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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Nutmeg changes: Internet academics 2005

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Very well stated Ms. Leigh.....

We are still battling the family and friends who state that DD has not found fulltime employment in her chosen field so now she must knuckled down and go to University (she was accepted into one of this country's best last year! :rolleyes: ) But she stilll has the desire, talent (was accepted into many SI's) and, god love her sheer will to most days anyway, give this dream another year! At 22 she ain't over the hill in my books. University or college or whatever will always be there. Her passion and dream of a professional career does have a time limit.

Dream big!! :D follow your heart!

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I started this brouhaha, and if has been a superb interchange. I do feel a bit of a need to refocus the discussion to my original question.


First, no one doubts that there are many people who have succeeded admirably with limited formal education. Second, no one doubts that advanced education does not guarantee success or happiness in life. Third, when pursuing certain careers, the challenges are so extreme, sacrifices in other areas of life need to be made. Fourth, advanced college level material is not required for an adequate highschool education or for admission to a fine college.


My original post raised the issue of the appropriateness of offering only internet based highschool education at a residency program.


Some posters have raised the clear advantages of homeschooling for some children. It had been pointed out by others (even some directly involved in this dilemma) that the issue is not home schooling. These children are not at home. It is home schooling without a parent or professional teacher to guide them.


The question remains, are the sacrifices and demands being put on these children appropriate?


I will say that the quality of discussion is why this board is such an invaluable resource.

Edited by sarsdad
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Is there anyone whose child is at the Rock School who is willing to share how their online program works, how it is supervised, graded, etc?

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Thank you sarsdad for refocusing the question for me, I think I got lost several times along the way during the discussion.


My own personal opinion about the appropriateness of offering only internet based education at a residency school is...why not? If the parents are knowledgeable of this arrangement and agree to it in advance, then that is the education that they are purchasing for their kids. It's really that simple...here is what the school offers, this is how it differs from other residential schools, this is the $$$. Many people will be quite content with it.


As for whether the sacrifices and demands that are being put on the kids appropriate? That is another question altogether and one that will vary from kid to kid. If there are kids in the program who have no chance of succeeding in the ballet world but have been led to believe that they will, for whatever reason, no, it's not worth it. For the few very talented, often well-connected kids...it could possibly be the exact place for them.

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Thank you, sarsdad and AATW, for refocusing the topic and also for very focused and good posts! :)


I wonder if, at the schools using internet schooling, there isn't someone supervising this work? I would think that if the students are in a confined and supervised environment, like a dormitory, that they would at least have someone in charge of seeing that the students are doing the work and who is there to help if needed. Is this not the case? Is the progress monitored and the grades checked? How is this handled? Are the students totally on their own, or is it different in every program?


I would like to hear from parents with children at any of the schools using this form of education. Please tell us how they handle the academic hours and any other pertinent information!

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I personally would not choose to send my son to a residency program that offered internet-only education. The subject of my son going to a residency program when he gets older has been a subject in my home. Now, as many of you know, dancers are all pretty self-disciplined and many, if not most, are good students. It seems to come with the territory. However, I would not feel comfortable "sacrificing" a good education in favor of ballet training only. Now granted, as has been pointed out, there are good internet based school options, but I just feel as though whether or not my son would get the best that is offered would be a crap shoot at best.


We have to remember that even principal dancers do not dance forever and many go on to teach at, direct, or open their own dance studios. This takes business sense. Now, as Ms. Leigh pointed out, many people have gone on to other careers in the dance world without formal business or similar education, but I'd rather my son be over-prepared just in case. Now, I'm not demanding that he get a top-notch education from a residency school, (they are ballet residency schools after all) but I'd like the quality of education to at least be up to the same standards of the traditional public school education he would receive if he remained at home.

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tsavoie has posted in this thread how The Rock handles it, as she has on The Rock thread on Cross Talk. Here's her description from the first page of this thread, on 6/16:

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.
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Well, sarsdad, your initail post on this thread took some of the thoughts right out of my head.


If you have read any of my writings on the board, you would know that I am a very grounded parent with many many years of conventional academic education beyond high school. I am a concrete thinker, very black and white in many ways. I think of myself as a "scientist." And here I have this wonderful and talented child, one with an artistic soul. Where I am a realist she is a dreamer. I have my feel firmly planted on the ground, she considers there to be much more to life. Mind you, she has no problem with academics. At all. But she had this talent, and this focus. And not the type of training available locally that would take her to the next level. And she wanted to get the training that she would need.


So, after comments from teachers at SI's, we sought out a residency program. It had to be one that would still keep academics important, and offer solid ballet training. It would allow her to experience this ballet focus for most of 24/7/365. We looked for one that was nurturing, and to be honest, was perhaps not an upper tiered program. The higher you go, the more the focus is all ballet and something else has to give. We found a balanced program in Nutmeg.


