Discovering Repertoire: a classical ballet performance programme
'Discovering Repertoire' is an innovative new concept in training and assessment from the RAD.
Suitable for students from ages 12 through to adult, the three levels cater for those with some prior ballet experience (1–2 years of study, equivalent to Grade 2/3) through to those of a more advanced standard (upper grades/vocational grades). Uniquely, it includes well-known classical repertoire, meaning students will learn and dance choreography that they have seen on the stage, set to music that they know and love.
Learners have the option of taking regulated examinations recognised at the following levels on the UK qualifications framework:
- Level 2 (equivalent to Grade 5/Intermediate Foundation standard)
- Level 3 (equivalent to Grades 6–8/Intermediate & Advanced Foundation standard)
- Level 4 (equivalent to Advanced 1 & 2 standard)
The variations studied are taken from the following ballets:
- Level 2: Coppélia, Giselle
- Level 3: Paquita, The Sleeping Beauty
- Level 4: Nutcracker, Swan Lake
The variation choreography is tailored to the different levels, e.g. Level 2 will offer a modified variation, while Level 4 will offer the full variation.
Flexible, modular learning and assessment
The programme is based on modular assessment, to enable students to learn at their own pace. Each level is made up of three units:
- Unit 1 – Class work (barre and centre)
- Unit 2 – development exercises and Variation 1
- Unit 3 – development exercises and Variation 2
To promote a sense of achievement and progression, students will be awarded a certificate for completing each unit, while those successfully completing all three units will achieve a qualification at the corresponding level.
The marking criteria includes an emphasis on the music and performance criteria, maximising opportunities for all to succeed. Female students can decide whether or not to dance en pointe, giving greater flexibility in how the work is approached and executed.
What did the trials show?
There was a fantastic response from volunteers to trial the new work as it was being developed (over 300 responses from teachers worldwide). In total, 150 teachers from 28 countries have been involved, and the feedback has been constructive and overwhelmingly positive. ‘Creative’, ‘challenging’ and ‘inspiring’ were among the commonly held views. This feedback has led to much greater definition of the target audience and the levels at which the material is pitched.
Who will Discovering Repertoire appeal to?
The social, health and wellbeing benefits of dance are well documented across all age groups. Along with increasing the accessibility of dance for all, the modular structure of Discovering Repertoire offers an inclusive and flexible opportunity suitable for a wide range of abilities and ages – but most importantly it will make real the aspiration of many to dance classic ballets such as Giselle and Swan Lake.
Alternative for vocational and non-vocational students
Discovering Repertoire will give teachers multiple ways in which to grow or extend their business. It will extend the interest of students who otherwise might stop dancing once they realise that ballet is not going to be their vocation by giving them a fun and creative alternative to the RAD’s graded and vocational syllabus. For vocational students, the modular approach provides an opportunity to enhance and refine technical skills in the class module and gain strength if preparing the development exercises and variations en pointe.
Challenging and engaging adults
Adults of all ages are coming back to ballet: for fitness, for social reasons, or because they have rediscovered their passion by seeing their children dance. Our research also shows that adults want to be challenged, to progress, and to feel a sense of achievement. Discovering Repertoire will deliver this satisfaction, enabling them to learn and dance the ballet repertoire that they know and love, and be assessed in smaller, more manageable and less intimidating units of work.
The programme is expected to launch globally in early 2018. More information will be available in the June 2017 issue of Dance Gazette.
Photo: Elliott Franks courtesy of The Royal Ballet