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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Virginia School of the Arts


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kanisacollings

Hi everyone! We are moving back to the USA and looking for a good pre pro school in VA or NC for our daughter who is almost 14. VSA is a great location for us, but when I looked at the website under faculty only two women are profiled and both are modern dancers. Does anyone out there have first hand experience of this school? Do they still offer a good classical training? Who teaches ballet at the school? How many hours a day do students dance?

Thanks in advance!

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Does anyone know where the alumni go?

Are the academics at EC glass good enough to get into a good school?

I am currently attending a Residential program in California, but i feel it is not strong enough to get me into a good dance school or company.

Im auditioning Jan 7th!!! :)

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Victoria Leigh

Annie, what is "EZ glass"?

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I think I can answer that one; E. C. Glass High School is the public high school in Lynchburg, VA. It has a good ranking in academics in the state of Virginia, and has one of the better auditoriums for performance space in the town.

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  • 4 weeks later...

This is unfortunate but sadly not surprising. We have lived in Virginia for 16+ years and found out about the school by accident. It wasn't on the radar of DS' middle school or high school counselors or even the faculty at his dance studio. And it should have been. It could have been positioned to really meet the needs of students in the state who have only one magnet school for arts in the ENTIRE state - and you have to live in one of a few counties to attend it. And it was a great option for kids such as my DS whose county would not consider time release programs (which is why he ultimately had to go away.) Not only the artistic instruction but the easy transfer of academic requirements to the high school was a great asset.

 

Their location has also been problematic. I remember it was very difficult to set up an audition with them and they didn't do summer tours that were accessible, either. The one time we were able to set up an audition we couldn't make it through the literally long and winding roads because of winter weather! I do remember a trip to Lynchburg two years ago. Though DS was almost done with school we still made a point to find VSA. It was a lovely site set in an area of town that had really been revitalized. Sadly, the city itself was still quite repressed.

 

If they could move the school to a different location I think they could, once again, realize some success. It sounds like their decision is final, but I know that I will send a letter. Not that I expect it to make much difference but perhaps they might consider some options they hadn't thought of before. There is money in this state - you just have to now how to access it.

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It will be a loss, but it has been struggling for several years. Petrus Bosman was the heart and soul of the program and without him, the vision just really wasn't there. DD has very fond memories of her year there, her classmates, the RAs and her teachers. That year ushered in a change of direction and it wasn't the direction DD wished to go. Apparently, that change of direction didn't pan out for VSA.

 

It is too bad more in Virginia were not aware of the school. We are in the Midwest and knew of the school from the time DD was a pre-teen. Wonder why there was such a disconnect with its own State.

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I would only be able to speculate, but from my perspective in Northern Virginia, there is no focus on the arts so why would anyone bother to know about the school. I have to also wonder what VSA did in terms of outreach with the other counties, especially up north and around Richmond where there is more exposure to ballet and, honestly more money.

 

There are several magnet schools around the state. Each school serves several counties. The magnet school for our area is, of course, a science and technology school. That's our focus. NONE of my kids are remotely qualified for that magnet school. While VSA is a private school, and students have to pay tuition to the high school, the credits that kids are accumulating in the other Virginia school make for an easy transition since the diploma requirements are well spelled out. So any counselor doing due diligence with a student that s/he knows is interested in the arts should be aware of the school. I know my son was not alone in being in a school system not equipped to support his unique interests. I remember asking about opportunities in the state. This was to middle school counselors and deans. No one knew anything.

 

So it's really very unfortunate.

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I also have been in Virginia for over 10years and had only heard something small about this school. I don't think it was ever on the radar of the kids at DD's company school, and for something so close it should have been IMHO. I don't know why we didn't hear more about it...

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  • 2 months later...
kanisacollings

I saw that VSA still has an ad in dance magazine and so I wanted to briefly share my story and warn people to watch out. About two months ago I called VSA several times and spoke to the lady who is the head of all the non dance stuff, and she also does admisssions. I told her that we were flying over from France to visit the school and were considering relocating to Lynchburg and buying a house so that our daughter could attend, if she liked the school and if she was accepted. I asked this lady also about why there seemed to be a lot of staff turnover in the last few years, which I had gleaned from ballet talk. She gave me a very reassuring answer, and encouraged us to come for an audition.

 

I found out the day after my last call with her (the one where I explicitly asked about the health of the school) from the real estate agent that the school's closing had been announced a week earlier! So, this lady had completely misled me. Her name was mentioned in the local newspaper article regarding the school's closing (she disagreed with the trustees decision) - so she definitely knew! She felt no need to share with us that the school was closing even though she knew that we were coming all the way from France and considering buying a house! I left her a message about her lack of transparency and she never replied.

 

You will notice that I did not write the name of the woman who basically lied to us. It may be that other people there are honest, but she has an important role there and my guess is that she is part of the problem.

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  • 1 month later...

Kanisacollings,

 

I speak from experience when I say that the people running VSA are not honest about what is going on at their school. My daughter was a student there this year and I would like to share a bit of her story.

 

Long story short... we sent a beautiful, talented, loving and innocent girl to VSA in August of 2010 and have gotten back a broken person who is a shell of what she was. She was thrust into an environment that was unhealthy and unbeknownst to us, a situation where drug and alcohol use was seemingly a normal thing for most of the students to do. Eating disorders were encouraged and smoking as well... We signed a no drug/no alcohol policy at the beginning of the year and also put strict limitations on what our daughter could do when not attending school at E.C. Glass or dancing. As far as we knew, she was only going out with groups of VSA students and curfew was strictly enforced. What a joke. We have since learned that students were sneaking out of the dorms at all hours or sneaking people into the dorms, that alcohol and weed use was par for the course, and that perhaps the people in charge of overseeing the care of these children were, if not part of the problem, at least turning a blind eye to everything that was going on! The stories don't end there and perhaps I've said too much... needless to say, our child experienced things there and had something happen to her that no person should ever have happen. Her innocence is forever lost and I'm not being overly dramatic when I say that. The woman of whom you speak was apparently too busy trying to promote a sinking ship to be aware of what was going on with the kids whose well-being she was intrusted.

 

My daughter no longer wishes to dance because she equates the dance world with "corrupt and evil people" as she put it. How sad... But that really is unimportant because her father and I are now faced with a broken person who will need years of counseling to overcome the experiences she went through at VSA.

 

Let this be a cautionary tale to any parent considering sending their son or daughter off to a residential dance school. No matter how good the school, in the end a child is safest in their home environment where they can receive the love, care and guidance of parents who have their best interest at heart. I guess you have to ask yourself this question... Is it going to be worth it? No one can or will look after your child better than you can.

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jackie:

 

I want to personally thank you for sharing your very heart wrenching story. I am so sorry that your daughter had such a difficult experience at VSA and hope that in time she will be in a good place. I have no doubt that you and your husband carefully processed the decision to send her away. This story is important for all of us, who are constantly weighing decisions about our children and their future. We do the best we can. None of this is easy. I wish you all better times ahead.

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dancemaven

jackie, I'm so sorry that was your DD's experience at VSA. It was not my DD's, but then pretty much the entire staff has turned over between her year there and yours, which was a number of years ago.

 

It is possible to heal from a bad dance experience (been there, done that), but it requires a nurturing, careful environment that is inspiring and trusting. Best wishes to your DD and your family.

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