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cclw

Decision time

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cclw

My daughter, the 15-year-old incredibly late starter, was just admitted to a respectable year-round residential pre-pro program, and I'm realizing that this is now going to force some decisions on us. 

We'd already decided that her current high school was not going to work any longer with her intense dance schedule. But we were thinking of having her attend a very intense academic online high school  (Stanford) assuming she is lucky enough to be accepted to it. That would not work with this particular pre-pro program's dance schedule.  

This is how I'm thinking about the decision: It seems to me that this acceptance says that DD is good enough at ballet to seriously consider pursuing a professional career. The first question is whether that is what she wants to do. The second is whether this program is the best way for her to do it, and whether there's an alternative way she can do it while keeping her academic options open. We won't know about Stanford for a few more weeks, and at that time we'll have a bit more information. But can anyone offer me any thoughts in the meantime? 

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Eligus

cclw,

I'm not trying to be rude, but I'm not sure I clearly understand your request for advice/thoughts.  You posed 2 questions outright... whether your DD wants to pursue a pre-pro track and whether she can do it "keeping her academic options open."

I'm not sure anyone can answer the first question.  Nor can anyone give you any comfort on the idea of whether your DD is "good enough" to consider pursuing a professional career, if that is what you were asking (?).  Again, I'm not trying to be "mean" here, but we're ALL asking that question.  :P

As to the second question... are you asking people to give their experiences on what their DK's did for academics?  Your answers will run the gamut, so I'm not sure what you are seeking...   As far as an overview of academics, ballet students have been home-schooled, cyber-schooled, private-schooled, tutored, and attended public high school.  Or are you asking about the Stanford program in particular?   

 

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CVan

The only person who can answer the question of "whether that is what she wants to do" is your DD.  

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Noodles

cclw, I too am a bit muddy on what your question is, perhaps you are overwhelmed and didn't articulate it.

If you are asking about rigorous academics along with dance training then, yes that is possible. I think it is important to consider the personality of your child. 

For us, my DD15 is a day time dancer and does school online. It is hard, I will be honest. School is every single day, in order to keep up, including holidays and weekends. Finding downtime to hang out with friends is hard (a pretty rare occurrence).  My DD does learn well in this style but not everyone does. There are many homeschooling/online schooling threads you can search and read through for more information. 

That said, it was also one of the best decisions that we ever made and she is happy with it. If you can clarify your questions you will likely get better/more specific feedback. 

 

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cclw

Thanks for asking for the clarification. I'm really thinking aloud here, looking for people to help me think through my own feelings.

The idea that prompted this post  is that her acceptance after her very abbreviated preparation into this residential pre-pro program makes us rethink the outer limits of what may be possible for her. Before this, although I'd been told a professional career might be feasible based on how she was doing, I was skeptical. Am I wrong about that? These programs don't about people for whom a professional career is completely out of reach, do they? 

And again, I think she first needs to decide whether she wants to go all in or not, knowing that it's a gamble if she does. Then the question is whether this is the best way to approach it if she decides to go all in. 

I talked to a mother whose child just graduated from this program and is now in a university ballet program, and she was very enthusiastic about it, saying that it allowed her daughter more hours of dancing than she could ever otherwise have managed. But, gosh, it really would mean academics taking second place. So maybe I'm not okay with her going "all in" even if I suggest it is possible? 

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cclw

So writing this made me figure out the second half of my question: Do people think a residential program generally gives better results than a good local program? And do you think the benefit of a residential program might be greater for a late starter who theoretically has to make up for lost time? 

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ballet1310

ahhh.... there is no right answer here ... it depends on what program it is !!

I would see how many of the dancers from this pre-pro go into companies  ( you need to weed out the ones that don't want to and believe it or not, there are girls that train through high school and don't want to go into a company and they are very good, just not interested)   that may be a good way to start .  I can tell you are struggling with the academic apect, which we did also but ultimately for us, our dd had to do online schooling to get the training she has.    

