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Paths of Ballet in Malaysia

Graceful am I, stepping into the aperture to the stage where my art, the exquisite performance of my very soul can be promulgated to the audience, making this stage a platform for my ballet to emanate a performance that they will never forget.

My fellow ballet dancers are as prepared I am, frolicking lightly into position, counting down to the beat of our rhythm, we let our ballet silhouette in grace, depicting the true colours of beauty. Every fibre of our muscles, especially our legs that scream in agony, but our hearts dance in ethereal, making this an unforgettable gem for each pairs of eyes.

When I was 7, my mother brought me to see people dance. A ballerina was performing her art wondrously, whom struck my heart to dote upon ballet, the beauty, the gracefulness, the finesse of her movements was why I picked up ballet. It was not forceful, it was a simplistic love for ballet. There was where I started the undulated journey to become a ballerina.

There are two major routes taken by ballet dancers- Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) or Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD). Both examinations are recognised worldwide and prestigious.

RAD comprises of two examinations- graded syllabus, and vocational graded syllabus. Graded syllabus: Grade 1-8
Vocational Graded Syllabus:
Intermediate Foundation, Intermediate, Advanced Foundation, Advance 1, Advance 2, Solo Seal

ISTD has two examinations- Grade Exams, and Vocational GradesGrade exams:
Grade 1-6

Vocational Grades:
Intermediate Foundation, Intermediate, Advanced 1, Advanced 2.

The Advance Foundation is the examination that you need to pass in order to be qualified to teach, thus making it a crucial point for all ballet dancers that could not be missed. The difference between these two examinations are RAD is more classical and more elegant based than ISTD.

RAD emphasizes on three kinds of dances:
-Free movement
-Character (will not be included in vocational graded syllabus).

ISTD has two styles of classical ballet:
-Cecchetti Society Classical Ballet
-Imperial Classical Ballet

There are also a few outfits to adhere to:
Costume: Bun, Leotard, Stockings, Shoes, Chiffon Skirt, and Character Skirt.
Shoes: Soft Shoes, Demi-pointe Shoes, Pointe Shoes, Character Shoes.
Colours: Pink, Blue, White, and Yellow

It was too much for the seven-year-old me to take in at that point of time. My mother chose the most classical route for me, RAD, that the instructors there told us that it spotlights on classical ballet techniques which makes RAD one of the most renowned examinations in the ballet community. My instructor helped me to arrange my examinations, so there was no worry about that matter.

The first few grades were a cinch to me, but as I progressed, my class of ten shrunk. By Grade 5, it was a class of five. By Grade 8, I was forced to combine classes with other ballet dancers as many people gave up at that point, only a handful of ballet dancers had the pertinacity to pursue this art.

Grade 5 was the most odious part, the breaking point for us because most of the ballet dancers found it impossible to proceed, this happened to me too, but I had the limitless endurance, biting my lips through all of these grueling training- numerous muscle stretching and long hours of practice, bringing me to where I am now, Advance Foundation of RAD.

I have devoted more than a decade of my time, my essence of life to ballet. I am not succumbing to any predicaments, obstacles that lay ahead of my ballet route.

I am here to dance my heart out, giving you, the audience, a once in a lifetime memento forever embedded in your minds. If you ever think of ballet, you will imagine me, the graceful girl, who performed a chimerical piece of art in front of your very eyes, this will be how you picture ballet.

Written by: Rachel Yong and Bryan Phua


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