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Ballet Talk for Dancers

The Critics: Strong language

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Gailene Stock is the RBS Head, and the curriculum is undergoing synthesis even as we speak. They have not totally abandoned RAD, as they send a respectable number to examinations every year.

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Sorry Alexandra--I must have been paying too much attention to the snow when I wrote that! (We have more than fourteen inches here) I think what I meant is that there isn't really an American method the way there is a general Russian method--or do I mean style?--(which is not necessarily Vaganova), French method, &c. For example, you can't really look at a dancer and say s/he was probably American-trained (unless there's an obvious Balanchine influence) the way you can guess a dancer has been trained in Russia or France or England, as the US has imported most of its methods from Europe--I do not know of one that has originated in the US.


As for the Balanchine quote, it is, like most of his quotes, overused and misinterpreted to the point where I usually zone out when I hear it. The fact that Balanchine said it doesn't make it true.

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I agree that the Robert Johnson review was reprehensible. That's why I was surprised to see his byline in the new (winter) issue of Ballet Review. It's attached to "A Conversation with Roxane Butterfly," a free-style tap dancer. Seems like the "career move" has already taken place.

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Johnson has been writing for a variety of publications for years. He was once a news editor at Dance Magazine.

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this thread seems to have some undercurrents i don't understand. i, too, was wondering which publication was being referred to. i will go and read the review, now that has been pointed out.


for clarification about the RBS training methods over the years:


- initially it was cecchetti-based, (de valois having come from study with cecchetti in the diaghelev company),

- around 1985, merle park (as RBS director) initiated a change from what had gone before in RBS training, to a vaganova-based approach,

- the RBS has NEVER had RAD training as part of its 'method' or 'training approach'.

- it HAS, however, offered extra-curricular RAD (and cecchetti) syllabus classes, for those students who had come into its training programme from elsewhere (such as british RAD schools, or australia or south africa), and who wished to continue to take RAD exams. obviously, the now defunct RBS teacher's course included these syllabi (both of them). let me repeat: these RAD (& cecchetti) classes were EXTRA-curricular.

- since gailene stock took over a couple of years ago, she has reviewed the vaganova-based curriculum, and has said in interviews that she has added a few things, making minor changes; nothing major.

- she has also brought her very strong RAD-related coaching skills into the program (by this clumsy wording, what i mean is the skills which saw her coach so many genee winners from the ABS, in the past).

- this part is a guess: someone with such strongly successful past affiliations with RAD work is likely to be continuing to offer those skills, in the new setting - so it is quite likely that there MAY well be now (over the last few years) some INcrease in interest or participation, in RAD syllabus and exams, within the RBS.


there seems to be a complete misunderstanding with some americans i read online, that the RAD (royal academy of dance) has something to do with the royal ballet company and/or the royal ballet school. this is simply not the case, and never was.


all three are british, all three have 'royal' in their name. the RBS is the feeder school for the RB: YES - THEY are affiliated. but the RAD is something else, entirely.


hope that helps clarify what most of you DO already understand, i'm sure.



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OK, now i've read it. it certainly IS wierd...


first he insults a major american school, then the major british one. who is he? WHO does he THINK he is? how offensive the whole tone is; how superior and inelegant. i'm amazed this got published.


one wonders about the quality of the newspaper, but one also wonders about the writer's intentions...

As the patterns of his (Annear's) smug divertissement evolved, it became increasingly inane .  


The students, for the most part, displayed abominable weakness , with the women barely able to remain on pointe  and many struggling  to hold positions. Arms hung flaccidly , as though at any moment they might drop from exhaustion , producing a disgusting line .  


Some of this slackness  seemed intentional, reflecting a misapprehension of classical style that values lethargy  above vigor and resilience. .........

quite extraordinarily innappropriate, IMO - REGARDLESS of what the performance was like. his approach does not lead me to trust his judgment, at all.


in response to one of the 'stylistic' issues raised by posts above, cynthia harvey, when with the RB, said that she found that americans tended to stress the movement, whereas the english tended to stress the positions. each can learn from the other. that comment seems most appropriate, to me.

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Thank you, Grace--that helps clarify a great deal about the RBS. I had a roommate once (RAD-trained, no less!) who insisted that the RAD and the RBS were the same institution! I only found out later when I met someone from the RBS that it wasn't true.

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