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Royal Ballet School Junior Associates

(41 Posts)
KatyCustard Mon 30-Jan-12 22:58:38

Hi, I was wondering if any other parents of ballet dancers would be able to help me. My daughter began ballet lessons in September (she will be 8 in April). Her teacher has moved her up a class this term and wants her to take grade 2 next term (she hasn?t done any grades yet).
I?m assuming she shows some potential if the teacher wants her to go straight to grade 2, or is it just that the grades are linked with age? I really don?t know anything about the RAD grades, or much about ballet for that matter.
I haven?t had a chance to talk to her teacher yet because it?s always a bit hectic at the end when the classes change over. However she was given a book about ballet by Darcey Bussell for Christmas and has become obsessed with the idea of going to the Royal Ballet School. I know there must be plenty of little girls out there who dream of this, but whilst looking at the RBS website I read about the Junior Associates. I understand that it is incredibly hard to get into, and she probably isn't anywhere near ready, but I was wondering - can anyone tell me a bit more about the JA and what experience you need to audition? Should my daughter be having more than one lesson a week?
I don?t want to sound like a pushy mum, but I really want to support her in this. She has a tough time in school because reading and writing don?t come easily to her, but when she dances she takes my breath away.
If any of you have any tips I?d be really grateful.

H7607 Thu 15-Aug-13 23:22:42

Ah that's great I will try that! Thanks! And hey good luck !

stickchildren3 Thu 15-Aug-13 07:30:07

Hi, read your post with interest as my dd on the swl for JAs ( and we remain ever hopeful confused)! Try you will get many responses if you post on there. Not a huge amount of traffic on here for ballet ime.

H7607 Tue 13-Aug-13 23:22:10

Hi. Daughter starting rbs ja September. I haven't a clue about dancing. Feel bit out of our depth but daughter quite happy! Anyone who attends already, any friendly tips to help would be appreciated!! Thanks

Picturesinthefirelight Wed 12-Jun-13 09:26:03

It's a real achievement to even be offered SWL so well fine to your dd.

balletmum42 Tue 11-Jun-13 08:09:16

Just to add to this for anyone thinking of going for it in the future. You absolutely DO NOT need your teacher's "permission". There is a box on the form for them to sign but they WILL see you without all that information. Our teacher refused so I just sent a letter explaining this with the application and they were fine about it. DD starts this Sept (after getting "short waiting list" last year).

Fusster Sat 08-Jun-13 20:12:09

Thank you.
So she has a slim chance of getting a place.
That's good enough for me smile

Picturesinthefirelight Sat 08-Jun-13 15:26:33

It means that if anyone declines their place between now and September the next person on the list will be offered a place.

Fusster Sat 08-Jun-13 15:14:42

Hi. My daughter has just had a letter from the RBS for the JA programme in Bristol, she is 10 years old. It says that she is on the short waiting list. What does this mean exactly?
I'm new to this and don't know much about it.

Sparklymommy Wed 22-May-13 09:02:02

We have several JAs at dds dance school. 4 are currently y6. 2 JAs and a couple of girls that aren't JAs auditioned for white lodge. 1 girl got in this year. As far as I am aware she is the ONLY girl to go to white lodge from our dance school in the last 10 years, possibly ever (dance school has been run for nearly 20 years). That said a lot of our girls (and boys) go to Elmhurst at 11, or Hammond, or Tring. Many more wait until they are 16 or 18 and then audition for dance colleges (there is more choice then!). Every year we have a good half dozen going away to school on scholarships.

Picturesinthefirelight Tue 21-May-13 18:03:44

Yes sparkly is right. As u said upthread there is a box on the Mid Assicuate application form for if a child wants to be considered for White Lodge.

Sparklymommy Tue 21-May-13 18:01:21

They don't HAVE to audition for white lodge. Eleven is a standard age to go to boarding school.

Picturesinthefirelight Tue 21-May-13 17:53:39

Yes just one audition. Everyone is informed about the outcome.

