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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Audition season through our eyes


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Today is dd's last audition for SIs. Still waiting to see what she thinks of today's class. So far her favorite classes were Miss Farrell, SFB with Ms. Gorvin, and Milwaukee. She loves taking class from different teachers and enjoyed the opportunity to have a male teacher(Milwaukee). It seems that many of the programs she auditions for have women doing the class. It is nice to have a change up every once in a while.

Now she waits for replies, and I wait for her calls. :)

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Well, DD has made her decision. Deposit is in the mail and thank you but no thank you letters are written. We still have one more audition ("just to get a feel for the program") and one letter to wait for ("unless it's a full scholarship, my decision is made already"). So I guess now it's mom and dad time. Time to come up with the balance of the money, splitting up the pre-SI shopping over several months, and getting together travel plans.


Funny, it mentally seems like we just got back from last year's SI! I guess that means I'm in the point in my life where 7 months feels like 7 days. Time is just moving too fast. At this rate, I'll need to quit my job just to keep up with all the things that she will need to do next year as a Senior because there are not enough hours in the day. Wait! What do I mean next year, we have to schedule Senior photos and audition photos during the summer, which means in June along with our home SI. It's time for a nap!



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We are officially done with DD's first audition season for real. Meaning the first season she has audition with the intent of going away. By all accounts, it was a good season, in that she is officially in the her first choice ... deposit paid, confirmation phone call received yesterday.


Tonight my husband and I went out for a Valentine's dinner with another couple and he was mildly complaining about the expense of ballet. DD will be 13 by summer, and he is talking about this SI being such a financial sacrifice, as though there will not be another. I sort of feel as though this summer will be the first of many that she will be away. In light of tonight's conversation, I hope she either becomes good enough for scholarships in the future, or I hope the passion doesn't stay alive, or I hope he mellows out. I feel happy to be able to let her go this year. :)

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My dd finished the last of her three auditions last weekend. She's only 11 1/2, and her teacher doesn't want her to go away yet, so it was really for the experience. She's one of those kids that can get so nervous at auditions she can't relax and perform up to her potential.


In fact, at her 1st audition she was confronted with a couple steps she didn't know how to do and freaked! One of her friends later told me, via her mom, that my dd didn't act like herself at all. She was all stiff, confused, and nervous. It was a horrible experience for her. The auditioners were very nice, though. The lady from the SI that taught the class even stopped presenting info. to the next group of parents to tell my dd what a nice job she did, but my dd cried the whole way home. Believe or not, she did get in...


Her 2nd audition was her favorite, and I might even let her go since it was for a youth dance program, not a true SI. The auditioners were wonderful, and my dd said they taught a great class. They even joked with the girls to relax them. She was accepted to this program with a small scholarship!


The 3rd, and final audition, was for one of the big schools. This one was a little odd because they auditioned all the ages together from my dd (the youngest) through people who were 21. Ther were 52 people auditioning and the audition took 2 1/2 hours! It was hot in the studio, and long time dancing for my dd. She said this audition was okay, and felt the people who gave the audition were watching her-- at least until they went to center and started doing fast combinations my dd wasn't up to. I told her the people from the school know her age and don't expect her to dance like a 16+ year old. We haven't heard from them yet, and I'm not sure what to think from what my dd said.


Anyway, whatever happens is okay. She is young, and I just want her to learn to accept auditions as a part of life so she doesn't panic at them. She tells me she feels a lot better about auditioning after this experience, and she stuck it out and tried her best so I couldn't be more proud!!


On a slightly off topic note, we just discovered my dd's home school found a person who will contribute 10,000 for our school's scholarship fund. We were both thrilled to learn she now can audition to receive a scholarship to attend her home school for its SI-- and even for the school year! That is our big dream now. :wink:


I just want to thank everyone on the board for all the information and advice! I know more about SIs, auditions, ballet training, and even pointe shoes than any of the other moms in my dd's class-- and it's all because of this board. It is wonderful! :)

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mom1--most dads are the realists in the SI game. You have to admire his knowing that this IS a family sacrifice to make this happen. I'm sure if DD continues with this as a PASSION then he will come around.


freespirit--not only will it help with auditions but relaxing in interviews, and learning to put your best foot forward in tough situations. I'm glad your DD relaxed and enjoyed the rest of her auditions. She has mastered what it takes some a much longer time to do.



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As for the financial sacrifice part with Dads I found it was a lot better if I started a fund right after the SI year ended for next year. DS and I contributed to the fund weekly. If DS put in money from his job or "earned" money washing all the family cars... it made it less difficult to come up with the balance and Dad didn't feel like it was such a free ride. We set goals around the weekly amounts and DS's participation was suspended for the Nut season. Just a suggestion for you new Mom's and Dads. It also helped DS realize just how hard it was to come up with that amount of money!


Just a note, I still got the money doesn't grow on trees talk but it seemed to be a little less intense. :)

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Our first audition season is done too. DD auditioned for three programs and thus far, has gotten one acceptance. A boy from her school did this summer program last year and liked it so well it was the only one he auditioned for this year. Based on some of the summer intensive message boards, we should know about the other two by the end of next week.


Because all of the auditions were in other towns, we logged significant time in the car traveling. I can't speak for DD, but I had fun traveling with her. I also met some neat parents in assorted waiting rooms.


