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Good teacher recommendations please?


Balletmoo
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Hi,

I'm new here so please forgive me if I've posted my query in the wrong place. I am hoping that someone can please please recommend a good teacher. We live in Cambridgeshire but would be prepared to travel a bit. My daughter is 9 and has always done very well in her exams plus being offered places at Tring, Elmhurst and short waiting list for JAs. She dreams of vocational school. However, she is getting increasingly frustrated at her current school as they only do exams when the entire class is ready. I just don't know where to take her though. I know king Slocombe in Cambridge is meant to be good but the logistics of getting into central Cambridge mean we would rather avoid that. So please, if anyone can recommend a teacher to us, I would be so grateful.

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Are exams such a problem? Slow, steady good training is surely the most important thing, rather then what exams you do? Just a question ... I know from my own experience that exams can get to be the be all and end all, and you can forget the main reason behind doing exams. They're not an end in themselves, rather a way to mark progress.

 

So, if progress is being made, and the teaching is good, then that's the main thing (most vocational schools don't do graded syllabus exams). I've seen young dancers who are supposedly RAD Intermediate who sickle, can't pull up their knees or keep a stable core, mistake hitching a hip for turning out, hyperextend their backs, and so on ... but they're proudly "Intermediate" grade. That's the tail wagging the dog in my view.

 

No need to answer my questions here -- it's more offering another point of view. If the teaching is good & slow & steady at age 9 is preferable, rather than "tricks" -- then I'd be inclined to help my child not worry about exams.

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Welcome to the forum, Balletmoo. :-)

 

I absolutely agree that Grades are not there to be raced through, especially the Vocational Grades. But at the same time I don't agree that exams should be taken (1) when the whole class is ready or (2) after a set period of time. All children learn and develop at different rates, so racing through the exams can lead to the situation Kate described, with poor technique going unnoticed, but waiting until the whole class is ready can lead to boredom and lack of motivation in more able students. It must be a real juggling act by teachers to get it right for everyone.

 

Balletmoo, is the current teacher otherwise good? I agree that exam timing - especially at 9 - is definitely not the be-all and end-all, especially if the teacher is a good teacher. Does she only teach graded syllabus exercises, or is any non-syllabus ballet taught? Is she kind but constructive in her corrections? If the exam timing is the only issue, and if you don't find any other schools, your other option would be to stay with that teacher but consider trying again for JAs or auditioning for another Associate Scheme like Tring Park's Classical Ballet Academy, or London Junior Ballet.

 

Edited for clarity.

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Has you dd been offered places on Tring and Elmhurst associates?

I agree with being held back with class is frustrating and to get around it we asked if dd could join the grade above to push her. Teacher agreed and dd worked hard to prove herself with older girls.

You don't say which area of Cambridgeshire? I understand not wanting to go into Cambridge for lessons but how far would you travel?

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Thanks everyone for the advice. We are by no means in a rush to get through exams but I think Anna C has hit the nail on the head. Boredom leads to lack of motivation that's not good. Sorry I wasn't that clear. She has been doing Tring CBA for a year now and last year was also offered Elmhurst associates ( we unfortunately decided in the end that it was just too far to travel on a weekly basis for an 8 year old). She has also in the past also been offered London Junior Ballet, and Young Dancers and as I said short waiting list for JAs. So trying not to be a biased mother, obviously has some degree of potential. Her current school only offers grade work. She does 2 hours grade work per week and the problem with asking for her to join the next grade up is that our school only teaches every other grade, until the class move up as a whole to the next grade. So, currently grades 1,3,5 are taught, then when all are ready, exams are taken and grades 2,4,6 a taught etc. it's a small school. So if I were to ask for her to do a higher grade, it would mean 2 grades up and she wouldn't have any knowledge of the one in the middle. I think, just as she gets older and still very keen on her ballet, I want to do the best I can for her. Oh and also, we are in St Neots. I think up to about 45 mins travel time is Ok but have 2 other children to juggle aswell and need to be fair to everyone. Thanks again for thoughts and advice. It really is appreciated.

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Oh yes, I get the boredom! Learning as a child & teen, I found pliés and tendus really boring. Now, they're my favourite bits of class. Sounds like a good mix of experiences, and 9 is still young. Are there opportunities for her to mix it up a bit with some jazz or street or contemporary dance? The pre & young teens at my studio do wonderful contemporary dance -- really serious stuff not silly competition tricks.

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The same situation exists at our school where the class sticks together despite the wide variations in ability. I think that this has it advantages that the training is consistent and progresses logically and they stay with their friends but like has been mentioned before can lead to frustration. Doing festivals or dance shows has allowed a bit more freedom and ability to develop technique, my DD also asked if she could attend the grade above as well.  My DD has not been successful getting into many associate programmes :( however she has enjoyed holiday courses especially as they often allowed her to try things outside the syllabus. There are plenty of opportunities in London if that is not too far for you.

 

Clearly your daughter has great potential, but I would agree with others there is no hurry at her age and that a good foundation developing good technique, strength and flexibility is just as important as what grade she is, and would probably have no bearing on whether she is successful getting into vocational school, (if that is what she wants)  You can never do too many plies in my opinion.

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Clearly your daughter has great potential, but I would agree with others there is no hurry at her age and that a good foundation developing good technique, strength and flexibility is just as important as what grade she is, and would probably have no bearing on whether she is successful getting into vocational school, (if that is what she wants)  You can never do too many plies in my opinion.

Yes, while I agree with much of this it's also true (IMHO) that when students are auditioning for vocational school they will be up against many other students who are already working at a higher level and while facility, potential and solid technique are all necessary, it is also helpful to have a knowledge of some of the vocabulary of the steps you are likely to encounter, and to be able to have a go with confidence.

 

The worst time to be asked to do a step you've never even tried before is during an audition!

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