This time last year, my daughter was working towards her Grade 2 ballet exam. So, technically, she was still actually Grade 1.
I was so proud of her, but I was left wondering, what now?
Because at my daughter’s small ballet school, they do exams as a class. They don’t have big enough classes to keep kids moving onwards and upwards and doing exams when they are ready to do them. My daughter might be ready to do an exam every six or nine months, but the majority of her class definitely aren’t.
I felt the likelihood was that she would be working towards her Grade 4 for two years, to allow for the weaker members of the class to get ready for their exam. That’s a long time for a talented girl to be stuck in one place.
But it turns out I wasn’t the only one having those ideas. To her enormous credit, my daughter’s lovely ballet teacher had been having exactly the same thoughts. She recognises my daughter’s talent and wants to nurture it.
So she offered her the opportunity to do two Grade 5 ballet classes, simultaneously with her Grade 4. She will be doing all the training and strength work getting ready to go en pointe (although she won’t be allowed to do it until she is about 12 or 13) and will be working at a high level. She will be challenged by ballet for the first time and will be able to make even better progress – hopefully with a view to auditioning for the Royal Ballet again one day.
I’d always thought of the old Grade 4 class (now the Grade 5 class) as the ‘year 8 class’. That’s two years older and an awful lot bigger than my daughter. But it turns out that it’s not the year 8 class. While some of those girls are in year 8, the class actually includes girls right up to 19 – a whole nine years older than my daughter. It’s a big class and I’m just glad my daughter has had the experience of mixing with teenage girls with the panto. I’m also glad that one other girl of her age has made the leap to Grade 5 so she isn’t alone.
I’m so proud of my daughter. Through sheer talent, hard work and determination, she’s gone from Grade 1 to Grade 5 in just a year.