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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Pre-professional Schools - Finding a Good One

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We will have Elaine Bauer(PNB), Karen Brown(Kansas City), John Magnus and Judy Rice (Joffery). We always have a great and inspiring time!

2dance, my son has had Judy Rice at a local SI two years in a row. He has been the only boy and youngest in the class. She works them to the bone but also manages to throw in some fun towards the end. My timing couldn't have been more perfect last year when I had decided to quickly check on my son through the observation window (not to mention that I love to watch her classes off and on - it's like eye candy for parents. :wink: ). She had them turned around in the studio with their backs to her accompanist. She was all business, giving instruction on a piece of choreography, making them growl like a pirate. Meanwhile, her accompanist was putting on a pirates cape, eye patch, and hat. The music started, they danced, and when the part came where they turned to face the accompanist, he jumped out at them from behind the piano and growled like a pirate. Of course they all screamed and then busted up in laughter. They got to work on this piece for the rest of the last day of class and although they were all exhausted, they left with a renewed energy and great memory to take with them. it really put all the hard work from the previous days into perspective for them. it was awesome.

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I've had Magnus and Rice as teachers during Joffrey's Flint, Michigan SI, and They are very inspiring teachers. Both make classes interesting and challenging in their own ways--Rice is more extroverted and fun, Magnus more analytical.

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  • 1 year later...

I'm new to all the talk about pre-professional training. We've been told our dd, 11 years, shows talent, and I've read a few posts about studios in North County San Diego that might be worth trying. However, some posts are more than a year old. Is there a website with a running list of accredited studios, or is there some accreditation process period? Otherwise how do you know the training is what your daughter needs? :)

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Would that there were!


The best way to "audition" a school for suitability for your student is to go there and ask to observe a class. If the advanced students look like professionals, compared with live performances, or even videos, then they are probably on the right track.


Accreditation of dance schools is a whole other topic, and fodder for an entirely different, potentially HUGE thread!

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Oops, sorry. :) I didn't realize. I really am new to this entire world. I just assumed because serious academic teachers are subject to accreditation, that this wouldn't be any different. Re. observing, heavens! I know nothing about what it "should" look like, so I'd be easily fooled. Also, there's the question of a studio or school telling you something, either good or bad, about your daughter so that you'll enroll. It seems that putting everything in the hands of a professional accreditation board would relieve us parents of having to investigate something most of us (I suspect) know very little about. Is there any guarantee if the teachers used to dance professionally, or do we have the same problem in ballet companies? I mean no disrespect, honestly asking. I mean, someone who used to dance in a below-average ocompany or danced only a tiny bit in a good company isn't necessarily going to make a good teacher, right?

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So many things to consider.


Is there any guarantee if the teachers used to dance professionally, or do we have the same problem in ballet companies?

Well, no. Some brilliant dancers are not such great teachers, and some less-brilliant dancers become brilliant teachers.


If you look at the Summer Intensive (SI) discussions, you'll see that other parents share your dilemma: how to see what's good and what's not.


I do agree that Mel's recommendation is best: if you observe upper-level classes, it should be somewhat clear even to the untrained eye what looks like a pre-pro program and what doesn't.


PS Edited when I saw that you already did a search on San Diego and resurrected an old thread.

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I would start by looking at schools that provide sufficient classes to meet the needs of the preprofessional student.


If you look through the threads on appropriate schedules for different age groups, you will see that the advice for preprofessional students is that they should be taking five to six days of class, with technique class a minimum of 1 1/2 hours, once they have reached an intermediate level.

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fendrock makes an excellent point! Go over to the Cross Talk forum and take a look at the threads that start with "Class Schedules". You can find these by going to the bottom and alphabetizing the threads by Topic Title.


Then, browse around the Pre Pro forum and the Parents forums and read all that you can about what makes schools good. You will find lots of wisdom in all of these threads. If you have specific questions, post your questions on an existing thread or start a new one.


If you can share the area where you are located, we can also suggest pre-pro schools in the area that can be recommended by other Ballet Talk users and/or our faculty moderators. There are lots of threads on finding ballet schools on the Pre Pro forum as well, listed under titles that begin with "Ballet Schools."


Best of luck to you! This is a great place to come and learn about good ballet training. Most of us started right where you are standing! :) And we understand how bewildering it all can be!

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Thanks for your understanding, balletbooster. I will follow your suggestions. We live in Temecula, CA. I have searched that and found nothing about it, but perhaps someone has ideas. The Danse Conservatory in San Juan Capistrano looks marvelous, but I'm not sure I can get her there in time for a 4:00 class on school days. :)

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I see that Lexicon gave you several suggestions within driving distance on the Ballet Schools in San Diego thread. Perhaps one of the others is close enough to accomodate their schedules with yours?


I would try to visit as many as possible and observe some classes. YOu will start building your knowledge base by observing, interviewing school directors and asking lots of questions. This is far more complex than most of us realized when we jumped in with our children. :blink: So, don't feel like you must figure it all out today or that you will not make any mistakes. It is said here often, but that is because it is soooo true: Ballet Training is a journey! :o

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Nancy T105- I had the same dilemma trying to get my daughter to class on time a couple years ago as well. My solution was to get her into an independent study PE. The school scheduled her PE for last period and she got out of school an hour early.

She still got physical education credit because she was dancing so many hours each week. I kept a log of her hours, her ballet teacher signed it monthly, and I turned it in to the principal of her school. I know many schools have such programs for not only dancers, but athletes and musicians as well. Just an idea.

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One suggestion I could offer when learning what to look for is that, yes, while there could/should be older dancers (ages 15-18) dancing in a manner that would strike you as darn close to professional, don't be seduced by a school with younger dancers (especially the under-12 set) who seem to be dancing at an advanced level (most of them on pointe, doing lotsa pirouettes and fouettes, etc.). In fact, I personally consider this a warning sign that a school is bringing the kids along too quickly when I see this. To me it says long term development is being shortchanged because at these younger ages, IMO, what you'd like most to see is a really good handle on the simple stuff. I also like to see youthful enthusiasm shining through in what they do, and not pseudo-adult seriousness.

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Re. observing, heavens! I know nothing about what it "should" look like, so I'd be easily fooled.


I'm no expert on what to look for when observing a class, but some things might jump out at you so I recommend at least watching for the obvious. At my dd's old studio, one of her teachers actually sat cross-legged in front of the studio and called out directions to the dancers from there. She rarely moved about and corrected the dancers. So I'd consider something like that a red flag for poor training. It's the #1 reason we switched studios.

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Try and get your hands on a copy of "The Parents Book of Ballet" by Angela Whitehall and William Noble. It is a good book and well worth the price $19.95US. It is in its second edition and will give you a very good idea of what to look for in a ballet school and teacher.

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Great book!! The first book I read when I realized my DD daughter was truly more serious about dancing professionally then I realized. She had just attended her first SI. Two years later DD, at 14, lives at a Residential Ballet school. So....Good book for the parents of the young dancer especially.

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