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balletmomoftwo

Changing Schools; switching programs

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BW

sierramadre, I think you might find a thread/topic that we've made a "sticky" on the Cross Talk forum very helpful. It will certainly give you food for thought - and your daughter, too, if she hasn't already read it: Evaluating a Ballet Program. This is a long thread that is has a great deal of very helpful information that's been compiled over a good length of time - and it's still open for "business".

 

Looking forward to hearing more from you down the line. :)

Edited by BW

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sierramadre

Just a brief update on this! :)

 

Dd has now taken 2 classes at this school#2 and is absolutely thrilled! :D She likes it much more than her old studio. She describes the athmosphere "much more professional, ambitious and inspiring" so I think she has found her place. These classes also worked as an "audition" to help her new teacher to place her into right level. We used to live in a much smaller town and her studio down there couldn't offer as good training as this one so the students of dd's age group are somewhat more advanced. She will be placed on the level where we though she would be but she has to take also lower level classes during the summer to strengthen her technique. Luckily she's really motivated to work, work, work and face some new challenges!So... So far so good! :D

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Happy

Ms.Leigh, I have a 14 year old daughter that has danced at a competition studio for 11 years. Well, known studio around the country but known for Jazz, Tap, etc., in a competitive field.(you know the type of studio!) My daughter dances year round, 5+ ballet classes each week, plus all the tap, jazz, palates, solo, small group,etc. Ballet teachers are male dance teachers, one from the Bolshoi and one that still dances professionally here in town.(Great background but haven't danced point?)

Last two summers SI at UBA, offered spot in year round program after last summer and she turned it down. She will return again to UBA this summer. If she is not offered the year round again or if my daughter decides to turn it down, what would be you recommendation for studios in the MPLS St. Paul area. We really should have changed studios a couple years ago, and have recently discovered that we have had our fill of the competition life we have been living. ( This board has helped my husband and I realize that. Thank-you!)

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Victoria Leigh

Happy, I moved your post from the Young Dancers board to this board, into an existing topic about choosing a new school.

 

I will check into the schools in the city you mention and see what comes up!

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Victoria Leigh

Happy, from what I find, Ballet Arts Minnesota looks like the most professional. It is directed by Bonnie Mathis, a former very fine ABT dancer.

 

You might also look into St. Paul City Ballet, and Minnesota Ballet/Classical Ballet Academy. The links on the St. Paul City Ballet did not work, and I was not particularly impressed with the MN Ballet website, however, checking them all out in person would be a good idea. :wub:

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kdr

I’ve been reading a lot of posts today, trying to find an answer to this situation, and although I’ve read a lot of great information that is guiding me, I thought I better post and see if I could get some specific advice.

 

My dd is 15, has been dancing for 10 years, 7 with the same pre-professional school. The school is also home to a pre-professional company and she has been a member of that company for 3 years also. She has attended SIs the past 2 years and has received positive feedback, So here is the rub: dd is still not being cast in pre-pro company pieces. In four pieces being preformed this fall she is only in the corps in one piece. She is covering all three other pieces. So this means she attends all the rehearsals and no performance. We are talking a time commitment every night until 9 pm, all day Saturday. So here is/are the question (s):

She loves to dance, she wants to dance ballet. Should she take these casting decisions as an indication of her “potential”? Should she ask her AD this question (touchy, because she can’t question the casting itself. But can she ask if the casting is a clue to her potential or lack thereof? Actually as I write this I realize my daughter is one of the lucky ones. Probably a good dozen of the girls are only in the big piece, they aren’t even covering, right. But maybe they are lucky ones cause they aren’t there until 9pm. And this probably would be as big of a deal if/when she was 13 and 14 but at 15 she’s getting worried.

 

All her classes are pretty big (about 25-30) with such a range in “advanced” ability. I think the benefit of the SIs have been to separate out some of these levels and get corrections and learn and grow. I don’t think she gets much individualized attention. Before she was in this advanced level her classes were often 8-10 kids. She has loved her SI experiences especially the teachers, always seems to bond to one or two. Maybe it’s just not a good school fit with what she needs right now? How important is the pre-pro company if your not performing parts just covering them!

Edited by kdr

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Sal

Two questions, for you, kdr: Is your daughter newly promoted to the advanced level and/or is she young for her group? Are the girls who are cast in more pieces older or more advanced than your dd? Maybe she is just at the in-between stage where she is advanced enough to be in the higher class but not seasoned enough to dance the more difficult roles. The fact that she is covering/learning other parts is a vote of confidence and is well worth her time and effort because she may actually get to perform some of them if someone gets sick or injured.

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mini cooper

kdr,

 

When you refer to "covering" parts do you mean understudy?

 

I don't know how big the company is, but if she is being asked to understudy, and her peers are not, this is a big deal. Last spring our pre-pro company had quite a number of injured dancers due to an interesting array of things. Understudies were in.

 

It sounds as though your dd is getting good training or she would not be faring so well at her SI's. So much goes into casting that has nothing to do with the dancer's ability. I would hate for you to base your decision solely on being dissatisfied with casting.

 

Unfortunately, casting is always a hot button issue. But, asking for feedback at some point when you're not upset about casting could be in order.

 

At the end of your post you pose the question:

 

"How important is the pre-pro company if your not performing parts just covering them!"

 

You must consider this in relation to what else is available to you. In a school associated with a professional company, a child is not likely to get much stage time at all.

