Importance of Ballet
Classical Ballet training, when taught correctly, can only do good. It helps children develop co-ordination of mind and body, and nurtures the ability to focus,
and maintain intense concentration.
It can improve, and correct posture, and helps to strengthen a child who is physically weak. Learning Ballet, and participating in exams is a great confidence builder, and promotes self-discipline. It also gives children a sense of movement, rhythm and an appreciation of music.
In keeping with the high quality of our dance training and the increasing participation of our students in festivals, we strongly recommend the value, and benefits of Ballet training for all our students.
Ballet provides a strong foundation for all other forms of dance. Not only does it aid, and
enhance performance ability in other dance forms, it also provides strength and control for gymnastics, skating, and all other sports. The muscles targeted by Classical Ballet technique are unique to Ballet, and not developed by other forms of physical activity. All Dance Teachers, Festival Adjudicators and Examiners constantly stress the value of Ballet to all types of performers.
BSSD’s Ballet Program is based on the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) Syllabus. The RAD approach is based on Italian, French, Danish and Russian ballet techniques that are recognized internationally as the English style of ballet. The most identifiable aspect of this approach is the attention to detail when learning the basic steps and the progression in difficulty is very slow. The difficulty of an exercise will increase slightly from grade to grade so that the dancer can develop strong technique. Exercises are repeated over and over at each grade level in increments, while new steps are also introduced so that the dancer continues to practice previous skills and build on them as they move through the grades. The principle behind it is “that if enough time is spent achieving optimal technique before introducing new vocabulary, the easier it is for the student to learn the harder steps, while exercising basic technique to the maximum at all times.”
The Grade Examination Syllabus consists of:
Grades 1, 2 and 3 Foundation
Grade 4 through 8
Grade 1 to 8 Exams
Each grade has classical ballet, free movement and character dance built into the lesson plans. The lesson plans (syllabus) are designed to increase in difficulty from one grade to the next and students can expect to develop their dance technique as they progress through each level. The teacher will make a recommendation as to where a student will start based upon their age, natural ability for dance, previous dance experience and exams (if taken previously).
Based on teacher recommendations, students may be recommended to take the RAD Vocation Graded Syllabus when they progress into the higher levels. This next stage usually occurs after the Grade 5 Syllabus is completed and within BSSD the students are recommended by our teachers to do both Grades and Vocational at the same time. Taking on this level of ballet training requires commitment, dedication, and willingness to take additional classes (increased hours per week) to learn the syllabus in preparation for examination. Exams at this level must be taken in sequence.
We are pleased to be able to offer the following Vocational Grades at our Studio:
Level A & B Ballet & Ballet Technique Class
Level A students are registered in the RAD class and Exam (taking 2 ballet classes per week). They may be invited to take the formal RAD exam by teacher recommendation, which occurs in December of the dance session.
Level B students are registered in the RAD class and/or Ballet Technique Class. Students recommended for this level require additional time to work on ballet technique. Some students also only take 1 ballet class and not the ballet technique class. The Ballet Technique Class is a second ballet class per week, which is recommended.
Ballet Foundation (Starting at an Older Age)
Ballet Foundation has been designed for those students who haven’t taken Ballet before and would like to begin at an older age.
Ballet technique will be taught at an accelerated rate, covering the basics normally taught in earlier years of Ballet at the Primary levels for the first half of the season. The rest of the year will be customized based on the skill levels and ages of the dancers each year, to expose the dancers to the maximum Ballet vocabulary while still mastering proper technique. Emphasis will be divided between, learning the basic fundamentals of Ballet and challenging the older beginner.
Free Movement / Pointe Ballet Classes
BSSD Free Movement / Pointe Ballet Classes are based on teacher recommendation only and for those students that are taking Graded or Vocation Exam syllabus. The class focuses on the free movement style of ballet. They will also start preparation for pointe work and developing pointe technique.
BSSD offers only 3 classes in this area, and the teacher will base their recommendation based on skill, technique, ability and strength. It is not uncommon for students to take one of these classes for 4 or more years and then move into the next level. The class is customized based on the students within the class, skill level, and progression ability.
These classes are:
Free Movement / Pre-Pointe
Free Movement / Pointe 2
Free Movement / Pointe 3
Progressing Ballet Technique
Progressing Ballet Technique is an innovative program developed by Marie Walton-Mahon for students to understand the depth of training muscle memory in achieving their personal best in classical ballet. This curriculum was developed by Marie who has been known for her creative teaching skills for over 40 years and has trained many professional dancers and teachers’ worldwide. She has experimented with outstanding success the use of muscle memory to improve students understanding of core stability, weight placement and alignment for over 12 years. Ms. Erin is certified to teach this course and we are pleased to offer it as follows:
Jr. PBT – Grades 4 and 5
Sr. PBT – Grades 6 and up.