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I can say my DS loved Ellison.  There were 12 year olds and they had a blast.  My DS went at a very immature 14 and slightly more mature 15.  He did it two years in a row and made life long friends.  He did the Jr class and the Sr class and both years were amazing.

But honestly any program with a lot of boys is great.  Any time you have specialized boy classes and a group of boys who can hang out outside of class and cheer each other on IN class, is just magical.  That's one thing I really loved observing boy classes at Ellison was that they were really helping each other be successful, but honestly I see that other places too.  Boy dancers seem to be pretty supportive of each other and especially if your DS doesn't have a lot of boys around him year round, it is great to go.

Also agree with Mln to not read too much into scholarships.  I remember our first year audition, DS did not get a scholarship to HBA and some well meaning girl dancer dad said "awww better luck next time", as if the assumption is boys always DO get scholarships.  In our family we do actually follow the money, I won't lie, but it's also based on the feeling of the audition class.  For example my DS flipped for Mr Ellison in his first audition class with him and scholarship or not, that was where he wanted to go. 

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Coniger, I did review Ellison a few years ago, my son went at age twelve. It was good program (though I don’t know I would describe it as “a blast”, he was the only 12yo boy there and got along well and enjoyed the training but he definitely felt young) and it’s laser focused on ballet (they didn’t even have any Pilates or conditioning let alone other dance styles etc). My son did not stay in housing, and my biggest thing I would say is that for a 12yo, realize that the program doesn’t provide a dorm experience like some do. There is no food plan, the chaperones seem lovely but they are moms of students,  and it is a block of rooms rented in a hotel. It seems like a lot for a 12yo to manage. Maybe not your kid, but it would have been for mine. Especially since the training is focused more on the older kids. 

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Nynydancer.  Thank you for the more accurate description.

[. . . .] 

And Ellison is an excellent boys program which does offer other classes such  contemporary and character and strength and conditioning.  So, it’s not true that they don’t offer any other classes..  And it’s a program where both junior and senior boys have their own variation classes which is unique for a summer intensive.   I shouldn’t have to defend the program on this thread but oh well, here I am  

 They no longer use a “hotel” but a student housing only designated for students.  And the chaperone can be all the time or not  they do help with shopping and doctor appointments.   A good friend of mine is an actually year round chaperone and I would never imply that she is just there to get a discount.  

Edited by dancemaven
Removed second-hand information per BT4D Rules & Policies.
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Posters, please remember that we deal in first-hand experiences only in these threads.  We do not repeat/recount or give second-hand experiences because we are a discussion group and if folks have questions, we want factual information to support our perspectives.  Information gleaned from “telephone” type discussions is not really useful.  :wink:

Secondly, please remember that no program needs “defending”—and we do not permit folks to take issue with someone else’s experience.  Each member’s experience is their own and comes from their own perspective.  Each experience is valuable and we welcome ALL reports—the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Different folks have different perspectives depending on their experience, needs, wants, expectations, etc.  It is up to members to make the evaluations of whether a program meets their own personal needs, wants, desires, etc based upon the facts folks provide in relating their experiences—-which is the reason we deal only in our own personal experiences.

Lastly, please keep in mind the purpose of this particular thread:  to share particular information pertinent to boys specifically.  Please do provide an actual review of attendance at whichever SI on the Research & Review thread and then come here to add a link.  It will help other Parents of Boys in researching the various programs.  This thread is not intended to be a substitute for participating and adding experience/information to the main Research & Review threads.  :)

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I think we lost the post that started this conversation, but I'm going to forge ahead anyway. 

Programs that are perfect in one person's eyes will not be perfect in another's.  And what seems like a crucial component of training one year may seem less important a few years later. 

There are definitely years when my dancer benefited from having serious contemporary, jazz, and modern instruction and performance opportunities at his ballet intensives.  These experiences made him a more versatile dancer.  The programs I really appreciated for this breadth were Miami and Houston.  I think that, at both programs, the contemporary choreography for the guys was very challenging.  PABallet also had contemporary performance opportunities, and the men did a contemporary ballet in the Company Experience week.  PNB did not have contemporary.  I am having trouble remembering the schedules for other programs. 

What I think is less helpful is the way some s.i.s have one or two slots per week for something non-balletic, and they switch it around a lot so that the dancers are just trying out styles, jazz one week, flamenco one week, Horton one week, etc.  I think it is more valuable when dancers are asked to learn a style or technique in more depth.