 You can also  look at dancer bios online - this is very telling.  See where they trained and if you can,  tyr to figure out how long they were at each place  for training.  Some pre-pro's get girls at 16-17 and it looks like they trained there their whole lives but their primary training was actually somewhere else.

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Eligus

Ah... 

I'm not trying to put words in your mouth, but it sounds to me as if you may be struggling with the whole idea of ballet as a profession...?  But perhaps I am projecting, so let me explain some of MY struggles and maybe they will spark a recognition or a rejection.  A search for clarity is never easy, but always worthy of the effort.

When I finally decided to home school my DD (she was headed into 4th grade at the time), I faced a great deal of concern from my friends and family.  At the time, something had to give as far as the academic load versus ballet load was concerned; it was not healthy for her to continue to do both at the same "level" with regard to the time both demanded. She also needed to sleep and eat and relax.  To those who were concerned, it appeared as if I were allowing academics to take a "back seat" to ballet.  And perhaps that can be true.  However, that was not my perspective.  I didn't see "school" as the only vehicle to "learning/education" OR success (for that matter). But it took me a great deal of time to finally realize that position.

I don't want to make this post too wordy (and I worry that I do that often, so I'm trying to limit myself somewhat).  But it might be helpful to your decisions if you really try to examine your fears/anxiety for the future on behalf of yourself and your DD.  Identifying those worries may help clarify their own answers.

I am -- in no way -- making light of the decisions ahead of you.  It sounds to me that your posts are highlighting what many of us have faced and continue to wrestle with to this day.  A profession in the "arts" is a very, very difficult profession for a reasonable, concerned, loving parent to support because you know it will be fraught with uncertainty, insecurity and heart-break (along WITH the joy), but still... those negatives make it difficult to endorse that choice when the EASIER, clearer path is lying right over there in the academic success/outside world approval way....

 

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Noodles

I agree with ballet1310, you are really going to have to do some digging and research on your own to determine if this program is a good fit. There is a lot that can be learned by reading thru the threads here and asking questions. Obviously direct comparisons are not beneficial but those who have been down this path can guide you in what you should ask any residential program that you may be considering. I do not think going the residential route is necessary for all, some have very good training at their home studios. There are a lot of trade offs and only you can decided if your dancer is ready for that. It can't be only about the training, you also have to weigh the pros and cons of leaving home and evaluate your dancer's readiness. I think that if you go to the archived posts on the trainee/graduate program congrats thread http://dancers.invisionzone.com/topic/62779-archived-2014-17-post-gradtrainee-congratulations/     you will be able to see the paths that others have taken and it may be useful.

One of the trickiest things about making it to the level of professional is that it really can not be predicted. Some peak young and burn out or lose interest when they are passed up by the late bloomers, some sustain injuries that make them re-think their goals, some find boyfriends/girlfriends and decide they would rather have a normal life...there are just so many variables. I think you just have to take it one year at a time and see where the path takes you.

For us, I will admit that academics have taken a backseat. Not that they are not important, they are.  You never know when things will change and a dancer needs to be prepared for anything, but right now her focus is on training. She will still be prepared to apply to colleges and is setting her self up to be as reasonably competitive as possible, but her preference would be to go through a trainee program rather than taking the college route and we support that. School will always be there and will always be an option. My DD is a smart hard worker so I have no doubt she will succeed as a college student without any issue, even if that is a bit later than 18. It will always be there waiting for her.

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cclw

Thank you all so much. I appreciate your insights, and you've given me different ways to think about this. I think it was a shock to realize that DD was actually going to be in a position to make this decision, and it scared me. I thought this was just a great extracurricular activity, and it is, and maybe that's all she'll decide it's going to be. I've read a lot about schools and programs, but it was always as a fascinated observer/outsider. 

 

 

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Eligus

It can be very sobering when it's suddenly on your plate. 

