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What grade should an 11 year old "serious" ballet dancer be at?

(46 Posts)
AdelaideDancer Thu 17-Mar-16 16:16:36

At the moment my dd1 is :
Grade 2 ballet, soon moving up to Grade 3.
Grade 3 modern.
Grade 2 tap.
Everything is ISTD.
Any advice would be appreciated.

GraciesMansion Thu 17-Mar-16 16:27:22

About Grade 4 and Intermediate Foundation/Intermediate seems to be where most of the 11yr olds at my ds school are. RAD that is, I have no idea how this relates to ISTD.

Seeline Thu 17-Mar-16 16:30:50

My DD has just done her grade 3 ballet, is about to take grade 4 modern and is working on grade 4 tap. I wouldn't call her a serious dancer, although she does enjoy it and has done it since she was 2.
She is not the youngest in her classes, but the majority of girls are older than her, some by 2 -3 years

Kathysclown Thu 17-Mar-16 16:32:28

Probably Grafe 4 or thereabouts. My dd will be 8 when she takes her Grade 2 ballet. I know as they get older and the grades get harder they don't necessarily take 1 every year, though, so maybe there is scope for her to catch up. Those are IDTA grades, not sure if that is like for like.

dodobookends Thu 17-Mar-16 17:21:00

If you ask on the 'Doing Dance' section of people there will be able to advise.

whatevva Thu 17-Mar-16 17:27:00

My DD (late starter) did extra Saturday classes with a dance agency (now CAT school) at 11 1/2 and was at grade 3. All the others were doing grade 6/intermediate foundation. She was expected to do 2 ballet classes a week at her dance school.

She did not pass her audition to go any further. (She was not unhappy about this - she enjoyed the experience smile )

Balletgirlmum Thu 17-Mar-16 17:36:39

Are you talking about age 11 & in year 6 or about to turn 12 & in Year 7?

Roughly at the start of Year 7 most children at dds school were between Grades 3-5 there was just one girl who had passed Inter Foundation. There was also one girl who hadn't done any grades.

By the end of year 8 Everton had passed their interest foundation exam, a few had taken Intermediate. Children who are not training vocationally but were thinking of it later would have been around Grade 5-6 standard & working towards IF or doing free work classes alongside.

AdelaideDancer Thu 17-Mar-16 17:40:01

She is 11 in year 7 and will be 12 in June.
She does 4 ballet classes a fortnight.
3 modern classes a fortnight.
1 tap class a fortnight.

Balletgirlmum Thu 17-Mar-16 17:48:49

That is behind for year 7. Has she only been dancing a couple of years?

If you enter vocational training at year 7 it is possible to catch up quite quickly & they will accept children with very little training as they have time to catch up. My dd is a year older than yours & felt very behind as she was only Grade 3 at the start of year7 & it was really difficult for her but she's doing ok & has just taken her Intermediate exam in Year 9, (granted several took it last year). If she was not in Voc school I'd expect her to be taking Grade 7/8 classes at a local dance school.

But the older you get the less time there becomes to catch up & if you want to train professionally as well as having facility, technique, musicality etc you are expected to have a certain level of technique & ability.

dodobookends Thu 17-Mar-16 17:55:03

At that age a talented vocationally-minded ballet dancer would likely be doing:

2x classes a week an hour long at the grade they're in, plus 1 class at the grade above. Probably grade 5/6 RAD or 4/5 ISTD.

Plus 1 class of 1 1/2 hours Intermediate Foundation inc pointe prep (or pointe depending whether ready or not yet).

Plus modern or jazz 1 or 2 classes a week (dedicated ballet dancers often give up tap about this age). By the age of 13/14 adding contemporary as well.

Also ideally already in an associate programme, and doing residential summer schools.

RattusRattus Thu 17-Mar-16 17:59:08

My DD is grade 4 ballet (RAD). She isn't a serious dancer but does 3 x 1 hour classes a week. She does modern as a hobby.

fourage Sun 27-Mar-16 07:47:15

GraciesMansion Intermediate at age 11?

My DDs dance school won't allow pointe shoes at age 11. Very bad for growing feet.

GraciesMansion Sun 27-Mar-16 10:30:22

Yes, some of the girls, about 5 that I can think of, at my ds school (vocational) took their IF last year and are now doing intermediate. All of the y7 class start pointe in the autumn term.

fourage Sun 27-Mar-16 10:31:15

How old are y7 children?

GraciesMansion Sun 27-Mar-16 10:59:38

11-12. There shouldn't be a hard and fast rule about what age for pointe because it's all dependent on many factors, including how long they've been dancing, how many hours per week they do, what their core strength is like, ankle and foot strength, how well they take on corrections. Some girls will be 15 or older and not ready. Others will be ready much sooner.

fourage Sun 27-Mar-16 11:08:40

I agree that there is no fixed age, but I have never known an 11 year old be fitted with pointe shoes. I am sure it may happen on occasion, but surely not on a regular basis.

GraciesMansion Sun 27-Mar-16 11:12:52

I know that at three of the four vocational lower schools that all their y7s are doing pointe but of course they've been screened by physios as part of the selection process. However I know plenty of serious dancers not at these schools also doing pointe at some time during y7. I don't think it's unusual. The RAD age limit for inter foundation is 11 so they seem to think that some 11 year olds will be ready for it.

dodobookends Sun 27-Mar-16 12:36:15

With Inter Foundation and Intermediate, all but the last few minutes of the class are in soft shoes anyway. For those not ready for pointe, they can still take the whole class and do the pointe section at the end on demi-pointe.

Yes, dancers do start pointe at 11 (mine being one) as one of the things it depends on is the physical maturity of the body, and everyone is ready at a different time. Calendar age has nothing to do with it, other than anyone younger than 11 is unlikely to have skeletally matured enough, or to have developed the strength/technique to cope.

