Lina

Joffrey Ballet's Academy of Dance

143 posts in this topic

Wow, thanks so much for all the wonderful information! It is just what I needed. Can I ask a couple more questions of you? My daughter is 13 and was placed in level 5. Given that the level 6 kids are mostly high school seniors would it be correct to assume that many spend several years in level 5 before moving up? Also, I am very happy to hear that your daughter was able to be involved in other high school activities and get to some dances, etc. Was it difficult to work that out with the school? What is their policy regarding absences? I can tell by the schedule that dance would conflict with nearly every school dance, chorus concert, etc. I would not be asking for a lot, but, like you, I would love for my daughter to take part in a few school events and maintain friendships outside of dance.

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There was an 8th grader in level V this year, according to DD. This was the first year for that. I wonder if they are moving to change the levels a bit. When DD started there was only level V for high schoolers. Level VI added two years ago maybe, if my memory serves. More dancers are coming thru the academy ranks now as the program ages, and the academy reminds us at every evaluation that a student may spend more than one year in a level. I have to say that while DD was there, it was the first time people didn't really obsess about levels. I don't know if it was because it was high school and everyone had the same parts in shows so there wasn't that competition of who will get better parts because of certain levels or what. The focus here is the training, all the levels get what they need, the quantity of classes and quality is there, that is what is important. DD started getting into high levels at intensives and the more prestigious intensives. So, she saw when she went to auditions that she was in the top 10%, that she had the technique and the ability to pick up choreography and corrections better than before attending Joffrey.

 

According to attendance policy, absences are excused for mandatory academic requirement. band and chorus at our school are academic classes and therefore excused. If she didn't go to a band concert because of Joffrey classes she would have gotten an F and her grade lowered. the school social dances are always Saturday nights, so she was able to attend. She was in band and had to perform at some football games for a grade so Joffrey excused her for that. My daughter was invited to dance in Spain with the Orchesis group, so Joffrey excused her for that. If a student has excessive absences at Joffrey it is noted on the evaluations. There are many dancers in AP classes and sometimes people call in sick to Joffrey when they have excessive homework. one mom told me she tells Joffrey her daughter has too much homework. I, personally, never let my daughter skip because of homework,she made this commitment and knew she needed to juggle it. She has an hour 15 min train ride and I pick her up every night for the hour ride home. Time to do work then.

DD had to work the social scene because she was out of sight a lot at school, not being available after school. She is outgoing and was able to make her mark.

I hope I answered your questions. Let me know if there is anything else.

 

Anna and Alexei, the AD's are simply amazing.Their teaching style really resonated with my DD.

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Kiwiwdancer, thanks again so much for the response. It really helps to have first hand information before we make any decisions! And congratulations to your daughter!!

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Ballerina2001, No problem and thank you! When you get enough posts feel free to PM me.

 

Joffrey Academy has their spring show this weekend The Blue Bird of Happiness. Includes level 3 thru Trainee and DD says it is amazing. Conceptualized and choreographed by Alexei Kremnev, AD, based on a book. The Academy had the dancers watch the Shirley Temple movie of the same name.

First show is tonight and DD says it is amazing! Costumes, scenery, contemporary choreography in a story book setting is how DD describes.She says it is the best spring show yet.

 

The academy has an amazing costume designer. Parents are impressed at every show that he designs, constructs these amazing creations. Some, with a contemporary edge. Maybe find the Facebook page for the Joffrey academy, they usually put pictures up after performances.

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Kiwiwdancer- I hope the spring show went well this weekend. I was looking over the current year's schedule for levels 5 and 6. Can you tell me when they would do rehearsals for nutcracker or the spring show? Are they during regularly scheduled classes or do they rehearse after scheduled classes on Saturdays or something? I am just trying to get a good idea of the hours involved. Thanks for all your help!

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ballerina2001..most of the shows rehearsals are during regular classes. Closer to the performances they add rehearsals on Saturdays after the classes. So, instead of ending at 1:30 on a Saturday, end at 3:30 or 4, depending on how much work they have to do. Sat. afternoon rehearsals also allows trainees and different levels to rehearse together.My DD has a job on weekends and was most always able to get to her 5pm job, and we live an hour away. I don't know what you are used to, but DD was used to hours and hours of rehearsals at the local studio, for simple choreo. I feel Anna and Alexei know how to rehearse the dancers efficiently. there are at least 3 casts for the shows. Cast A is rehearsed the most and perform in the evenings and the show Ashley Wheater, Joffrey Ballet AD, attends usually Thursday night. Cast A typically performs at every show, cast B and C split up the rest of the dancers needed in a show. So, if cast A has 6 out of 12 Polichinelles of level 5/6, dancers of cast B perform the other 6 parts usually for 2 or three nights and cast C the other two nights. The casting for pre-pro seems to be who is picking up the dance quickly and veterans. Some pre pro have only danced one show, particularly if they aren't getting the choreo. I suppose it also depends on the amount of dancers they have available as well. Casting is set right before the ticket sales, about a month before the shows. So, the pre pro are working on the choreo far ahead of the casting.

And, yes the show was fabulous! next spring is Sleeping Beauty, they did it DD's 1st year, so it will be new to all of the dancers. That was a beautiful show. And just so you are ready, the sets are basic, the shows are in the black box theater, which is a class room that has a pull out set of chairs on bleachers. Comfortable, but the audience looks down on the dancers. they perform at the auditorium for the Women's Board Gala, which is always nice.

