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Ballet Talk for Dancers

RAD Intermediate


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I have some questions for RAD teachers/dancers with experience of RAD syllabus and classes. I will definitely be doing my Intermediate exam within the next year and a half and I am considering doing the Intermediate Foundation exam just for exam experience. I just want to see how it is done at other studios (for interest's sake) and so I can figure out a schedule (a friend and I might be making a class, just the two of us, and hopefully we would be able to ask the teacher for an optimal schedule for us, as in how many classes a week, at times we can all make it etc). It's a long story as to why my friend and I might be doing this (and has a lot to do with not having the money for private classes), so for now, if you could just answer my questions please :)


For Intermediate:

- How many technique classes should one have a week, and how long should they be? (Please specify optimal number, and usual number)

- Should pointe be done in a separate class at this level? Or can it be put in at the end of the technique classes?

- What additional classes do you feel would be beneficial for adult (aged 20 and 23) women intending to take this exam (i.e. pilates)?

- Would cross-training be advised, and how much?


For Intermediate Foundation:

- How many technique classes should one have a week, and how long should they be?


I'm sorry for the rather strange questions, I am just trying to get a clear idea of how these classes are generally run, because we might be able to engineer a really nice schedule if we know what we should be doing. The studio where we dance has good teaching, but only 60 minute classes, and in IF you are only required to attend 2 a week! :o This is also largely because of studio scheduling issues (not enough hours in the day). Because my friend and I are considering morning classes, time constraints fall away, so I'd like to know what we should be doing at this level. In my opinion, 90 minute technique classes at least 3 times a week and at least 1 (preferably 2) hour-long pointe classes would be wonderful!

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The pointe work in Intermediate Foundation is minimal - 4 very simple exercises at the barre and two x two footed exercises in the centre. My IF students, who are normally 11 and 12 years old when they take the exam, have two 90 minute IF syllabus classes a week for some six months with a few minutes pointe work at the end of each class. That's all we offer at that level, although usually the students take other dance classes as well - modern, jazz, flamenco - that sort of thing. Obviously the more classes you can take the better especially if you want to pass with a higher mark.


Intermediate has more pointe work and at that level our students take one 90 minute syllabus class, one 90 minute free class and a 90 minute pointe/syllabus work class. Again as we only have one exam session, we tend to work from September until March on exam preparations. I have to decide by January who is going to be able to take the exam - certainly not everyone can and our policy is to let everyone go go up anyway without passing the exam.


It's not ideal, but if the students work hard and practise outside of class, some of them even manage to pass with Distinction.

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It's very hard to run classes at that level (particularly in the UK) as most schools have so few students at that level that the classes lose money. To a degree the younger classes subsidise them but it is still very difficult to run enough classes when each one loses money. I have the added disadvantage of being very restricted with studio hours as we don't own our premises. We rent them on a hourly basis and can only use them at certain times. I also have a young family which I cannot abandon completely in order to teach the classes so I employ other teachers which naturally increases the costs considerably.


Nevertheless, to answer your questions, here is how it is run at my school although I fully admit that it is far from ideal.



- We have one set intermediate class per week lasting one hour, I currently only have 2 students at that level. The students in that class also attend Intermediate Foundation and either do the class en pointe or I make it more difficult for them but adding rises, beats etc. Inter Foundation is also 1 hour. They are also studying for their Grade 6 exam (45 minute class) and they have an unset vocational level class with the Inter Foundation students lasting 50 minutes. Those students also have a 30 minute separate pointe class but also do pointe probably every other week in their Inter and Unset classes (not a whole class of pointe though, just 20 minutes or so). They also have a weekly body conditioning class lasting 30 minutes. I try to put on extra classes for them during the holidays when our usual classes don't run, for example it's half term at the moment and I taught a 2 hour Intermediate class tonight, it lost money though. I teach in quite a deprived area so parents don't have a lot of money generally and I keep prices as low as I can. Approaching exams I generally manage somehow to give about 3 set Intermediate classes per week in the 2-3 weeks immediately before an exam, again those classes lose money. So overall on a weekly basis during term time the Inter students have a 1 hour set class and have a total of about 3.5 hours of other classes per week. OPTIMAL number in my opinion would be two 1.5-2 hour set classes per week plus a 1.5 hour unset class per week, all of which would include some pointework, that should be enough although there's certainly no harm in doing more than that. It depends on what your ambitions are of course.


