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Ballet - ISTD vs RAD

(40 Posts)
Strix Wed 13-Oct-10 10:46:08

DD takes a variety of dance classes, one of which is ballet. I was just wondering if veteran ballet parents might be able to shed some light on the difference between these exams.

I think that RAD is a bit more classical than ISTD but don't really know what that means.

I am not and never was a dancer. So, assume I know nothing.

Strix Wed 13-Oct-10 13:03:19


AbsofCroissant Wed 13-Oct-10 13:07:39

not a teacher, but someone who did dancing. I did exams with ISTD and was trained in the Cecchetti style, and then later did RAD.

It's a different style of dancing. Cecchetti was a ballet master and choreagrapher who lived in the early 19th century (I think), and produced a very distinct ballet style. I preferred it to RAD, as it was more "elegant" in a way than RAD (in the way you place your arms, the way the body is trained to move).

Ultimately, I don't think it makes too much difference - the teacher is more important than the exam.

AbsofCroissant Wed 13-Oct-10 13:08:53

I meant not a parent. Should read these things before posting.

elphabadefiesgravity Wed 13-Oct-10 15:12:24

ISTD has two strands/styles, Imperial and Cecchetti.

Dd does RAD. I and she likes it becasue they do character.

SOme people prefer ISTD becasue they feel the character takes time away from the "proper ballet"

Both are well respected and can produce lovely dancers if you have a good teacher.

VicJJ Sat 08-Jan-11 22:55:54

What about NATD? My little girl (2 1/2) is just starting at an NATD ballet school, but I was under the impression that RAD was better for some reason but I'm not sure why! Help!!

elphabadefiesgravity Sat 08-Jan-11 22:57:20

NATD is quite new and has a reputation for being "easier"

StewieGriffinsMom Sat 08-Jan-11 22:57:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

melezka Sat 08-Jan-11 23:16:49

I think (though I am ready to be corrected) that RAD only do ballet whereas all the other bodies mentioned do other styles of dance as well.

RAD also do not only grades (which have exams at the end) but vocational grades (much later on for your DD should she carry on) for students who are looking to a career in/including dance. RAD also preside over some fairly prestigious competitions (eg Genee).

Cecchetti (you can look this up) was influential in the development of RAD syllabus. Abs am I right in thinking there is a difference in how one gets on to pointe - in Cecchetti you "hop up" and in RAD you roll through the foot? This can make a difference to a)calf development and b)foot development. I believe. (Disclaimer: mother rather than dancer). Not that you will be concerned with pointe work for some time.

There is much snobbery amongst ballet mothers and it can be hard finding stuff out. It's a strange world...

It might be worth your while mooching on the respective sites.

I don't know where you are but in my experience it can be difficult to find Cecchetti teachers - though that might just be where I am.

Oh - and RAD exams are bloody expensive, more so than the other bodies.

Sorry, I've never heard of NATD.

elphabadefiesgravity Sat 08-Jan-11 23:22:52

A lot of schools do RAD for ballet and ISTD for tap, modern and jazz.

taxi4ballet Thu 31-Jan-13 13:17:51

Two of the largest full-time vocational ballet schools (Elmhurst School for Dance and Tring Park School for the Performing Arts) both teach RAD syllabus classes to their students.

Also, the RAD has 'character' included in the syllabus - and if you watch traditional ballets such as Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and Giselle you will see that character dance plays a big part in those and many other ballets.

Startail Wed 06-Feb-13 23:37:00

All I know is our RADA examiner was a bit harsh.

Picturesinthefirelight Wed 06-Feb-13 23:50:48

Hello taxi. I was Elphaba- I'm now pictures.

bananananacoconuts Fri 15-Feb-13 21:26:26

rad for strength and technique. istd for enjoyment and sense of performance. i would chose rad throughout childhood and maybe add istd majors during teens. pleased no one has mentioned idta!

GraduallyGoingInsane Mon 25-Feb-13 20:20:37

My DDs do RAD, and many years ago I did RAD myself so we are a bit biased!

Having said that, of all the boards I think RAD and ISTD are the most respected across the globe. RAD takes a lot of its syllabus work from the major ballets, like the inclusion of character as someone said.

My DDs have done a lot with outreach programmes such as the Royal Ballet junior associates, and various summer schools. The majority of other girls and boys there seem to be RAD trained, although I'm not sure if that is simply because its more common.

