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 Post subject: "to syllabus or not to syllabus".....
PostPosted: Sun Jul 16, 2000 7:27 pm 
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Location: Australia
In another syllabus-related topic, trina wrote:<BR> <BR> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Most private studios in the U.S. (I've taught at quite a few) don't follow any standardized syllabi. Of course, there are a few that do, but I would say they're in the minority. <P>Each studio coordinates amongst their own faculty, and decides the criteria for student placement/advancement. <P>Generally, within each studio, the ballet teachers will have similar training background, i.e. Vaganova, RAD, etc. This gives them some common ground or point of reference.<BR> <BR>Obviously, this lack of strict standardization creates certain problems..."<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>trina went on to also briefly mention some advantages. i would like to discuss the pros and cons of this issue, but also to learn more about the american approach, and how it works in practice.<P>to kick it off, i'll ask:<P>what are the ADVANTAGES of a set syllabus, FROM an OUTSIDE dance ORGANISATION, such as the RAD, Cecchetti Society, ISTD, BBO, AICD,etc ?<P>what are the DISadvantages of teaching to a syllabus predefined by such a body?<P><p>[This message has been edited by grace (edited September 24, 2000).]

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 Post subject: Re: "to syllabus or not to syllabus".....
PostPosted: Wed Jul 19, 2000 4:38 pm 
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OK, i'll talk to MYSELF here! Image<P>ADVANTAGES:<P>all the work's done FOR you! and it's done by experts who spend their lives focusing on all the important issues in compiling syllabi!<P>outside assessors/examiners give you objective feedback. internationally-accepted standards, validated by those roving examiners. <P>structure is all set up for you: books, notes, tapes, CDs, uniform, deadlines for completion & assessment, marking criteria, certificates, reports, etc.....<P>visiting examiners' feedback informs YOUR teaching practice, as well as giving info to STUDENTS (i.e. the students' results and reports imply, or even directly suggest, what YOU are doing well, and not so well...)<P>SOME DISADVANTAGES:<P>loss of freedom to teach as you see fit<P>imposition of outside deadlines, uniforms, criteria and standards<P>cost!!! i.e. society membership which is pricey, and must be kept up-to-date. cost of exams entries, uniforms, etc.<P>if poorly chosen, with regard to your student population, the syllabus may be innappropriate to YOUR students' needs (trina has touched on this issue of cloning a syllabus onto a student population..)<P>i taught in one new school which didn't start out with a set syllabus: we were doing just fine, having a happy time, doing our best: two teachers with strong backgrounds of professional experience and teaching knowledge......then after about two years we introduced a syllabus from a recognised teaching organisation.<P>we were both 'blown away' by the staggering amount of improvement the students were capable of, when we were 'requiring' them to extend themselves, MORE than we had chosen to ask of them...we HAD been teaching closer to their 'comfort levels' (!) extending them a little, but not 'too much'. <P>once WE had to meet a deadline for their scheduled exam, we simply HAD to 'force' them along...and that IS what it felt like: it felt like a bit of an uncomfortable and demanding fit, at times...but in doing it, we discovered how we had lowered our expectations of them -probably in line with the relatively ungenerous amounts of effort they were inclined to put out, being kids....and while THEY were comfortable, they were not achieveing as they COULD do..... which meant, neither were WE!<P>a valuable lesson learned...<P>

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 Post subject: Re: "to syllabus or not to syllabus".....
PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2000 8:43 pm 
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Maybe this is of interest to that researcher too?


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 Post subject: Re: "to syllabus or not to syllabus".....
PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2000 12:51 am 
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thanks angelica - i will put a link in that thread - good idea. Image

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 Post subject: Re: "to syllabus or not to syllabus".....
PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2000 4:57 am 
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Location: Pa, USA
I agree that the advantages of using a set syllabus are numerous, however I also feel strongly that dance is a constantly evolving art form and no one syllabus (or person) can possibly give a student a universal approach. <BR>If a studio chooses to groom students for a particular company, then the advantages are more obvious (although will limit the less talented) than a situation where a students may be more recreational or choose to pursue a myriad of dance opportunities. In America, I feel that our ballet companies have a tendency to expect incoming dancers to be exposed to more than one technique or style and students who do not have the experience of a teacher who can at least say "this is the x method/this is the y method" are at a disadvantage. Yes, Grace the work is all done for you, but doesn't that take a bit of the fun out of it? Limiting students to one view of balletic technique in this day is also limiting their opportunities in the long run I feel.


