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School of American Ballet

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We have a 15 (soon to be 16) yr old daughter who has been asked to stay for the Fall sem. at sab. She says that if she doesn't stay, she won't be able to get into level "D" next year and therefore won't be asked to do a solo at the workshop and then won't have a chance to be asked to join the NYC Ballet (which is her goal). We have 2 issues: 1) We're trying to find out the actual mechanics of the SAB-NYC Ballet connection and 2) We have great difficulty letting a 16 yr old stay in NYC (we live 4 hours away) without us. Yet, we don't want to hurt her chances of joining the NYC Ballet.....Anyone been through this? Help!!@@@ Thanks!

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Without getting into the logistics of orchestrating a NYC stay for an almost-16-year-old, you want a clear fix on whether this "threat" (no stay, no D level, no solo, no job) is truthful. It's a firehose of pressure to be under.

Get some facts: Did all and only the soloists in last fall's "senior" class get NYCB offers? Are the NYCB apprentices and new corps people always and only graduates of the D class at their own school? Check the bios for the apprentice and corps people hired for the last 2 years. Where did they train? What became of the other grads who didn't get solos? Are they serving fries at a drive-in, heading for decent colleges, dancing in the corps of other fine companies from Miami to Seattle? Is it in fact accurate that your child's entire dance fate depends on saying yes to this? That a decade of serious training would be useless if she went, say, to ABT or SFB or Houston or whatever? Once you have a more accurate perception of what actually does happen to SAB kids (start by getting their registrar to give you the placement by company or college of the last two year's graduates)then you are about 1/3 of the way to the info you need for more personalized (YOUR unique family YOUR unique Child)decision making.

The next third: What are the training alternatives? Clearly her home school has brought her to this wonderful level of talent. Can they take her no further? What is the placement record of the home school's graduates? Will they showcase your child (do they have a history of really keeping their promises?)Do they offer serious guidance to their students for career or college planning? What is their attitude toward SAB and the NYCB?

The last third of the input is entirely a matter of logistics. (This is a mess you don't need to deal with if the first 2/3 of research say it's not worth it. And if it is the right move, you'll be amazed at how quickly and well you can do the arrangements.) Can you make safe, comfortable arrangements for her? Can she get a good education (she can defer going to college but never preparing to go. (People get hurt. People change their minds. Directors change their minds. Jobs come and go.) Lastly, there's that 4 hours distance. Sorry, here, you lose me. 4 hours is a snap of the fingers in this modern world. We're 4 hours drive from NYC and we've gone in for a matinee and come home that night. Plus, your teen is certain to have computer access. If you email with your child you will soon be having more -- and deeper- conversations than you have half the time at home! is this the same as hugging and giggling in person? No, not one bit and you will miss her down to your bones. But that's coming at you in a year or two anyway. Only your family can make that call. Also, SAB is not life in prison without parole. If you all try this and it's the wrong call, she can come home!

Whatever your decision, be at peace with yourself. All the best!

 

[ 07-31-2001: Message edited by: samba38 ]

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Thanks samba38-that's great info. To further the discussion; She's in a great studio now, where the head went to SAB and danced w/ NYCB. She is very supportive of going the SAB-NYCB route. (We're trying now to get the facts on the route) Our daughter feels that she needs SAB to take her to the next level (she's probably right)....Unfortunately, the logistics are "easy" they stay in the dorm w/ a meal plan and attend the high school across the street..........

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Check your old copies of Dance Mag. for the cover story on Miranda Weese. I think she turned SAB down 2 summers before going. Remember, if your dancer has the goods, they will want her next year, too! Don't they want real talent whenever and whereever it comes from? How did all those terrific Asian, Russian and European youngsters wind up with NYCB and ABT?

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There *are* a lot of variables, aren't there?

 

I have experience and knowledge of the program, academics and residence hall situation, but I don't want to discuss students on a public board. You are welcome to email me privately (my address should be in my profile, or you can let me know if it is not) and I'll be happy to tell you what I have seen and learned over the last several years, but not on a public site.