My DD had the best year of her life this past year. But the announcement that Internet based schooling would allow for less wasted time at school, and more time for ballet, was cause for concern. I knew all the reasons for doing this were sound if you had a daughter or son who was destined to have a performing career in ballet. For a parent who has a child with facility, focus, passion, artistry. musicality... this would allow for even more ballet training. This could take the school to the upper tier. This could take the student closer to a contract at the end of the training. But for a child who needs a plan B.....


After much soul searching, I decided that one year would not make much difference in the long run. I would support a year of Internet based high school, and we would reassess after a year. Then DD came home over the weekend from residency, and admitted that perhaps she was not ready for such a narrow focus. She would miss the intereaction with academic teachers, and the friends she made outside of ballet. And she was coming to grips with the fact that she did not have all of the qualities that would put her on the fast track to a performance career. She is going to stay home this next year. And it was her decision


She loves Nutmeg, and will continue to be an ambassador for the program. For someone who has all of the qualities, and more importantly, does not have the training available locally, Nutmeg continues to be a great place to train. And the ability to narrow the focus at Nutmeg will work to the advantage of many, just not all.


There are those kids who can and will dance professionally. and will have a second career that will give them an opportunity to get their education if they so choose. I was not so accepting of this idea early on. Of course my child would have a college education, comming immediately after high school...right? But when you have the makings of an artist on your hands...


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 think that there is a dual responsibility for parents and for schools who offer very focused ballet training: parents and schools need to be honest with themselves and each other. Schools must accept only the students who really have all the qualities needed. And, as much as I don't care for the idea of "cuts" made each year, they would need to be firm about sending home or not asking back the students who will be better served getting a more well rounded education. And parents have to really understand the numbers of positions out there and what the narrow focus will do if their child is not destined to acquire a contract.


Ultimately, it is the child who directs us all. If you have one who has what it takes, and wants it badly enough, there will be sacrifices that may include academics. And maybe they dance and maybe they don't. There are students everywhere who don't get accepted to law school or med school, but their college preparation was never a waste. And they have a plan B. And they move on. Some decide not to apply to med school after all. Same with ballet. Some train very seriously through age 18 and decide not to audition for companies.


It is scarey that for ballet, some of these decisions come at 14 (my daughters age), and not 18 or 22. As long as parents are not all "Bravo" parents, and as long as schools are honest with their acceptance and assessments of their students, it really will work our for the most serious and talented of students. It will not work out for all. But I think the wise students do begin to know when their time to move on has come...if we are listening.

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Thank you nlkflint for sharing your daughter's story - it's very generous of you both. It sounds to me that you have a very well grounded young lady on your hands. :)

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Just an addition to my earlier post. Keystone sends grades to the kids. I receive a report weekly from my son that he has to send to his dance teachers and his academic teachers outlining his progress through coursework and his gpa. One of the things that I have like this past year is the opportunity to talk with his academic teacher as often as needed or wanted. This has been a hard transition year, as I have been the main teacher for so many years, but I am really comfortable with his academics. If anyone wants more detailed info, feel free to ask.

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But the announcement that Internet based schooling would allow for less wasted time at school, and more time for ballet, was cause for concern.


It was no concern for my dd. Whether I like it or not, dd sees high school as a necessary evil. When the idea to do on-line schooling came into play, she jumped at the chance. Now she is on track to graduate a year earlier and she sees this as an opportunity to get her education out of the way. Because we already live away from home for her dance training and she will eventually have to move on again, she realizes that her early graduation also opens up possibilities for post-graduate dance programs which to her meant more options for her dance training.

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Thank you nlkflint for your very thoughtful post!



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Thank you, nkflint, for your thoughtful, reasoned post. It is these kind of balancing scale posts that make this issue so interesting. The initial inquiry of this thread was really a very narrowly-focused question. Your post was most enlightening. I realize scales balance differently depending what must be weighed on each side. I admire your and your daughter's thoughtful considerations of these competing interests.


I wish your daughter all the best in her continued studies.

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As a formerly home-schooled high schooler myself, with a VERY happy high school junior in our local public high school now, I have to say, the broad experience she gets from having friends who DON'T dance, and from meeting all kinds of people, rather than just dedicated dancers, is a huge bonus. I say, school, all the way. She says it's well worth the lack of sleep, the school/dance pressure and stress, and the crazy busy schedule to be in the "normal world" a few hours a day! I say, let the kids tell us what each one of them needs. Internet education just doesn't give you the social contacts, or the exciting discussions and group projects, that "real" school does.

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