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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Nutmeg changes: Internet academics 2005

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I wonder what other dance parents feel about a circumstance at a well known residency program. Apparently they will no longer have any real high school classes for the children. They will now simply provide the kids with access to home school internet programs.


Disclaimer: My daughter does not attend this school. I know nothing about this. BUT are these parents so convinced that their children will become ballet stars that they are willing to completely jettison their education. Are they so sure of their stardom that they are willing to have them have no contact with any other children their own age? I know in this world we are not to make value judgements, but in all honesty I am shocked at this. It seems that they are not concerned either with the chance of lack of ballet career, or even (and I find this equally distressing) of the fact that their children need to do something when they stop dancing. Yes many will teach, perhaps a young adult would like other options in life.


I raise this issue not because I wish to castigate these parents. We all try to do the best for our children. I raise it because I think it makes a strong statement about the culture in which our children are immersed. Can a parent of a 14 year old be so convinced that they know their childs correct path in life that they should be able to essentially cut off all other options for the child? I suppose I should not be shocked - this board was filled with posts from the parents of 9 year olds who were sure ballet was their childrens lives.


I admit - this post will generate some anger - I'm curious to see your responses.

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Sarsdad, not anger here at all, just a few different thoughts about the subject :D


First of all, many students do extremely well with home-schooling. Some, of course, do not. But I have had many students who were home schooled who did brilliantly on SAT's and went on to excellent college programs. Home (or internet) schooling is not a totally negative thing.


The interaction with others their age comes in the ballet world, and, in some of the schools, interaction with music and theater students. After all, in a residency program they are constantly with students their own age!


I don't think that it's that the parents are so sure their child is destined for stardom, as just the realization that they have the desire, ability, focus and commitment to doing it and should be given the opportunity.


That said, I have never been a proponent of residency schools for students who live where they have access to the training necessary to give them the same opportunity. I don't believe in taking children away from home or out of regular school unless it is ESSENTIAL in order for them to get the quality and quantity of training they need. :wink:

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What a deliciously teasing header!


I have heard nothing about this decision or well-known school, so I am pontificating off into the ether (something at which I am excellent :D ).


I would not agree on the face of it that an internet education is wholly deficient. I have heard that there are some good programs intended for homeschool use. However, I WILL agree that it's not sufficient to simply plunk a kid down in front of the computer and call that an education. Context is all.


Having said that: I also agree with your basic consternation about ourselves and our society. This ties into everything we've heard and read recently about sports moms and dads, overuse injuries, etc. We do seem to be channelling kids awfully young, but not necessarily in the good old-fashioned way that works so well in other countries (that is, have the experts select kids for potential, then put them in an environment that develops that potential to the max AND feeds them onto the job track). Our style is to let every family choose and decide for itself if their kid is "right" -- and that seems to me to be very dangerous. For one thing, the parent can seldom separate their own ambition from their child's. All of this leads to the kind of abuse you allude to.

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Sarsdad, not anger here at all, just a few different thoughts about the subject  :D


First of all, many students do extremely well with home-schooling. Some, of course, do not. But I have had many students who were home schooled who did brilliantly on SAT's and went on to excellent college programs. Home (or internet) schooling is not a totally negative thing.




As a reply to Victoria - while I am no expert on education, I am a professor at a university who has children in highschool. I think homeschooling can be effective, but the operative word is HOME. This implies a parent or guardian who takes deeply personal responsibility for the advancement of the child's education. Perhaps this will obtain at this school - I highly doubt that.


The thing I find distressing about the concept is as Treefrog so elegantly put it - "channelling." As a scientist at a University, one of my main career joys is training doctoral students for the Ph.D. I know that I agonize over how to help advise the students who I see just don't have the potential to be University Professors themselves. They all do fine, but that is because they are advised as early as we feel we can decide such a complex question that they should be heading for industrial or undergraduate teaching careers. So here we are losing sleep worry about 25 year old men and women who we feel it is our responsiblity to mentor, but a ballet program, if what I have been told is correct (AGAIN BIG DISCLAIMER - I HAVE NO FIRST HAND KNOWLEDGE OF THIS,) feels that plopping a 15 year old in front of a computer fulfills their responsibility for mentorship.


