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Average age in ballet grades


Pointytoes22
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I was just wondering what is the average age people are when they're studying RAD grade 5 and RAD intermediate?

Maybe there isn't a specific answer to this question but I was just wondering as I am a late starter in ballet and think I'm probably behind for my age.

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Hi Pointytoes22 my daughter is 14 and studying both grade 5 and Intermediate - when she is attending auditions she feels that perhaps others are more advanced than her at the same age- she is playing catch up as we had a year away from the UK. Saying this it hasn't been to her detriment at auditions and her dance teacher feels that at 16 she will be at the required grade to audition for vocational schools. Looking at the bigger picture,grades are just a small part of what makes a ballerina. Enjoy your dancing and don't feel too pressured to be at the same RAD grade as everyone else just because you think you should be.

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There are girls at my dd's dance school in grade 5 who range anywhere from 9 to 14, and in inter some start at 11 / 12, some are still in inter-foundation at 16, everyone progresses at different speeds.

 

Don't worry! :) You are doing well to be in inter if you were older than the others when you started, you could always ask your teacher if you can join the grade 6 class too, as any extra classes will help with strength for pointework in the inter class.

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'her dance teacher feels that at 16 she will be at the required grade to audition for vocational schools. '

 

Do you know what the required grade to audition for vocational schools generally is? I am interested in auditioning for a vocational school at 16 but would have to catch up quite fast :)

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I don't think there is a required grade to audition, more important for auditioning would be the right physique, secure technique, secure pointework, musicality, artistry and obviously a certain level of vocabulary so that you know the steps they want you to demonstrate.

 

We're a couple of years off auditioning but do the schools ask what level you're currently studying and which exam you've taken most recently?

 

If it helps, my dd is 13, taking her RAD Grade 6 this term and has been studying RAD Intermediate for 6 months.

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As a very general guide, at 16 you should be about intermediate standard if it's a musical theatre course, for a pure dance course you should probably be around Advanced 1 standard. That's only very general though as it very much depends on where you're going and the exact type of course, plus all the other factors like potential, physique etc etc.

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Whilst the schools do ask they aren't as interested as we all think they will be. The RAD used to have ages below which the vocational (intermediate foundation and above) could be taken. These were quite young though I remember.

 

I think we forget not everyone does grades. Certainly some people do do them young and it does become a competitve field . Ceratinly at Elmhurst those taking RAD in the 6th form were seldom beyond Advance 1 . My son did Ad 1 and Ad 2 whilst there. Many, even girls were doing lower.The lads were either at that level or below.

 

Like many I relied on the grades as a judge of standard but it is amazing how they just aren't as important as I thought. When auditioning for companies no-one cares.

 

If no grades have been taken they may ask your teacher to judge your level.

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Hi Pointytoes22

 

There isn't really an average age, I took Grade Five when I was 14 but was almost 20 when I passed my RAD Intermediate. You might be older than the other girls in your class at your school but may be younger than others at the same level at a different school so don't worry too much :)

A couple of years ago Central School of Ballet had a document on their website detailing 'essential' and 'desirable' criteria for auditionees and they asked for a knowledge of vocabulary at Advanced Foundation level. I have a feeling that when I looked recently they had changed this to Advanced 1. Of course, at the end of the day, vocational schools are looking for potential and talent so exam are to a certain extent completely irrelevant.

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So many dancers take the exams but they all dance differently.A exam can not tell how good of a dancer you are.My dd hasent taken any and i dont think she will.Just wondering maybe next year she will try for summer schools,how will we explain what standard she is for the aplications?

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Whilst the exams themselves may not be important to the schools, surely what a student can do technically at 15/16 is. In other words, if a student is spending most of his/her time in syllabus-based classes (as many in the UK are) surely the student who is working at a higher grade will be more technically advanced (and, consequently, more attractive to the schools) than the one who is working at a lower grade (other things such as physique etc being equal). Are the schools still looking for potential at 15/16 or are they looking at actual ability at that point? After all, in less than three years time the student will be applying to companies.

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Well in the 1980`s i was at Urdang full time. It was still very much seen as a classical ballet school back then. Only 1 of the girls in our 1st year was in RAD Advanced, the rest of us were mostly Intermediate, with a few in Elementary. I`m talking about the old RAD syllabus here. One of the teachers,Len Martin, on the first day asked each and every one of us what grade we were working on. He was quite annoyed there was only one girl in Advanced, and told the rest of us we "Had a mountain to climb" if we wanted to become ballet dancers, as by the age of 16, you were supposed to be in the Advanced grade. Obviously it`s very different now, and the general standard of dancers is so much higher than back then. But i remember him saying that on the first day.

