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Ballet Talk for Dancers
TinyBun

Choosing the right ballet school?

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Clara 76

There isn't any need for "stretch & Conditioning", "Leaps & Turns", or any other caca that some schools push as a way to get children into at least some parts of a ballet class without it being "too boring".

Classical Ballet demands Focus, Concentration, Patience, and the results are not immediate, nor should they be. Children ought to be dropped off at their ballet classes, which should be 1.5 hours long of nothing but ballet, as many days a week as possible, barring one day off for rest, and they should be told to go in, work hard, and focus. Too often I hear parents saying, "Go have fun!". Well, "fun" is an American word, and from a Classical Ballet standpoint, the "fun" happens when the dancer learns new skills, has new strengths, and begins to feel the progress her hard work has reaped.

That takes TIME. Lots of it. And ENERGY. Lots of it. In my opinion none of the schools you mentioned seem to be "good".

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TinyBun

Clara76,

Any particular reason that makes you think none of them are good? I appreciate any input.

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DanceMumNYC

I would choose the first school. The 1.5-hour classes are reasonable for a 9 yr. old. It's important that they place her based on ability and not just age, however. I eliminated school #2 because I don't think your dd would benefit from 1-hr. classes. Plus, I don't think each family should be choosing their own schedules. It's one thing if they said, "Take AT LEAST # classes per week." It's completely different if some kids are taking classes only 1-2 days and others in the same level dance everyday. I imagine the classes wouldn't be consistent in level of training and ability.

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dancemaven

Without really knowing the schools, how they teach, or how their students look or advance, it is really hard to say anything about the first two schools.  Clara76 has her doubts and as a very experienced Teacher-Moderator, I would take that opinion into serious consideration.

I would recommend that whatever school you choose—be it one of these or some other—that you take your DD for a class or two, get a feel for the school’s atmosphere, teaching style, program, and ask questions regarding the underlying philosophy of training and curriculum.  It is not very useful for us here in cyber-space to cast votes on which school an individual member should select.  We can, at best, only raise questions to be considered and explored.

Good luck with your search. :)

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BeaniesMom

Clara 76,

Thank you for sharing your wisdom. As a parent who says "Go have fun!", I thought I would share my perspective on what I mean as a parent by "Go have fun!".

The American word "fun" is defined as "enjoyment, amusement, or lighthearted entertainment." My dd takes 1.5 hrs per day x 6 days per week of nothing but ballet. There are no caca classes at her studio and their methodology is very "slow boil". I agree that a parent should not suggest a student treat ballet class as amusement or lighthearted entertainment or expect caca. When I tell my dd to "Go have fun," I am meaning for her to find enjoyment in the training - in the focus, concentration and patience it takes - because IMHO if the countless hours of focus, concentration and patience seem joyless that does not seem fruitful. There is a student at my dd's studio who finds the focus, concentration and patience of ballet training joyless and it shows.

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Clara 76

Try not to take this too personally, Parents. To clarify, as a teacher, we are dealing with such great responsibility to you and to your children, in an age of "instant gratification" where full sentences have been replaced by individual letters, and phone-screen relationships have nearly replaced human ones. We do live in a different world now, especially in the US, and it has its challenges. I am responding to a society who doesn't recognize the lack of self-discipline and how the general "psyche" is one of giving in to one's immediate "wants" rather than "needs".

One parent saying "Have fun!" to 1 child is not what I am implying is bad on an individual level; rather what becomes problematic is when it is a collective attitude, which impedes progress for elite arts, or towards any serious endeavor.

I was hoping to have a broader discussion happen, piqued by my post- not meant to indict individuals.

There are many, many threads about what parents ought to be looking for in choosing a Classical Ballet school, and there is a vast difference between recreational schools, and vocational academies. One of those differences is that the primary focus of vocational schools is on ballet- not on "tricks", which fall into the "instant-gratification" list. There isn't anything wrong per se, with schools or students who wish to be "recreational", so long as it's understood that is their choice.

Too often, if the research/time isn't put into making a choice, the dancer is the one shortchanged. So please bear in mind that the American definition of "Fun" isn't one that actually applies to the serious study of anything. The rewards of seriously studying a passion are not felt instantly, but can result in high self-esteem for the student, as they begin to see the results of their efforts. It is a change that happens inside their own brains as they begin to see improvements in their work, and it cannot come from outside. Hopefully, you can all find schools in your area where your children can accomplish whatever their goals are.

I just want for each child to discover their own gifts, and for each child to develop their own sense-of-self. That comes from hard work, serious study, and support from all involved. Maybe we ought to be checking with each school about their philosophy and how they plan to develop children within the Classical Ballet Vocabulary, rather than finding schools that parse or boil down ballet. Imagine if your child wanted to become a doctor- their choice was between a school that had excellent staff, a clear direction from the Dean, a comprehensive curriculum, and high standards and expectations, vs. a school where "fun" was the #1 priority???

We wouldn't even be having this discussion......

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pavlov

I think 2 performances a year would be more than my 9 year old would want to do. I would prefer levels based on ability rather than age. Not everyone 9 year old can perform the same.

Also I look for a ballet/dance school that is customer focused and oriented. I see lots of kids leaving our last dance school because parents were just treated like bill payers. Any concerns we raised were simply viewed as complaints. Without our money the school can't go on.

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TinydancersNJ

I like the sound of #1, my DD9 takes 1.5-2.5 hours of class a night, (1-1.5 hrs of ballet then some nights she also has Jazz or contemporary) so 1.5 sounds appropriate for their age.  Also, our school does a Nutcracker and spring ballet/recital every year and that gives them the chance to learn new dances twice a year and she seems to love that.  Also DD loved her experience at YAGP so I like that they don't rule things like that out.

On the side topic, I chuckled because my line every time I send my kid into class is "work hard, have fun" So I'm American but I want my money's worth! lol 

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