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BelaNina

Introduction/Experiences with new schools?

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BelaNina

Hi. I'm a mom of a dance student who will be 9 at the end of the summer. Dd has been taking classes at a community dance school. She started when she was 4 taking the once a week "pre-ballet" classes, which were great fun and involved a lot of leaping and twirling about with scarves :D.

 

For the past two years, she has taken "level 1" ballet and jazz classes (she started a bit young - 7 y.o. - at this level, and so stayed there for 2 years), which have been fine and fun for her. The emphasis at this school at her age is more fun than technique (technique and discipline seem to be fairly low priorities, in fact), and she has developed quite a love for dance. After her most recent recital, though, she and I have realized that if she wants to pursue dance (and she does) that she will need to change schools. She loves ballet and jazz equally, but understands that good ballet technique is crucial to developing good jazz technique.

 

In our small, artsy town we have many schools of dance available to choose from. Three are ballet focused schools, so we narrowed our list to these. One school is focused on producing lavish costumed performances twice a year, and as another dance mom informed me, if your child gets cast as a tree stump, she works on little else than achieving essence of tree strump for months on end. So, we crossed that one off of our list.

 

We are now left with two choices: The company school which has a very good reputation, and a small start up school. For whatever reason, my dd has decided she does not want to even consider the company school. So, we have visited the small start up, have attended their recital, and I have spoken at length with the owner/director (who has Julliard, SFB, and Royal Academy - is that correct? on her resume). The owner/director seems quite lovely and sweet, and one of the things I loved about their small recital was that she herself danced a solo - and was infused with joy. I couldn't help being swept up in her performance and smiling ear to ear along with her. My intuition says this is the way to go.

 

My practical side says, but why not go with the company school which is far less of a risk?

 

 

Any thoughts? Comments? Experiences to share? Any insight is appreciated. :)

Edited by LauraGG

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Victoria Leigh

Hello LauraGG, welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers :)

 

This is a tough question, as of course we do not know the new, smaller school. It could be a very fine teacher for children, but we have no way of knowing. The company school is, of course, the safer bet. However, I am curious as to why the child is not interested in that school?

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Guest Saji

Hi LauraGG! READ THE FINE PRINT!! If there is a minimum class requirement ask questions on that! Last year I made the same transition for my daughter. Our experience has been that the class requrement went up according to what she was performing. Also.....make her eat a well balanced diet, all the time. Also, read some of the feedback from my postings and you'll get a very good start. Be sure though to talk to the parents who have experience with the school. I didn't do that and was in for a shocker. Good Luck!

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Redstorm

LauraGG: Can I ask what part of California you are in? I live in Northern CA in the East Bay (Near the Walnut Creek area)

If you are anywhere near me, I can give you some insight as to what is available.

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BelaNina

Thanks for all the replies! I read Victoria's message, and left with dd for town. As fate would have it, we ran into a friend who had been in her ballet class this past year. This friend is going to move to the company ballet school in the fall. She had been there for the fall season, as a performer in the Nutcracker, and then had come to the community school for the spring session. She and her mom really noticed the difference in level of instruction, so off they go!

 

My daughter asked her friend what the company school was like, and her friend told her that the teacher is more strict, but she's very funny. My daughter liked that description, and agreed to try a few classes there this summer. So, we're going to try out both schools this summer (Yay for summer!), and make a final decision together sometime in August.

 

Redstorm: We're in Santa Cruz, so not quite close enough to your neck of the woodsfor me to benefit from your wisdom in this area.

 

Saji: I did read your other thread, and wow! You and your daughter are so busy! We would not be able to accomodate that kind of schedule at this point. I have an 11 year old son who needs to be driven to places too :wink

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dancindaughters

Hi LauraGG, I just wanted to welcome you. My younger dd is almost the same age as yours. Your dd is very smart to recognize the importance of ballet at her young age. My advice to you is to research both schools, perhaps asking to have your dd take a trial class (may need to be a summer program class). My dd is attending a professional ballet schools summer program; she was resistant to this at first because she felt that she would not be good enough to keep up with this schools year-round students. I'm very proud that she has mustered the confidence to give it a try. I think she will be inspired by some of the wonderful teachers and older students there. And I know that if we do choose this school for year-round training, it would make it less likely that we would need to make a change again in the future, as this school can offer enough classes and classes of a quality to get students to a professional level.

You seem to have a good feeling about the new school, so don't discount your instincts. I would however caution you to ask the director LOTS of questions about her future plans for the school. Five years ago I had signed my dds up at a one-year-old studio; the owner was well trained in ballet and I assumed the school would have a ballet focus, but it turned out to be very focussed on jazz and competions. I learned the hard way (and was backed up by what I read here!) that competition jazz training is not too compatable with serious ballet training. So, a new school can be a risk, as it is somewhat of an unknown quantity.

Good Luck. :)

edit: whoops, posted at the same time as you! It sounds like you have a good handle on things now! I like the way you plan to make the decision TOGETHER. We are in kind of a similar situation here. I would love to hear an update on what you decide later in the summer.

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BelaNina

Thanks for your reply, dancindaughters. It's nice to know there are other parents on this board with children the same age as my dd. I was a bit self conscious being concerned about her dance training at this age. I'm so glad I found this board, because it seems that I'm not a neurotic parent! :D She is at the age when good training is really important.

 

When I was growing up, I took piano lessons from the neighborhood teacher. Little did I know what poor instruction I was receiving until, at the age of 16 after having played since the age of 7, I switched to a pre-professional level teacher. She saw that I had enough talent underneath all my bad habits, so (thankfully) accepted me as a student. But I had to go back to 5 note scales, and slowly work my way up to working on advanced pieces. What's worse, to this day, I still struggle against the bad habits I had practiced for so long as a child. They creep up on me when I'm not paying attention. Those motor patterns we lay in as children are very strong. I got to thinking about this as I've watched my dd dance these past few months, and started talking to my daughter about my experience - a story she is thoroughly sick of now :D. But she really got it, and is excited about embarking on a new dance adventure.

 

I am attracted by nature to small, intimate schools. Maybe it's because of my background as a classical pianist, where the student has one on one attention from a teacher, and develops a bond with that teacher. I don't know. I do know that the small, start up is all ballet focused. They do have one jazz class available, and after seeing their recital, I can confidently say that jazz is not where their teaching skills lie (ahem). The ballet was beautiful (at least to my amateur eye). I'm happy that she's willing to try both schools now, though, so we'll have more confidence in our decision. It has to be decided by both of us, really, because she knows how she feels in class, and I know how to look at the bigger picture (at least I'm trying to learn what to look for in the bigger picture, anyway).

 

I'm glad to be getting the benefit of all the information on this board!

Edited by LauraGG

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BW

Hi LauraGG, I'd like to suggest that you take a look at this thread on Cross Talk: Evaluating a Ballet Program It might take you a while to read through this thread but it's full of very helpful information. :D

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BelaNina

Thanks BW! :innocent:

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