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Switching from adult classes to syllabus


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I've been taking adult non-syllabus ballet classes at my university for a year, but I'm eager to take it up a notch via a more structured program. I heard that a serious ballet school in my area allows adults to take their syllabus (Cecchetti or RAD) classes with the kids if they are committed to it. Has anyone transitioned from non-syllabus to syllabus? I just wonder if I have to start at Grade 1 despite having had a little experience - I checked out the syllabi for Cecchetti and I am comfortable with everything in Grade 1 and 95% of the material in Grade 2, so starting at Grade 1 would be a bit boring, even though I'm sure it'd help me perfect my technique. For those of you who have made the switch, how does it usually work? Do I have to audition at the school or actually attempt the Grade 1 or 2 exam?


Also, if you have that experience, did you feel uncomfortable as an adult in these classes? I don't mind being in a class with tweens or teens, but it seems a bit awkward to be alongside 6-year-olds. Do teachers give you just as much attention or do they just ignore you? I suppose it depends on the individual teachers, but I'm just curious to hear about personal experiences.

Edited by perin
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I considered a syllabus class for a while. I talked with the teacher on the phone for a while, and she suggested that I try two classes - one at the level she thought I might be, and one a grade below. She offered syllabus classes that were adult only, though. Friends who had taken her normal classes as well as her syllabus classes said that she was quite a bit stricter in syllabus classes, because she was putting you forward for an exam.

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I had non-syllabus classes for most of my training, even as a child, and transitioned fairly easily to RAD. I went into RAD Elementary (which is what they had at the time) and also, at the same time, took Grades 6 and 7.


Good training is good training, whether syllabus or not. You won't have to start at Grade 1. If you have had no experience with Vaganova and wish to train in that syllabus, however, you might want to get some private training to start with because I know THAT one is not as easy to transition to as Cecchetti and RAD. At least, I'm finding it quite hard to learn the new head and arm movements!!

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I am currently taking syllabus class but picking up where I left off, so I'm in Ballet 4 Vaganova and I take Ballet 5 sometimes too.


Edit: Oh and most of the people in my class are highschool age, which works alright for me since I'm 20 so I feel like one of the bunch. There are a few people in their 30's and 40's as well.

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I transitioned into syllabus classes and picked them up from Grade 4 (Cecchetti). I had never done ballet as a child and commenced in adult classes in my mid twenties. It did take me a while to really get the hang of it as both dancers and teachers tend to focus on some areas more than others (for instance my teacher is a great believer in learning things at the barre first, so even though an exercise is set for the centre chances are we will learn it at the barre first) persistance and perseverance does seem to be the key to everything though.

If you are allowed to start your formal syllabus training at a higher grade you will find every now and then that there are steps which you may not have learnt and which will need to be broken down for you if you are to execute them with good techique. It is a fantastic achievement and feels great to do an exam and know that you have done it, without the pressure of the exam I would probably just give petite allegro a skip altogether :grinning: uhmmm and maybe grand allegro too :pinch:

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I am never really embarrassed to dance with younger students. I've danced with 5 year olds all the way up to elderly (won't put a number on that, heh). I will tell you that it's a wonderful experience to be in a syllabus class. As an adult, you find that you've missed out on a lot of weird little things.. I mean, tiny things like transitional steps or (no joke) the various ways of skipping or waltzing. Syllabus classes give you a nice required acquaintance with those basic skills, especially if you visit the beginning levels while you're attempting the higher ones.


The only problem I had with syllabus classes was an odd thing that may not be signature in your school - the memorized class. I had a few Russian teachers that did this, and I swear they're working from the same notebook or something, but the first few times I experienced this I was a hot mess. It helps if you're there regularly and if you're a fast learner, I guess... but I'm pretty dense when it comes to combination learning. It's really great in a different way though.. in that instead of anticipating combinations you're unfamiliar with, you can work on other things. I don't know.. eventually, syllabus is just comforting. It feels like ceremony to me because I can visit any other class in any other country and say, "Hey! I know this!" and frankly, I like that. :grinning:

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  • 3 weeks later...
I transitioned into syllabus classes and picked them up from Grade 4 (Cecchetti).

Did you have to do all the Cecchetti exams (grades 1-3) to do that or did your teacher just place you in grade 4 based on an audition?

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Hi Perin


Actually neither, I didnt ever do the work covered from pre-primary to grade 3 and I didnt audition either.

I started ballet almost 9 years ago desperate to pursue something that I had always wanted to do as a child never really believing that I would get to the level that I am in now. I had a bit of an unusual start in that I joined a dying adult ballet class (by a dying class I mean I was student number 5 into a class that the teacher was considering cancelling as the attendance was just so bad, frequently there were only two of us and I dont think that she initially believed that I had the staying power) and I was really not an ideal student at all. I was recovering from massive knee surgery and a number of associated complications and although I had been mobile (without any walking aid) for about three years it was still with a noticeable limp and very much reduced mobility in the knee. BUT, I persisted and so did she and after about two years of ballet (with very dilligent attendance) she broached the subject of us doing an exam and recommended grade 4. Initially I flat out refused as I was not willing to loose my skirt not even for an exam (yes I do have a body image issue or two). My teacher continued to try and persuade and at the same time applied to the board to allow for me to wear a chiffon skirt for my exam, when they agreed (although on a more see through skirt than I would have liked) so did I. I did my exam (with my skirt on :pinch: ) and did much better than I had ever expected to so much so that my teacher immediately told me I would be doing my grade 5 exam next and I just nodded and the rest is history.


There have been times along the way when we have realised that we have missed out on some things that were taught in the younger grades (like when we had to spend a whole class on gallops LOL because we had never done them and another whole class on soutenu turns, crazy silly things like that really threw us and took a lot longer than anticipated to learn) but for the most part it has just been slow and steady progress and every now and then we sit down and think back to what we (and especially me) were like and you can only be amazed!

Exams force you to do everything, even the things that you would rather just skip (in my case it is the petite allegro), but when you have worked really really hard and you get results better than you expected it is the most exhilirating feeling!

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I did Cecchetti syllabus classes with kids and then teens for a number of years but was never taken seriously or allowed to take an exam. Eventually I decided to see what else was out there and am now in a BBO school with proper adult syllabus classes and preparing to do my second exam.


I wish I had made the switch years ago - I now realise that my old school was only interested in taking my money & I (and a number of other less talented students) were just there to make up the numbers. In my new one the adults are taken as seriously as the kids.


So my response would be - it totally depends on the school. If you are allowed in the class but get ignored and never get corrected but are just allowed to muddle along at the back - get out as soon as you can & look for a better school.


You don't say where you live so I don't know which Cecchetti syllabus is relevant - but in the UK adults cannot take an exam below Grade 2 anyway. As for RAD, an adult would normally start at Grade 3 as Grades 1 & 2 are really childish!

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