Also, the three programs I mentioned made sure that that non-ballet choreography was appropriate for young men.


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My point is Ellison does offer contemporary and character.  And a very excellent class in contemporary.  

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Perhaps I missed some responses to my post, I have no intention of writing anything about a program that would require someone else "defending" it. I also specifically directed what I wrote to one poster who mentioned sending a very young student from overseas, and that was what I was thinking about in what I wrote. In fact every year I write a much more detailed review of the programs my son has attended, despite the fact that, as the parent of a boy in ballet, I know full well this means that I can fairly easily be identified (or at least, my son can be). I also link to the reviews of boys thread. I have benefitted greatly from the information I have gotten on this board and I always try to pay it forward. As I said there (and here), my son did not stay in the housing at Ellison, so I can't say more than that it is not what I consider a typical dorm setting. And Melody78 I stand corrected in that they offer contemporary (ballet) and character, but my son has attended programs where he took jazz, theater, modern dance, hiphop, pilates, yoga, etc., and prepared for performances. This might be something a particular student would care about or not, but that is what I meant about being very focused on ballet. This isn't a knock on a program--- being very focused on ballet could be a exactly what a student wants. For example, my son's year-round school is very focused on ballet training with very few performance opportunities until they are very advanced, which is overall a great fit for him (though probably he wouldn't describe it as "a blast" either) and so for him, getting a little more breadth in the summer can be a good thing. He didn't feel it was important when he was 12, but then at 13 and 14, one of several considerations was being at a program where he would get the chance to perform on stage. 

By the way, this summer my son, now 15, will be attending a program where he will stay in a housing situation that won't provide meals, but I would not have felt comfortable with that at age 12.


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Now that perspectives have been explained, let’s move on, folks.  

Back to the topic at hand.  Information about specific programs  that is not solely specific to a boy’s perspective belongs on the Research & Review threads. 

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My student had a roommate who took jazz classes at Broadway Dance last summer on the weekend.  NYC is not short on quality classes in other genres if one is interested, hip hop tap and broadway musical dance.  My DS is focused on classical ballet but knows it is necessary to have a good solid contemporary class( which Cody Berkeley does provide at Ellison)  in order to get work in the ballet world.  True that all students are looks for different summer  experiences and .  I understand a lot of students want to experience different dance classes but ellison is excellent training for those who do want to focus in vaganova classical training. My student also studied at another vaganova program in another major city three years ago  they offered jazz and contemporary but it was optional to take tap and hip hop at the other school which rented the same space.  

For that matter,  first hand experience, SFBS also offers good boys and men’s  training but I don’t believe hip hop or tap  was in the currriculm but I do believe students can go to ODC or Lines for those classes on their days off  if they found it is imperative  to the summer experience   As any major city can supplement classes if they do some research.  Sfbs does offer excellent training for those who want to focus on classical.  Again great camaraderie there as well   And they are providing new housing next fall for year round  

I will say that having the variations at the junior men’s level  at Ellison was a great experience last summer.  Students ages in his class ranged from 13-17. And they were very supportive and had great camaraderie.   


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Okay please let me add this one more thing about Ellison -- they had hands down the best ever character class I have ever seen in my life.  The teacher really stressed the "bravura" that boys need and too often hold back on, especially younger teenagers because they don't want to be "cringey".   For me, I think his character class was the highlight for me to watch and it did cause a breakthrough for DS.  Boys need to be taught to act like MEN and be macho or even loving or handsome prince like if it it calls for it.  And yes, at Ellison DS first kissed a girl (on the hand) because the choreo demanded it.  I was amazed he went through with it and not embarrassingly.  Amazing program!

Again though, look for the programs with specific boy programs or many male teachers.  SFB was pretty good for DS too, but he only has done session 1 and it wasn't quite enough and he didn't have the deeper bonds with the other boys as he did at Ellison or Master Ballet Academy. 

Master Ballet is like Ellison in terms of style and intensity, but were fewer boys and a younger average age.  But they have a many male teachers who are superb and some outstanding boys, and some astonishingly good girls to partner with.

DS did a visit to Houston and thought it was a good boys environment and he will go there this summer.  I will give you an update.

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  • 4 months later...

DS is currently doing the Boston Ballet virtual SI. He's almost finished the second of 5 weeks. He seems to be getting a lot out of it. I have been very impressed with the level of communication since early spring because of COVID. 

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