After JA (junior associate) at 11 it goes on to MA (mid associate) then SA (senior associate). You have to re audition for these at the appropriate age

Only 12 boys and 12 girls are chosen at age 11 for full time school at White Lodge (I think it's 12 or maybe 14)

Babyangelfairy Tue 21-May-13 16:30:07

So for the JA there is just one audition followed by a yes or no? (Do you actually hear anything if they didn't get through?)
Eleven still seems awfully young to board, if you choose not to us that the end of the JA at 11yrs old?
Chances are my daughter is a very small fish in a huge pond and possibly won't make it through (can always hope?) yet it's still good to be clued up smile
Thanks for the info!

Picturesinthefirelight Tue 21-May-13 00:14:48

Hi Baby

Junior Associates are from age 8 and there is just one audition at one if the regional centres.

If a child is accepted they undergo yearly appraisals. Classes are held on weekends with the odd special workshop.

In Year 6 children then audition for Mid Associates. On the audition form there is a box asking if they also want to audition for full time school at White Lodge. For this there are the initial auditions then a select few are invited to final auditions.

Babyangelfairy Mon 20-May-13 23:58:58

Hi there,
I've been reading this thread with interest this evening, my daughter has an audition with the JA this week and I can honestly say I am going in blind! I had no idea how huge it was or indeed, competitive. I've obviously heard of The Royal Ballet yet never the JA until earlier this year and didn't realise you could board etc or anything from such a young age. It's all very new to me, so it's good reading that other Mums are nervous about auditions etc. I also didn't realise there would be more than one audition! Eeek!

stickchildren3 Tue 07-May-13 12:28:19

Hi OP, I've seen you on another forum now but thought I'd reply here. My dd had her audition last week and as promised I thought I'd post regarding her experience. She absolutely loved it! She was very nervous as soon as she saw all the other girls (lots of which were showing off their extreme bendiness - v off putting for a not v flexible child!) but as soon as she went off with the teacher I could see her relax and she came back having had a wonderful time.

Before they are taken off, the JA official person comes and introduces the panel (her and two others), pianist and teacher (5 in total) and explains that all the children are good dancers, otherwise they wouldn't be there etc etc, but only a few get in etc etc, then they are whisked away....

the following is what I gleaned from her on the way home:
they stand in lines which alternate and take it in turns to dance
they do stretches such as the froggy one on their backs, touching toes while sitting and box splits sad, and some others I think
a couple of exercises having taken off their shoes and socks
very basic exercises in centre and some at the bar (which threw my dd a bit because she hasn't got to bar work in class yet)
we don't find out the results until July shock

they didn't have to dance alone at all or make up a dance to an unheard piece of music at this audition.

Like I said, my dd thoroughly enjoyed it, and is realistic about the outcome but she says she'll know exactly what to expect next year.....hmm shock and grin !!

good luck to your dd!

RedHelenB Mon 29-Apr-13 19:25:37

When they see all the other chlldren there it will hit them that it is no easy task to get in!! As has been pointed out, all that apply get an audition.

stickchildren3 Fri 26-Apr-13 13:12:24

We're out in the sticks but she's doing it in Manchester as that's the nearest place. I can't believe your head! That's dreadful! That is definitely an advantage of going to a small country primary. I'm getting a bit bothered as the closer it gets (next week) the more desperate she is to get in, it could get messy! I'll post again about her experience.

KatyCustard Wed 24-Apr-13 22:46:45

Hi Stickchildren3, which centre is she auditioning in? We are going to London, but don't have a date yet. Fortunately the London auditions are all May half term as her head wouldn't give permission to miss school, not even for the Royal Ballet!!!!

stickchildren3 Wed 24-Apr-13 13:09:57

Hi OP, I've been watching your original thread with interest. My DD1 also has an audition in May and I deliberated for ages whether to let her go for it because I know how competitive it is and chances are she'll be disappointed. However, I too felt I'd be letting her down if I didn't give her the opportunity. All I know about the actual audition is what the letter says. I'm trying to play it that it'll be fun having a day off school and going to the big city!! Maybe someone will come along who knows more?

KatyCustard Tue 23-Apr-13 23:21:16


Seems like ages ago (over a year?) that I started this thread.