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learningdance
On 2/22/2018 at 11:16 AM, Noodles said:

 

If you are asking about rigorous academics along with dance training then, yes that is possible. I think it is important to consider the personality of your child. 

For us, my DD15 is a day time dancer and does school online. It is hard, I will be honest. School is every single day, in order to keep up, including holidays and weekends. Finding downtime to hang out with friends is hard (a pretty rare occurrence).  My DD does learn well in this style but not everyone does. There are many homeschooling/online schooling threads you can search and read through for more information. 

 

This.  It.is.hard.  

And honestly, even if your child is very capable academically, you must have realistic expectations about the number of hours in the day.  

So, dd is in a boarding program and does online schooling with Laurel Springs.  She was identified gifted via test scores (only sharing to say she's a capable student.) She is a 10th grader and taking Honors English,  French 3, Chemisty, Honors World History, and Algebra 2.  When she is in rehearsal she dances about 20-25 hours per week.  She cross trains and does Pilates about 7-10 hours per week.  I set up a "Work Plan" each week mapping out assignments so that they can get done.  Our rule is all work must be done by Sun from the previous week. 

She was struggling with Chemistry.  Often the units require her to do hours (And I mean like 3-5) figuring things out. Which, of course derails her because her "budget" for a Chem unit is 2 hours.  This weekend she will probably have to do school 7-8 hours on Sat and 7-8 hours on Sun.  She always does school on the weekends but not always this much. 

I don't like that it all feels like a big chore or to-do list.  To me the rich and magnificient parts of learning are mostly left out.  Thankfully she loves to read so that's left in. She has to build in times to go and do and get out. 

Last weekend Dd had a fun visit from a family member. She was to get all her work done.  She did not get one thing done.  This week it has all built up and I was up on the phone last night talking to her about the freedom to manage her time and the responsiblity to complete her work.  She works every day of every break. She did not work on Christmas Day and took one other day off. 

I concur with Noodles perspective that you will have to make choices.  In fact last night, I was thinking about her schedule for Junior year. She wants to do it all but I have decided that she can handle 4 classes. AP English, Pre Calc, Americ History, French 4. When she applies to college she will likely be short a science class for the most competive colleges in our state. But honestly,  you can go to college at any age and ballet has a shelf life.  I think that for DD she will be at her peak for auditioning after her Pre Pro program. 

I guess if there is any caution about it I would say this. .. do not think, "Oh my kid's smart they can handle it. They can do it all. "  Pay attention to who your child really is and what they can really handle and do. And then be prepared to make choices and compromises about the academics. Be cautious about burnout--that's a career-ending injury. 

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ballet1310

just to put in another thought... nothing is permanent , if your dd goes to the pre-pro and it doesn't work out  with either dance or academics, she can always dome home... I think we forget that life is not a set path, it's ever changing and we don't always know the right decisions , we just have to hold our breath and jump

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cclw

So helpful. Thank you all. 

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learningdance

cclw, 

I think that maybe you, as the parent, need to think about what you feel comfortable with and then bring it to your DD. 

That said, we are doing the very highest academics that DD can bear, while staying sane,  and happy.  This is for her future and for her education, broadly. 

In terms of training, it comes down to  track record, what have the dancers who have gone through the program ended up doing? Do they dance professionally?  Local programs, even those called "pre pro" usually don't have a majority of students who have the goal of professional dance. 

For us, the advantages of the pre pro residential has been the training but also

-the cohort of peers, who are more talented and competitive than local students

-the expectations of the teachers, who are training people for the intensity and difficulty of the job

-the life skills that are acquired--what derails a lot of people in early professional jobs are life skills-- living with others, paying bills, cooking, managing sleep, eating right, handling injury, doing laundry, dealing with emotional distractions.

-professional environment-- It's just different when all the people teaching have had performing careers with major companies. They act in different ways. They say (or don't say) different things. 

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