Receiving written evaluations with a breakdown of your strengths and weaknesses blatantly graded in black and white is a fact of life of an aspiring ballet dancer. Every school or program has their own way of handling these and of giving you feedback on what you need to work on (some kinder than others...), but overall they share the same basic criteria:
turn out, flexibility, foot work, adagio, turns, jumps, porte de bras, alignment, placement, line, projection, musicality, attendance...the list goes on, and varies in specificity (once I had two different grades for "arch" and "instep"...)
Anyway, after being away from the whole "ballet school" atmosphere for just about a year as I transitioned into an apprenticeship and so forth, I was greatly surprised to hear during my last few days at the ABT intensive that we would receive written evaluations by mail in a few weeks. I definitely had a flashback to my early Boston Ballet days when they would hand us evaluations and meet in the scary office for them to tell us all that's wrong with us (okay, I'm being dramatic...however, that was NOT the worst of these occasions...). I was a bit nervous to receive mine in the mail...and it came today.
I opened it and laughed.
For the first time in 20 years (yes, I turn 20 four weeks from today...) I received something other than "satisfactory/needs improvement" on BOTH turnout and feet. If you knew me and what I've been through with my evil tendonitis-infused hips and bursitis-riden feet (both from overuse, i.e. forcing what I don't have) you would know that this is a GRAND OCCASION.
Of course, there are MANY other things in the evaluation that I need to work on, and it is much less intense than the "ballet school" type evaluations because I won't be returning to them. And yes, it is very subjective.
But you have no idea what it means for a teacher to write the words, "very good" next to the words "turn out" when all you've heard your whole life is "bad". It's a break through!