As for the cost, well, yes it isn't cheap. And there will be things we could do with that money that we will not be able to do. But why do you work if not to help members of your family have a better life? I watch my DD dance and I see the passion she brings to it and the pure joy she gets out of it. I see how diligently she doe her homework and the grades she gets in school, helped, I think, by the discipline she has gotten from dance. She is a poised and graceful young person. I think she has gotten much more out of dance than we will ever pay in money. So when I write the checks, I can't say I will be cheerful, exactly, but I won't complain about the money either.



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As for the financial sacrifice part with Dads I found it was a lot better if I started a fund right after the SI year ended for next year.


I've been thinking of this. I think it's a good plan. I will be taking a one to two year break from working, beginning this summer. So minus my income, which isn't a lot anyway, I feel like I will have less say if there is a question or not if she gets to go. I've been thinking about she and I starting a fund.


How much have you found that you raise over the year?

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I put is 20 a week with his goal being to match at least 1/2. At the end we had about $1,500 with made the pain of coming up with the big money all at once a lot less. He's went to NY for 4 years and while he had scholarships the living cost was quite a bit. So the year end bite each time was about 1,000 - 1,200. 3 years were at Joffrey which is an 8 week program so if you DK was going to a shorter program it could well be most of what was needed.

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This is DD's 2nd audition season. Last year she auditioned only once and got in (after being wait-listed). This year she's auditioned 3 times for 4 programs, got in 2 so far, neither one top tier, but not unexpected. I have been blissfully out of town for all of the auditions and DD got a ride with her other friends. I am just too cynical these days and am very leery about allowing DD to audition any more.

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I love your post. You are absolutely right. There is a huge intangible benefit to this discipline/art form called dance.


Pointe shoes - $X,XXX (way too much)

Travel to SI - $ XXX

SI cost - $X,XXX


Look on your kids face when you pick them up, or better yet the look on AD's face when he/she sees the results - PRICELESS!




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Back to the attention issue.


I actually think all the top tier SI's put as much care and thought into their acceptances as Ms. Leigh does. I really don't think any one program is making rash decisions. I've also watched many auditions and seen that the students often do not see everything that is happening while they are auditioning. An experienced auditioner can make an informed decision without watching every step a dancer a takes. An experienced auditioner will also be open to changing their mind about a student as an audition progresses. These people are professionals. They know what they are doing and probably have been doing it londer than the students have been alive. It is disrespectful of their experience to think otherwise. It is also impossible to keep the feelings of every teen in consideration and still be able to efficiently do one's job.

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I think you misunderstood the concerns that were being voiced here. I don't think anyone believes that any program that is highly selective is making decisions rashly or not considering each student's merits. Nor do any of us expect that auditions will be easy and stress free. We are all keenly aware of the hard work that must be done by both auditioner and auditionee at every audition they attend. The discussion was really about how the auditioner made the students FEEL during the audition and what that translates to in the way students might be treated at the SI and how they might evaluate the program when it comes time to make choices.


I certainly understand that there is no way to fully protect anyone's feelings in an audition. But, it is fair to say that some auditioners take greater pains in this area than others. Auditions all have their own distinct flavor. Some auditioners give a true class, complete with corrections, failry distributed amongst the auditionees. Some even have students demonstrate. Some ask the students questions, some have real discussions with the students about various combinations and let the students contribute to the correction process. Some really make the students feel like they are excited about the art of teaching ballet and want to see each student reach their potential, whether they are selected to attend the SI or not.


My daughter attended one this year (highly selective) where they were doing a turning combination and several of the students were really struggling with it. The auditioner asked who was afraid of turning? Several raised their hands. The auditioner then pulled one of those to the middle who had been struggling and also chose a student who seemed to enjoy turning. The auditioner had them each do a pirouette and then the class was asked to tell what was different about each of their turns. They had a lively class discussion about it and both the girls learned several things about their own turning in the process. Dancers came out of that audition feeling like they had all had attention paid to them and that the auditioner really cared about helping them be better dancers. Now, for this particular SI, no more than a couple of the 50+ students will be accepted. But, that is not what the students took away from the audition. They took away a great class, where they learned something, felt valued and enjoyed the experience.


That auditioner undoubtedly takes great pains to select the students that would do best at that program. Given the small number that can attend and the large numbers that apply, this is even more arduous than the task most adjudicators face. But, the humanity of the situation was not lost in the process. There are many similar experiences that she has had over the years in auditions for a variety of programs. There are also experiences on the opposite end of the audition spectrum that left her with a very different impression. :) I think most students who have done a number of auditions would say the same.


I don't think any programs have been mentioned by name and I hope that they will not be. What I hope is that this thread provides parents an opportunity to express their perspectives about the way their dancers feel when they attend an audition and the differences in the 'flavor' of an audition, depending upon how the auditioners handle the situation.

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But is it fair for a parent to want every audition experience to be a warm and fuzzy one? I don't think so. If a student feels the auditioners were mean that is a good indication that that student should not go to that program even if they are accepted. We can't expect all auditioners to be caring people.

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Victoria Leigh

Sorry, LMC, have to disagree on this one. Auditioners are first and foremost TEACHERS. If they are not caring people, what in the world are they doing teaching anyone, much less young people??? :)B)

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