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are children now generally older when they take ballet exams than in the '80s?

(48 Posts)
nonicknameseemsavailable Wed 16-Jul-14 21:51:09

I know from some posts on here that some still take dance exams at 5 or just turned 6 but most of the children I know are 6 or 7 when they take pre-primary ballet and 7 or 8 for primary. This is across a mix of dancing schools but I know I gave up ballet when I turned 7 (I wanted to go to brownies and they were the same night) and I took Primary and Grade 1 before I left so I am just surprised so many are older now. Is it mostly to do with schools wanting them to get distinctions now?

Wafflenose Wed 16-Jul-14 22:00:52

I don't know, but our dance school misses out the actual exam for Pre-Primary, and lets children take the Primary exam from age 6.5. My DD2 has just turned 6 and will do Primary at Christmas. DD1 started ballet late at 6, but at 8.5 in now in a Grade 2 class. Several in her group are the same age, and many are a bit younger.

nonicknameseemsavailable Wed 16-Jul-14 22:07:22

those ages are more what I would have expected. my 2 are nearly 7 and just turned 5. admittedly the elder one didn't start until end of last year, same time as her younger sister but she is in with the children in Yr2 and is doing pre-primary, younger one is also doing pre-primary but with a younger group and so will take the exam later.

I am not bothered that they are at this level but just surprised. the class above my eldest are all 8-9 and have just taken primary ballet. It just seems quite old compared to how I remember it. DD1's friends are at 3 different ballet schools and all have been dancing for a while. 2 have JUST taken pre-primary and the others haven't taken any ballet exams yet so it isn't just their dance school.

JulieMichelleRobinson Wed 16-Jul-14 22:12:00

For us, primary ballet is roughly year 2, so 6-7yo. Usually grade 1 in year 3, but the current grade 2 class contains everything from year 3 to year 6 (overlapping classes from when they used to do RAD primary, ISTD primary, RAD 1, RAD 2, ISTD 2... or something like that).

They don't always do pre-primary ballet if there's a show, but it would be taken in year 1. The modern/tap classes seem to be a bit younger, because they don't start until primary.

shopalot Wed 16-Jul-14 22:14:52

In my dance school we take primary from 6 and grade 1 from 7. We do RAD ballet and I know the different boards vary a bit. One of the problems the teachers are faced with is the logistics of entering the children for their exams. You have to have a certain amount doing the exam which can mean some have to wait a bit to get a session together. This wasn't as strict in the 80's. In my school we do exams two out of three terms to overcome this problem but many schools will only do exams once a year which can hold them back (but not in a bad way)

PandaNot Wed 16-Jul-14 22:18:30

The rad syllabus has changed quite a bit since the 80s too and gr 1-3 in particular are much harder than they were a couple of years ago. It's taking much longer to get through the work.

teacherwith2kids Wed 16-Jul-14 22:20:12

DD did pre-primary (Primary Class Test, AFAI remember) at the end of Reception when she was 5, Primary and end Y1 (age 6). Just done Grade 5 at end of year 6, age 11.

Ballet exams taken 5 terms out of 6 at her dance school, so very much a 'take when ready' arrangement - she was the only Grade 5 this term, for example.

Picturesinthefirelight Wed 16-Jul-14 22:28:57

Both RAD & ISTD have had syllabus chsnges in recent years. Dd was in. grade 3 class before going off to school & the teacher said the new syllabus was harder.

nonicknameseemsavailable Wed 16-Jul-14 22:31:55

thanks - interesting.

ours do ISTD and do pre-primary for both ballet and tap but for modern it starts with primary so they are normally a grade ahead with that.

I know DD1 has been postponed a few times because some weren't keeping up but they didn't want to move them down then were supposed to take it but wasn't possible to fit them into the exam session (they do exams at least 3 times a year) so I think her group (mostly year 2 but she and a couple of others are yr1) would normally have taken it by now. DD2's group seem more on track to take it in Yr1 with a few yr2 children in it.

Bit frustrating in some ways because I think DD1 is more than ready to do pre-primary and could cope well with primary. Having said that she hasn't complained too much about not taking it and I have explained that her friends who have taken pre-primary already all did RAD whilst those who haven't yet done it are all doing ISTD like her, seems quite an obvious split but I guess is probably just circumstance related then not anything specific about the boards or in general nowadays.

Picturesinthefirelight Wed 16-Jul-14 23:04:43

Dd did rad ballet & ISTD tap & modern & was always a grade or two behind in ISTD

RAD goes up to Grade 8 whereas I think ISTD only goes up to Grade 6.

JulieMichelleRobinson Wed 16-Jul-14 23:39:10

Ours used to do both, though not every grade for both boards, and ISTD was always a year after RAD, not because of technique (RAD arguably requires more precision) but because of the mental maturity needed for the free work. With RAD, you just learn the exercises - though you have to do them well. With ISTD, you need to be able to learn an enchainement straightaway even as early as grade 1.

Our ISTD grade 6 class (once-a-weekers) feeds into the Intermediate class with the girls who've just done Interfoundation (3 classes a week).

lecherrs Thu 17-Jul-14 00:56:40

Both my daughters did their ISTD ballet exams at 6, though with different Ballet schools.

DD2 is now 7 and is studying for Grade 1. She skipped standard 1.

