For nearly two years now, my daughter has been attending three ballet classes a week. She has been simultaneously working on her Grade 4, her Grade 5 and her Intermediate Foundation syllabuses. (Intermediate Foundation is the first professional exam, so a dancer can go on to teach, it runs alongside the Grade 5.) That is a lot for a little girl to deal with, but she has thrived on it and has very rarely got confused between the various syllabuses.
My daughter has been doing one Grade 4 class a week and two classes which mix the Grade 5 and Intermediate Foundation syllabus. The Grade 4 class range in age from year 8 to year 10 and the Grade 5/ Intermediate Foundation class ranges from Grade 10 to a woman in her early 20s, with the exception of my daughter and one other year 8 child. My daughter is the youngest in both of her classes.
She loves all of her classes, but felt more comfortable in the Grade 4 class, as the girls are closer to her own age and she has been working with them for a bit longer. There is literally just one girl she has been working with since she started ballet and, from not knowing each other at all, they have gradually become good friends as more and more kids have given up ballet. They have done every single one of their exams together (in jazz/ tap/ modern, as well as ballet).
Regular readers will know that my daughter recently took her Grade 4 ballet exam. After Grade 4, logically, comes Grade 5. So her Grade 4 class would be starting to work on a syllabus she had already been working on for two years.
There was no point in her attending that class any more.
But she really, really wanted to stay. She was going to miss her class and the friend she’d been with since she was 6. The two girls dance perfectly in sync together and in class they just have to look at each other to start laughing. And her friend didn’t realise she wouldn’t be there any more.
The more I thought about it, the more I wondered whether she really did have to leave. In the scheme of things, did it actually matter that she was doing her Grade 5 work twice over?
Also, her ballet school has a show next spring. They do shows very rarely as the ballet school is a one-woman-band and organising a show singlehandedly, with costumes, choreography, music, chaperones, refreshments etc, is a huge undertaking for one person. The reality was that her old Grade 4 class would mainly be working on dances for the show, not the Grade 5 syllabus.
So I had a quiet word with her teacher (not wishing to get my daughter’s hopes up) and explained that she really didn’t want to leave her old class. Could she just stay until after the show?
The teacher wasn’t sure. She said she would be in so many routines, with the two ballet classes plus her jazz/ tap class, that it might not even be possible to leave her time to change between them.
So I left it and told my daughter she could at least attend her old class until the end of term, because I’d paid for it after all!
But then something happened.
My daughter turned out to be a massive help to both her old class and the teacher. Because she knew what she was doing with the Grade 5 syllabus, she could show them what to do. It was also reinforcing what she’d already learned, ready for when she does take her Grade 5 exam, along with the girls in the original Grade 5 class.
So the teacher had a think about the show and the way the dances were scheduled. And she realised she could accommodate my daughter in her old class in the show. She will be doing more dances than anyone else, but she has an incredible capacity to learn and remember dances, having done multiple dance classes from the age of 6.
My daughter is so happy to be staying with her old class. There is a point to it, after all. It might not be quite the ‘right’ thing to do, but it is the right thing for her. And that’s all that matters.