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Just for anyone wondering....the old Elementary is now called Intermediate, the old Intermediate is now called Advanced 1 and the old Advanced is now called Advanced 2 (also old pre-elementary is now intermediate foundation, old pre-intermediate or intermediate part 1 is now called advanced foundation).

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My daughter is 11 and studying grade 6 and intermediate for the last six months but other girls in her class are aged up to sixteen. All of the main four vocational schools certainly at audition for year 7 only ask auditionees to show basic steps so don't know wether what grade dancers are at will have any effect

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At 16 many of the entrants to vocational school are not from the UK and have not done RAD. Some do other systems. I'm sure the schools have a standard they are looking for and level the audition there. In my son's entry I know at least one lad had never done a grade in his life. Also among the girls even many were ISTD, IDTA or BBO.

 

I think they are still considering potential at 16 maybe especially amongst the boys but a core ability must be there.

 

I actually believe a mix is good. I do like exams but my son's non syllabus class every week really aided his development as a dancer rather than just a dancer proficient in exams.

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My daughter is 11 and studying grade 6 and intermediate for the last six months but other girls in her class are aged up to sixteen. All of the main four vocational schools certainly at audition for year 7 only ask auditionees to show basic steps so don't know wether what grade dancers are at will have any effect

 

I think it's less important at Year 7 auditions because they are looking for physique and potential in order to begin full time training. I think in a lot of cases you are taken back to basics in year 7 so a certain level of vocabulary isn't AS important.

 

By 16 you are expected to have a certain level of vocabulary as the training is continuing rather than starting from scratch.

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I definitely skew the average in my RAD Intermediate class - I'm 24! Most of the students are 14-18 I think, although some of the older ones are actually Advanced 1 students who take the Intermediate to add an extra ballet class to their schedule.

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Yes, my dd is the youngest by between 3 and 5 years in her Intermediate class, but to be fair she is the only one of her age in her local school who intends to try for Upper Schools. Like David's class there is an Adv2 student using the Inter class as extra class time.

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Is the "vocabulary" very different depending on what system of training is being used? While the French terminology is common throughout, the techniques that are taught will be different, surely, in precisely how the student does a cou de pied or a fouette for example. The RAD 5th position for arms is the Vaganova 3rd position; the Cecchetti numbering system starts with the corners and then the walls, the RAD starts with walls and then the corners, Vaganova starts at the front and goes round clockwise.

 

I'm sure the ballet schools will be aware of these differences, but perhaps a student might be confused.

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I really don't think that the exam grades are important at all and it is always possible to get a note from a teacher to give an idea of level for auditions, summer schools etc if no exams have been taken.

 

I do, however, think that the actual grades achieved in any exam taken will at least merit a second look. It is all very well a student saying that they are working at a certain level but if they have only just passed previous exams then that doesn't mean that they are particularly advanced. I think what I am trying to say is that it would be better to be working at a lower level having always achieved distinctions than at a higher level having only ever achieved a merit or a pass. Better to hold off taking an exam than risk a lower mark if you are relying on the result for an application form!

 

Edited by Jellybeans
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Has anyone ever had to 'prove' the grade they claim to have got in an exam? I am sure that if you perform on the day of an audition, no-one will care whether you you got a merit instaed of a distinction. Likewise if you are in ADV 1 because there was no other class available on the day you could attend, I am sure it will be obvious at the audition.

Maybe for summer schools they ask simply to get an idea of which level to put you in. Do they ask for this information on RBS summer school forms?

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The schools ask for details of exams taken only to give them an idea of what level you are at - sometimes they are then able to put auditionees of a certain level together. Similarly it gives them an idea of what you can be expected to do in an audition, for example someone who is,according to the form, at intermediate level won't necessarily know what a fouette saute is but the panel would take this into account. Someone who has lots of potential will thus still stand a chance. On the other hand someone who has had years of vocational training prior to 16 will obviously be expected to reflect this.

 

Someone not doing exams should get a letter from their teacher explaining where they are at in terms of achievement.

 

Marks are absolutely irrelevant - I know professional dancers including myself who have had every mark from failing through to distinctions - a panel will judge what they see not whats on paper. They are only too aware that a string of of high exam marks, especially in a young dancer may mean that that student has just gone straight from one grade to another without variation and thus just been engrained in syllabus work. Far more important is how they dance at auditon!

 

To answer the original question the average age of grade 5s where I teach is 14. Average age of intermediates is also 14 at the moment but I've often had them much older, 16-18. My advanced ladies range from 16- 60 (yes 60!)

