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 Post subject: competitive ballet???
PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2000 4:18 pm 
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Joined: Sat Sep 16, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 53
Location: ottawa, ontario, canada
OK guys have you heard of competitive ballet<BR>I have heard of cheerleading or baton. My daughter has been asked to do competitive ballet they told me it would be an extra dance class and she would do 3 or 4 competitions. <BR>charlene


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 Post subject: Re: competitive ballet???
PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2000 4:58 pm 
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Location: Australia
........(groan).........<P>yes, charlene. Image<P>heard of it.<P>i think i'll let some other people go first on this one..... Image<P>personally, i think ballet is an artform, not a sport. and that people ought not to be performing till they have acquired performance skills, which first of all require technical knowledge and self-knowledge, and a lot else besides...just like 'practicing' in any profession, i am in favour of leaving the actual 'practice' of anything, to those who are qualified to do it.....<P>there is a counter argument that by performing, kids acquire performance skills. this is undoubtedly true, just like student doctors operating on you would no doubt get better at doing operations...... ! .... but at what COST to YOU?!?<P>i know that will be seen as a far fetched analogy....hope it gives you a laugh! Image<P>i just get a bit weary at this subject, coz it's the source of much argument, much antipathy between schools, much division between teachers....and all un-necessary, in my view.<P>some kids thrive on it, some are crushed by it. it consumes vast amounts of YOUR time (the whole family) and your money. it shifts the child's focus from learning and creating and enjoying, to being disciplined and to 'beating the opposition' - this, to me, is not what dance should be about.....<P>you see,..... i couldn't help myself.......sorry! Image<P>please, others: feel free to state your opinions, i CAN see both sides, but i am firmly on one of them.......with some regret, as i DO see some benefits, but i think the whole thing has got so absurdly out of scale that it's just not acceptable, IMO. and the competition scene in australia is as NOTHING compared to america! Image<P>will make for a good discussion, charlene! thank you for that! Image

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 Post subject: Re: competitive ballet???
PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2000 11:57 am 
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Joined: Fri Jun 16, 2000 11:01 pm
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Location: Thorpe Bay, Essex, UK
Unfortunately with the proliferation of dance festivals here in the UK so many of the students I teach and their parents think of dance as a competitive sport. I keep telling them I am not a PE teacher but I guess I, like Grace, am another lost voice crying in the wilderness. Or perhaps there are more of us? Please put your hand up (metaphorically of course. What I mean is post a reply.) if you believe dance is an art form and not the next Olympic sport.<P>Mind you I have nothing against real sports and, it will probably horrify Grace to read this, I have the Olympics on almost constantly when I am home. Burst into tears during the rowing I'm afraid.<P>Tuk<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: competitive ballet???
PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2000 12:37 pm 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Taking a devil's advocate stance - can't an art form have a competitive element? I'm thinking of other forms such as music where competitions are common at many levels from the local to the international. Looking further afield, there are lots of competitions for literature and certainly some for Fine Art. <P>The question then is whether the manifestation of competitions in dance in particular is a bad thing. I'm now right out of my league, but can I pose a question. I get the impression that the emphasis in competitions is often technique based. If this is the case then I can see that there is a downside as expression does need to be taken into account. Would you both be happier with competitions if this was achieved, grace and Tuk ?<p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited September 24, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: competitive ballet???
PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2000 3:38 pm 
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Location: Australia
wooooh stuart - you are straying into dangerous territory! Image<P>i think we need to be crystal clear from the outset here, as this topic inflames people (poor charlene probably didn't know that, when she asked her innocent question! Image ).<P>personally i feel there are two completely distinct areas of dance competition, and we need to be clear which we are talking about.<P>-----------------------------<P>first, given the origin of this question here from charlene, is the competitions for <B>YOUNG STUDENT DANCERS</B> - solos, teams, etc. in some countries these are called eistedfods (from the welsh). these are money-making events for the organisers, and money-spinners for the teachers.<P>the children can start at almost ANY age (e.g. 'babies' section, age 3 up!). any kid can enter. many dance schools (including the largest ones) participate in these regularly - in australia it's every school-holidays, and other times, besides. <P>the school requires the students to attend (and pay for) rehearsals classes, in addition to their grade/syllabus classes, so it's a money-spinner for them. some won't allow a student to have a solo unless they are in a certain number of group items, thus ensuring the parents are motivated to spend, spend, spend (on fees). <P>then there are the costumes - not uncommonly in the vicinity of up to $100 each, and a small child may need up to half a dozen of them. <P>then there are extra trophies for kids who score the highest overall points, etc, thus encouraging them to be entered in as many events as possible (more entry fees to the competition organiser). <P>along the way, there is plenty of bitchy behaviour in the dressing rooms, sniping comments, crying children, accusations of favouritism by the adjudicator/s (i've been one), and ultimately the vulgar spectacle of some multi-talented 15-year old standing onstage surrounded by trophies, medals and occasionally a cup almost as big as she is (i'm NOT joking....), being cheered wildly by her schoolmates. <P>unfortunately, the technique training in these schools is usually sacrificed to the training of show animals, so that young dancer with a career in 'winning', by the time she is 18, will have her hopes dashed when she discovers her basic training is completely unnacceptable in any professional environement. <P>like the young gymnasts, she is finished at 18. and UNlike the gymnasts, she is completely bewildered as to WHY, as no-one has prepared her for this outcome...<P>OK, this is worst case scenario - but it is all too common.<P>--------------------------------<P>now to the OTHER competitions: those for <B>PRE-PROFESSIONAL DANCERS</B>.<P>examples: Prix de Lausanne, Genée Medal, Varna, Jackson MS., etc<P>completely different kettle of fish. highly selective as to entrants (eliminations). <BR>dancers are pre-professional in age, so have the appropriate technique and other skills to display. they are at the stage of looking for scholarships for advanced training/extra polish, or looking for jobs, so the competition provides a high-level public showcase to attract offers.<P>if they succeed in any way, they will be the recipients of rewards, rather than the contributors of large amounts of cash!<P>they have large panels of adjuducators, from the dance profession (often very highly regarded people with excellent professional connections). votes are tallied in fairly sophisticated ways.<P>i think those are the main points...no doubt there are more.<P>mind you, i CAN say some good things about kids dancing in 'comps', but i'll save that for later! Image

