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Chasse Away

Hour Long Classes, Are they Dangerous?

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Chasse Away

I've been dropping in at a studio (Studio 'M') I trained at in high school (all genres 'competitive' school, RAD based, perhaps you know the type) this summer while I'm home from university. I also take a 2 hour Vaganova class at my usual studio (small private pre pro school: Studio 'H', also an hour drive away) and a 2 hour RAD class (Studio 'C') based on RAD conditioning and RAD 'Exploring Repertoire' or whatever it is called. Most of my ballet classes at Studio M were an hour/an hour and 15, however coming back after three years strictly at studio H I can't help but notice how un-warm I feel during and after a 1 hour class.

When classes are only an hour we don't have time to do a full barre, our barre usually looks like: plies, tendus, battement jetes, ronde de jambes, grande battement. We rarely do any of the following: fondues, petite battements, adage, frappes. It doesn't help that the instructor explains the exercise in full detail on the left and right and then again with the music, instead of just demonstrating one side to the music and high lighting any details before we start, I feel like she is spending time repeating things unecassarily when we could be using that time to dance or listen to corrections. We have yet to do any adage in the centre and any grande allegro in the centre (but this is besides the point).

My point is that do not feel ready for dancing after this barre, I find myself struggling to balance in pirouettes (since none of the barre work is on releve) and I struggle to articulate my feet in petite allegro. I can't help but think if I were to do grande allegro or adage in this state that injuries would happen left right and centre. Is there away I can tactfully bring up to the studio director this issue, I feel like she wouldn't care about one opinion from one of her many students. The thing is, when I danced at studio M dancers got injured all the time, but since I started at studio H (which is Vaganova and some might say that is worse for you're body) I have rarely seen dancers injured and if they do get injured they make full recoveries. My theory is because at studio H we ALWAYS do a full barre because the classes are 2 hours, and barre is designed to fully warm up your body for dance, so it really should not be skipped over.

 

Anyways should I say something? Or should I just wait out the summer?

 

Thanks :)

 

Edit: I should add that none of these summer classes are adult specific, all three studios are a blend of high school students, university students, and adults at an "advanced" (or approx advanced) level. 

Edited by Chasse Away

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gav

It's certainly not ideal. I think whether it is dangerous depends on what's done in that hour. It does not sound like what this teacher is doing would be particularly dangerous, since you haven't described anything with huge extensions or exceptionally energetic movement (like grand allegro). Since you're just dropping in for the summer, my suggestion would be do be mellow about it... And arrive early to warm up/do some pre-exercises (plies and tendus and degages especially) so your body is ready to take full advantage of the time you have during the class itself. 

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Chasse Away

Hi Gav, yes I suppose you're right. I usually go early to warm up/stretch but I will work some 'pre barre' barre in there too. We haven't done any grand allegro/adage yet, and maybe we won't, although the instructor has commented about how she's sorry we keep running out of time for grande allegro so I think she intends for us to do some, but we will cross this bridge when we get to it.

But I guess the concern is less for myself and more for her other students. When I took the classes here 4 years ago for my RAD Adv. 1 almost all our classes were 1 hour, which means we only got through about half the syllabus each class (for example we either did plies, tendus, random half of barre, adage and pirouettes OR plies, tendus, remaining half of barre, allegro) and I believe this is part of the reason so many dancers got injuries. Should I say something on behalf of her current students who are in this type of class and never doing a full barre before their centre work and more susceptible to injuries as a result.

 

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Miss Persistent

As an RAD teacher, and a frequent teacher of adult ballet - I agree it's not the best.  Ideally an Advanced 1 level class would be 1.5 hours to allow time to work on all elements of class.  All of my adult classes are 1.25 hours - and I still manage to get a full barre (perhaps not frappe/petits battements every week) but certainly what I feel is the necessary minimum.  I do combine exercises (eg. fondus and ronds de jambe) so to me it's just about time management. 

Out of curiosity - do you know which level of Discovering Repertoire you are studying? It also pays to remember that the DR program is not designed as a "class" situation - ie. It covers specific repertoire training, not vocabulary/syllabus training.

It's up to you if you want to say something or not - you would know the teacher better than any of us and how they might react, and if it's worth it or not if you are only there for a short while.  While it's nice you are concerned for the other dancers, how she runs her studio isn't your responsibility as such.  I second Gav's suggestion of a personal warm-up, or perhaps ask your teacher if you may do some of your barre on releve or balance at the end of exercises etc.

