fendrock Posted November 23, 2004 Report Share Posted November 23, 2004 I just finished reading Attitude! Eight Young Dancers Come of Age at the Ailey School, by Katharine Davis Fishman. Fishman is a psychologist and reporter. Interested in the topic of talented youth, she followed eight Ailey School students for a year. (These students were in high school at LaGuardia or elsewhere.) She writes as someone who is neither a dancer nor the parent of a dancer. The book is full of interesting observations as well as references to studies of dancers and other talented youth. I learned, for example, that La Guardia High School auditions 1500 eighth graders for 66 places, and that they “sometimes admit children who have never dances and reject children who have studied for 7 – 10 years.” She muses that “talent and motivation are inseparable,” that dancers are motivated because they like to do what they do well. In thinking about what traits are necessary to succeed as a dancer, she learns that it is “easier to pick out raw talent in untrained dancers…than it is to predict which [advanced students] will end up in the First Company.” She refers to studies that show that talented teens are more likely than their peers to be “self starters,” and that it is also important for those with talent to be able to “apprentice” themselves to an inspirational teacher. One especially interesting study she discusses followed SAB students over a four year period in which the dancers either found work as dancers or stopped dancing completely. The study showed that “the dropouts had more deviant eating habits and more injuries, and unlike their more successful late-maturing peers, they tended to reach puberty at an age considered normal, thus losing the preferred ballet shape.” This study also showed that those with one or more “minute” anatomical variations were also more likely to exit the dance world. This group of high school dancers considered Julliard, Boston Conservatory, SUNY Purchase, NCSA and the Philadelphia College of Arts the “hot” schools for college. She profiles the families of the students as well, showing the broad range of support parents give their dancers. Lots of food for thought in this book. Quote Link to comment
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