 

If she is in C2 or D, there is no guarantee that she will be showcased in Workshop or that this will lead to a contract. It might, but you also have to consider the level of competition and the fact that these are all very individualistic dancers...there is also the inescapable fact that faculty and administration might be looking for something specific at this time in the company. There are no guarantees.

 

That obvious caution aside, the residence life staff are very accessible and happy to discuss issues with you, the school staff will be very able to answer questions about academics, so that side of things should not be too vague. I don't know if you've been to the dorm, other than for pickup/dropoff, but the staff try very hard to involve all the kids (some just don't want to be involved, and that's fine too) and are always extremely good about maintaining contact with parents if you have any questions or concerns.

 

A great deal depends on your child's drive to do this and maturity level. There is not much to be lost by her staying at home if she's getting adequate training, and sending her for the sumemr and residency program next year. Some kids are ready to hop away from the nest (four hours is really just a hop) others need to be at home a little longer....

 

The important thing you need to keep in mind is that your information must be gotten from people who are directly involved with the school or have had students there for a while. Hearsay is no good, no matter how detailed or well-intentioned. You are the best judge of your family situation.

 

Very best of luck to her, whatever her choice!

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I would definitely speak to the head of her studio soon and get her honest opinion on whether a year away beginning this fall is a good idea. I think a great deal also depends on how extensive her experience away from home is, her academic aspirations, your own expectations of the situation, and your family's level of comfort with having a child away.

 

Please feel free to ask questions...you can reach me at bellafigura99@hotmail.com. As you see, I am also from Maryland and am aware of the distance involved--it's not very much, really!

 

[ 07-31-2001: Message edited by: Juliet ]

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Any dancers/parents have experience with the year round training (residency program)for SAB? I have tried to search this topic, but it keeps giving me only summer info. Moderators, feel free to move this post if it doesn't fit here. :D Thanks!

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I've had 2 daughters who attended the year round program at SAB. One for 3 years and the other one for 2 years. They both started year round at the age of 16. They both loved the experience and think it was absolutely the best thing for them. They both went on to professional careers.

They had 2 classes a day plus rehearsals. All classes were on pointe. They absolutely loved the teachers. Living right at Lincoln Center was such a great opportunity. They could attend the ballet all of the time and both had opportunities to dance with NYCB and did some dancing for other companies--like extra dancer parts with ABT.

One completed High School through correspondence and the other graduated from the Professional Performing Arts School.

Do you have specific questions that we could answer?

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Thanks for info. My questions are mainly about process for getting into their residency. I understand the audition process, but how often do they take students from audition that didn't attend their summer program. I have spoken with the registrar, but she wasn't too helpful because she didn't have answers. I think her role is mainly scheduling and clerical, but I could be wrong.

Those that had dancers at SAB year round, did you enter through a summer intensive or audition? I would like a heads up before the audition. :(

Thanks!

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I entered SAB via the summer program and stayed for two years.

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There are students who do not attend the summer program, but do audition in the fall and are invited to attend if there is room and/or if the auditioners are impressed. I think that much, as usual, depends on the individual and the individual's age.

 

SAB is much easier to get into in the Children's Division (see their website), at the B1 and B2 level there is a great deal of weeding out (and it becomes more difficult to get into)...many students do attend their SI when they are about 15 years old and make their move at this juncture...they could be accepted into B2 or the first of the C levels (here I am referring to the girl's program). It is not placement by age, per se.

Edited by BW

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I entered by audition at age 8 and stayed for 6 years. Since I was so young you probably don't have any questions for me but if you do I'd be more than happy to try and help.

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My daughers were both asked to stay after attending the summer course. But there were students in their classes who got into the year round program at the fall audition. The risk for the fall audition is that the dorm would be full. If the dancer has a place to stay in the city, it would not be as big a risk to wait for that audition. My girls thought that it was actually easier for dancers to be chosen from the fall audition. If there were openings, then there weren't as many dancers competing for the available spaces. Just their opinion though. But dancers got in, and got in even in the advanced levels from the fall audition.

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Great responses. I believe most of my questions have been answered. The last thing would be to know how they inform dancers of acceptance into the program? Since there is so little time between now and fall classes, I can't imagine they send letters out-or do they? Do they let a dancer know at the audition? (dd has an audition by appointment)

Thanks for all your help.

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