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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Parallel position?


pasdedeuxmama

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My daughter is 9 and is in her second year of studying ballet. According to her dance studio’s website, the younger students study a curriculum based on both RAD and Cecchetti. Her ballet teacher the last two years was trained at SAB and has attended the ABT National Training Curriculum courses.

 

My question is that I have noticed a LOT of work being done in parallel (feet together both facing front). Last year there was more than this year. This year, they are working in first position (45 degrees) and sometimes in 3rd. However, new steps seem to be presented in parallel first. For instance, on parent observation day, I saw a move that will clearly progress to pas de chat being taught in parallel, as well as a move that will likely become balance. Will introducing new steps continue to be done in parallel? I understand not wanting them to force turnout with beginners, but it seems very odd. Will my daughter be behind in developing her turnout if she doesn’t use it consistently in class? She takes 2 classes of 60 minutes each this year.

 

I don’t remember ever learning anything in parallel - skills were all taught as they were meant to be continued. Is this some new teaching method, perhaps associated with a curriculum that I am not familiar with? My background is Vaganova and Balachine style.

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It is typical to begin teaching new skills in parallel with some of the newer/adjusted syllabi, though with most curriculums, turned-out pas de chats and 1st positions of more than 45 degrees would be taught to most 9 yr olds.

 

I was Russian-trained and did not learn parallel until my first Modern class.

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They do not do frappe or fondu yet (or even degage), I would say it is very basic. This is what I am concerned about. My daughter just started last year, but some of these girls have been taking ballet since they were very young. Is Level 1 age-appropriate for someone who had started so young? I know that assessment is based upon skill/ability rather than age, but presumably if a child has been studying at this studio since they were 3, they would have a good base of skills, strength, and ability by age 9/10.

 

Pony canter is a good way to describe what I saw. The balance move was a down-up-up step walking forward in parallel. They also learned a chasse-tendu derriere move that was in parallel, that looked like a prequel to an arabesque (which they haven't learned yet).

 

My frustration, in addition to my confusion, is that many of the girls in her class are struggling, but she is anxious to move ahead.

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It is pretty normal to still be in Level 1 at age 9. With 1-hour lessons twice a week, many (probably most) students would need an additional year to cover all the material. I would normally expect them to be working mostly turned out at that point (and I generally wouldn't give tendu back in parallel) but it depends on the children and what they can do. Not all children progress at the same rate, regardless of how long they've been studying. Do the advanced dancers at this studio look good, and/or do they go on to dance professionally or in college programs? If so, my instinct would be to trust the teachers, but if the school does not produce advanced dancers, you may want to look elsewhere.

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Thank you, Hans. We live close enough to Manhattan that a talented student could easily get there for class, so not a great number of advanced students. There are 1 or 2 that I've been impressed with. I think they send a number of them to the bigger SIs in the city and regionally. Your input has been invaluable and reassuring.

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  • 2 months later...

I've just attended the weekend of recitals for our current school and feel really confident in my decision to move her for next year. There are so many performances for the school that it was impossible to see all of the levels, but I did see a sprinkling of older dancers throughout the weekend. I was surprised to see upper level dancers still closing into first position in some dances. In all of the dances, and at least three that I saw were the highest level classes/'company', the girls had great difficulty closing into fifth with very little rotation in their legs (ie, knees front). I saw many examples of girls on pointe, but not all the way over their boxes. Even my mother commented on the pointe work. I wanted to thank you all again for your insight and help earlier in the year. We're headed to a good place!

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@pasdeduxmama and we are at the opposite end of the spectrum with our 9yr old DD being rushed through her Cechetti exams..she is slated to go for grade 2 exams this summer, when I asked her teacher "what's the rush, and shouldn't she have two full years of grade 2?" I was told "she's more than ready! In my opinion (as a non-dancing parent) it's not in her best interest or giving her a solid foundation, more it's just bragging rights for her teacher to say almost all her students get commended grades.....Needless to say we will be dancing somewhere else next year..change is hard but sometimes it's very neccesary. Good Luck to you both!

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Not sure how they compare but RAD grades are meant to take on average 1 year of training - depending on number of classes, natural ability etc. vocational levels take 2 years but not grades usually. We've got several 9 year olds in grade 3 and have had them in grade 4 before if they were particularly able, but like I said, not sure how it compares.

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Good luck with the transition, pasdedeuxmama! I'll be interested to hear how the new school works out!

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  • 2 months later...

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