CAMBERWELL DISTRICT BALLET is one of the only Australian schools which teaches the Russian System of Classical Ballet as taught in Russian schools.

The Camberwell District Ballet is been around for last 38 years.

At the beginning this system is slow and careful, preparing and strengthening the young body for the more advanced and demanding work to come. Perfecting the technique is never ending and the Russian System requires the perfection of details, which are often neglected in other systems. Details such as hand and finger positions, focus of eyes and head alignment. The body is worked upon to become an instrument to dance with, one which does not create injury and is a great factor in the Russian System of training.

The art of classical ballet is constantly progressing, however this always goes back to the marvellous foundations laid by Agrippina Vaganova, whereby the dancer is able to fully master the whole body to turn it into an instrument of expression to dance with.

The virtuosity of this great art go back to the slow and careful foundation of the Vaganova System which combines the Romanticism of the French System, the soulful character of the Russians and the virtuosity of the Italian System. The codified System of Vaganova makes for injury free training and simultaneously develops technical proficiency and artistic individuality. This scientifically proven system studies all components of classical ballet and breaks them down into separate elements and then gradually rebuilds them to the most advanced level. Early training concentrates on the use of the upper body and the use of head and eyes and the stability of the back.

These are some of the reasons that this system is used internationally with such marvellous results.

INTERESTING ARTICLE FROM “the bottoms up blog” Singapore regarding the differences between RAD and the RUSSIAN VAGANOVA SYSTEM of training

How is Russian ballet training different from what my daughter is doing now to prepare for the RAD exams?

I’ve taught the RAD Pre-primary and Primary Grades before, prior to having my own school. The RAD is not to be used as a training method, as it is a syllabus- and exam-based system. In other words, the RAD does not teach new material outside of its syllabuses/exams. While the RAD system has much merit of its own, eventually, when the students are older and need to be learning more advanced material, this system may not be the most beneficial. For the primary level, many of its exercises are movement-based, and give the young students a sense of dance and movement, which is definitely useful.

In contrast, in the Russian system, classes for young students are centred around classical ballet technique, and exercises are set by each individual teacher according to the needs of her students. These exercises may include gymnastics or flexibility/strength training, and all of these help in building a strong classical foundation for the student. Classical ballet technique classes usually take in students from 7-9 years old, and there is a set curriculum for the 8 levels in the Vaganova method as well. Typically, the Russian method is used as a training tool to prepare its students for professional work in a ballet career, but even when done ”recreationally, ” where the student has no professional aspirations, the benefits they reap are the same as well.

The Vaganova method does teach its students to know the purpose behind each step, and each student is expected to understand both mentally and physically how to work their bodies. Even though they are at a young age, exercises are set in such a way that they are simple enough to understand, and the tempo and the pace also allow students to be aware of what their bodies and muscles are doing as well. So at the end of the day, the students are not imitating the teacher, but doing the exercises with a clear understanding of how to work their muscles.

As for classical pieces or short pieces of variations/repertoire (ballet stories), they usually are not introduced until towards the end of a level/curriculum, when the students have a good grasp on their basics. Repertoire can include excerpts from a ballet classic (Sleeping Beauty, Nutcracker etc), and it can also include a classical choreography from the teacher. In the Vaganova method, everything that we do in class eventually becomes something that we can perform onstage in classical ballet pieces, so both technique and artistry is given equal emphasis.