I know people will castigate me - they will do more than plop the kid in front of the computer. I'd like to see them bring the skills a trained teacher can put to bear in schooling or the care with which a parent can guide an education to the children in their program. I just don't buy it.


So having pontificated, what do I think the answer is


1) As Victoria said good training can be found close to home where children can be educated appropriately, or


2) Residencies need to accept the awesome responsibility they have for the development of a young human being - not just triple pirouettes. I can only assume all try to and some actually do.

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It is very unfortunate that in the USA there are very few ballet schools that offer a good academic education as part of their program. Some have the good fortune of being in a city or town where they have good working relationships with public and private schools - as with SAB, and Harid, for example.


Internet schooling or correspondence schooling is not ideal, it just can't be. People see it as a means to an end. Some people just do not place as much importance on college preparatory education. Others do and believe that the Internet program will work and apparently for some it does. I believe we've had threads about The Rock School's using Keystone's "home school" Internet course of study of which I know their are two tracks.


I have to admit that we tried it once for a variety of reasons that in hindsight were misguided reasons I now believe. You know what they say about hindsight, right? :rolleyes: It wasn't that the course content was so bad, except the biology!, but it was the fact that there was no interaction with other students nor with a teacher - no discussions could be had. I knew in my heart it was not the best education, but I rationalized it at the time.


I do think it's possible if it's extremely well done with Black Board or Web CT with required Internet based discussions, papers submitted and returned with extensive comments, and more...but in my view it can never ever compare to a good classroom based education with a well educated, caring and conscientious teacher.


It really is unfortunate that it's so difficult for some ballet schools to strike up a good relationship with good schools in their area. :sweating: I think what is probably needed is an active Parents Association that fights for it. That said, we all know that the majority of parents tread very lightly in ballet schools.

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That said, we all know that the majority of parents tread very lightly in ballet schools.


And why is that? How can an environment be a healthy one for kids if the parents fear it so much that they won't even speak their minds? Or is it, as sarsdad implied, that the parents have just ceded all responsibility?

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It's simply because in many schools parents are afraid of how their behavior might effect their kids. Or, frankly, if it's one of the top ballet schools they've got a list of students who want to attend and unless one's offspring is the creme de la creme, they really won't care if he or she returns.


Most people here probably have kids that do not go to residency programs. For those that do, there are choices that have to be made. If they want a program that offers education along with residency their choices are limited in the USA.


And finally, I imagine it comes down to money. A public school in a town without a large tax base is not going to be thrilled to have a whole slew of kids attend who do not come from families that either live locally or do not pay taxes. :sweating: In a case such as this, the parents would have to offer to tuition their kids into the local public school, if there were room - or pay tution to send them to a private school.

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I do not know for sure what program you are referring to in your post, however my son has the internet schooling at the Rock. THey have a full-time masters teacher that works with them on a daily basis. They use the Keystone program as the central coursework, but their physical teacher goes over lessons, provides tutoring, advises and also teaches some coursework. It seems to combine the best of 2 worlds. THey get feedback from the internet teachers on their work and can have discussions, plus they have the benefit of a live body for discussion and questions. I think just internet classes would not be so good, but he had a decent year of academics. Also, he just finished his junior year, so maybe age makes a difference. The school you spoke about may be planning something along these lines and not just straight online coursework.

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tsavoie, thanks for describing The Rock's program here. I know you have before on The Rock thread on Cross Talk. It does sound as though they've managed to set their program up very well. Don't want to digress into questions here about this particular school, but I am glad you've taken the time to give a good overview again. :D

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I have also seen posts that suggest that a school such as Walnut Hill must not provide topnotch ballet training because they believe that academic education (college prep) is as important as arts training.


It's all a matter of priorities, I suppose.


It is fiendishly difficult to take on a full academic load and preprofessional ballet training. Not all students are able to do so.


If ballet is considered the top priority, then schooling decisions will follow to reflect that.

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If ballet is considered the top priority, then schooling decisions will follow to reflect that.


