at her happiest in Intermediate because she stretches herself all the time to work at and try to exceed the level of the older girls.

 

I think I need to have a proper chat with the school, particularly when the usual teacher comes back from Mat. Leave.

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The only time my dd's teacher mentioned this was when she was deciding what the girls were going to wear in the school show. She said the moves are ok as long as the costumes are age-appropriate!

 

Spanner, would your dd's teacher let her do inter foundation modern 'for fun' alongside the grade 5? That way she gets to learn the syllabus early, which can be a plus for auditions, summer schools etc.

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With regard to the Janet Cram awards - the ISTD modern competition states for Premier level - age 13 and under 17,must have passed grade 6, inter foundation or intermediate. So it appears that the modern committee of the ISTD don't have an issue with the maturity of the work. After free warm up the floor work to be demonstrated is from Inter F and the amalgamations from intermediate.

 

J x

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Thanks Elliepops! :-)

 

Taxi, I have a nasty feeling our school doesn't do ISTD Inter Foundation Modern, choosing instead to go from Grade 6 to Intermediate. I've never seen it on the timetable and a while back when I was asking the teacher about Modern grades, she said that they do Inter after G6.

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My daughter is in a very similar position at 12 she has taken an ISTD modern exam every year and always gets high distinction passes. She has been in grade 5 since last summer and I presumed she and the rest of the class would be taking the exam this summer. However the teacher has said that a year ie 3 terms isn't enough for them all the cover the syllabus which is a big step up from Grade 4 both in the amount of work and technique involved. She is always asked by her teacher to do the Lyrical set dance rather than the jazz (she would like to more funky!) but Lyrical suits her better. She has been doing Inter Foundation Modern for a term which our school run alongside Grades 5 and 6 for children whom they feel have talent and potential and who are maybe considering a career in dance. She feels this class reallly stretches her. They also do a lot of free work and limbering in the normal grade class. On top of this she has her festival work - 2 modern groups and a lyrical modern solo and duet - so definately has enough to stop her getting bored. She will be happy to do the grade 5 exam along with the rest of the class as and when they are ready. It is a shame your dd can't do Inter Foundation Modern. What about Jazz. My dd about to do her bronze jazz exam and loves it even though she always looks a bit balletic to me!

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With regard to the Janet Cram awards - the ISTD modern competition states for Premier level - age 13 and under 17,must have passed grade 6, inter foundation or intermediate. So it appears that the modern committee of the ISTD don't have an issue with the maturity of the work. After free warm up the floor work to be demonstrated is from Inter F and the amalgamations from intermediate.

 

J x

 

ISTD appear not dont have an issue with it but the expected age range is 13-17 so 13 does seem to be a minimum age and as we have all agreed in previous post there is no rush to speed through exams.

 

I guess consideration has to be given in the value of 'local' dance schools if dancers are able to take part in a lot of Asociate classes - the expectations of both are sometimes very different - unless you happen to have an amazing teacher with lots of talented local children to dance alongside, it is difficult for teachers to set different age requirements for some students without upsetting a lot of parents.

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Just looked at my dds modern exams. She took her intermediate ISTD exam when she was still aged 14years, gaining a distinction. She did her Advanced 1 at just turned 16 years again with a distinction. It was the same with the Tap and Ballet exams.

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The teacher's response about the exam syllabus being inappropriate does seem a bit odd!

 

My DD was studying ISTD Grade 5 modern at 11 but didn't take the exam because her school changed hands a couple of times and it was a bit of a mess for a while. When things settled at 13 she moved on to Inter Foundation and there really wasn't anything that was "inappropriate" but it is quite a stylistic syllabus and I can see that you would need a certain level of strength and maturity to cope with that. She took Intermediate last year (at 14) and she achieved distinction in both exams.

 

DD goes to a non-syllabus mixed ability jazz class now, (no Adv 1 modern class available), where her teacher tailors the moves to make them much harder for the more able students, and this class does really stretch her! (she has also taken Gold Jazz in the meantime - which she absolutely loved!).

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My dd, who is 11, is actually taking her ISTD modern grade 4 exam this weekend. She I definitely more balletic but does quite well in the exams and enjoys the variety. I have heard that the examiners are getting much tougher and the syllabus becoming more taxing, especially for the recreational dancer. Maybetnusiswhysome teachers are concerned about younger students taking the exams?

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I teach the ISTD modern syllabi too... Intermediate foundation has existed for a long time and is an older syllabus;it's fun but the content is less involved in my opinion, than grade 6. Intermediate is technically challenging but boring as it's also very old, and advanced 1 and 2 have recently been revised so I believe that Inter and Inter foundation will be next up and will follow adv 1 and 2 in being much more 'current' in terms of styles and choreography and I imagine they'll be harder too.

 

The school where I trained originally pushed able pupils through the vocational grades including girls who were only just old enough, through Advanced 2 (the old work) right in the middle of the ISTD's transition phase when the modern grades changed and they changed the mark system, about 10 years ago. Then I went to a school (while at university) where they held kids back too far in the opposite direction and they were in grade 3 at 14 despite being able. Their viewpoint (bearing in mind the school was run by a fairly important ISTD examiner who was on the tap committee at the time) was that students away at vocational colleges are taking intermediate in their first year, adv 1 in the 2nd and adv 2 in the 3rd so examiners use that as a comparison.

 

Anyway - I digress slightly.... grade 5 is a lovely syllabus, I prefer that to grade 6. There is only a tiny bit that can be chosen as jazz or lyrical, only the amalgamation and perhaps a couple of other exercises. If your DD is in intermediate ballet she will be strong enough to cope with the work. There is a certain element of maturity required but again if she is at a fairly advanced level in ballet, and is a good and versatile performer it shouldn't be an issue. One other thing to consider with grades 5 and 6 is that there is a section requiring the pupils to demonstrate a series of dance movements first just travelling from the corner and then in a free amalgamation set by the examiner so if your DD hasn't done this section in class yet that might be something holding her back a bit.

 

There is a DVD of the modern grades available. It's expensive but perhaps your DD's studio might have a copy or someone else might have a copy that would allow you to have a look and see what you think too?

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