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 Post subject: Re: "to syllabus or not to syllabus".....
PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2000 5:46 am 
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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Limiting students to one view of<BR> balletic technique in this day is also limiting their opportunities in the long run I feel.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>jan, i would agree with you if<BR>A) we were talking about vocational students, and<BR>B) any one syllabus was the be-all & end-all of the training.<P>however, in my experience, organisational syllabi are used mostly with recreational dancers, and all GOOD teachers do more than just syllabus. <P>that said, there are a LOT of not-so-good teachers, and it is also only fair to say that if students won't come more than once a week, and sometimes twice, you can't enter them for exams with reasonable certainty of passing unless you DO focus entirely on the syllabus.<P>the vocational schools i have experience of all have their own syllabi - these days all of these are based on vaganova syllabus - but some do encourage exams in another organistion also, for example RAD. one reason might be because they want to keep the option of teacher certification open for their future. another might be in hopes of competing in the prestigious annual Genée award in london. another might be because they started RAD exams when they were little, and just want to take them as far as they can go - to complete the set, as it were....<P>also, in my experience, students who are serious but not in a full-time vocational program, usually branch out by their mid-teens and start attending diverse classes, where they pick up the exposure to other styles, as well as other genres.<P>re your 'fun' comment - well, i used to think this - till i tried regular syllabus classes, and THAT is SO much easier!!!! Image <P>so, there are benefits both ways - for the teacher, it is more creative and can certainly be more satisfying doing your own thing, but it's also more demanding and MUCH more time-consuming to do it well. <P>to follow a syllabus can restrain and frustrate you, but can also free your brain from one set of tasks (setting the work, finding music, etc) to actually focus on the execution or teaching of the work.....<P>whichever approach i use, i miss the other! Image

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 Post subject: Re: "to syllabus or not to syllabus".....
PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2000 5:57 am 
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Location: BC , Canada
My chioce is to syllabus<P>The greatest advantage ..equally to both student and teacher comes in the form of motivational goal setting. As Grace has said, the set syllabus with the examination process forces the teacher to push the student. The best part of this is that it forces the student to push themselves, thus they discover that they are capable of more than they innitially thought and often more than we teachers expected.<P>Also a set syllabus, backed by an accredited organization is also supportive to the teacher giving opportunity for the teacher to continually upgrade their teaching technique in the form of seminars and workshops. Costly, yes sometimes but where in the western world do we find education outside of the public school systems for free.<P>I have also worked with out a syllabus and I too found a great improvement in my students when I began using a set syllabus.<P>On the flip side it does also bear weight as to what syllabus is used. I have now worked with two syllabi, the first was of no pratical use, although it was a syllabus of a widely known organization. Frankly when I developed my own syllabus my students improved. I then tried a different syllabus, this one has been highly successfull in my studio.<P>So the question is not only whether to syllabus but also what syllabus to teach.

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 Post subject: Re: "to syllabus or not to syllabus".....
PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2000 1:03 pm 
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Location: ottawa, ontario, canada
this is sort of on topic<BR>maybe a stupid question but here it is<BR>if you study one syllabus for the school year and end up doing another at summer school would this confuse the YOUNG dancer?<BR>charlene<P>grace adds: <I>to respond to this question, please go to:<BR> <A HREF="http://www.criticaldance.com/ubb/Forum7/HTML/000126.html" TARGET=_blank>http://www.criticaldance.com/ubb/Forum7/HTML/000126.html</A> </I><p>[This message has been edited by grace (edited September 25, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: "to syllabus or not to syllabus".....
PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2000 3:10 pm 
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charlene: that is SUCH a good question that i am going to create a whole topic thread for it - so please go there, everyone, for discussion/responses. <P>thank you very much charlene! you are keeping us all going wonderfully, here: hope our responses, which are giving US all a lot of fun, are not going too 'off-topic' for YOU! Image

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 Post subject: Re: "to syllabus or not to syllabus".....
PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2000 4:43 pm 
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I guess I like it both ways too!! I took class for several years with a highly regarded Cechetti teacher/examiner. At the same time I also took class with a Russian teacher (as student herself of Koslov and Baldina of Diaghelev fame). The Cechetti teacher wanted me to become a member/teacher of the Cechetti council; but I declined. I enjoyed the precision but disliked the repetition (On Monday we do adage #1, etc.) and the restriction of my own imagination in creating dance pas for my students to deal with specific problems. I also adored finding truly exciting music for them for center work, well beyond the ompah ompah of piano recordings for ballet class. However, I did find the Cechetti method a wonderful foundatiion for teaching wall/corner numbering, arm positions, head positions, body positions, etc. It is also great for grouping and understanding the definitions of the ballet vocabulary - but it never really "danced" for me. Basheva