The vocational grades at RAD are certainly well renowned for those looking more seriously at dance, and as a mum I appreciate the very slow progression onto pointe with huge emphasis on strength, technique and injury prevention. I have heard it said by the DDs friends that this can make it more tedious, but I'd rather they learned safely and slowly. I don't know too much about ISTD but the same may be true of their teaching progressions.

All this being said, if you have a young one who loves dance and at the moment doesn't take it too seriously, leave them where they enjoy it, at least for now. Dance should be fun, even ballet!

KingscoteStaff Wed 27-Feb-13 21:47:36

Gradually, can I ask you when your DDs auditioned for the Associates? My DD is in Year 4 and her teacher has suggested that she apply this summer, whereas another friend says that most children join at the end of Year 5.

purplepenguin86 Thu 28-Feb-13 02:31:47

Junior Associates are aaged 8 - 10. It isn't a summer application though - you need to apply by mid March for September 2013 entry.

GraduallyGoingInsane Tue 05-Mar-13 17:21:30

My DDs were all in Year 3 when they auditioned and started in Year 4 I believe. I know DD1, who is August born, was only just 8 when she started. They take your age at the end of the academic year, but the application and auditions were a bit earlier.

Royal is/was a fab experience for them, but don't discount other more local programmes - we have a great programme near us that all 4 DDs are part of, which doesn't involve travel to London once they're over 12!

RubyrooUK Tue 05-Mar-13 17:42:17

I used to dance semi-professionally and did both BBO and RAD.

I don't know how widespread BBO was but to be honest, didn't have too much trouble moving between the techniques when dancing with different companies depending which moves were dominant.

I found RAD to be the most widespread ballet syllabus so I would probably go for that. (Although I always found BBO a bit more fluid and flexible.)

RubyrooUK Tue 05-Mar-13 17:52:28

Oh blimey this thread is old. Should have read the dates....blush

Sparklymommy Mon 18-Mar-13 14:46:39

My DD is ten, and currently working at inter-foundation and grade 5 RAD ballet but also does an ISTD Grade 4 class every week. This is because she feels the RAD syllabus gives more technique and the ISTD syllabus is more performance based and "floaty" (her word not mine!). At the end of the day the syllabus doesn't matter, the teacher is what counts!

LadyLech Mon 18-Mar-13 18:24:31

I know nothing about ballet, but I'd agree with the above poster. My DD went to a very good istd dance school who had girls who had secured places at a range of the top ballet schools - associates with the royal ballet, elmhurst, tring. Doing istd does not seem to have held them back one bit - so from an outsiders perspective, if you're going to take ballet seriously enough, surely any school that is good enough to get you in to one of the ballet schools above is good enough isn't it? Or is there something I'm missing??

Annette2015 Thu 24-Sep-15 15:23:39

I work for NATD. They have been around since 1906,U.K. and overseas, offer exams in grades and medals across a range of genres including ballet, tap, freestyle, contemporary etc. recognised by Ofqual and CDET so standard is good, plenty of teachers around the country. They also do ballroom and Latin- patrons include Len Goodman, Craig Revel-Horwood and Angela Rippon.
Friendly , helpful staff. My children both enjoyed NATD dance classes. They have recently gone on to Facebook and Twitter too – and

concernmum Sat 05-Nov-16 15:52:02

Hi, my DD has always been doing RAD and she finished her Grade 3 exam in April 2016. i was looking to enrol her in Grade 4 RAD when we moved to another place, this year but made a mistake in enrolling her with a teacher teaching ISTD grade 4 instead. Furthermore, there is not alot of choice RAD teacher where i live. My question is, if she does the ISTD exam in 2017, can she swap back to RAD grade 5 in 2018? Is there any restriction between the 2 examination board. is ISTD grade 4 equivalent to RAD grade4?

nonicknameseemsavailable Sat 05-Nov-16 16:42:56

As far as I know concernmum they can swap between the two. She may not want to though. Our dance school does ISTD grades then RAD majors. They always get comments about how much better their technique is when they do the majors because of their background but that is highly likely more to do with the teaching rather than the syllabus as their teacher has taught both RAD and ISTD for many years.

However ISTD grade 4 isn't equivalent to RAD grade 4 from what I have been told, I have been given the impression that the ISTD grades are normally harder or higher level than the equivalent number RAD grades. Certainly people I know who have moved from doing RAD to ISTD have always gone down a grade when starting ISTD.

I am not a teacher though so this is based on experience and hearsay.

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