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Chasse Away

Hi Miss Persistent,

We are working on Discovering Repertoire level 2 (we just finished the Coppelia Spanish Variation, or what was left of it after the RAD squished it into a little box) but the class itself is structured pretty differently, the studio calls it 'Broccoli' I'm guessing because its supposed to be 'good for you' (I could not make this stuff up if I tried). We do about 30 min of what I thought was RAD endorsed exercise ball conditioning, but I can't find the website or any reference to the program, I'm pretty sure it is based out of a school in the States though, which is weird as I didn't think RAD was as dominate there. The exercises mimic things like developes and petite allegro with a few basic stretch and strength exercise like 'flex and point' and arabesque strengthening. We are mainly on our back in a 'bridged' position with our feet on the ball, its really simple but super hard to stay aligned and stable.

Then we do barre on flat, then barre on pointe, I was under the impression that both of these sets of exercises were part of the repertoire 'class' that the RAD assembled, but maybe they are just open level RAD exercises that the teacher choose (as I am under the impression RAD writes non-syllabus class work now). Then we do the DR exercise which are just the steps of the variation broken down into little combinations. And then we work on the variations. 

So to me the DR is kind of a class as it has flat barre, barre on pointe, and a little bit of centre, but not quite a full class in the sense as the the barre is incomplete (only 6 exercises or so) and there is no specific port de bras, adage, allegro, etc. centre work. 

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Miss Persistent

Oh that's nice to hear you're working on the Copellia variation - I like that one.

The b-a-l-l conditioning you are describing is likely "Progressing Ballet Technique" https://pbt.dance/home/products It is not associated with the RAD though many RAD teachers use it, and came out of Australia actually.

The "Class Module" of Discovering Repertoire does not contain any pointe work at any level.  The "Variation" modules may be taken on pointe as an option, but do not contain any barre work.  The RAD does not write/publish non-syllabus exercises so it sounds like the teacher has just designed a class to suit what she thinks is needed.

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Redbookish

I agree with Gav here: do your own warm up, and just go with the flow. You're doing class at other places where you are getting a full barre warm up & exploration of the full choreographic repertoire. The class sounds safe, and the loss of grand allegro is probably a decision because the class is only an hour. It's about safety - but a pity that the full repertoire of steps can't be taught.

My regular class in my home town studio only offers 1 hour classes, and I find I miss the practice of more than basic petit allegro, and pretty much no grand allegro. And we do a bit more on the barre than you describe, but my teacher doesn't show both sides in complete detail as you describe. We spend a fair bit of time in a warm up in parallel, then pliés and tendus. My teacher generally does a slow tendu and a faster one, often combined with degagés, which I love. It's a very well taught and safe class.

I supplement with other classes elsewhere, and I find that my two one-hour classes per week keep me well in tune, because my regular teacher is so good.

About warm ups: There's increasing evidence (from physiotherapists & exercise science) that even ballet dancers about to do a barre should do some form of large muscle group warm up. My regular teacher has us run (gently) around the room for about 3 minutes, finished by walking with big leg swings and body twists. She also recommends several athletic all-body warm up exercises, such as crawls, leg swings while lying down - on both your back, and your front (doing transverse leg swings while lying on your front is challenging). My physiotherapist recommends glute bridges, "running man" steps up onto a box, and sideways crab walks to warm up & activate glute muscles - he says these are safe to start with.  

Basically anything but static stretching - which is quite a challenge to traditional ballet warming up!

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Redbookish
7 hours ago, Chasse Away said:

We do about 30 min of what I thought was RAD endorsed exercise ball conditioning, but I can't find the website or any reference to the program

This sounds like PBT: Progressing Ballet Technique. I do a class in this for 45 minutes immediately before one of my regular (1 hour) ballet classes. It's a really good programme, and gives you lots of skills & knowledge about your body: particularly your pelvis alignment & core strength.

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Chasse Away

Yes PBT is exactly what it is, thanks!