But I think that is the main thrust of sarsdad's "consternation". His question/concern, I believe, was how can so many parents of so many 14-year olds have such faith that ballet should be the "top priority" for their particular child such that they are willing to allow "schooling decisions" to take a back seat. That is, enough parents making those decisions such that the boarding schools are a feasible business enterprise.


As I understood his post, he is more than curious as to how those priorities are arrived at logically/realistically given the very, very small percentages of potential dancers that actually end up supporting themselves as professional dancers. Certainly, what I glean from this Board is that there are far more students in those collective residency schools than there are actual available jobs----not to mention all the talented dancers that are training at "home" studios that will be vying for the same jobs.


I think the "brain-teaser" in this particular thread is not the idea that parents do make those priority decisions, but is more the question "just how does one actually get to that decision?" I know, I, for one, would have a very hard time justifying the possible compromise of my DD's academic preparation in favor of the ballet preparation. But that's just based upon my evaluation of the balancing of her opportunities, the obligatory Plan B set-up, and life-after dancing mantra. I'd like to see more discussion on how others actually balance those competing interests.


I, for one, would never fault someone for making a decision different than mine. But, as curious and nosy as I am, I would LOVE to understand how those different decisions come about.

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dancemaven, Treefrog and BW have encapsulated my thoughts perfectly. As I tried to say, but probably failed - this thread was not started to imply criticism - it was intended to start healthy dialogue.

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Good point, dancemaven.


Here are some possibilities for how this comes about:



Because --

-- the parents want their children to pursue their dreams, and this is what it takes.

-- they know their children are talented, and because the field is so competitive, they feel their dancer will only have a chance if they make it their top priority

-- ballet teachers expect sacrifice from serious students -- to put in the hours to make it possible

-- some programs require so much time (especially if there is a lengthy commute) that to give academics their due would be impossible

-- there's a small window to be physically capable of doing this, but one is always capable of learning

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Aaah! Those are certainly valid thought processes.


I have come to accept those very ones when discussing college vs. trainee/company route. (It took awhile, but the reasoned voices of folks on this Board brought me around on that score. Delaying college is not such a scary thought anymore.) Our mantra now is "take all the honor/AP classes appropriate and possible so that IF college is delayed, you are at least a little way up the ladder on Plan B and not starting at scratch or, worse, in a hole.


But (and this is a big "but" still for me)---how does this rationale work at the 14-year old level or early high school years?


My fear would be that, if the academics available at the residency school is a compromise, then IF the student/dancer doesn't reach that dream (and keep in mind it is a small chance), then where are they in terms of Plan B? I would have to be very sure about the more probable than not aspects of her reaching that dream to feel comfortable compromising her preparatory education.


So, at the end of the residency high school years, how many of those who entered at 14 are left in the dust---both in the professional dance opportunity arena and in the academic arena? How can so many be so sure at that young age that they can choose this route? What do they have to do to "catch up" academically at that point?


I'm satisfied with the answers to these questions in terms of the dancers who put off college, but I'm still not there with the dancers that compromise the preparatory (high school) years. Any insight?

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At my DK's residential school the students have several options available for school, the district high school, a collegiate high school affiliated with the local university and also a francophone school. As well it is possible to choose to do internet schooling if that is what the student has been doing prior to acceptance. Because the dancers have classes in the morning, in all cases the students do an abbreviated school day and earn less than optimal high school credits. The credits are made up by both "ballet" credits such as independent projects in choreography that are approved and assessed by the high school and mandatory classes in music and art held at the ballet school. As well some students are working on one correspondence course all the time. The parent must pay the tuition that is applicable and it is certainly a consideration given all of the other costs associated with a residential school. In our case we are fortunate that our home school board transfers the educational allotment that we pay taxes for to the school of our choice, because the level of training is not available locally.

It is certainly not perfect and does very much depend on the individual student and the current teachers and administrative staff at the various schools. What works for your child may not work for another and may not work for the duration of the ballet training. The ballet kids have to work very hard if they want establish friendships and a social network outside of their own circle of dancers and they do miss out on most extracurricular activites of the academic school because of after school classes at the ballet school and rehearsals.

On the positive side the ballet kids are usually very focused, and certainly are very skilled at time management and prioritizing by the end of high school. :D

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