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Ballet Talk for Dancers

How to measure "excellent technique"?


logollady

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Hi all, hoping to glean from your wisdom. How can one tell what is excellent technique training in a non-recognized local studio, aside from what the AD tell you (which is, of course, that they are the best)?

 

What tools (if any) do you use to measure if your dancer is receiving *nationally and/or internationally* competitive training?

 

I have come to understand that getting placed in higher levels of small local school or getting certain roles in small local company doesn't really help one understand where they stand, because that is subjective to the small local company or small local school. Does one need to be in a school that has objective standards (exams or measurable goals) to really measure their progress as a dancer? I hope I am making sense.

 

I do know that many use Summer Intensives as a measurement tool... but what about year round? Is this even possible to determine objectively without exams (our AD doesn't follow a recognized curriculum, they have their own thing they have designed and their aren't enough placements/graduates to use as an effective measurement tool).

 

We are at the point in DD training where we have to seriously think about these things, and I feel a bit lost in how to measure if there isn't an international standard to measure by... to help determine if we need to stay on course or if it is time to veer right. :)

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Hi ! We have used si's in the past - she really got an excellent understanding of "correct" technique through her various SI's -

 

When she would return to her local school she knew certain things they were doing were just wrong ...

 

 

and now she is in a pre- pro and it's even clearer that the technique at her pro- pro is far superior to her old school ( although they were very good and gave her a very strong foundation) but at a certain point they need teachers who can get them to the next level ....

 

Hope this helps!

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My DD has attended a small studio without a set curriculum as well. For 10 years she has grown up with her teachers' and her AD's careful eye and critique as her measure of improvement. Our AD suggested her first SI audition. Since then we have used SIs as our measure of the wider world to see if her technique measures up. This last summer she went away to her dream company's SI. She felt a bit behind others in her level. This year she has worked to improve and her more critical eye on herself has lead her to realize that she no longer gets corrections. She is not being challenged.

 

While I know my hyper active 3 year olds energy-burning extracurricular activity has blossomed into a driving passion under the tutelage her studio has provided, we have decided she needs to transition to a pre-pro program. SIs have shown her when she is pushed she thrives.

 

We are days away from her last recital for her home studio. She has been preparing to honor these ladies who have shepherded her to her next level.

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For me, it's how many of the kids are moving into pro jobs (and where), how many are getting into competitive SI's. Hopefully your prospective school has an alumni webpage. One other thing that helped me was realizing how many former dancers were sending their kids to our school. They told me after looking at schools in the area, this was the best option. That made me feel good about where we landed.

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Yes, how many alumni have gone on to professional ballet jobs past and present? What about top ballet colleges? Attendance and scholarships at Competitive SIs? Is there a quality performance quotient like a student company? What shows do they put on and are they available for you to attend or see on video/youtube? What do the students look like visually? If this is a move a trusted teacher is aware of can they help with recommending comparable programs? Is this an area where we have any recommendations from others in the Ballet Schools in.......threads? Can the dancer take class with an appropriate level and see the next level up? Does the environment feel welcoming? Does it appear more nurturing?

 

Just a few things to consider when looking at a smaller program. The key is that you want a smaller program that appears to have a similar track record to the larger program or close.

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To reiterate what nynydancer said , you could also call the school to ask as some of the alumni pages may not be up to date :)

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The alumni page always confuses me as I'll see a dancer listed as an alum, but the dancer didn't go straight from the ballet school to the professional world. In many cases at our ballet school, dancers would leave in their early to mid-teens to attend residential pre-pro programs. So yes, they are alum as they received training at the ballet school but they also received many subsequent years of training at another school. I don't know if that is a good thing (i.e. the training was good enough to get into competitive year-round programs) or bad (i.e. no alums go straight from the ballet school into a paid apprenticeship/trainee/2nd company). I've been using SIs acceptances and scholarships as a measuring tool as well.

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The questions L_one has brought up are a reason to speak to someone about their Alumni and not just look at the Alumni page. I would never suggest choosing a school based on questions answered from their website. :flowers:

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I think L_one brings up a very good point about examining a list of alumni closely.

 

We have a local dancer who is very successful. Every local ballet school (3) claims her as an alumna, including a school she only attended for 3-4 months (firsthand information from the dancer's mother). There is another dancer in a major company that a local school lists as an alum. According to newspaper articles, she left that school around age 12 or 13.

 

I think today it is becoming more common to do additional training after the high school years in either an unpaid trainee/second company situation or at a college, so with more recent grads, I am not sure I would be critical of dancers leaving near the end or after high school for additional training before moving on to a paid position as long as I saw some genuine alumni who are employed.

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Having one's students attend recognized professional training programs is a feather in the cap but it does not tell the whole story.Young students must train somewhere. It is wonderful when a small school recognizes they may not have the program in place to compete with professional training programs and they are ready and able to pass their talented students on to schools that have professional training in place.

 

What constitutes a professional training program is basically the curriculum taught by experienced professional teachers who have a track record for developing professional dancers. In today's job market, it is not always possible to graduate from high school into a professional corps contract, but "graduates" should receive traineeships, apprenticeships and/or large merit scholarships to notable University Dance Programs.

 

A professional training curriculum includes daily ballet technique and pointe classes. More and more in the US, the young men are separated from the ladies. Partnering is a must, as is variations and repertoire. These programs must include modern, jazz, character and when possible, Spanish dance. Residential programs also include nutrition, music, dance history, methodology, kinesiology and pilates.

 

Such professional training programs are now able to compete with the International government schools Europe. Unfortunately it generally means a young person would have to move away from home at a young age.

 

Getting into one of these programs is a good measurement for the level of training in a local school.

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What someone would consider excellent training at ages 8-12 might not be the same school you'd consider excellent training at 14-18. My son went to an excellent local school from ages 10-14. I personally know very little about ballet, so I determined it was excellent from 4 main factors--

 

1) It was RAD affiliated, and the students generally received exemplary scores on their annual exams (adjudicated by an independent examiner)

 

2) The older students (12-15) were receiving generous scholarships to big-name summer programs.

 

3) Some kids competed at YAGP and were invited to finals in New York

 

4) Kids in the 14-15 year old age range were being accepted with generous scholarships to big-name year-round training programs.

 

That 4th item illustrates the point that what is excellent at a young age is not necessarily excellent at an older age. This particular studio is excellent with beginners and intermediate dancers. But, it doesn't provide the type of training needed to prepare for a professional career. The kids who want to train to be professional dancers generally leave that studio around the age of 14 or 15 for more intense conservatories or company-affiliated academies. Those that stay beyond the age of 15 often go on to dance in college (generally receiving a dance scholarship).

 

If my son (now 17 and training full-time with a company academy) does end up becoming a professional ballet dancer, then he will consider himself an alumni of that local studio. None of us would object to his being listed on that studio's alumni page. No, they didn't train him right up to the professional level, but they were essential in taking him from beginner level to pre-professional level.

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What a lovely post.

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Thank you all so much! This was exactly the type of information I was looking for. :)

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