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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Pre-professional Schools - Finding a Good One


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I want to apologize for my last answer, where I tried to address things that other posters brought up. It didn't do a thing to get us back on topic. Sorry about that. Still -- just what is a "pre-professional" school?

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A pre-professional school is one wherein the students are on track to become a professional dancer. This would be a serious school where students are required to take several technique classes per week, etc.. as opposed to a dance studio that does competitions, teaches "tap, toe, baton, & hip-hop". :)

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And some will even correct the term "pre-professional" and say it is a misnomer!

 

A professional ballet school is along the lines of what cricket said, plus, I believe, one which has a history of students who go on to dance professionally in ballet.

 

I'm sure as the day progresses into evening we'll have many more more official opinions posted. :)

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A pre-professional school is one wherein the students are on track to become a professional dancer. This would be a serious school where students are required to take several technique classes per week, etc.. as opposed to a dance studio that does competitions, teaches "tap, toe, baton, & hip-hop". 

 

The term "pre-professional school" is one that is commonly used by parents and students as described above. I know there has already been a discussion about this, maybe two years ago but I cannot find it. I will summarize my thoughts on the topic...

 

Many professionals working in ballet schools that have a goal or mission statement to train dancers for a career in ballet/dance find this term, pre-professional to be a bit lacking in quality. We teachers are professionals. The schools are run professionally by professionals therefore the schools are professional schools for students pursuing a career in dance.

 

The discussion of pre-pro perhaps is refering to the students who study in the professional ballet schools but it should not be a reflection on the level of teaching in the schools themselves. :cool2:

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I don't think any parent who truly cares to educate themselves about dance education would dispute that the teachers at these schools are professionals (and certainly that's what we seek out). But I do find the "pre-pro" term helpful (and yes, I do regard it as referring to the students). It's helpful to me because it has proven a very accurate litmus test for schools. When we were searching for a new school last year, all I had to do was call and ask if the school had a pre-professional track. If they didn't even know what the term meant, they didn't have one. No more questions to ask!

 

conversely, if they said they had one, but then went on to ramble about their record at competitions, again, no more questions to ask.

 

Besides, "pre-pro" has such a nice alliterative punch to it!

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Yes, I agree with Chauffeur. I think parents have always understood the term "pre-professional" to mean the students, not the teachers! I find the term thoroughly appropriate and informative. :rolleyes:

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Perhaps the term 'Professional Ballet Preparation School' would be more accurate.  Then, all the students could be referred to as Ballet Preppies! :flowers:

Or "Pro-Ba Preps." Then we'd really start separating the wheat from the chaff if we start a whole new language. :rolleyes:

 

although, "Pro-ba Preps" does sound vaguely like a colonoscopy, doesn't it?

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And given that no more than 150,000 people live in a radius of 150 miles of here, there are not a heck of a lot of ballet students—much less those interested in going anywhere during the summer. Therefore, there’s not a lot of incentive for the teachers to stay on top of things. They’re probably all just hanging on by a thread.

We have about 65,000 locally and probably about 100,000 within a 150 mile radius in "cowboy country". :D

 

You mention "incentive" and that is a very good point. However, I also think that the perceived incentive and actual incentive might be very different. If they made the info available or at least asked if there was an interest, they might be surprised at the answer. Perfect example with the Nutcracker. Since we found out on a Thursday, only a few kids knew about it that were at the studio that day (no classes on Friday). Some students with early week classes also had Thursday class so knew. But many from before Thursday did not know and were very dissapointed when they found out. They would have wanted to audition. Those that did audition of all ages and levels, were selected. There was lots of incentive there.

 

Won't get into details but I can think of another situation in the 2002-2003 school year where one particular performing group was left out of many opportunities. When the Moms got together and asked why, the director said with surprise "Oh! I didn't think the parents or kids would be interested in that much involvement so soon!" Perfect case of thinking there was no incentive to ask or inform.

 

So naturally, I have to wonder just how many kids would be interested in going away for an SI if only they knew. The attendance is always very high for the local studio sponsored SI and it seems as though it's over too soon for most of the students from the comments I hear.

 

On another note, thanks for the Nutcracker info! They only come to our town every 2nd or 3rd year but perhaps next time I can help raise awareness so that more dancers will have a chance at this opportunity.

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Before I found Ballet Talk, I hadn't given a thought to whether a school was pre-professional or not. But as I saw the references here related to many different topics, I took it to mean a school with a main focus to train dancers for a career in ballet/dance.

 

I don't think a school that has a history of dancers that go on to dance professionally is necessarily a pre-professional school. A dancer could be associated with a particular school because that is where they spent most of their life growing up. But once they choose the path of professional dancer may have had to go elsewhere for some real intense catching up for a couple of years. Where will people remember that they came from? The school they went to for 12 years? Or the school they went to for 2 years?

 

Sorry cricket, I don't agree with your defination of determining whether a school is pre-professional or not. Every discipline has a need for professional dancers. I surely wouldn't want to argue that the "Gregory Hines" in this world are not professional dancers. Schools of the same caliber are required to train dancers to the level of professional dance whether it be for a career as a ballet dancer or tap dancer as opposed to catering mostly to the "recreational, I Love to Dance" students.

 

Professioanl Prep, as balletbooster mentions, does seem to be more accurate.

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Prism, my "definition" was referring to ballet only. :o I believe a serious student of ballet needs to be in a school where the main focus is ballet. Of course, modern, jazz, etc.. are fine to also take, but if the student wants to become a professional ballet dancer, they should attend a school that focuses on ballet. Of course, if the child wants to be a professional tapper, twirler, etc.. then they should attend a school that focuses on that. :shrug:

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I don't think a school that has a history of dancers that go on to dance professionally is necessarily a pre-professional school. A dancer could be associated with a particular school because that is where they spent most of their life growing up. But once they choose the path of professional dancer may have had to go elsewhere for some real intense catching up for a couple of years. Where will people remember that they came from? The school they went to for 12 years? Or the school they went to for 2 years?

 

I don't believe that this is necessarily a fair statement, albeit sometimes true.

 

My school is a small school but I do have the ability to train dancers to a professional level. I believe that advanced dancers’ choosing to leave to a company associated school isn’t necessarily from the lack of training where they are, but the hope of future employment. By moving to a company associated school they can be evaluated for a period of a year or more by the powers that be, instead of one audition. If I can train and mentor dancers to a technical proficiency to make it into a company associated school at age sixteen or seventeen, don't I deserve some of the credit?

 

I think a line should be drawn. At what age did the students leave the their home studio. Prior to age 16, most schools are looking for decent training and potential. The ballgame then changes once the dancer is older.

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I absolutely agree with you ToThePointe. There is a great school in Utah that has turned out numerous corps, soloist and even principal dancers, that also places great emphasis on other forms of dance -- jazz, etc. And though I do think that good ballet training provides the best basis for success in other dance forms, I would think that just because a studio might predominantly turn out jazz dancers, it shouldn't mean they can't also provide excellent ballet training.

 

I decided to try to start a thread just about this question -- mostly because I think there should be a way for the general public to identify the many professionals out there -- and I'm tired of seeing badly-trained kids.

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