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San Francisco Ballet School

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Cbenjj --

In addition to The Monroe, have you looked into Hayes Valley Inn?  I believe they accept boarders (including long term?), but I am unsure about the cost.

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At least in a boarding situation, that would give you and your DD "time on the ground" to research options. 

I know that when I looked for housing options last summer, I was blown away by the cost and apparent lack of housing anywhere.  I was also frustrated trying to do research on line.  I thought maybe living there for the short term would make the research easier, so I considered renting an Air BnB option for the summer to be there for 2 months and researching the housing in person. 

But I live on the East Coast and have other kids in play, so after much family discussion, we decided the newly minted 17 yo was old enough to handle the Jackson House (especially given the cost of housing in the SF area).   We used the summer as a testing ground for her living on her own.  It worked out for us, but I empathize with the stress and frustration. 

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You pretty much do need to be present to effectively search for leased housing.  You must visit the listings to be sure they actually exist and are habitable.  And you must be ready to commit instantly.  “You snooze, you lose.”  The more ‘affordable’ or desirable a listing is, the more competition to secure it.  It is a search not for sissies. :wub:

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Out of I interest dropped into the office at the Monroe this morning (am staying there right now!) and asked about younger people staying there. They are very accustomed to hosting unaccompanied 15 and 16 year olds.they have also had groups of 12 and 13 year olds. Sounds like they get many young dancers. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

I've read this entire thread. I want to clarify that the only housing provided by SFBS for upper level students accepted into level 7, 8 or Trainee is Jackson House? It accommodates approximately 25 people and costs about $10,000/year?


I see that the SFBS website says that the Trainees that Housing and Tuition are free.

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Yes I believe that is the only housing offered that’s why I’m looking into relocating as an option. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

SFB is high on our list for next year as a possibility.  I am starting the pre pro school search in earnest this time.  DD is almost 13 and will be starting 8th grade.  I am not hearing good things about SFB for the girls, although DD really enjoyed some master classes with Tina Le Blanc.  But then I read they are trying to change things?  How is it now??

I have heard that SFB is very intense and kids have to constantly prove themselves.  We've met many lovely SFB girls at various intensives and master classes.  The biggest complaint I have heard is that the training is slow, and then the kids who started in the program get weeded out, because outsiders come in with more developed skills.  

Are things getting "better"?  Are more kids making it all the way through the program??

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Nynydancer, those “I heard”s are pretty common for top quality, exclusive pre-professional ballet schools.  They are all slow-boil and competitive by nature and it is rare that someone goes from start to finish at such a program.  A dancer’s training needs change; programs have narrow foci, etc.

It is more helpful for one to evaluate a program based upon what each individual dancer needs at any given time and determine whether a school’s culture, program, philosophy, etc. fits that dancer/family’s needs at that particular time.  The “I heard”s may provide areas for inquiry, but they do not necessarily apply to each and every dancer or her/his needs.

You will need to define what “things getting ‘better’” means to you and whether that includes the retention of large numbers of dance students through the majority of the training years.

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I agree with Dancemaven.

From my personal experience with a 17 yo DD, your description of the "I've heard about SFBS" matches every other pre-pro school that she's experienced or that I've researched.

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Dancemaven, Eligus, et al

My thoughts exactly. . .  .Ha! I was actually thinking that but didn't want to write it.  In all serious pre pro programs that I know, there is a weeding out and there is constant sense that your position is never fully secure. And I really think that they like it that way.  Keeps everyone on their toes. Who has the drive? Who has the energy? Who has the resilience? Who has the passion? Who wants it more? 

I guess that's kind of what it's like in a company when you are not a principal or a soloist. 

These schools are schools that generate revenue for the company and so, you are the consumer. All they guarantee you is training, in their style, from their teachers. 

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I will ditto all of the above comments - It is usually best to enter these schools at a later age 16-18 .  It takes some digging but look at company member bios and you will see it is unusual for a dancer to have trained at the same school since age 13.

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As far as SFBS itself is concerned, I think what we are all saying is that whether or not this school works for your DD will be an individual, yearly decision...

But I think we all sympathize with Nynydancer's search to find "the" fit.... unfortunately, it is not a "one and done" decision... at least in my experience.  It was (and continues to be, as learningdance warned) a yearly evaluation from about 12yo and on up.   And that yearly evaluation goes both ways, by the school/company and by the dancer/parent.

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Ok guys, sorry for the vague “I heards” but I’m obviously not going to name names. The people “I’ve heard” from are parents of sfb students (and ex sfb students) and an sfb guest teacher, and an ex sfb employee.  I’m uneasy about investing a year into sfb to see if it suits our needs unless I can find some more positive sounding experiences. 

By things are getting better, I thought I read here that there is an effort to adjust levels and keep kids all the way through the program.  How is that working?

Is there anyone whose young DD is thriving at sfb? Can you share? What kind of dancer is successful there?





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My dd has at least four friends who have gone or are in SFB's year round program.  One of them trained her entire ballet career at SFB and is now in the company.  One began around level 7, progressed through an apprenticeship and is now in the corps. Another jumped from school to corps.  Most recently, one girl entered the school at age 15 and is now a Trainee.  I also know of another dancer who trained at SAB, graduated, went to SFB for level 8 and is now an apprentice.  I'm not sure what this tells you but it does seem that more of the dancers started at the school at age 15 or 16.  I only know of the one instance where a dancer started and finished with SFB.

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For our purposes of sharing, “I heards” are second or third hand information regardless of their source. 🙂

We are glad you are seeking first-hand experiences here.  As Elgius says, ultimately it will be an individual assessment each year whether any particular school meets a specific student’s training needs.  You are very right to collect first-hand information from as many first-hand sources as possible so that you can evaluate the facts and experiences in light of your dancer and family’s needs, wants, and wishes.  Happy fact gathering! :thumbsup:

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