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what grade to start ballet - 9 yo girl (Y5) ?

(23 Posts)
ChocLover2015 Wed 21-Jan-15 14:46:46

So I have enquired at 3 ballet schools .One would start her in grade 1, one in grade 2 and 1 in grade 3.
She is a competitive gymnast so already strong and flexible and reasonable balance and co-ordination.I can't remember the acronym for the style but it had 4 letters beginning with I
I don't want her in a situation where she never gets a grasp of teh basics, but on the other hand don't want her with all 6yr olds!

Seeline Wed 21-Jan-15 15:47:49

My DD is 10 (Y6) and is working towards Grade 3. She has been doing ballet since she was 2. Her class includes girls from Y5 - Y8. She has found the step up to Grade 3 quite considerable (despite getting a distinction in G2), so maybe Grade 2 might be a better place to start to grasp the basics.

taxi4ballet Wed 21-Jan-15 15:55:59

Perhaps you could ask if she can go to a trial class at each one and see how she gets on. Most schools are more than happy to help with this. She may also much prefer one teacher over another.

It might also be worth asking about class sizes and the relative ages of children currently in those classes.

LIZS Wed 21-Jan-15 15:56:05

I would think grade 2 or possibly 3. Dd took grade 2 at 10 having started at 5. Can she gave a few private lessons to see how quickly she picks up the positions and steps ? They can always move her up a class without taking the exam.

taxi4ballet Wed 21-Jan-15 16:33:12

It can also depend on which examination syllabus each school follows as they aren't the exact equivalent, and possibly on what stage the class is at, whether they have just started in that grade, or nearly ready for the exam and so on.

MrsSquirrel Wed 21-Jan-15 16:40:27

Trial classes are a good idea. My dd did this when she started at her current ballet school. That way your dd can see how she feels about the classes and the teacher(s) can assess whether they are right for her.

dancestomyowntune Wed 21-Jan-15 17:10:29

I would definitely suggest asking for a trial class.

taxi4ballet Wed 21-Jan-15 17:10:49

You can also get to meet the teacher yourself. The person you chat to on the phone isn't always the one teaching that particular class, especially at bigger schools with several teachers.

gelseyk Wed 21-Jan-15 21:11:58

My dd is also a competitive gymnast. Age 8 but has also been doing ballet for years at two different schools, different syllabus. Grade 2 classes (grade 2 exams moving to grade 3 shortly).

Ballet is usually more helpful for gymnastics rather than the other way round as any coach will tell you. I think she would have a lot of catching up to stroll straight into a grade 2 or 3 class not having done ballet before. The basics, the terminology etc. She would need a trial, as others have said.

nonicknameseemsavailable Wed 21-Jan-15 22:30:54

in our dance school 9 year olds are generally grade 1. they do ISTD. Do check if you are comparing schools that they are all the same board. ISTD grade 1 might easily be equivalent to grade 3 in IDTA. I am not saying it is it is just the names sound similar so you might be trying to compare things that aren't the same. Some boards grades are generally taken at a younger age than others from what I have gathered.

I would try classes at all 3 and see what she feels most comfortable with. Different teachers, class sizes, times of class, potentially different boards can all make a big difference to whether she is going to enjoy it or not.

gelseyk Wed 21-Jan-15 23:07:59

Yes, also check syllabus. My 8 year old is about to start grade 3, after exams, in both RAD and IDTA syllabus.

nonicknameseemsavailable Thu 22-Jan-15 10:54:46

If I am right ISTD have 6 grades, RAD have 8 (?) and IDTA have 5 or 6 for ballet but IDTA tend to take them more by age going by our friends. by that I mean the R children ALL take preprimary and then Yr1 age children ALL take primary and this is automatic in the dance schools near us. whereas RAD and ISTD people seem to be older when they start with the first grade and then consequently the higher ones too. Obviously if a board has 8 grades where 8 is level with 6 in another board then the times taken must differ somewhere but I think they also have different styles. For example RAD do character work I think once they get a few grades in whereas I don't think ISTD do it at all. In RAD I believe you learn dances but are expected to do them perfectly in exams whereas in ISTD you learn steps and some dances but then in exams can be asked to put together a sequence you haven't practiced before. This may have changed but that is what i have read on other boards. So different children might feel more comfortable with different boards.

I don't think any school would put her with much younger children, they would rather give a few extra lessons to catch up.