With my daughter's teacher's help and encouragement we have applied and she has an audition in May. It's been really hard as a mum to get the balance right between "We believe in you 100%" and "There are lots of talented dancers out there and the chances are you won't get a place!" I haven't put it quite like that but I'm doing my best to be supportive and encouraging whilst trying to keep her rooted in reality. She's a big fish in a small pond at her dance lesson - one of only four other girls. BUT we are keeping the emphasis very much on the fun of the audition and being brave enough to try etc. etc.

Argh! It's so bloody hard being a Mum, hoping you make the right choices for your children.

Thanks for all your advice - if anyone has any other tips on what to expect at the audition it would be gratetfully received. grin

Sparklymommy Fri 29-Mar-13 07:19:36

Just seen this thread and thought I would give you my opinion. My daughter has danced since she was 2, and currently attends six ballet classes, a modern, a tap, a jazz, a street jazz, a Classical Greek and two body conditioning classes a week. She has friends on the JA programme but we have never applied ourselves for several reasons:
1: She is unlikely to get in due to her overall body shape. DD1is not big, but she is relatively short at 4'5" (she is 10). She is also quite broad across her chest.
2: I know that the nature of the classes would probably bore her. The JA classes are all about developing proper technique. They take the children right back to basics and work on the simple stuff in a very repetitive manner. My DD1 is not of the temperament that would see the benefit in this. They also do not take into account what grade children are. My daughter, at ten, is Grade 5 and Interfoundation level for Ballet but a lot of the work done at JAs is going to be simpler.
3: the cost. JA is, IMO very expensive and on top of the cost of being on the programme they have their own uniform which you must buy and many trips to White Lodge or Saddlers wells. I feel that more beneficial to my DD is regular private lessons with her dance teachers and performing in local dance festivals.

All that said, for some children it does wonders and I will probably audition my DS1, when he is old enough as he has the right temperament for a JA and shows particular enjoyment in his Ballet. He also has already (he's 6) expressed a desire to go away to dance school at 11. Whereas DD1 is very opposed to the idea of boarding school!

Just to correct the previous poster, education at White Lodge is NOT fully funded, it is means tested. Therefore if you have a high income you would be expected to pay on a sliding scale. I know this as my Dds friend has just been offered a place starting in September.

RPDANCE Wed 27-Mar-13 19:13:39

Just to clarify a few things regarding this post.
I was a JA, and then went on to White Lodge at the age of 11. I have danced professionally and now teach.
To audition for the JA's you do send photos away with an application form. Most people will be invited for a 1st audition(unless they can tell from your pictures you are definitely the wrong shape). There will be a 2nd day of auditions for successful candidates.
They run monthly classes is all major cities.
You can be assessed out but this is purely to prevent the parents from wasting time and money if they believe the child will not be a dancer. JA classes are fun and a great experience. At such a young age they take children on potential. They look at flexibility, body shapes and a certain grace. Flexibility and good feet are the main things, as they can work with you.
It is a very hard profession, but extremely rewarding.
If your daughter is not academically strong, yet shows talent in dance i would push her to do these auditions. As if accepted to White Lodge, she will be nurtured in small class sizes both academically and ballet. It is one of the best and most beautiful schools in this country, and all UK students accepted will be fully funded.
I hope this helps

taxi4ballet Thu 31-Jan-13 14:57:08

I agree with Alrobe - ballet and freestyle are at the opposite ends of the dance spectrum and require quite different skills!

In particular there is much emphasis in ballet of 'good turnout' ie: a sideways rotation of the legs from the hips, and the straight position of the back and shoulders down and flat, which are all completely different in freestyle.

Ballet teachers aren't all that keen on gymnastics for similar reasons, particularly for older children (I don't say 'girls' as boys do ballet as well - shock!!!) as the muscle groups are used and developed in totally different ways.

BundleBrent88 Thu 29-Nov-12 15:22:34

DD auditioned for this 2 years ago when she turned 8. She has been doing ballet since she was about 3 YO; although she is doing very well in her particular ballet school, the teacher warned that JA programme is very particular with respect to body type as Dancergirl points out. It is less about current ability to dance but the ability to be taught as the Royal Ballet School wants and whether or not the dancer's physique is suited to their school. She was not successful (not very flexible, torso too long, I suspect) but it was a good experience and has not stopped her from dancing.

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