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Nutmeg Conservatory

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3girls1boy

dance 24/7 -- Thanks for the offer to answer questions! Here are a few.....1) You mention ups and downs..which all schools have over time. Would you say things are more up or down at this point? 2) How many full time teachers are there? and 3) Do many year-round students stay for the summer or do they travel to other SI's?

 

THANKS!

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dance24/7

The schedule isn't as demanding as it was in previous years. We have very few pointe classes, repertory is the main emphasis, which is good, but you need the strength to do the rep. Also, the quality/level of dancers is lowering too... basically, anyone who can pay can attend the year round program. The teachers play favorites, which is very discouraging after a while. There are only three full time teachers for Nutmeg, one who has been gone since Christmas break for the audition tour. Eleanor D'Antuono teaches on Saturdays and has come in a few other weekdays recently also. We have had several guest teachers in the last couple months though, a definite plus. We also have Terese Capucilli teach us for modern classes (graham based) twice a week; her classes are one of the strongest points of Nutmeg.

 

Some year-round students stay for the summer program, but many attend other programs or stay/dance at home. Students do get into competitive summer programs and find that having different teachers for the summer is a good experience.

 

Any other questions?

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3girls1boy

dance 24/7 -- your comments about anyone who can pay the tuition being accepted is very similar to other comments on this thread. I'm sure a lot of that has to do with turnover in teachers as well. It sounds from what I've read that the summer program is stronger than the year-round. My DD really enjoyed the audition class (ms. Kunsch I believe) and that is why she wants to attend the SI.

 

Since you are so gracious -- I have 2 more questions for you! 1) You mentioned the schedule isn't as demanding....but are the classes you do have good? Do the teachers give good corrections and challenge you? and 2) How is the food??? (That question is for my DD, of course) :wink:

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dance24/7

Basically because they allow anyone in, the level/quality of the school has dropped severely. The classes are still good, but they are not enough for a year-round program (especially with the amount of money we're paying.) The teachers play favorites really badly which is very discouraging so you feel you don't get as much out of the classes. Especially this year, there is an extreme lack of motivation, not because we don't want to dance, but because Nutmeg/the teachers/the atmosphere gives you no motivation. Many of us are going through this problem right now. It's that all the same students getting the parts/corrections/attention in class and the rest of us feel like why are we trying. This all relates to the quality of the classes. I do not mean to discourage you from the summer program though. The summer program is much stronger than the year-round program and I do not believe that this problem exists during the summer. I haven't attended the summer program for a couple years but people from my old dance studio have gone and some year-round students go and they love it. I just want to let anyone considering the year-round program know about this. Classes are challenging. Tchnernichov's classes are very demanding and take a lot of stamina. Mazzarelli's classes are often simpler but she really makes you focus on small details and the russian style. Kunsch's classes are very technical. D'Antuono's classes are my favorite. She's very demanding on everyone and makes you repeat everything.

 

The food is decent. The summer food program is different from the year-round, but assuming it's the same as it was when I went, all the meals are served at a cafeteria of a school. Breakfast is cereal, bagels, fruit, eggs, oatmeal, juice, that sort of thing. Sunday brunch Dennis (the guy who makes the food, very very sweet) makes pancakes/waffles, breakfast meat. Lunch is salad bar, fruit, a different soup every day, and sandwich type bar. Dinner is different every day, but generally there is a pasta, other sort of carb (rice, potatoes, sweet potato, etc), meat (chicken, beef, fish on Fridays), a cooked veggie, salad bar, and fruit. It's decent, some of his dishes are really good, but nothing too exciting. Throughout the year, we can get tired of it because it's repetitive, but during the summer I wouldn't worry about it. They might keep some food in the dorm/houses, but I'm not sure about that during the summer. If students want to eat out on the weekends, there are plenty of options within walking distance (pizza, subway, chinese, a diner, Friendly's). Stop and Shop (the grocery store) is within walking distance too.

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3girls1boy

dance 24/7 -- Thanks for your candid thoughts. You have given me a very good feel about what's happening at Nutmeg. I feel reassured that the summer program is still a quality program. Although I'm sorry to hear about the problems going on in the year-round. I hope you and your friends are able to find motivation within yourselves to continue to enjoy dancing even in these difficult circumstances. Best of luck to you!

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Balletbuddy

Hi everyone. I have been wracking my brain trying to decide whether to post this or not. I am not a frequent poster on Ballettalk and actually don't like to "put myself out there" but I fell compelled to write about the Nutmeg Conservatory because I wanted to let other parents know what happened to us this past year at the school. Take from our experience what you will.

