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Ballet Talk for Dancers

One year to decide...Will it be to late?


Shanynrose

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:wink: Here's the question: After reading below, do you think we can make it through the next year relatively unscathed? Does anyone else make a "dual schedule" work for their DD/DS? The REAL question is at the bottom, though.

I'm kind of afraid to mention anything other than straight ballet, but I know I can trust BalletAlert members to give me a good answer without being condescending. :grinning:

 

***

My daughter discovered acting via her first ballet SI three years ago. They had an acting coach come in, and we realized DD had *something* going on there. By the following summer, after a few more acting and theater classes, she was ready to give it a try. She cut back to four days of ballet class per week in order to take a weekday acting class. She started working on student and indie film projects to build a resume and landed an agent.

 

For awhile we had a huge concern - the "big" auditions that the agency sends her on are held during after-school hours and because of the long drive to the venues we often couldn't make it back in time for class. We *finally* found a quality ballet school with directors who are acquainted with her "home" directors, classes that mesh with common audition times and a convenient so she can pick up a class if she can't make it "home." She danced Nut with this studio, has taken placement classes, they know her now, and they will allow us to buy class cards just in case we get stranded up their way (she is not the only young actor who takes there.) So THAT kink has worked itself out very nicely. In fact, if we rush, she can get in a ballet class there and still make it to her acting class. There's also one more place near a major audition venue that comes highly recommended by our director. EXPENSIVE, but it's there in a pinch. You *can* walk in and take a single class, but you'll walk out with an empty pocketbook. Still, empty pocketbook is better than no class.

 

I know a mishmash is NOT the best situation for a 12-year-old, but she's had enough different teachers with SI's, master classes, "pickup" classes, that after about the second class with a particular teacher she has no trouble remembering how that teacher likes things done. And she's not SO busy with auditions that we'd have to mishmash every week. (Not that being so busy would be a negative!)

She knows teachers at Home Studio because she's taken from them for more than two years all told. She knows teachers at Studio Two because she took class there during Nut season. We know OF teachers at Studio Three, but taking there is a longshot and not likely at all.

 

And despite the mishmash, NONE of the teachers she's taken from tolerate lapses in discipline nor bad habits. They ALL give good correction and work her little derriere off.

 

Here's the dilemma. DD loves ballet. She has ALWAYS loved ballet. She works very very hard in class. But she also really loves acting, and theater. She is great at musical theater as well - an awesome tapper (she was advanced before she went "ballet only," and has continued tap and jazz at SI's as well as working on her tap at home.) And she's still trying to book that first "network" commercial or co-star job. These things take time. (She *wants* to make enough money this spring to attend a "name" SI this coming summer - she made a fair amount on indie jobs this past summer but not enough to cover any of the major SI's.) And again, she works very hard in class and at every audition.

 

DD turns 12 in a couple weeks. We discussed the juggling situation and are much better equipped to manage it this year. This is good. If all works out as planned, the minute an audition call comes in we'll check the schedule and figure out where ballet class will be that day, and hopefully a backup location just in case.

 

(**note: Even with our not-so-good juggling last year, she was accepted into two major SI's - we just couldn't afford to send her.)

 

At this point, we've decided to give acting another year and then reevaluate -scheduling, number of auditions, callback ratio, has that first "BIG" booking happened, et cetera as well as evaluating her dance progress.

 

My question is this: As long as she manages to get her ballet class hours in (at least four technique hours and one of pointe, ideally more than that) is it realistic to think she'll be able to make it through a year (well, say January until SI time in June and then September through December) without losing ground?

 

DD is organized and works hard. She HAS to work hard to juggle two different disciplines. We look at it all as career training. Right now she's pulling a dual major. She says she WILL work in the Industry, no matter what. There are many more acting jobs at any given time than there are ballet company jobs. If she continues to hone her "triple threat" skills (ay yi yi, where do we stick the voice lesson? actually that's about the easiest to fit in since we homeschool!) she'll have an even broader range of jobs to choose from when the time comes.