Dd1 however did:

Primary ballet - 6
Standard 1 - 7
Grade 1 - 8
Grade 2 - 9
Grade 3 - 10 (just doing it now).

That seems the norm for her dance school.

For modern, she started at grade 1, so is one grade ahead (in grade 4 already) but tends to do that exam in winter.

nonicknameseemsavailable Thu 17-Jul-14 03:40:47

ah ok so not so unusual for ISTD, could explain her friends as well then.

she has recently taken primary modern which I think is a class award as it is the first exam any of them have ever taken, it looks likely she will take pre-primary ballet just after turning 7. No idea with tap as I know it is harder for them to get started with but I assume once they have done modern and ballet then tap will be the next one.

I am going to have to brush up on ballet french terms aren't I? even the 5 year old knows some of them (but then she nearly always has her head in a ballet book - she got the RAD syllabus book for 25p at a fete recently and LOVES to study the sketches in it)

JulieMichelleRobinson Thu 17-Jul-14 10:47:43

For us, I think it depends a bit on the class. Our grade 1 are doing it only one year after primary, the grade 2s are a combined class (some had done RAD for 1 and 2), the grade 3s seem to take two years from grade 2, mainly to build up the required strength - the first year class know all the work including half the dance. That was one reason for doing RAD in between - they now do the same work two years running instead. Higher grades vary between 1 and 2 years and grade 6 will always take 2 years for the once-a-week girls because there's a pointe requirement.

Higher grades get muddly age-wise because there are girls who do just once-a-week ballet, some who do multiple dance classes, and some who do ballet 3 times a week (overlap there). They also often do the class above, so Intermediate students do Advanced 1 as well.

nonicknameseemsavailable Thu 17-Jul-14 21:27:22

interesting to see what happens in other dance schools.

The main thing is that I am very happy with all the teachers, my children are happy and enjoying it.


silverymary Thu 17-Jul-14 23:54:06

My children have taken them when the schools have deemed them ready for the exam. Sounds obvious, sorry, but some have been ready more quickly than others.

My 5 year old is doing primary ballet with one ballet school, but she's been doing a graded class, with older girls, since she was 3, so is more than ready. But she won't be doing her primary exam at her other school until next year, when she reaches the minimum RAD requirement age of 6.

And it does depend on how much dance you do, and (I think) how early you started to dance, and, to an extent, the school.

silverymary Thu 17-Jul-14 23:57:11

The RAD school my DC go to also don't bother with the pre primary exam and go straight to primary. But isn't that just a class award? I can't remember.

nonicknameseemsavailable Fri 18-Jul-14 00:28:27

preprimary is just a class award yes which I think is why I am surprised it takes so long to get to. Primary with ISTD can be either class or individual I think.

I would have thought they would be ready at different times, even if they are all in the same class, some will pick it up much quicker than others surely.

dancestomyowntune Sat 19-Jul-14 09:46:08

Dd1 is 11,

She took: RAD primary aged 5, RAD grade 1 age 6, IDTA grade 2 age 7, IDTA grade 3 age 8, RAD grade 3 age 8, IDTA grade 4 age 9, RAD grade 4 age 10, RAD grade 5 age 10. She is due to take Inter foundation and possibly Grade 6 in November. She will be 12 in January.

She does dance every day though, and at her dance school there are some children a lot older than her in Grade 3, so it's very much about the child.

DS1 is 7. He took IDTA primary age 6, IDTA grade 1 age 7 and is likely to take his grade 2 in the autumn.

silverymary Sat 19-Jul-14 10:27:10

It's not possible to do RAD primary at 5 or grade 1 at 6, dancestomyowntune.

The minimum ages are 6 for primary and 7 for grade 1 d(an even then it depends on which month you were born as to which part of the year you can do the exam), and they won't budge on this.

silverymary Sat 19-Jul-14 10:37:31

And 5 is pre primary. And it was when my 16 year old DC did her first RAD exam

dancestomyowntune Sat 19-Jul-14 14:03:43

I have to beg to differ silverymary as my Dd did. Having said that, I believe it was a mistake as she could have got better results if she waited six months. It was agreed with the RAD as her birthday was around the cut off point, and she had been in the primary class a long time with the children older than her.

Just as some of her friends in another dance school have recently taken their inter-foundation even though they are younger than Dd, and Dd isn't technically old enough until autumn. It was discussed with dds teacher, as she would have liked Dd to take Inter-foundation earlier, but we want her to have the best chance of good result.

Also it is a bit pointless rushing through the grades as you get to a point whereby they can't go any farther.

Picturesinthefirelight Sat 19-Jul-14 14:30:18

RAD have recently tightened up the loopholes for taking exams early. They also make the point that they are MINIMUM ages, not age guidelines so a 7 year old may take Grade 1 but that's the absolute minimum & not necessarily normal.

The minimum for IF is 11. At dds vocational school they start to study for IF in Year 7 with the sim to get to Intermediate by Year 10. That's 2 IF classes per week plus 4/5 other non syllabus ballet classes.

silverymary Sat 19-Jul-14 14:32:38

RAD won't change it. That's fact, not even for a few days or weeks, as they'd have to do it for everybody.

I'm not saying you're a liar or troll, but you must be mistaken as those are the age requirements and they do and will not budge from them.

Picturesinthefirelight Sat 19-Jul-14 14:34:52

Silvery - there used to be some leeway but not any more.

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