The program has evolved so much since my DD started. Every level has grown from the tots to the trainees. I am sure it will continue to evolve and change as it expands. DD's first year any absence needed a doctor's note, so kids were coming in sick and spreading illness. DD didn't miss one day that year. They eased the attendance since then. So, the management of the program is changing as they discover the needs of it's students.Realizing most dancers are first full-time students and all the challenges/requirements of that. A lot of dancers come from a North Shore high school that makes it possible for the kids to leave school around 1pm. I think they don't have to take gym due to the dancers physical activity. However, our public high school requires gym unless you are on a varsity team. So, my DD starts school at 7:30 AM, ends at 2:50 (no study hall so she could be in band and choir), immediately gets on the train. And many times a week arrives at school at 7 or earlier to work on things or talk to teachers and prepare for tests. it's a long day. i am proud of her commitment to both school and dance. And she's not an academically oriented person.

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I have a younger child in the Children's Division, not yet in pre-pro. We have participated in the Company's Nutcracker production. Remember, the Academy is only about 5 yrs old and they have grown a lot in that time. They are very focused on training the children when they are young to move up the ranks.

 

I also saw the academy production of "Bluebird of Happiness" this past weekend. The creativity in the movement (choreographed by AD Alexei Kremnev) and costume/set were great. It was a very simple scale production but it really showcased the talent of the academy. It was enjoyable for family. The talent was evident from the "little stars" - level 3 to the leads (trainees).

 

We have been happy there for the most part. They have had some changes in upper management that caused some odd teaching choices...but over all pretty good!

 

Most of the level 5/6 classes are taught by Anna/Alexi and the other ballet classes are tought by Jennifer Robinson (formerly of Ballet West) who is an amazing teach that the kids related more to.

 

kiwiwdancer - was your daughter part of the "big stars?" That was a beautiful scene with the dress. I also loved the forest - those younger students put their all into those roles.

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Thanks kiwiwdancer. That is so helpful. In comparing programs am I noticing some have more extensive weekend hours than others, and I just want to make sure I am fully prepared for the time commitment before we make a decision. Congratulations to your daughter again on a successful show and completing her time at the Academy!

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kr12...Yes, DD was a big "star" she loved the part. The younger kids did a fab job and looked like they really enjoyed it.I was so impressed. I actually like that the production is on a smaller scale. We spent 6 years at one of the local studios where each production, particularly Nutcracker, took so much time from the dancers AND parents, that it became all consuming and the competition for parts was ridiculous. One could see the parents start working certain teachers so their kids got primo roles and where roles were decided based on what the parents contributed as far as "volunteer" work.

 

Ballerina2001...Thank you so much! know that every school has its pros and cons, you must see if you can live with the cons, because you know you can live with the pros.

Also, a very cool aspect of Joffrey Academy is that occasionally a sub for ballet will be a company member and the dancers are so excited when the likes of Fabrice or Victoria Jaiani are teaching. The V/VI have also had special master classes with a "Billy Elliot's" Mom, who has an elite school in Canada, when "Billy Elliott" Broadway Production was in town. Or David Hallberg, at ABT at the time. Guanchen Fu, reknowned in China and Europe, will be teaching this Friday. it doesn't happen often, but when it does it is very special and much appreciated but he students.

KR21 is correct, there have been a couple teachers the dancers didn't really enjoy as a whole, but in four years that is a pretty good track record. Plus, Anna or Alexei really teach the bulk of the V and VI right now kr21 is correct,, so the consistency is there.

 

An email indicated new faculty for next year, so you might want to call and ask if that is a concern for DD.

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Ballerina21...The past three years for DD at Joffrey Academy have had no partnering for V/VI. Maybe level VI had it the first year level VI was introduced. Right now there are 2 14 year old boys who are obviously not ready to partner. In a parent meeting Alexei was asked about the lack of partnering for pre pro and he felt the girls at this level were not ready for it, that it wasn't necessary at this point. The trainees partner extensively and they feel that is the time for partner training. I honestly don't know if that is a good or bad thing.

 

Management holds parent meetings about once a month or two on topics of concern to dancers and parents. Like nutrition, summer intensives, pointe shoes. Some of the meetings seemed to be geared towards the younger dancers, but usually Anna and Alexei attend and are there to inform and answer questions. All students from the little ones to the top levels are welcome to attend.

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Ballerina2001, DD said faculty is changing next year. Jennifer Robinson, who taught the level VI pointe, will be off to college. Sounds like YAGP is on the agenda for next year, It has been that every two years a select few students, pre-pro or trainee, were chosen to compete. It didn't seem to interfere with the students not chosen for YAGP. There seems to be more changes in store next year. I would recommend contacting the academy if you have specific questions or concerns.

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Can anyone provide an update on Joffrey Academy Chicago-pre pro and/or Trainee? Per video submission, we just received a full merit scholarship to the SI with a note saying they would be happy to assess my DS for year round and Trainee (which was actually the reason for submission). Thanks in advance.


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My daughter is in the pre-pro program. We have been happy thus far. Do you have specific questions? I can try to help, but my daughter is in the lower levels of the program.

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Kr12 thanks for the reply. In the interim, we flew to Chicago and my DS spent 2 days taking class with Alexei (2 day audition). He was subsequently accepted to Level 6. He very much enjoyed his classes and seeing the school. The staff were all very nice. In the end, he is taking another offer. :)

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pbs - I'm happy to hear your son had a good experience! Congrats to him on his offer!

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