 

:grinning: We're willing to pull this schedule for another year to see how things play out. I guess I'm just looking for reassurance. IF she can keep up with class hours and work on the same skills (even though at one studio they are level four skills and at the other they might be level three - but placement class took care of any questions ) do you think she will continue to make progress in ballet? :P

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Having moved to keep up with my dd's aspirations, if I were in your shoes, I'd move to somewhere I can get one stop shopping. I would really look at a Performing Arts school where dd could get all three. We homeschooled before this year. My dd is also 12. School certainly took second place to ballet, but as is typical with homeschooling she stayed in the 90%. She's in public school and it's working out well. If you find a performing arts school she'd probably transition fine. If not a school, at least a local where you can get lessons for all three and jobs close together. I've read plenty of times here, that sticking with one ballet school is important for pre-professional training. I think it depends on your goals. It's sounds like, though your dd is looking for broader performing training. If her goal is principle dancer with a company, I'd say settle down on one school. If Broadway is the goal perhaps a variety of ballet training would work well. I'm just a Mom though, and fairly new to the ballet world. So my opionion is way less than professional. As a Mom I'd try to simplify as much as possible and still meet the objectives. Defining the objective is the first step.

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If your daughter is going to be a child actress and a dancer, I don't see any way for that to happen except to live in either LA or NYC. If ballet is her first goal, or priority, however, then her training in that should be primary and she needs to be in one place, in one school, and stay with it. If she is not so sure about this, and wants to act and make money, then that needs to take priority and ballet becomes secondary. I don't think she can do both as a top priority. However, that said, I'm not sure that an 11 year old is really ready to decide that, especially if it involves moving a family.

 

Has her talent for both acting and ballet been established? I mean, do her teachers, coaches, directors, etc., all seem to feel that she has what it takes to make a living in acting/singing/dancing, and especially in ballet? If so, then a couple of years of allowing her to do all of it will not hurt her, but at some point, if the choice is ballet, it will take a full time commitment. She can do other things on the side, of course, but they will have to take second priority. Perhaps the ballet should be "on the side", if she has a realistic opportunity for work in the theatre, commercials, or movies.

 

Just be very, very careful of creating a "child star". Way too many of these do not last in the long run, and meanwhile they have really lost their childhood. Personally, I think that child prodigies in ballet are very scary, and they get exploited and over-used too early. They may develop into technical whiz bangs, but very rarely into artists. It might be different with acting, but it seems to me that an awful lot of child stars end up in deep trouble by adulthood.

 

Just some random, off the top of my head thoughts on this, ShanynRose. Not trying to discourage you, or your daughter, but just putting forth some things to think about.

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I really liked reading Ms. Leigh's reply. I am fairly new in posting here and my knowledge and experience is nothing like hers but I am a parent and I really appreciated her common sense and caring answer. We too, almost almost fell into the do everything entertainment kid trap. Chaos almost ensued but within a few months DD determined that she loved ballet and only wanted to do ballet and then dropped everything else. Coincidentally, she was 12 at the time. 12 year olds are verrrrrrrrrrrrrrry versatile. I am sure that for some very special and talented kids, the schedule that you described is perfect and if that is what they truly desire, it's enough to go forth with. Only you as a parent and your daughter can decide what is best but I can say that I am glad that we stopped the 'everything else'. It was too much activity, even for that short time, and I believe that kids, even dancing kids like ours, need some time to be kids. :yucky:

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Regarding the title of this thread... Too late for what? My three children have all expressed interest in various fields of the arts and entertainment... music, acting and ballet. I think it's common for children to aspire towards performance and fame. However, if you look at those who have made it in their field, the minority are those who got their big breaks while still children.

 

I tell my children all the time... life is long. If you want to be an actor, we'll take acting classes, do local theatre and you can pursue your career choice when you become of the age to pursue a career. Same for music and ballet. They are much more likely to develop real skills if their goals are long term goals. Of course ballet requires consistent training at a young age, so if that is really a major dream of your DD, that would have to be the priority now.