 

DD auditioned for the summer program last spring (2007) and at the same time also applied for the residency program. She was 15 at the time. DD had already auditioned and was accepted to several summer programs and actually just went to the Nutmeg audition on a lark - so to speak. We didn't know all that much about the school. She had previously been to ABT and Kirov for their summer programs. DD liked the audition very much and especially liked meeting Mr. Tchernichov.

 

DD was accepted to the summer program and was enthusiastically "recruited" to attend the year round program. She attended the summer program (2007) and felt she improved immensely. She loved the teachers. Her only complaints were that there was not a lot to do outside of class and that weekends could sometimes be boring. She also told my husband and I about some incidents involving students who were behaving badly in the dorms and houses. My husband and I assumed the school was taking care of any misbehavior and our DD had been staying away from the students who were misbehaving so we let it go. DD was given great roles in the end of summer performance and she was happy with her progress.

 

DD returned in September, 2007, for the year round program. She flourished in her ballet classes with Mr. Tchernichov (who has since been fired by the administration for reasons unknown to me), Eleanor D'Antonuo, Victoria Mazzarelli and Joan Kunsch. DD also did well with the online academic program under the direction of Ms. Jeanne Pedane (who has since been fired - again for reasons unknown to me). Everything seemed to be going fine but my husband and I were still hearing stories from her about drinking and a general lack of supervision in the dorms and houses. During a "Halloween Party" in October, our DD told us there were several students drunk. Again, we assumed that the administration would handle these incidents according to the guidelines outlined in the school's handbook.

 

In November, DD was offered lead roles in Nutmeg Ballet's Nutcracker and in January she received a glowing performance appraisal along with an enthusiastic invitation to return for next year. We also received an email from the administration (Marguerite Sabia) saying that they were "sure money would be available for (our DD) for next year". Despite all her successes, our DD was still telling us that students were misbehaving in the dorms and houses and that her RA was not always there or available. When I would bring her back to Nutmeg after a weekend home, there was never anyone with authority in the dorms that I could see. I never saw DD's RA anywhere in the dorms. My husband and I were not able to sleep at night knowing that the boarding students were not adequately supervised and were involved in risky behavior so we wrote a "polite" letter to Ms. Dante requesting that she address our concerns. Ms. Dante did send and email response asking me to come visit to view the security at Nutmeg. I did visit and talked with staff; however, no one addressed the issues of students drinking in the houses and dorms and what was being done about it. They did show me the security procedures and equipment in place to protect the students and I did finally meet DD's RA.

 

Immediately after my visit, a student was hospitalized for alcohol poisoning. DD continued to tell us about alcohol and drug abuse in the dorms. She begged us not to contact Ms. Dante again so I asked DD to call her RA and let her know what she had seen happening the dorms because I was afraid the students might hurt themselves and I would never be able to forgive myself if we didn't try to make the administration aware of what the students were engaging in.

 

Throughout all of this, we were always concerned about the boarding students' safety. The fact that there were some students engaging in risky and truant behavior was, IMHO, due to the fact that there were no planned activities or appropriate supervision in the houses and dorms. In addition, students were not corrected for their behavior so it continued. It was never our intention to malign the students for behavior that went unchecked by an administration supposedly "in loco parentis".

 

In April, DD was asked not to return for next year. She was devastated. Her ballet teachers were shocked as was the academic director. We as a family, had already made the decision not to let her go back unless the boarding situation changed drastically or we could find her other housing options. DD was told she was "not good enough" by Ms. Dante in a private meeting. DD was devastated and demoralized. In January, DD was enthusiastically asked to return and had just performed premier roles in the Nutcracker - in April, she was told by the administration that she just didn't cut it and my husband and I were told (again, in an email) that she needed more intensive training elsewhere. DD finished out the year and performed beautifully in the year end performance. She was supported by all of her ballet teachers and the academic director but was basically shunned by the administration (Ms. Dante and Marguerite Sabia). I don't know how she stayed there the remaining months. She is an incredibly strong young woman but there have been lasting effects on all of us, most especially on her.

 

Last September, we sent a bright, talented and caring 16 year old to Nutmeg. She is now more jaded and less self-confident in her dancing abilities than at any time in her entire life. She has said to me that "she stinks at ballet". It makes me cry to hear it. Our entire family has been affected by this and the agony will continue until our DD heals. We are investigating other options with her for the coming year - including possibly a normal high school life without intensive ballet. In the end it will be up to DD. We will support her no matter what.

 

Again, take what you will from this long post. It’s affected our family deeply and it’s something that needs to be known.

