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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Student Assessments


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I have read through several threads about class schedules, class levels, etc., etc., yet I am trying to understand whether there is a basic assessment given at various points through the training years that helps teachers to place students IN those levels, schedules, etc. and additionally helps them guide students in various directions (i.e. towards a modern-focused career, a character-focused career, a ballet-focused career and/or the multitude of many other careers within the performing arts - photography, writing, choreography, etc.). Disclaimer: This is being posed from the understanding that the student is one who chooses to pursue a career in the performing arts and follows the protocol recommended to them through their training years (in other words, barring the obvious and repeatedly stated possibilities of 'career ending' injury, loss of interest, etc.). This is also being written without specific regard to "what the market will bear" for the dancer once they are sufficiently company-ready.


For instance (and this is just a random sample formulated by me and is completely arbitrary):


1) Physical facility within the range of A.....D (however the school or the art itself defines those attributes) = physical potential for ballet and is apparent from ages 6-16 (again, a range of age defined by either a school or the art itself) which include but are not limited to flexibility, articulation, etc.


2) An aptitude for musicality demonstrated by the age of 12+


3) A mastery of material at varying ages and levels of study:


a) creative movement & pre ballet - Ages 3-7

b ) beginning ballet - Ages 7-10

c) intermediate ballet - Ages 9-14

d) advanced ballet - Ages 13/14+


I have no real idea of how assessments are conducted. I have gathered that there are attributes of all of the above that must apply in order to deem the student as having "potential," however, is there a general assessment that has always existed in the art of dance that is then refined within each dance style? For example, within modern - Graham, Limon, etc., within ballet - RAD, Vaganova, etc. Or is it refined within the confines of individual schools (i.e. two different schools which teach Vaganova yet define the acceptable range of physicality, musicality and mastery in different ways).


I have brought this up as a question because with so many different ballet schools from which to choose for year round and summer study, and each with its own level structure, it is sometimes difficult to get a general OVERALL assessment of a student.


I also tend to think that there must be some generality to what defines "potential" as assessed through the years of a student's training since many, many dance companies employ dancers from all over the world rather than strictly their own affiliate school.


How can a parent truly know whether their child is "on track" for the future if their scope of knowledge, experience and assessments are confined to those schools which they have attended both during the year and during the summer (so, again an arbitrary number, say 3-6 schools)? That question would apply to students age 15+ (unlikely to apply to students younger than this). After all, a student really only has a set number of years during which to study (beginning of classical study through trainee level).


Please pardon the little facial icon above - I am not sure how it was inserted and how to edit it out!

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(The "cool" icon is caused by the "B" and parenthesis. So, in order for it not to do that, you have to leave a space between the "B" and the parenthesis! I fixed it for you. :) )


To attempt to address you post...


You are attempting to quantify what can't be quantified. In dealing with ballet there is nothing set in stone and no two people who will assess the same student exactly the same way. Every school is different. It is totally subjective. Maybe some others can give you more actual specifics, but really, we have spelled out for years what the major factors are, which you seem to know and understand. There is just no absolute in this field. A person can "have it all" in this field, or seemingly so, and not get selected for the job, while another person may not have the same physical facility at all but a director loves the way she moves or something else about her. A different director might make a totally different decision.


Let's not go there in terms of trying to put the kind of specifics you are seeking onto this art form. I just don't think it works! :P

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Actually, since I consider myself to be a "glass is half full" person, this answer is a relief! I think it is better that it is not set specifically and I imagine it will take some worry out of things for students (assuming they are taught to accept what can't be changed)!


Thank you for your prompt reply and for fixing the icon :)

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