 

That being said, it seems as though her/your priorities are more in acting than ballet, in that the ballet schedule gets shifted to accomodate the acting opportunities. I would bet DD could really pick her priority if it was left up to her.

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Hi Shanynrose. Because you're asking if you can make it through ONE year - this one coming up - with both acting and ballet as priority, my answer is an unqualified yes.

 

If you were asking about this lifestyle as a more or less permanent path throughout the teen years, then I'd have to say no.

 

But your daughter is not quite 12. What you describe sounds like it may be enough ballet to keep your daughter available to a pre-professional track should she, after a year, decide to go back into ballet training. Around here, a bedroom community for actors and also close enough to NYC, I've known about a dozen ballet students who've floated acting classes and auditions along with pre-pro ballet classes when they were your daughter's age. The results, by the end of high school, were varied. MOST left ballet in favor of acting but continued classes at the ballet school because it supported their aspirations (ballet is good for everything, isn't it?) All but 2 girls went to college majoring in theater. Two girls stayed on as ballet dancers and one of them now dances with a regional ballet company.

 

And you have the advantage of homeschooling. That will give you the flexibility and give your daughter the "down time" she'll need occasionally whereas a different school setting couldn't be as accommodating.

 

If she's really loving it all and has the energy for it all, I don't see why it wouldn't be OK. I think it's important for kids to try lots of activities and your daughter is still young enough to be able to do so. Not for long, though, when it comes to ballet because the training really must get more intense for the teen years. But, at her age, another year is just right as long as it's something SHE wants to do.

 

Parents can make mistakes in both directions, I think. Some make the mistake of removing their child from all activities except ballet. Some try to clutter their children's lives with activities so the result is "Jack of all trades, master of none." I think if we can really allow ourselves to let the child guide us, without our prompting or stacking of the deck, we parents would be able to hear what our child is telling us. Anyhow, :yucky: , that's a digression. Yes, for this next year, I do think what you're doing sounds perfectly reasonable. Good luck to you, the mom, in maintaining the energy, and even more importantly the DISTANCE, while you're so involved with your daughter's schedule. You'll need plenty of sleep and plenty of vitamins with a large dollop of good humor. :grinning:

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Oh my...I do need to expound.

 

First of all we are in the LA Metro area.

 

DD is NOT a prodigy in any sense of the word. She's just a very creative and expressive kid who works hard. In fact, as far as kid acting goes, she's a bit of a late bloomer because she didn't start looking at "acting as work" until just over a year ago.

 

The question "Will it be too late?" can be better asked as "If DD makes it through the next year pursuing both acting AND ballet and then decides to pursue ballet only, will this next year of doing both put her significantly behind with regards to pre-pro ballet training?"

 

And thanks to vagansmom, who gets the prize for mindreading!

 

The thing that gets to me the most IS the distance :) I grew up in the country, so I'm not averse to 30 or 40 mile drives. We had to go that far to the doctor, or McDonald's. But gas was a lot less expensive way back when!

 

There are two performing arts high schools within driving distance - one of them also incorporates a junior high. After New Years' I'll make an appointment for us to tour that campus and see how it runs and also find out the actual cost. The "Academic" portion is free. The "Conservatory" portion is not.

 

 

I really do appreciate all the responses!

 

Shanynrose

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That being said, it seems as though her/your priorities are more in acting than ballet, in that the ballet schedule gets shifted to accomodate the acting opportunities.  I would bet DD could really pick her priority if it was left up to her.

 

I see your point. The thing is, the ballet classes remain static. The schedule is posted on the wall and class will happen with the exception of an extreme emergency and a few selected "vacation days" here and there throughout the year. Acting audition schedules are...well, there's no such thing. But it's very very rare to find an audition that happens during "school hours." We NEVER know. But my one New Years' resolution is " I Will Be More Assertive With DD's agency." Meaning, I will let the office know that earlier is better and ASK when they call if the time they give is the earliest they can get. (Interestingly, because of Union and some other issues, showing up very early is almost as bad as being late!)

 

Homeschooling is great for us because we can be flexible, but it's not often we NEED that flexibility. :)

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