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 Post subject: Re: "to syllabus or not to syllabus".....
PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2000 7:33 pm 
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Location: New Zealand
Grace, I agree with your reply to your post and the sentiments it contained re the pros and cons for teaching a set syllabus.<P>My students are trained predominantly by the RAD syllabus. However class work does contain 'free' work. One of the saddest things the RAD did when it brought in the 1991 Grade syllabus was to leave out the 'free' work and the response to music in the examination. Many of us applauded the move to bring it back into the major examination.<P>The main advantage as I see it is as the students memorise the sequences they are more able to focus their attention on to improving technique. "free' work classes I give are all at a standard below the RAD level of the class with a few fun things added in. Grade 4's just love having a go at Pose pirouettes. Forget about the technique in these just get them turning.<P>Time will tell with the work to be seen in the examination being further reduced last year if the standard of the work shown in exams will deteriorate. I have heard of many teachers who no longer teach the 'full' syllabus ( they can't see the point if the students are not required to know it ) when in fact most of the deleted exercises are in fact more important to the training of a dancer than those left in.<P>One of the disadvantages I see is from Grade 3 up to Elementary all plie exercises begin with 2 demi - plies in 1st position. It stretches the teachers brain to think - "What Grade is this and what is the difference in this grade which may trick me today ?" but the students go into automatic pilot and many just go through the motions.<P>It is a well structured syllabus for the once a week child - although it is difficult for the once a week child to achieve an Honours result.<P>I do teach ( the students are not examined in this ) another (local to our country) syllabus which is Vaganova based which I find the students enjoy and it does 'stretch' them a little further as I see the need.<P>Your board is very imformative and a worthwhile 'read'. It seems the calibre of people you are attracting is going to see this emerge as a must for dance teachers the world over.


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 Post subject: Re: "to syllabus or not to syllabus".....
PostPosted: Sat Sep 30, 2000 1:24 am 
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.<p>[This message has been edited by Gavin (edited May 19, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: "to syllabus or not to syllabus".....
PostPosted: Sat Sep 30, 2000 4:46 am 
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hi gavin! Image great to see you here. and i agree with this:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>The answer is for a syllabus to form only part of ones teaching.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>trouble is, in practice, with everyone wanting good exam results, and kids only willing to come once or twice a week, and then missing a few here and there, it's an uphill battle, so gradually (IMO) many/most teachers start to omit everything BUT the syllabus - none of us really mean to do it, but the syllabus can take over.

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 Post subject: Re: "to syllabus or not to syllabus".....
PostPosted: Sat Sep 30, 2000 8:19 am 
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Location: Ontario, Canada
I have just a few comments as a non-dancing mom and hello to tip_toes, who I believe I have "met" elsewhere on the Internet!<P>My daughters have gone to schools which focus on syllabus, one that didn't have a syllabus and (with older daughter) sort of syllabus in addition to daily technique classes. <P>I can see that teachers would not necessarily get stuck with a syllabus and the timelines that are part of the package. I also understand that it (syllabus) is one way to have your "work" evaluated by an ojective party, according to set standards. <P>Where I live it seems as though the recreational schools are essentially wed to a certain syllabus and in order to do the exam you do 2 classes per week for the Grades, that is...). I would really like to see schools offering the syllabus classes AND additional "technique" classes. It seems that at some point during the year the syllabus classes get so focussed on the little details which are important that some other things get overlooked. Teachers can only do so much in one class!<P>For example, my 9 year old has relatively good turnout, but can't always maintain it in centre work. I would think that ideally some work could be done outside a syllabus class for this...I imagine other students aren't perfect here either. Also, she has mentioned to me lately that she believes she is sickling her foot slightly when she is in passe (I believe that's the term and honestly I don't really see the sickle, but I'm not a dancer so there you go). She doesn't know how to remediate this and seems shy to approach the teacher for whatever reason. I suspect that one cause is lack of strength in the thighs (she is extremely petit...). If this is the case, an additional technique class would likely help.<P>The problem is that no one here offers "technique" classes, and probably most teachers have trouble getting the younger ones to come even twice a week, let alone think about more often. (although I must add that somehow folks seem to manage to come to quite a number of competition classes in a week, but I'm getting too testy perhaps). <P>Enough of my ramblings!<P>Welcome again to Tip_Toes!


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 Post subject: Re: "to syllabus or not to syllabus".....
PostPosted: Sat Sep 30, 2000 1:21 pm 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
Mom - Your post caught my eye about your daughter thinking that she is sickling her foot in passe'(retiere' - passe' is the action of passing thru retiere' to change from back to front or vice versa). Tell you daughter to "shape" her foot correctly when it leaves the floor - as it leaves the floor - it gets shaped immediately. Then just maintain that shape whatever she does with the foot - like passe'. Also, while her toe is against her knee in passe' (or retiere') there is no weight on that toe. In other words the toe doesn't rest against the knee - it just touches it lightly. If she puts pressure on that toe against the knee - that will affect the shape of the foot. Gosh - this is sooooooooo much easier to show than type!!! YOu are right - there should always be technique classes - not just focusing on exams and competitions. Basheva


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