Posted 09 March 2004 - 08:06 PM
Okay. The track this thread has taken is very interesting to me.
I have two reactions one related to young dancers learning variations, and another related to competions in general.
Email/internet is wierd, and I know you cannot hear my tone of voice, so please know that I am asking sincerely, without sarcasm, for my own understanding ... I'm a "ballet mom" with a child in a very small school (6 kids). We're investing much time, money, emotions, sweat and tears (no blood, yet) into her training so if we're doing it all wrong now would be the time for the professionals to let this poor old mom know ...
First - why is it appalling for a 13 year old to learn variations? If the dancer is focusing mainly on technique 3-4 times per week, and variation class is mostly a reward for hard work in technique class - what's wrong with that? Is there some reason why a solid "intermediate -advanced" dancer should NOT learn variations? (I put "inter-adv" in quotes because I have no clue what that means. That's the distinction her teacher gives her at this point in his interaction with her.)
Secondly, what's up with competitions? For most of our dancers, there are pitifully few performance opportunities. The competition venue allows our dancers to perform onstage, gain experience before an audience, and have a venue for exposure to other dancers their age. It's a competitions where they can witness dancers with greater demonstrated skill, or (occassionally) to celebrate the skill level that their own hard work has garnered.
Don't get me wrong: We have our own issues with most competitions. Our girls train hard and have high respect for technique and artistry. They are weary of the way "entertainment" value seems to trump good technique at most of these dog & pony shows. Precisely for this reason we are seeking out competitions that are "mainly ballet" in the (maybe unrealistic) hope that the girls' ballet technique and artistry will be appropriately respected and celebrated.
Some in our school went to a YAGP regional last year and were pretty disgusted at the lack of organization and professionalism. We skipped it this year, but planned to try again next year - mostly because it seems to be the only comp that is seriously "ballet" as opposed to "shake yer little behind." In the mean time, we found this ABC event ...-
If these competitions (even the "seriously ballet competitions") are NOT a good way for an aspiring dancer to have her growing skill and talent recognized, or are NOT a good way for her to gauge the success or failure of her current training, then what SHOULD WE be persuing to this end? Yes, our dancers all have roles in the annual Nutcracker, yes they'll have a spring recital (where most will perform a variation - gasp! ) but is that IT? What are we missing, here? The girls want to dance! They want to show what they've learned. They want to learn the "next thing." They want to work hard and grow.
Okay. Now I've splayed my ignorance on the table. Educate me. I need to know.