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Ballet Talk for Dancers



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I started ballet as an adult at a school that labels the different class levels as beginner, advanced beginner, low-intermediate, intermediate....etc. So I'm not familiar with the traditional ballet school levels of I,II, III, etc. Are there any syllabus books out there or other sources that would explain exactly what these levels entail? For example, in order to pass level III you must understand and be able to execute x,y, and z. I'm just curious - I'd like to figure out what level I would be in according to numerical levels (I generally take low-intermediate and intermediate classesat my studio).

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Oh boy Boots, you are asking a question that is quite tricky to answer these days.

Normally, in a school with children who are learning a particular method, i.e. RAD, there will be levels, where in order to progress to the next you have to be able to perform certain steps and fulfil certain criteria. So you go from level to the next year after year.

for example, go to the RAD homepage and look at their syllabus criteria for an example of just one of these syllabi.

Then there is the Cecchetti, then Vaganova, then a certain ballet schools levels will be different from ballet school X. Ask Ms Leigh how they determine the levels where she teaches.


Normally, the level you are in, is determined by how many hours a week of ballet you do + the experience you already have/or how much potential a teacher thinks you have. So to be in the top level , you would be doing something like 15+ hours a week, with 4+ years of previous ballet training, and the lowest level would be, say 3+ hours a week, with 1 years previous training.

So how many hours per week are you doing? and how many years of previous training do you have?




P.S. However, as an adult this is usually not a criteria to follow. Basically, you go to whatever you class you feel good in, or at a time that suits you. So whether that be advanced, intermediate or basic its your perogative.

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Thanks for the information Jeanette. I have been taking ballet regularly for a little over 3 years. Right now I take 4-5 classes (or 6.0-7.5 hours) of ballet per week (plus a few other dance classes) The first two years were less - 2 ballet classes the first year (plus other stuff), and 3 the second year. So I don't know if anyone would even have a clue what level that is the equivalent of without seeing me in class (or if it even matters!!). Are other adult students out there in classes that are labeled "beginner" "intermediate", etc. Or do you have level I, Level II, etc. with exams?

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The majority of us just have classes like, beginner, advanced beginner, intermediate, advanced, as opposed to levels I, II, III etc. Although, one school I went to, it was I, II, III, IV,I for beginner, IV for advanced, but people danced in any level depending on which night they could attend.

Some, especially the girlies in the UK , Beckster, Lolly, Kate B, are or had taken RAD, where you do an exam in order to advance up to the next level. Each level would have a set syllabus, which would include adage, petit allegro, allegro, enchainements and a dance made up of steps, up to and including the level you are taking. But, it is not necessary to take the exam to advance to the next level, for an adult dancer that is. As long as you take the syllabus classes and advance with the class you can forgo the exam if you so choose. Usually for the younger kiddies, they like to have an exam and it kind of stops the parents bickering to the teacher about why their little darling isn't advancing to the next level (if they fail the exam then its obvious why, and vice versa), and especially if you are intending to carry on with your ballet. But it is not necessary to have Grade X to join a ballet company.

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My school has levels numbered as beginner 1, beginner 2, advanced 1, advanced 2, advanced 3. Another school that some of my friends go to has beginner, advanced beginner, 1, 2, 3. I take that their beginner and adv/beg corresponds to our beginner 1 (a year long about twice a week level?), and then the rest of the levels are sort of evened out so that our advanced 3 and their 3 are about the same level...


So, it's complicated. I have not even tried to work out how these compare to RAD, or anything...

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Guest *Lili*

At our school, we don't have exams or syllabus, but the teaching is based on the RAD method. I don't know exactly the meaning of each of our levels compared to other syllabus, but they come like this : pre-ballet 1 to 4, elementary 1 to 4, intermediate 1 to 4, then advanced. Pointe starts usually in elementary 2, which I'll be taking this year along with elementary 1 :)

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Guest tournout

Perhaps it also depends on the school's size and location. I currently take open division classes in new england. Most are simply referred to as "int. adv." However, I find tremendous variation in class difficulty exists from class to class, week to week, based on the level of the people who show up and the instructor. Though watching a class first is probably the best idea, I hate to waste a class sitting on the sidelines (even if it is my first time). I found that maintaining an open dialog with instructors (especially before I show up for the first time) most helpful in finding a program that fits my needs. Now, if I could only get off from work early and frequently enough, to attend more classes!

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