Edited by Balletbuddy

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dancemaven

Balletbuddy, cyberhugs to you, your husband, and your DD. :D Sometimes doing the 'right thing' is not rewarded in the short run. Been there/done that. :yawn:

 

I do hope you will (or already have) found a nurturing, qualified place for your DD to collect herself. There is a remarkable amount of damage that can be done in a very short time, but I know from first-hand experience that your DD can come out ahead in the appropriate environment. It may be hard for her to believe that at the moment, but what happened to her in this instance is not reflective of her, but rather of the adults who weren't doing their jobs properly.

 

Hopefully, the new administration will have a better handle on supervision of the kids' down-time and will require that that aspect be taken more seriously. That type of behavior is always tricky to monitor and manage, it seems, but it helps enormously for the administration to have an open and honest dialogue with parents. Granted distance-parenting is difficult and presents its own issues, but one would be surprised how much info a parent can still provide the school in these type 'heads-up' situations.

 

I also know it was not easy for you to submit your post. Thank you for your courage and selflessness in doing so.

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Balletbuddy

Dancemaven - I have edited my post. I don't think I came across correctly. The fact of the matter is that everyone at the school, other than those at the top, were encouraging and kind to DD. The problem lies at the top at Nutmeg and there have been no changes there. As far as I know, things will continue to be unhealthy for students at the boarding school until further changes are made. Hence my post. The teachers that have been fired were both extremely supportive of DD and were excellent teachers. I have no idea why they were let go. I do know that it was the AD and the director of student services that caused such devastation to our family. It was not anyone on the faculty or staff.

Edited by Balletbuddy

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dancemaven

Balletbuddy, I did misunderstand! That is definitely disconcerting that the upper level of administration has not changed. This is an important issue for parents sending their kiddoes off to boarding school and should not be taken lightly or cavalierly.

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3girls1boy

Balletbuddy -- Thanks for your post, which I'm sure was very difficult to do. As parents I think we have an obligation to protect not only our own children, but every child. The information you have passed on here is important. Thank you!

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dance1soccer1

Balletbuddy - It is excellent that you spoke up. The alcohol/drug issue has gone on, without appropriate sanctions from "the top", at least since '01 so this is not in any way due to the teacher/RA/student turnover in recent years. My goddaughter went in '01, had a blind eye turned to such risky behavior, until after a 24 hour period "on the town" with local men of over 21, her parents finally brought her home. This was despite complaints from other students/parents. The squeaky wheel does NOT get the grease in that situation, unless it is the grease on the rails out of town.

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PointeDriver

I am sad to read these posts regarding Nutmeg. My dd was here for SI's in 04 and 05. After 04 we began considering Nutmeg as an option for year round but then the summer of 05 seemed to be a pivotal point. There were some staff changes, rumors, and a strong sense of apathy that summer. Then they made the change from the Torrington High School over to the Keystone Program and we began to look at our other options.

 

I will echo other sentiments regarding the wonderful teaching staff. Eleanor D'Antuno heads down to Seiskaya after Nutmeg each summer for two weeks of their SI on Long Island.

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Bennett

Balletbuddy

 

I am sorry your daughter's time at Nutmeg had to end in such unpleasant circumstances. I am sure the strength that carried her through those difficult times will serve her well in the future.

 

And thank you for your frankness. I am sure it would have been easier to simply forget. Your comments will cause me to look carefully at any future program we consider for our daughters. This community is so valuable because of the courage of the parents, teachers and dancers who post the unvarnished truth of their own experience here.

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Kellinger

Ballet buddy,

 

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for having the strength and courage to post an insider's view to what is happening at Nutmeg.

 

My dd auditioned and was accepted for the 07 SI however when we called to provide information for the deposit, we were told that the very same day that the acceptance email/letter went out that a housing situation had developed and they were unable to accept any other students but would put her on the waiting list in case new housing could be found. DD had checked that she was interested in attending yearround when she auditioned. She was disappointed and rather angry regarding the situation.

 

After reading your post, I am thankful that fate intervened forcing her to attend an SI elsewhere.

 

Cyber hugs to your entire family. Hopefully your dd will have the strength to find a warm and caring instructor(s) who can start to undue the damage that Nutmeg has caused.

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Etoile~

My Dk heard yesterday from the weekend audition. It is of course impossible to ignore Balletbuddy's

experience. I am wondering if anyone has knowledge of this year's dorm activities. Also, replacements for the faculty that left. Recent company placements?

 

Would appreciate information from other Nutmeg parents.

 

 

 

Etoile~

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