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My daughter has been invited to participate in the Mid-States Regional Ballet Association Festival in May. Before we say yea or nay -- what can anyone tell me about this festival or similar ones?

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Regional Festivals are great places for young dancers to see their peers and be seen by them and to network among themselves. The worst of these that I ever participated in as a student was still an exercise in professional discipline in spite of shortfalls in planning by the host. The best ones I've participated in or attended since were nothing short of highly professional colloquia for young dancers. They're among the best features of civic ballet life today.

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I have never participated in RDA as a student, although I know many of my age group who did. Perhaps you would like to look at the website:http://www.regional-dance-america.org/ The original organization was NARB, beginning in 1956. There are also websites for each region separately. From what my peers, many of whom are still involved in RDA today, have recounted it was a great experience for them as developing performers.


Having been a guest teacher of ballet at several RDA events, I have found them to be a grand experience for all, students and teachers. The level of performances/choreography are varied but the students and teachers alike are able to see so many students from around the region and basically compare and continue to learn about various aspects of the artform. It is a good way for young people to make possibly lifetime connections. I know teachers of today who started out in RDA and are still valuing the many friendships they formed as young people performing in a Regional Festival somewhere.


I would like to say however that becoming involved in a project like "Festival" is a major commitment, like Nutcracker. Congratulations to your daughter! It should prove to be a very exciting event if you decide it is right for your daughter and family.

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As a director of an RDA member company, I can assure you that having your daughter participate as a dancer of an RDA regional ballet company can only benefit her. RDA member companies have to go thru a rigorous application process before joining, many times spending several years as intern companies before being accepted as a performing member company. RDA festivals are light years away from the competition/conventions circuit. The festivals vary each year depending on the host company. My company has experienced a good range of differently run festivals as we have been member for 17 years. Never has it been a waste of time and for the preprofessional student dancer it can be an invaluable experience, especially those from isolated regions. We are looking forward to a National festival in the year 2007 where all the five regions will convene in one venue for a week of master classes, seminars and performances. Good luck!

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As a child growing up I was a member of a company that was an Honor company with RDA. The company went on to professional status. I am now a director of a RDA Performing company. As suggested RDA's website is very informative. I believe that RDA can be an valuable tool in the development of a preprofessional dancer's training. Each company is held to a high standard through the evaulation process and the adjudication process. Mid-States festival is shaping to be a very exciting event. Teachers are very highly acclaimed. I hope this helps. I think your daughter will enjoy the experience. I would be happy to help you with any other imformation or questions you may have.

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In the spring, there was a long-ish thread on this very topic -- someone asking about the Southeast Regional Ballet Association (SERBA). The link is:




Though some of the information is specific to SERBA, I think you will find most of it interesting.


While my daughter no longer dances with an RDA associated company, I highly recommend the experience.

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drval101, thanks so much for that link! I loved reading your very complete description. It does sound like a phenomenal experience.


My one reservation is that it will require 2-3 days off of school, right before final exams. I'm okay with this -- I really believe that life experiences are every bit as important as school ones -- but I know that the school will cut her no slack, and that she'll have to make up all the homework AND the class work.


Can you explain what an adjudicator is, and what the adjudication process is?



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You are right about missing school. My daughter missed three days to attend SERBA. Her school allowed exam exemptions only if you missed less than 5 days. Needless to say, she drug herself to school sick more than once last spring. But I can say it was well worth it!


The adjudicator is usually a well-reputed ballet figure who visits each of the companies in the region. Last year, ours was Jane Gifford. You can read about her at: http://www.svballet.org/s_staff.html.