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 Post subject: Re: competitive ballet???
PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2000 8:06 pm 
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I liked being in competitions when I was little, but I only did a few. That was in Melbourne where they called them eisteddfods. I don't know if they still do. I liked having a costume and having my own dance made for me and using my imagination in a demi-caractere dance. We got medals. I made me feel special to have a dance made for me, my own solo. But I think perhaps I enjoyed best the lessons with the choreographer, because she was regarded as a special teacher who you were only given private lessons with if you were good enough. I also just loved my costumes.


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 Post subject: Re: competitive ballet???
PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2000 6:08 am 
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Location: Australia
angelica, i feel that what you are talking about is largely the thrill of performance, rather than necesarily competition? i.e. your dance, your costume, etc....<P>stuart re this:<BR> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>I get the<BR> impression that the emphasis in competitions is often technique based. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>i'm sure that here you are referring to the serious pre-professional competitions (as technique is defintely not the emphasis in kids 'comps') - maybe you aren't even aware of the kids competition scene? which wouldn't be surprising, as its usually only the families and the dance schools who really know they are on. maybe you should get Tuk or Jeanette to take you to one? haha! Image

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 Post subject: Re: competitive ballet???
PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2000 4:41 am 
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charlene: perhaps we (I?) got a bit carried away? Image<P>to address your specific dilemma, i would suggest that you speak to the parents at your dance school whose values and family-life are a bit like yours, and listen to what they tell you about their experience at these competitions. <P>they will know how this teacher approaches the whole thing - whether it gets 'out of hand', what the expenses are like, what the REAL time commitment ends up being, whether tempers get frayed and children get upset and pressured, or whether they all have a good time. it depends on so many factors.....<P>it could be a plus for YOUR child, or it could be a drag for your whole family. find out as much as you can within your own dance school, but i also recommend that if you know any parents at other dance schools, that you listen to how they do things as well.<P>it may NOT be true in your case, but unfortunately it sometimes IS the case, that schools which prioritise competitions do not provide the best training. <P>whether or nor that applies to your school, and whether or not it would even matter, depends on what you and your daughter want out of her dance experience.....<P>meanwhile, you are doing a wonderful job of giving us things to chat about! thank you so much! please don't stop too soon! Image

