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Ballet Talk for Dancers
Michelle_r

Boston Ballet School

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dancekitty

what kind of style does boston ballet teach? vaganova, balanchine, cecchetti, etc? is it very classical, or sort of a mix of several different styles?

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yankee

Formerly Vaganova, now more or less an international blend.

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dancinginthesnow

Boston Ballets website says that the height requirement for the company is 5'4''. Does the trainee program follow the same requirement?

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oliveoil34

No.

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maclan

My DD, age 12, is currently dancing at a small but strong ballet school in New England and is getting a lot of attention and wonderful performance opportunities. We are considering a switch to a bigger-named, preprofessional year-round school, thinking she may benefit from being in an environment with a larger body of students who are similarly focused on a preprofessional career track, and to broaden her experiences and opportunities. Wanting to keep her as local as possible, we have been considering Boston Ballet. We find ourselves hesitant, however, due to some comments we have heard thruout the past couple of years about the Boston Ballet school, from parents at summer intensives and from teachers who have worked there in the past.

I notice that there hasn't been any recent activity under the Boston Ballet preprofessional program thread, and that the school has had changes in directorship since the postings. Reading the summer intensive threads, the SDP seems to be an excellent program, but I am interested in the year-round experience. I would love to hear from any parents, teachers, or anyone who has had or has experience with the intensive track training as it currently is, to share their experiences. Any first-hand current information about the year-round program would be much appreciated!

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flygirl

maclan--

My 16 yo DD has been at Boston Ballet School since she was in pre-ballet. There have been so many changes over that time period that I'm not even sure if our experiences would be helpful! I see you don't have enough posts to PM me, but if you post some specific questions I'll do my best to answer them here.

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maclan

Thanks, flygirl!

It's probably a good sign that thru all of the changes in the past few years your DD continues to dance there. I guess more specific things I'd like to know is, has your DD had an overall positive experience? Is she in the prepro track and interested in ballet as a career, and, if so, do you/does she feel like she is getting solid and aggressive enough training and guidance to get her there? How does she think she compares to other students when she goes to summer intensives in terms of her training? As a parent, do you feel like you are respected? Does your DD feel like she gets individualized attention despite the large class size? How strongly do you feel politics plays a role in casting decisions, and do the students get opportunities to dance with Boston Ballet company? Do the teachers in general seem enthusiastic and take an active interest in the students?

Yikes! So many questions...Any input would be greatly appreciated!

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flygirl

I'll try to answer these questions candidly from "where I sit right now"... warning--- all very subjective!

These comments are in the order of your questions:

 

Yes, she has had an overall positive experience. Frankly, she has grown up there and it is pretty hard to imagine a different scenario. At times it has been a love-hate relationship.

Not all teachers have been terrific, but there have been others where words of praise are not enough.

Several mentors stand out. I must say she recently has been recovering from a pretty substantial injury and the support and encouragement from all levels of BB has been terrific.

 

Yes, she has been in pre-pro as soon as it was possible to so so. As in every school the training is what you make of it. BB will press you to train as hard as you can. I feel like the challenge has been balancing that temptation along with normal teenage social and academic H.S. life. That is for every family to decide.

We are looking at the college/conservatory/trainee dilemma after she graduates next year so I cannot weigh in on that business yet!

 

The past couple of years she has attended SFB for the summer. There's one thing---She was frankly very unhappy that she had not had the amount of pointe work from BB as others had in her level at SFB. She would tell you herself that she felt the year round students from SFB in her level were better trained and/or talented. However, she has always fared well at auditions for S.I's and has had good options from which to choose.

 

Yes, I feel I am respected as a parent. There are times where I have had to step in where I felt like they did

not respect my daughter's other commitments, however. Ballet has always come first for her. Sometimes parents have to be the bad guys, I guess.

 

She has never (that I remember) complained about a lack of individual attention.

 

Once the girls get above the 5'2" mark it is rare that they would be in a BB production other than Nutcracker.

Maybe I am blind, but I have not been aware of politics in casting decisions. It seems to me that they either like the way you dance..... or they don't!

 

Last question is a toughie. The teachers are human, but they all seem pretty dedicated to me. Suffice to say some have better social skills than others. Some fancy my daughter, some don't. That's life. My DD has learned a great deal from BB in as well as out of the studio.

 

It hasn't been perfect.... but I know she wouldn't trade it for the world.

 

I'm happy to answer other questions...

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oliveoil34

Flygirl... you were very diplomatic!

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Momof3darlings

Thank you flygirl for sharing your perspective in such an open manner. I'm sure many parents will appreciate your information and your viewpoint is a good way for us all to look at our dancer's instruction: a little good, a little not so good, a good bit in the middle, a few problems but not overwhelming ones otherwise, we'd look elsewhere. Each person will differ on each of the points presented, but having one person's perspective goes quite a long way.

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maclan

Yes, thank you flygirl for your very informative and honest perspective. Again, the fact that she has stayed there and wouldn't trade her experiences for the world, says a lot.

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flygirl

You're quite welcome. Everybody's experiences/ viewpoints ARE different. I framed my answers in a very subjective manner as the LAST thing I would want is to come off as some kind of authority on the very complicated institution that is BBS!

Good luck on your quest. Hopefully some other parents/students will chime in with thoughts and suggestions.

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balletbabe

Flygirl, I am interested in your comment about BBS staff and faculty support during recovery from a substantial injury. Could you tell us more?

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balletgirl22sk

When my youngest dd had knee surgery in late Feb, the school just had me stop paying monthly until she can come back. She has visited a couple of times since her surgery so she could talk to her teachers who have all been supportive.

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flygirl

Regarding BBS's support for my DD's injury this year:

 

The best and most important thing they did was encourage her to take time off and heal. They understood that observing class would have been painful and counterproductive as sitting was torture. Her teachers and the head of school told her of other's success stories dealing with injury. These hopeful stories stopped the world from crashing down. They assured her that her "spot" in her level was being saved, and they reinforced she should listen to her body.

 

After 3 months of anti inflammatories, rest, fabulous PT (referral from BB made this possible), and a back brace .... she was cleared to start slowly adding ballet classes. Happy day!

 

The head of BBS let her piece together a schedule that she felt up to doing week by week. She started with lower level classes and was allowed to leave after barre. She added classes each week slowly. Added pointe slowly. There were days she intended to come, but then felt too tired. They trusted her and communicated that was OK. Eventually the brace came off. The teachers were constantly encouraging her.... without pushing her. Three more months and she was back in her regular level... stronger than before.

 

Hard work, luck, and patience were the ingredients for a successful recovery, of course.

Some parents and dancers may read the above and think , DUH, OF COURSE ....any school will be supportive

of that injury recovery process. Unfortunately, that is not always so and you cannot take it for granted. Frankly, I don't think it is always like that at BBS. In the case of my DD's injury, however, I felt we were in good partnership with BBS.

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