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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Vaganova boys graduating exam


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It says 1st course which for Russians can be anywhere from 16-17. The international students maybe older.

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  • Victoria Leigh changed the title to Vaganova boys graduating exam

This is the final year (equivalent to 3rd year of upper school in UK, not sure how it translates to USA) - they are mostly 19-20. They are all Russian except for my DS (middle at the barre) who is English. 

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The video states 1st Course which used to be 6th year. I guess it is 8th year now. Russians 17-19 depending on birth dates. International students, according to acceptance. 

I am speaking in general terms, not specifically addressing this class.

The movements are 8th year and beyond. I am sure it is wonderful to see your son amongst this group. Congratulations to him and all teachers in his past.

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They look very professional already!  They must have been quite tired at the end of the exam but still had the energy to do those amazing jumps!

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CeliB, thank you for sharing the video.  They are just so good and beautiful.  Wow!

When you say this is a graduating exam, do they get grades, pass or fail?  (of course I can't imagine any of the students there failing !)  And do they have to 'pass' the exam every year to go to the next level?  

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I'm not sure what level has to be achieved in order to proceed to the next year as DS only joined the school 18 months ago, so I don't know what happens in the lower years. I don't think any of the boys has been asked to leave from the 2 year cohorts he has been in but last year 2 students from his class left as they were offered a contract and this year a couple left to go elsewhere - of their own volition.

I only know grades for the classes DS has been in amongst or heard about as he is in the same year. There are 4 classes in each level/year - 2 of boys and 2 of girls. Each class is 5-8 students. The students all get graded. 5 is the top grade. Generally 1 or 2 per class got a 5, most got a 4 (for example in one of the the girls graduating class this year only one student got a 5, similarly in the other boys graduating class I think only one student got a 5).

This class all got a 5. Very rare. All of this class have at least one contract offer (either from Bolshoi or Mariinsky). 

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Vaganova Academy is divided into a lower school and an upper school, all under one roof with a dormitory and separate apartment buildings joining the main building inside of the archway/gate and a central courtyard. It is an entire city block, #2 Rossi St. The lower school is divided into levels/grades 1-3 and 4 & 5. They keep the same teacher for years 1-3 and then a different teacher for years 4 & 5. They begin with 8 classes of approximately 12 students in each class, divided upon entrance into female and male classes. The students in the 1st year of study have a mid-year exam and a final year exam. At this time students are selected to continue on or not. Each year has a final year exam through 5th year at which time, students are retained or not. In the two years I spent as a student of methodology, a university based program for professional dancers who are seeking a diploma in the teaching of the Vaganova method of schooling, by the time the students were in 4th and 5th year there were only 2 classes of each female and male students. I remember a mid year exam also for 5th year students. Attrition is large in the lower school. Most teachers in the lower school have a diploma from the Vaganova Methodology course. There is a course of study for each level that is written. These are not prescribed combinations, rather a recipe of sorts as to how movements are executed. The students take a class in front of a jury of selected teachers from Vaganova Academy. The lower school exams are not open to all within the Academy as is the case in the exams held in "Rep Zal" as seen on the particular exam shown in this thread.

The upper school is the same as the lower school except that in the upper school, international students are permitted to enter the school. The upper school is divided into three years of study. The students keep the same teacher for the three years of study. There are 2 levels of each female and male students and exams are held annually. The teachers in the upper school have not necessarily studied in a methodology course. They tend to be well known Russian professional dancers. In the case of the exam seen in this thread, the teacher is Director of Vaganova Academy who is indeed a well known Russian professional dancer. 

When exams are held in "Rep Zal" there are about 5 rows of chairs set up in the studio for the methodology cabinet (those in charge of maintaining the method), invited Artistic Directors of companies (in the case of 8th year exams), teachers, important professional dancers. In short, dignitaries. In the balcony, standing room only. Students of the school and teachers in the methodology course vie for a place to stand. Rarely are Russian students dismissed from years 6, 7 and 8 although international students may not be retained.

The grading system is very simple, 5-3, you are retained. There are also + and - given, 5=A, 4=B, 3=C. Anything below this is considered a failure. The years I was in school I did see 0s given, particularly in the lower school. The jury meets after each exam to discuss not only the grades of the students but also the exam itself, as the teacher's work is also being considered. The grades for the students are published publically on a board for all to see.



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Thank you, vrs, for a very thorough description of Vaganova Academy's grading system and the different levels.

It's so very different from how my son is evaluated.  


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