During the adjudicator's visit, he / she will watch the company take a class taught by the AD. This is to judge the quality of ballet instruction being received. Then, the company will perform several pieces for consideration. The pieces we performed last year were "La Bayadere Suite," "A Time to Dance" (by Jennifer Vanucchi), and two pieces staged by young (emerging) choreographers (one of these by my daughter). After the adjudicator visits all of the companies (usually in February), he / she will choose the best pieces to be performed at the festival. These results are usually distributed in about a month in an "Adjudication Report." The report will have the adjudication comments about the class and about each of the pieces performed. They are usually very well written and very thoughtful. Class comments tend to focus on weaknesses in the company or things which need to be emphasized in teaching. For example, in 2002 our adjudicator (Jeffrey Gribler) pointed out that the company was not plie-ing enough during jumps. The comments for the performance pieces usually focus on the strengths and weaknesses of the choreography, though performance tips are sometimes offered.


As for the shows, there are: Emerging Choreography, Festival Performance, Gala Performance. This varies, though, as Jane Gifford opted to intersperse emerging pieces in two, equally-merited festival shows.


A "performing company" can be expected to perform in at least one of these shows. An "honor company" is one which has been consistently chosen to perform in the Gala -- three years in a row is the benchmark, I believe.

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An adjudicator is picked by the host company. The adjudicator's job is to create and present at Festival a well round program for the 3 evening performances. This is done during an adjudcation tour usually in the early months of the year but this depends on when the Festival is to be held. The adjudicator is usually a highly qualified dance professional/educator. Most have been associated with RDA in the past.(teachers, choreorgraphers, dancers,AD etc.) In the Mid-States the first night is Opening Showcase, second night is Concert and the last night is the Gala. It is up to the adjudicator to select the pieces to perform on which night.


This year Mid-States adjudicator is Leslie Crockett. She was a princiapl dancer with Sacramento Ballet and Pacific Ballet as well as being a soloist with San Francisco Ballet. She has taught throughout the San Francisco Bay area and spent 13 years on the faculty of San Francisco Ballet School. She is currently on the faculty of the Marin Ballet School. She has taught a 2 RDA Festivals and one of her most recent Ballets, Sonata Due was chosen to perform at the 2002 Pacific Regional Ballet Festival.


In the Mid-States a company must perform on Gala 3 out of 5 years to be or maintain Honor Company Status.

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I'm not a parent, so please delete this if necessary...


For the Pacific region, the adjudicator does watch both a class and the performance. Talking to some other dancers from SERBA (or was it Southwest?), though, I found out that the adjudicator only watches the performance (not class). It depends on the region.


Pacific region (like the others) used to have a workshop performance on the first night, chamber on 2nd and gala on the last night. Emerging would either be in the afternoon of the day before the 1st day of classes or might be in the morning of or merged with the workshop performance (like it was this year). I don't know if the other regions are going to do this too, but the Pacific region is going to restructure the performances so the pieces are all mixed up. It won't be all (or most) gala on the last night. So you'll have some gala on each night. That way, dancers can watch other dancers in their same range. I think it's a good idea that way beause our company, who has been on gala for the past couple of years, rarely got to watch any of the other gala pieces.


One of the problems I had (the past festival being one of them) is that the classes tend to be large. Not a problem, if you've been to summer intensives, but at least then, it is a multi-week program. This basically is a one-class deal. It can be a little discouraging if you have trouble adjusting to a particular style of ballet. But then, being versatile and adaptable is key for dancers, right?


Last problem- the facilities- sometimes the festival is held at a college campus with a good dance program. Other times, though, they will be held in YMCAs, elk's lounges, gyms, etc. Now, the festival coordinators do try their best to make sure the floors are safe to dance on, etc. But just a word of caution.

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Yes, the practices of the several regions differ, one to another, but in the main, they all do generally the same things - the activities are just weighted or scheduled differently. Nationwide (and Canada, too, where the civics can be included) the experiences to be had are generally very good, and finding locations at host venues can be a daunting problem, but more often than not, they're fine.

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some other dancers from SERBA (or was it Southwest?
Must have been Southwest because classes for SERBA companies are viewed by the adjudicator.


Our first year attending and going through the process was last year and it was memorable and well worth the effort. For my daughter, it was like a reunion of several SI's she attended as not only did she benefit from the classes, instruction, and viewing of performances but at every turn was a dancer she had spent a summer with and their company. So screams and giggles were abundant.



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