 

Learning the parts does prepare your daughter for later when she will perhaps be cast in them. Moving to a school where your dd is a larger fish may not be the answer either. There is a lot to be said for having mentors and peers. Being a top gun feeds the ego, but could lead to overuse injuries, and all kinds of other problems.

 

I am certainly an advocate of finding the right fit for my kid. We changed schools nearly two years ago, and have never regretted it. However, in that situation, casting was far from the list of issues.

 

I'm sure others will pipe in. This is definitely a process of discernment. Good luck to you. :shhh:

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kdr

Well that is part of the problem, her peers are in pieces she is understudying. I guess the question about the company is the amount of time the company takes vs the "reward". It limits any other dance classes like modern.

 

And the is there an issue of if she is in the middle of the pack in her classes and she doesn't have a teacher she "connects" with is it time to look at other prepro schools?

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Balletmom

I detect that the main question is that you and/or your daughter don't feel this school is the right "fit". Based on the feedback from the SIs, her home training must be good, and it would seem her SI instructors see potential in your daughter, so I tend to think the casting decisions are not an indication of a lack of potential. I would never advise changing schools based just on casting decisions, as so much can factor into these things, but perhaps if she doesn't feel quite connected to her teachers and comfortable with the larger class sizes, this has affected her dancing somewhat. With my daughter, even subtle emotions can affect how she dances on a given day, although she's learning (at 18) to deal with this. At 15, it may not be so easy. I would advise to at least explore other options. As for the time commitment, my personal bias would be to use the time to take more classes if available, as rehearsal time is good, but class time is even better. :shhh:

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syr

I think the is no "one" indicator, but there are a range of clues as to whether you are in the best place possible. By now, with the SI's, your daughter probably has a good sense of the level of technical training she is getting. But it sounds like she is also getting a sense of to what extent they are "taking an interest in her." And this IS much more than a matter of casting. If she is aiming to try for a professional career, to the extent that she can achieve it, she will want to work with teachers who take an interest in her unique potential - who will bring out the best in her gifts.

 

I do think think that long days and weekends to "cover" parts in a "pre-pro" company is a problem to the extent that you mention she might otherwise devote time to other study - and if it is taking a way from her core classes???

 

A contrasting example, when my daughter was at Houston several years ago when Level 8 and Houston Ballet II were one and the same, and it was still a level of around 30 (I think) students, there was a lot of performing, but a lot of it was in-studio -- schools coming in to watch, or outreach. But with A + B casts, ensemble pieces, lots of performances, most without the fuss of full costumes, major long full cast rehearsals, etc -- By being in that sort of Pre-pro company - someone like my daughter who would not get solo roles, but understudied them on occasion, was often cast as part of duo, trios, ensembles, etc. --- would get a ton of experience learning reperatory (sp) and lots of different kinds of performance experience. At the same time -- she had great enthusiasm for her main teachers, and felt they were interested in working and bringing out the best in her, and helping her find employment .....

 

I guess my point is - in a "right" setting, you don't have to get the top roles to be getting great experience. Meanwhile you can probably trust your/your daughters gut attenae as to whether there is a genuine interest in her or not (as long as you don't try to figure it out during a "down or stagnant" period). And of course, that can change in a flash with a new teacher in the picture, a break through for her, etc.

 

I always think it is luck and intelligent seeking combined to land where you should be. It sounds like it might be worth your exploring and evaluating a little.

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kdr

Thanks for some really good advise. Daughter said tonight she really wants to feel like she is good at something. She said she's just not happy. She wants to dance, but thinks she needs some time to investigate other options and being in the pre pro company doesn't give her that. I think I'll take some other advise I heard on this board and let her drive (make the decisions). This is her baby. Thanks!

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Momof3darlings

Very good kdr! Let her lead you. There has been alot of good advice here given to you. I will add one more bit, just to be devil's advocate. Sometimes, at home, a student knows their "place" in the girly-girl pecking order and lives up to that "place". Since I don't know your DD I can just speak from the experience of one of mine who has felt the same way from time to time. In her case, the lack of connecting was as much her as it was the school/teacher. In other words, she didn't give off the vibrations that she "wanted or needed" nods of approval and therefore didn't get them. I say this only because SI teachers don't know about the pecking order and just start each student off as equal generally.

 

Certainly if she wants to remain, a conversation with a teacher to discuss her "questioning" might be in order. (not casting, I don't touch that!) Or even just making a point to engage conversation with a teacher after class possibly to seek help for something specific that happened in class every now and then would help put her in a position to feel more connected.

 

Whatever she decides, she will make the best decision. You're right to trust her with it.

 

vj

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Tuesday

Ugh, I just found this thread. I didn't precisely know all the details of the changes last year, though I wound up hearing a lot of secondhand stuff when I was around the studio.

 

A year later and nothing has really changed in terms of how the director interacts with parents.

 

It is too bad that our options in our town are so limited. I am not sure what we will do next year.

 

Why did I move back here from Portland?

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popballet

It's interesting to read this account of what happened in Dancesinhersleep's studio. It is so similar to a situation we experienced. I have to admit that things didn't change until the director left. I would be interested to hear how you handled your exit and how things are going at the new studio.

It is also my opinion that one should never vent before leaving. Generally you end up looking like a troublemaker (even if you came forward on behalf of other parents and the complaints are valid) and many of those same parents will abandon you in a flash.

Besides, you never know exactly why these changes have taken place. It could be coming from higher up in the company and the school director is possibly just a distressed, yet unable to control the direction in which the school is going.

Who knows, maybe things will change dramatically in the near future and you will want to return. It is best to not burn bridges.

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