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Ballet experts - help please

(15 Posts)
PippaFawcett Sat 10-Sep-16 20:05:05

DD has just got a merit in her NATD Grade 1 ballet but we have just moved house and the ballet school which has been recommended to us is RAD. Will it matter? And what is the difference? She is only 7 and has been doing it for two years so I don't want her to struggle to catch up.

dodobookends Sat 10-Sep-16 20:32:22

Don't worry, she will be fine. There are several different examining bodies, and although what is studied in each grade isn't exactly the same, the teacher will assess her during her first class and decide which RAD grade would be best for her.

The most important thing is not which syllabus is being studied, but the quality of the teaching, and it looks like you have already had a recommendation which is good.

Perhaps your dd could have a trial lesson to see how she gets on? Most dance schools let you do this.

nonicknameseemsavailable Sat 10-Sep-16 20:48:17

I agree with asking for a trial as she really has got to feel comfortable in the environment and teaching styles can vary from very old fashioned and strict to relaxed etc and each child will feel differently in each situation. Mine are at a very strict dance school but it works for them, some of their friends are at more relaxed schools and I can't imagine some of them would cope with the bluntness at the school my daughters are at.

Just be aware that a different school might put her in a different grade. I don't know NATD but to have already taken grade 1 at this age at our dance school she would have to have been exceptional and even then I don't think they would have put them into grade 1 yet. generally primary is taken at 7/8 in our school but it is a different board and they do spend a long time on the basics and then move a bit quicker so perhaps it is just them. so she would have to be prepared to perhaps be told that with changing syllabus etc they might want her to go into a primary class again or grade 1 again. it will be different as it is a different board so hopefully wouldn't be boring and perhaps they would move her through it quicker. just something to be aware of.

dodobookends Sat 10-Sep-16 21:05:44

Progress often depends on the length of the class. If it is 3/4 of an hour then they will cover more than if it is only 30 minutes, for instance.

When you change schools after just taking an exam, you might find that the new school has their exams at a different time of year, so if you were expecting to go into the next class up, then that one might not be suitable as everyone in it could be older and about to take the exam, so you would really struggle. Better to be in the one below, where everyone will soon be moving up and you all start the new grade together.

Some schools have exam sessions fairly frequently, others maybe only every two years, so progress at that school would naturally be slower. Also, some teachers like the whole class to do the exam and move up together, whereas others will let talented individuals progress according to ability rather than age (bearing in mind the minimum age requirements of the examining body).

nonicknameseemsavailable Sat 10-Sep-16 21:38:09

good point about length of classes, talking about it with another friend and my children do an hour a week, hers do 45mins so in a 12 week term that is a 3hr difference and in a year it is 9hrs, effectively a term longer.

also worth thinking about if she might be interested in trying other styles of dance too, 7 is still very young, might she want to do tap or modern as well so check if the school offer other styles, I think most do but some concentrate on ballet. RAD do character as part of their syllabus which I think my girls would like to do but they do ISTD which doesn't include that.

some schools near us only have 2 weeks off in the summer and pretty much run year round which obviously affects costs too compared to one which is term time only. other things like shows/performance opportunities, workshops, summer schools etc could also be of interest.

PippaFawcett Sat 10-Sep-16 22:09:10

Thank you everyone. She isn't exceptional, she probably got one of the lowest merits in her class this year. She had a taster today and I did a bit of peeking through the glass. It is a huge class! But it has one leader plus teen ballerinas helping the younger ones.

The style seemed very different - more active and dancing across the room compared to her last one which was very disciplined and a lot of 'first position, second position' and arms etc. She seemed to enjoy it today but I wondered with it being so different whether I should find another NATD class for consistency.

dodobookends Sat 10-Sep-16 22:38:34

RAD and ISTD are the two biggest examining bodies, schools using the others (NATD, IDTA BBO etc) are fewer and further between, so you may not find one locally now you have moved. Having said that, some areas have clusters of schools using one or another of them.

As mentioned before, it is the quality of teaching and whether your dd is happy at the school & likes the teacher which are the most important things. She would soon get used to a different syllabus, after all, they are all teaching classical ballet - just with slightly different methods. smile

I believe that the RAD changed their lower grades syllabus recently, and there is now a greater emphasis on performance than before.

nonicknameseemsavailable Sun 11-Sep-16 14:14:01

I would try a few classes to be honest and then let her choose. A bigger class will seem different if she is used to a smaller one but it doesn't mean they get less attention, especially as you say if there are helpers. my daughters classes are generally about 10 children now (when younger there were more but then as people drop dancing as they get that bit older the classes tend to shrink) which seems to be similar to other schools round us but if only 1 teacher and no helpers then that 1 person is trying to watch everyone, if the class was 25 but with 4 teachers/helpers then more people to spot problems and make corrections. I really like it when they have older girls helping in the classes, I think it gives the children people to look up to and identify with a bit more than the teacher.

She might prefer the RAD style to her old one anyway, as I said the character section seems to really appeal to a lot of the girls we know.

another thing to watch out for is notice period. especially if you are new and a bit uncertain if the fit is right. Some schools require just half a terms notice whilst others say a full term (as in from the start of a term) so if you aren't sure then perhaps you could ask if she could pay just up to half term and then decide. I think a lot of schools would probably allow something like this if they know upfront and given she would be changing boards.

dodobookends Sun 11-Sep-16 15:29:41

Did she enjoy the new class OP?

PippaFawcett Sun 11-Sep-16 16:47:45

She did but she has a really sunny personality and likes everything!

dodobookends Sun 11-Sep-16 18:03:43

Ah well there you go then!

What grade class did the teacher put her in?

PippaFawcett Sun 11-Sep-16 20:26:32

Grade 2 and she was very complimentary about her technique which gave DD a boost. She has just said she wants to start gymnastics though, but she would have to drop ballet so we had time/money for it. But that is probably a whole other thread!

nonicknameseemsavailable Sun 11-Sep-16 20:58:58

ha don't you just love how they change their minds!

PippaFawcett Sun 11-Sep-16 21:00:46

She wants to do everything!

nonicknameseemsavailable Sun 11-Sep-16 22:07:32

Mine went through a patch of wanting to try different things but now both are completely fixated on dance. it is just they do 4 different styles of dance.... If they could then they would add more dance.

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