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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Deciding between schools

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Hello there, looking for some advice, please. Our daughter has just turned 8 and has completed 3 years in the ABT syllabus, most recently Primary C exams in June. We've moved and have located two schools. Both seem to be on par in terms of reputation locally. One offers the Cecchetti syllabus, and our daughter would be in Grade One. The other offers RAD, and she would be in Grade Two. Classes twice a week, exam at the end of the year. All things being equal, do parents here have a preference in terms of syllabus? Thank you for your help.

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I would always say that it is about finding a great school and teachers - not which code they follow.

In Australia many students are taught RAD and Cecchetti to a lesser extent.  As teenagers they might learn another syllabus or be exposed to Vaganova through summer schools etc.   They are expected to be able to adapt.    

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Good teaching is good teaching. The syllabus is simply a way of offering a gradual (graded) coherent syllabus, with appropriate for age developments. 

In very general terms, the RAD system is very clean and pure "English" style (but do not confuse it with the Royal Ballet), while the Cecchetti syllabus can offer a more "dancey" way of doing the same steps & graded learning. Both systems draw on a mix of the historical inheritance of the Italian and Russian master/mistress teachers. 

The difference between the 2 syllabi tends to be in nomenclature; in the more advanced grades (from Intermediate Foundation on) there are some differences in the traditions of set exercises. But if your child is gong to be serious about ballet in 8 years time (and how can you tell that!) then they will have learnt these differences anyway. THe moves are the same, in spite of what they're called in different traditions.

Don't be glamorised by the difference between Grades 1 and 2 - at the age of 8, these things don't really mean very much. Training gets serious in 3 or 4 years' time and it's only after puberty that it will become clear whether a young dancer is going to carry it through to a serious pursuit, rather than an enriching activity for life. 

So what's your sense of the atmosphere of each studio? The ethos & attitude of the teachers? That is what is important for an 8 year old.


Full disclosure: I did training as a teen in RAD and as an adult in Cecchetti syllabuses. Teachers in the US notice the "Englishness" of my dancing; teachers here in the UK have noticed the movement quality of the Cecchetti training.

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I would just make sure the syllabus prepares her for training outside that curriculum. Our ballet teacher was telling me she doesn't recommend a certain world renowned company because the syllabus only prepares them to dance with that company which in reality takes very few graduates, leaving those not accepted at a disadvantage with other companies.

Of course that doesn't mean much at your DDs age. I agree with others syllabus not as important as overall training.

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