Balletgirlmum Sun 03-Apr-16 22:06:10

Most of dds class started pointe in the spring term of year 7. Dd was delayed slightly because of her hyper flexible feet. About half the class took their Inter F exam in year 7 - a couple had already taken it on entry & the rest took it during Year 8.

teacherwith2kids Thu 07-Apr-16 22:51:34

Adelaide, DD is a 'serious' but not a vocational dancer.

She's in Y8, and 13. She's at an all-ISTD school - high quality but non vocational, where there is quite a large group of 'good' dancers of her age and slightly older.

A year ago, she would have been working towards or have just taken Grade 6 in ballet, tap and modern.

She's taken InterFoundation ballet this school year (Y8), and will take Intermediate Modern and possibly Intermediate Tap this term.

In terms of hours a week of dance, when working towards no specific exams she will do:
- 3 and a quarter hours of ballet (2 x Intermediate, 1x Advanced 1)
- 3/4 of an hour of pointe
- an hour each of Modern and Tap
- An hour of body conditioning
- 30 minutes' private lesson
- 2 hours of troupe work with her own age group
- 1 1/4 hours of troupe work with the age group she will move into after her 14th birthday

Add an extra 45 mins - 1 hour of any genre she's doing an exam in.

She started 'pointe' - mostly pre-pointe at that stage - just after turning 11. She danced her first solos and troupe dance on pointe a couple of months ago, as it's not allowed until after your 13th birthday.

Round here, DD is fairly 'normal' for a pupil in one of the serious local dance schools - at the higher ends of the exams for her age, but not unduly so, and pretty standard as to hours, though she does extra troupe work because she's tall enough to dance with the older ones.

Although obviously grades don't count for anything in the auditions for vocational schools, and it is the quality and precision of the training and your DD's particular physique, flexibility and technique that would matter in such auditions, she probably is a) working at a slightly lower level than many of her contemporaries and b) not doing quite enough hours.

teacherwith2kids Fri 08-Apr-16 14:54:56

Sorry, haven't been on this bit of MN for a while, and hadn't realised that you had started multiple threads.

I can see that you have considered upping the hours by going to multiple schools, or attending a school extra-curricular club.

I suppose my advice would be to find the most serious, high quality ballet school within your local area that you can, and transfer to it, then take as many classes as you can do there. As a rule of thumb, I would say that schools that offer at least 2 Advanced ballet lessons a week, preferably 2 of Advanced 2 plus pointe + repertoire / free work, would be worth looking at, and you can then ask questions about graduate destinations, numbers of pupils taking advanced grades etc. Many schools offer more hours by pupils attending more than 1 grade at once - so DD attends 2 classes at her current grade + 1 of the one above - so this is always worth asking about. they start that off quite early - seem to remember that she started doing Grade 2 + grade 3.

DD's dance school quite often has secondary school aged pupils joining them from smaller and less 'serious' schools, usually when the dancer or their parents become more serious and realise that higher quality training with a larger peer group of more advanced dancers is needed to get there. Sadly, some transfer a little late, and often really struggle, particularly in ballet, to 'unlearn' poorly-taught technique or find themselves in lower grades for quite a while to catch up or re-learn.

I do know how difficult it can be to evaluate other schools 'from the outside'. We did the reverse - ended up somewhere serious when we were looking for purely recreational dance, and looking at websites etc for schools that i know to be of wildly variable quality, they all look quiet similar until you really dig into the timetables. If you post your general area on balletco's forum, there is almost always someone there who can recommend specific schools with good reputations.

dodobookends Fri 08-Apr-16 16:14:48

I agree with teacherwith2kids comments above - rather than upping her hours just anywhere you need to find the very best school you possibly can, even if that means a lot of travelling.

It is quality rather than quantity that's needed, so she will be able to compete with her peers for future vocational training places - if that is what she wants to do of course.

Davespecifico Sat 11-Nov-17 00:33:55

Just resurrected this thread as I'm wondering whether to take year 7 dd out of ballet.
She's been doing it since she was 3 and has only done grade 1 and something called bronze medal. They say her group isn't ready for grade 2 yet. In all of her exams she has got around 81 to 85 usually top of highly commended. She seems very graceful and natural but looking at this thread, she's massively behind.
She does 2 classes a week of ballet and tap and it costs me about £100 a half term.
It'll be a shame to take her out as its been a big part of her life and a great physical activity but I feel as if I'm getting my money taken for little return
What would you do?

Davespecifico Sat 11-Nov-17 00:34:37

When I say year 7, I mean age 11.

Minimusiciansmama Sat 11-Nov-17 04:26:08

Does she want to stop? If not, leave her. I agree that she is "behind" other children who want to be serious dancers BUT there's so many more benefits to ballet than the potential to be a ballerina. You don't only dance to get a career. Very very few people dance and get a career. You've said it's a big part of her life and she's got a lot from it..... ballet teaches children discipline, focus, elegance, poise, that hard work is essential. Dance friends have a bond that is very important to a dancer. Shows are such a special part of a dancers memories and are often the highlights of their year. So many benefits.

Perhaps there's more to it than you've said, but it doesn't sound like she has any desire to leave. £200 a term for 2 classes of physical exercise that also make her really happy is a bargain in my mind.

As an aside, by 11 the "serious" dancers are generally taking more than two classes a week. My 8 year old does 6 classes a week, totalling 10 + hours and is applying for additional associate classes this year. If your daughter wants to progress faster more than she wants to continue with the friends she's been with, perhaps you could look at different classes.

But unless there's something you've not said, I really would suggest leaving her. Y7 is a tough year but having something they love to relax and be active and sociable can really help them.


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