Also worth bearing in mind if she will want to try modern or any other style too as if she does then not all schools do them, some do jazz, some do modern theatre, some just do tap, some do lots of other styles of dance too.

ChocLover2015 Fri 23-Jan-15 09:25:41

Thanks.We had a try out at the 'grade 2' school last night.But because it clashes with gymnastics she tried the grade 1 class instead and absolutely LOVED it.The class is 1 and a quarter hours for £5.50 which I think is excellent value.We met some old friends there .Their DD is in the same class so 'looked after' my DDr and I had a lovely time chatting to her mum in the very nice waiting room.So I think our decision is made!
One question though I heard some of the parents saying their child was doing standard 1 as well as grade 1.What does that mean?

taxi4ballet Fri 23-Jan-15 09:53:55

I think it is to do with the syllabus followed by that school. Perhaps you could ask the teacher to explain. It could be that the Standard class doesn't lead to the exam, and if they want more of a challenge then they do the grade class as well, but I'm not sure.

nonicknameseemsavailable Fri 23-Jan-15 10:36:59

I vaguely remember in my searching for information that one board (I think it will be RAD or ISTD) offer grades as well as standards. It could be that one is class awards rather than individual grades (similar but I think the content is a bit easier and they take it in a group possibly with a teacher present whereas for grades they go in in a pair or 3 but no teacher, they have to answer questions from the examiner and it is more formal I think). I will see if I can find where I saw standards mentioned.

I might be completely wrong - I just read things on the internet. my ballet experience was grade 1 in the early 1980s so a lot of this is a mystery to me but my children like it so I think I need to learn.

nonicknameseemsavailable Fri 23-Jan-15 10:42:19

knew I had seen it somewhere. ISTD Cecchetti has class exams called standards and then graded exams which are grade 1/2 etc

so it might well be this. The teacher will happily explain though I am sure or it might even say on their website if they have one.

JulieMichelleRobinson Fri 23-Jan-15 10:43:33

Some exam boards offer a class exam, where the teacher leads the children through the exercises, as well as the grade exam where the girls go in 2, 3 or 4 at a time without the teacher. That might be what the "standard 1" is but I could be wrong. I think some of the exam boards also offer medals where they just perform dances. This from a pianist who just sits in on exams.

If your daughter is happy in the grade 1 class, then that's an easy decision! Our dance school has a range of ages in each class anyway, although our current grade 1 class would probably be a little younger (but then, some of our classes take 2 years to do the exams). If the school does ISTD, grade 1 is a good place to catch up on the basics and start learning lots of steps, has quite a lot of allegro (jumping around bits) and the exam includes un-set free work where the examiner just says "Do eight of those and then four of these" and the girls have to use their brains. She might find grade 1 a better place to start than grade 2 which could seem a bit intimidating with all the French words and so on. Grade 3 is a big jump from grade 2 in ISTD and usually takes our girls two years.

nonicknameseemsavailable Fri 23-Jan-15 10:55:32

ooh that must be quite interesting to be a pianist in the exams Julie.

I think we may need to look for a different dance school who do a different board if DD gets to Grade 1 because they do ISTD and I don't think she could do the thinking on her feet thing (she has motor planning issues) but perhaps it would be good for her. will have to wait and see.

I agree starting with a lower grade for the OPs DD would make sense, much less stressful, much better basics teaching and will give her the chance to really learn the good technique.

taxi4ballet Fri 23-Jan-15 11:00:43

I agree, as gymnastics technique is different in a number of ways from ballet.

nonicknameseemsavailable Fri 23-Jan-15 11:24:03

yes gymnastics is completely different - I come from a gym background and there has always been a bit of an issue with doing both. Ballet can help with the elegance side of gym greatly and the strength from gym can help ballet but they are very very different and really quite conflicting.

taxi4ballet Fri 23-Jan-15 12:30:20

Not anything to worry about though, until they get a fair bit older and then they might need to prioritise one over the other.

ChocLover2015 Fri 23-Jan-15 12:38:01

Thanks.She is doing ballet purely to help with gymnastics on the instructions of her coach.I don't think she will even bother with ballet exams.

nonicknameseemsavailable Fri 23-Jan-15 12:50:36

ah well in that case it probably doesn't make so much difference then. The conflict comes when they want to be specialising in both and it isn't really possible.

The skills she will be looking for will be the positioning elements for head, arms, hands and fingers etc etc etc so grade 1 is more sensible as this will help her to gain the grounding in these before they are just 'expected' to be able to do them.

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