- Pilates is excellent for improving core strength and also a stretching class would be helpful.


- Cross training is good for fitness and general cardio health but not really necessary for ballet training unless you really want to increase your fitness levels more than your classes allow.


Intermediate Foundation:

- I have about 6 students preparing for their exam at the moment but another 12 or so that attend the class but are a way off the exam - much better numbers, I'm hoping they stick with it for Intermediate!! They have a 1 hour set Inter Foundation class plus the shared 30 minute pointe class. They are all also studying for either Grade 4 or 5 too (50 minutes per class) and some of the Grade 5s attend the Grade 6 class too. Some of the students attend the Unset class shared with the Inter girls and some of them also attend an Unset class for students in Grades 3-5. The MINIMUM I expect a student to attend who is hoping to take the exam is 3 classes plus the pointe class (some students attend 5 or 6 but of course they're fairly short classes). However I do have an adult who only attends 2 classes plus pointe and she will be taking her exam in the summer. She's been with me 1.5 years and will shortly be getting her first pointe shoes. She teaches dance in schools though so has a background of dance and is very strong technically. She joined at the same time as a friend who had never done ballet before, her friend isn't ready for pointework or the exam yet though. Again I generally manage to add extra classes in immediately before the exam and during school holidays. OPTIMAL would probably be the same that I specified for Intermediate.


Hope that's a bit clearer than mud!!

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Thank you for your replies. In some ways, I am relieved to hear that the number of classes/length of classes at the studio where I dance are comparable to other RAD classes elsewhere in the world. But I am sad that not many studios are able to offer the optimal number of classes a week.


CDR - all of the obstacles you mentioned are very valid for the studio where I dance. One of our teachers has a young family, which cuts down the number of hours and the times at which she can teach. Although the IF class at our studio is quite big, until September last year there was no Intermediate class, and even now we have only been able to find one hour where more than one person, and a teacher, can get to class. It's difficult to keep such classes afloat financially without having to charge very high fees. Amazingly, there is a very dedicated Advanced 1 class of 4 girls which IS financially viable for our studio.


Our head teacher will not permit a student to enter for an exam if she/he is only able to come to 1 lesson (for IF) or 2 lessons (for Intermediate) a week. Last year, a girl was required to have three 90 minute private lessons (as she was the only Intermediate candidate at the time) a week in order for the head teacher to allow her to enter for the exam.


I'd be interested to hear what other RAD teachers have to say about the optimal vs. usual teaching hours for these levels, especially those in the US, seeing as we've had an opinion from Israel and the UK so far (if I'm correct???).

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I'm in Australia


I passed Intermediate foundation after only 2 years back at ballet and only taking two 1.5 hour classes a week. Towards the exam time (maybe 2-3 months earlier) I added another class and some private lessons. I got a pass (just missed a merit by about 3 marks) at the age of 25 and I was pretty happy with that. (I took the exam on my birthday)


In Intermediate I was doing 2 classes of intermediate (1.5 hours each), and 2 of advanced 1 (just pretty much standing at the back and trying to follow along) plus 1.5 hour contemporary, and 1.5 hour pointe. That was my schedule anyway - I often didnt make them because of work. And again as the exam approached I added private lessons. I got a merit for this exam at the age of 27. (I took the exam at 9am in the morning after working nightshift and finishing at 2am because my evil boss wouldnt give me the night off)


I'm 29 now and trying my hardest to work through Advanced 1, But even at this level I can only find 2 classes a week that suit my schedule, the other classes I take are open Vaganova style. It will be next year before I even get close to being able to take the exam if pregnancy doesnt happen first... whatever God so wills.


Sometimes as adults we have to just take what we can get, treat every minute of classtime as golden and resist the urge of the younger students to waste time socialising. It can be hard as someone from a non US country to read about the amazing schedules of some of our friends on this board but hang in there. It's worth it.


Other things that I have done when there were no classes to take was Body Balance or Pilates. Just to keep up strength and flexibility (not that I have a lot of that anyway but I try and if I were to let myself I'd just sit on the couch all day watching TV or chatting on ballettalk and I get depressed when I don't move)

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