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 Post subject: Re: competitive ballet???
PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2000 7:28 am 
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Location: Ontario, Canada
Now is the time for true confessions, I suppose!<P>My younger daughter attends a dance school which does RAD syllabus and dance competitions. Most of the girls compete in tap, and jazz. There are a few ballet groups, and my daughter is in one of these. A chosen few are asked each year to do solos or duets.<P>My daughter only takes ballet, and is in a ballet group. She likes it because she has made some friends and gets to wear a fancier costume than the "rec" students. There is certainly a feeling amonst the parents that the competitive kids are somehow "better". Over time, they actually are because they have more training. They are not necessarily more talented to start with (although of course the talented ones are generally the first to be approached). <P>We arrived at this studio rather battered and bruised emotionally from the previous studio, and competition was a way for my daughter to become a part of things quickly and easily. The first year I didn't really mind it, as the competitions were on weekends and fairly close by.<P>Now I truthfully would just as soon she not do competition. It can become quite time-consuming (we had 6 last spring)and I get tired of all the "slepping about". The girls certainly need to take direction well, but I don't know that they learn a lot of dancing at a young age by doing competitions. My older daughter, who attends a full-year program scoffs at what her sister does...says there is no real dancing, and that they are really just doing a series of poses. <P>I am lucky in that a number of the moms invloved are quite sane and very good company. One in particular has become a friend. And the time/money we spend PALES in comparison to the families whose children compete in 3-4 things. <P>So, what would I advise?<P>Be very careful about the costs, and make sure you know before hand what is involved. Competition fees for groups are around 25-30 Canadian, and more if you go to the states. Solo fees are even more. Then there are the pagents...I can't believe the cost there! (some of the dance competitions have associated pagents. I've never actually seen one, but they sound like glorified beauty contests). Costume fees can add up too. My daughter's ballet costume was about $200. Oh - and you pay extra for the rehearsal classes too.<P>In every group of young girls it is probably inevitable that there are some who give others a hard time. We have a couple of these, and this is probably the one aspect of all of this that bothers me the most. The girls are supposed to be a group and work together...but, there are always the "bully" types. I have discussed this with the teacher...long story, I won't go into it.<P>My daughter still seems to enjoy the group, and she was disappointed when i told her she wouldn't be attending the 3-day school day) competition at a resort (don't forget the $200/day hotel). Which reminds me that homework can take the backseat at times.<P>If you are only looking at a ballet group and not a zillion other things, it might be quite enjoyable. You know you daughter the best, and know how she would hold up in some of the circumstances I described.<P>Sorry to ramble on; it is a very controversial topic!<P>


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 Post subject: Re: competitive ballet???
PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2000 7:30 am 
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Location: Ontario, Canada
I should also say that I liked Grace's advise about talking to other parents. Try to choose ones, as she suggests, that have similar values to your own. (My ballet mom friend, by the way, has similar feelings to my own and her daughter also takes ballet only...)


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 Post subject: Re: competitive ballet???
PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2000 5:03 pm 
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Location: Australia
mom2 - a marvellous post, as usual! love the bit about your older daughter scoffing!<P>and you have reminded me that the costs in US/canada are SKY-high compared to australia - and *I* was complaining!!!!! Image<P>for example, each candidate's fee to enter each group item is usually something like $5 or $10 here (that's about US $12 to $25).<P>also families here would not normally stay in hotels, but more likely family motels, or even camping.....<P>how are you feeling about these comments, charlene? - and STUART? Image

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 Post subject: Re: competitive ballet???
PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2000 7:44 am 
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Location: ottawa, ontario, canada
thanks everyone for all the great info<BR>I was told only 3 competitions this year at 16 dollars each. one extra class a week for 60 dollars starting NOV. a costum for about 80 dollars. We will probably try it this year and see how it goes we can always opt out next year. The competitions are all in our area so no hotels just day trips<BR>charlene


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 Post subject: Re: competitive ballet???
PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2000 2:23 pm 
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sounds like a very sane approach charlene - yours AND the schedule - let us know what you think, after the experience, OK? Image

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 Post subject: Re: competitive ballet???
PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2000 12:54 pm 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
In my years of teaching I was only affiliated with one studio that was involved with competitions. I found it a serious drain on time and effort that should have been spent on serious study of dance.<P>Recitals are one thing, competitions quite another. In addition to recitals I took my students (children and teens) out to nursing homes, recreation centers, etc. to get additional performing experience. I found all this to be very positive. But, competitions were quite another matter. Many of these students not only took ballet class but also in other dance classes and would often come into the ballet class already under stress from what had occurred in the previous class and its related competition. It just seemed to add to the overall level of tension, and yes, bitchiness among the students and parents, in the studio as a whole. There were some students who loved recitals, but didn't like competitions but felt compelled by peer pressure to participate. The acquisition of that plastic trophy became the focus of their days. It does add to the cost and I wouldn't be surprised if some children were pulled out because of that. It eventually overwhelmed the owner of the studio and it closed after many, many otherwise successful years. Basheva


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 Post subject: Re: competitive ballet???
PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2000 3:08 pm 
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as someone who runs a school which does NOT do competitions, in a town where the other schools DO, i can tell you that parents DO come to me saying that is one reason (a big reason) why they prefer my approach.<P>but unfortunately i can also tell you that those schools are far more financially successful than mine, BECAUSE they have the high profile that competition success confers, and because the children are just completely sucked in by the 'glamour' of it all.....<P>for the serious teacher, this is a real bind.....after all, it's all very well being high-minded, but the rent still has to be paid! Image

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