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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Companies, and methods...


Ginniathezinnia

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I'm curious to know, if a student dancer has been raised in Cechetti technique, and wants to try out for a company that uses Vaganova, or vice versa, or other, does this create an issue? Or should the dancer know more than one technique before they begin the audition process?

The area that I live in, I imagine most companies would just be happy to be able to find able bodied dancers, however I would like to know what the standard is for this.

Also, even if a company would accept a dancer from a different method, is it wise decision on the dancer's part?

What are your thoughts?

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Just to clarify, ballet dancers all know the same technique: ballet. :wink: Where teachers sometimes differ is in the method they use to teach ballet technique, but the goal is to produce the best ballet technique possible. A dancer who has been trained via a particular method then joins a company and learns to assimilate the company's style, which is based primarily on a choreographer's or artistic director's aesthetic vision.

 

A well-trained dancer should be able to do any ballet step that is required, and if a choreographer or artistic director asks the dancer to do it a different way, the dancer should be ready and able to do so.

 

A company will look primarily at whether a dancer is technically competent, and once that is established, they will worry about how the dancer might fit in with the company's style. Therefore, it is a good idea to do some research on a company and its style before auditioning so that you may tailor your dancing to fit in.

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  • 5 months later...

So is variety more important than stylistic purity? My DD has been training under two excellent teachers; one is more Vaganova based and the other is primarily Balanchine. We could supplement classes at another studio that only teaches the Balanchine method. The optional studio's AD was concerned that my DD would get confused going back and forth between the two styles, but your comments seem to say the opposite. I had thought being exposed to a variety of styles would be a good thing.

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It depends on the individual dancer's learning style. Dancers conform, as Hans stated, to the technique called ballet. How they got to the point of executing that technique in a clean, clear, affectless manner is up to the teachers who have produced that dancer. There should be no ideology of ballet technique. Good ballet, and good teaching, is worldwide, not limited to Balanchine, Vaganova, RAD, Cecchetti, or any other training method within the art.

 

Some dancers will thrive on one system of learning, others will prosper in having a varied training history.

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Socalgal, the confusion would, in your case, come if one teacher did not accept the differences. Since Balanchine is a style, not a method, there is a particular look to the way things are done that is quite different from Vaganova and the other methods. There are some rather specific differences in all of the methods and styles, and sometimes they do not blend well. For instance, just the way tendus are taught are very different in the Balanchine style and would not be acceptable in most of the methods. There are other things, too, of course. If she is able to work both ways without conflict, good for her. But, for many teachers, it would not work.

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Thank you. It hasn't been an issue at her current studio, so I was surprised when the AD of the second studio brought it up. The AD was concerned that she would have to spend time in class correcting my daughter and that Vaganova is a little old fashioned for what is required of professional dancers (or those aspiring to be on a pre-pro track) today. My DD has learned so much from the Vaganova inspired teacher that I would hate to give it up, but would it be better to focus more on the Balanchine style at this point? (She's 13, on pointe for 2 years).

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That is not a question we can answer, social. We cannot recommend one school or method over another. All of the methods are fine...it is the teaching that matters, and there are good and not so good teachers in every method. Keep in mind that Balanchine is a style, and once trained in one particular style it is not as easy to be ready for all kinds of companies.

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It might be best to read company websites and decide for yourself as to whether or not Vaganova or any other method of training is "old fashioned". You will find in the top ranked companies internationally that the dancers have trained in various methodologies, including Vaganova. Please do not discredit any of the recognized methods of teaching. Vaganova methodology continues to train both male and female dancers of international acclaim. It therefore cannot be "old fashioned".

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Let me clarify that I didn't refer to Vaganova as "old fashioned"--that remark came from the AD. I'm not familiar enough with either style to try and make that judgement! My daughter has flourished under her Vaganova based teacher, so to hear that learning both styles might detract from her goals was confusing. I'm encouraged by your thoughts on learning a variety of techniques and will probably continue to do so.

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socalgal3, I think in order to evaluate what your Balanchine-teaching AD has said and what vrsfanatic and Ms. Leigh said, you need to go back to what Hans tried to explain to you: Basically, you are looking at apples and oranges when you compare Vaganova-based training and Balanchine-style training. You are not talking about the same fundamental starting point.

 

Vaganova is a recognized multi-year, progressive curriculum, developed by a very well-respected teacher/dancer Agrippina Vaganova. It is on the same plane as other recognized multi-year, progressive curriculums, i.e., Cecchetti (developed by Enrico Cecchetti), Royal Academy of Dance (developed by a group of European teachers). Although the specifics of the curricula may differ in at what point a particular skill/exercise is introduced and there may be nuances in the actual technique, all of these curricula were designed to achieve the same thing: a technically proficient dancer with the classical lines desired for classical ballet choreography.

 

'Balanchine', on the other hand, is not an actual progressive training curriculum. It is a style layered onto classical ballet technique. Mr. Balanchine was a choreographer that pushed some boundaries in terms of classical ballet's ideas of technique and lines. He did not set out to teach students----he set out to teach dancers HIS choreography. As his dancers moved on to teach, they took along with them differences in steps or techniques that they needed in order to do HIS choreography. There is NO set or codified curriculum in 'Balanchine' style teaching like there is in Vaganova, Cecchetti, or RAD. There is only a preference for how certain steps will be carried out.

 

Another way to look at it is this: Vaganova, Cecchetti, or RAD are the basis for the technique----the basic foundational dress. Balanchine is an embellishment over the dress.

 

Until one gets more familiar with that distinction, it can be very confusing and hard to figure out how to deal with the kind of question you are facing. But, in my opinion, your Balanchine AD has it backwards----unless your DD is only interested in Balanchine-style companies.

 

I'm sure the Moderator-Teachers could explain the differences much better than I, but that's my layman's understanding after all these years of being educated here on BT4D. :unsure:

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Just to add on here, I have children who are trained in Vaganova. They are attending SAB this summer. I called SAB personally to discuss this difference as our teacher was concerned that they would "unlearn" what they knew and develop injuries. Per SAB...Balanchine was trained in the Vaganova method. Properly taught Balanchine choreography works with the Vaganova method and does not undermine the Vaganova technique. Balanchine style is different than traditional classical choreography but it relies on solid technique in order to be executed. Furthermore, they do not take students into their intensive who have not yet mastered the fundamentals of technique.

 

That having been said, they can spot a mile away a student who has been properly trained in the Vaganova method. They recognized my ds and dd within the first port-de-bras. :)

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Per SAB...Balanchine was trained in the Vaganova method.

 

To clarify, Vaganova started teaching during Balanchine's last year or so at the Imperial Ballet School, and she taught girls, so Balanchine did not actually learn the Vaganova method--he was a product of what we now call the Imperial method. However, SAB is correct in stating that dancers need to have a solid classical technical base before they start learning the Balanchine style.

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