Sorry Miss Persistent, now I'm a little confused. I have taken other 'Adult' classes at studio C and we I'm like 95% sure we were doing RAD set class work that did not belong to any grade syllabus/ vocational syllabus. I know it was RAD because the teacher was reading from an RAD book and watching RAD videos to teach her exercises (I'm sad to say this is my usual experience with RAD classes) and I know it must not have been vocational syllabus work because the teacher mentions how it changes every term/I did not recognize it from my exam work, although I've only done Adv.1 of the new syllabus. So I was under the impression that the RAD releases books/videos of  'open' classes for teachers to teach in the summer/in non-exam classes. But I also cannot find any references online to this as well? To me it seemed like the teacher had paid for a bunch of exercises (from the RAD) and chose the set the class works on each term, does nothing like this exist?

Honestly I would be glad to know that this is not a real thing, there are a lot of good things going for RAD technique wise but personally I can't stand pre-packaged ballet classes and teachers who teach with their nose in the book. 

 

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Miss Persistent

Absolutely no. The RAD does not, as has never to my knowledge over the past 25 years released "open" classes.  What is published in books and DVD's is the content for Examinations or Class Awards, and is the 'final product' as such.  They are set exercises that are designed to be developed in small pieces over time, and then the Examination format is what is marked as a final product.  This is so that a fair assessment can be given of all candidates at each level over 80 countries.  Content for Vocational Graded Examinations (which is their technical term!) does not change unless there is an entire syllabus overhaul - usually about once every decade or so to keep it up to date with the current needs of students. There is no way VGE content changes every term.  What should change every term (or more often!) is what the teacher is doing with their class.  An RAD Registered Teacher is supposed to look at the vocabulary for each level, and its progression across the various levels, and design their own classes and training systems to get students from point A to B to C.  This is because not only are no two schools the same, no two classes even within a school are the same! Teachers are expected to tailor the learning of their students based on what is standing in front of them.  I'm sorry this has not been your experience of RAD up until now.  Also don't forget that RAD materials are open to purchase to everyone in the world - so there are people who may use RAD materials as part of their teaching but may not be an RAD registered teacher which is sometimes where confusion can occur.

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Chasse Away

Just thought I would update everyone here, talked to my instructor today and it looks like the DR syllabus contain flat barre exercises and (flat or pointe) centre exercises that complement the variation, they are combined by level I believe. So we just started Cinderella-Princess Florine, the book/video sets contain barre work for both Princess Florine and Paquita (it is the same barre for both), and separate centre work for each variation, that are essentially each step of the variation in its own routine.

Edited by Chasse Away

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Miss Persistent
8 hours ago, Chasse Away said:

It looks like the DR syllabus contain flat barre exercises and (flat or pointe) centre exercises that complement the variation, they are combined by level I believe.

How exciting you've started those two :) Princess Florine is my favorite I think.

Your teacher is very close - but it's a little more split up than that.  It's very confusing though so you're not the only ones still trying to wrap your heads around it!

Each Level (2, 3, and 4 - There is no level 1), is divided into 3 'Modules'. Each Module is a separate Exam, but you can take multiple modules in the same exam session.  So for each level it is set out as;

Module 1 - Class - Barre and centre on flat

Module 2 - Variation 1 - 8 x Development Exercises specific to the Variation 1, the Variation itself, and reverence. Candidates choice of completely en pointe or not at all en pointe (ie. you cannot do some exercises on pointe and some on flat).  Module 2 Does not include any barre work

Module 3 - Variate 2 - 8 x Development Exercises specific to the Variation 2, the Variation itself, and reverence.  Again, candidates choice of completely en pointe or not at all en pointe.  Module 3 Does not include any barre work.

It might be worth having a look at the RAD website to get your head around it! It is very confusing to start but once you can separate it out it all makes sense.  And the lovely thing is it's so flexible! You can take all 3 modules in one hit, just the class, just one of the variations, the class and one variation - whatever takes you fancy!

https://www.rad.org.au/learn-to-dance/discovering-repertoire/discover-repertoire

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Old_Faun

In these adult classes where the teacher shows the exercise again and again I'm used to copy it full scale, so I have at least something from it and the time is not wasted completely.

 

For a pre-warmup: I used to do just jumping jacks when time and space is limited, for example for some private demonstration - family and friends want to see someting. And I don't want to do it cold.

It's from fitness / gymnastic, but they aren't very hard to do and warm up everything in short time. Only not very ballettly.

 

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