 

And as Julie Milner said it matters not one jot when auditioning for dancing jobs- the companies will take who they like the look of regardless of any pass, merits or distinctions!! Where the vocational qualifications matter is if you are interested in teaching.

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At the other end of the scale, my daughter is 7 nearly 8 and still in a primary class. She passed pre-primary with distinction but I worry that she should be starting Grade 1 work soon, certainly at the start of September. Am I being too pushy?!

She has started Saturday lessons at another school where the RAD syllabus is followed and the teacher there spent some time assessing her and put her in a Grade 2 RAD class.

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Maria, I'm no expert but I think that schools vary hugely in terms of how quickly the children "get through" the exams and this is partly determined by how many classes a week the children are willing/required to attend. At my daughter's not very pushy school the children have generally taken their Grade 2 RAD exam in year 3 or 4 and their Grade 3 a good 18 months after that (there's supposed to be a big jump between Grades 2 and 3). Apparently, the new syllabi are harder than the current ones and it will take longer for the children to get through the grades. The other thing that I have found is that a child can be "held back" if, for example, the class has a lot of children who have just moved up but few or no other children who are ready to take their exam. The standard of the class tends to drop as the new children are learning the new exercises etc. Sometimes the child can get stuck in that class waiting for other children to catch him/her up. Sometimes a teacher finds it convenient to keep a cohort of children together. In your DD's case, there does seem to be a large discrepancy between the two schools in terms of the standard at which they think your DD should be working. Would you consider leaving the first school and taking your DD to the second school for all her classes? May I ask why you are taking her to two different schools at the moment? Is it because you are not quite sure what to do or is it because your DD can't attend more than one class at the first school for some reason?

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At the other end of the scale, my daughter is 7 nearly 8 and still in a primary class. She passed pre-primary with distinction but I worry that she should be starting Grade 1 work soon, certainly at the start of September. Am I being too pushy?!

She has started Saturday lessons at another school where the RAD syllabus is followed and the teacher there spent some time assessing her and put her in a Grade 2 RAD class.

It seems quite a big variation in the work your daughter does from one school to another. The exam where your dd passed a pre primary sounds like it was maybe a different examining body from RAD? One of my dd did the RAD pre primary last year and the marking didnt come out as merits or distinctions. The grading may vary from one examining body to another, hence why the opinions of the teachers may vary such.

Ax

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As i know nothing about exams, on average,how long does each grade take to sit the exam?also,how many excersizes are there at the barre and in the centre,i know this is a strange question but at my dds school the class is different every lesson with only 1 month of the same at the end of the year for exams.My dd has had teachers who like to do the same every lesson and i did see the difference of the girls in time but now she has a teacher who changes the same excersizes every lesson i have see a great improvement and they are much happier and improved much faster.

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I really don't think that the exam grades are important at all and it is always possible to get a note from a teacher to give an idea of level for auditions, summer schools etc if no exams have been taken.

 

I do, however, think that the actual grades achieved in any exam taken will at least merit a second look. It is all very well a student saying that they are working at a certain level but if they have only just passed previous exams then that doesn't mean that they are particularly advanced. I think what I am trying to say is that it would be better to be working at a lower level having always achieved distinctions than at a higher level having only ever achieved a merit or a pass. Better to hold off taking an exam than risk a lower mark if you are relying on the result for an application form!

 

I don't know that I agree with that, because to be honest you could wait for two years or more, be on course for a distinction, and then be ill on the exam day! The mark is only a reflection of how you danced on one particular day. I also think that doing the same syllabus work over and over again can make you stale, and you can almost over-train.

 

My dd was supposed to take her Inter Foundation last summer, but the exam session clashed with our holiday abroad. So she had to take it at Christmas and of course was very poorly. So now she has to put that she got a Merit, which she hates. :-)

 

My point is that if you wait until you're sure of a Distinction, then anything can still happen on the day! Better to take the exam when you and your teacher both agree that you're ready. Then - que sera, sera. :-). Whatever the result, a good selection panel at audition will be able to see past it if necessary.

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You also need to bear in mind that other factors beyond your control can affect how well you do in an exam. My DD took her RAD intermediate foundation exam with a pianist who was extremely erratic in terms of tempi and played two of the allegro exercises WAY too fast; we waiting parents and teachers were horrified and my DD and her exam group all had extreme difficulty staying in time whilst not falling. She was very upset afterwards and rightly pointed out that this will affect her marks for those exercises.

 

I have tried to console her by telling her that the examiner will have realised that the music was too fast and should award marks for musicality in that she made sure that she danced in time with the music! - but it is very frustrating that her hard work could well be scuppered by this. (And I must say that I think the examiner should have stopped the exercises, advised the pianist of the correct tempo and had them start the exercises again.)

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