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University of North Carolina School of the Arts/UNCSA

Guest lazer.star

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Hello everyone! I am writing to you to gain valuable information on North Carolina School of the Arts. My 15 year old daughter has been accepted to attend their school year round begining in the fall 2001 as a junior. She is very excited and we are very proud of her accomplishments both in the field of dance and also her academic studies. She is a very mature, responsible and healthy young lady who loves to dance and would eventually like to become a professional some day. Our ultimate goal as her parents is to give her the oppurtunties she needs to grow as an artist and keep her healthy and happy.


My question to you is what do you know negative or positive about this school? If you have gone there, or your son or daughter has (especially during the high school years) and have any information that you can share with me, please do ASAP, because this is a very important step in any person's lifetime and we want to be as informed as we can in order to make the right decision. :confused: null

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Hello lazer.star, welcome to Ballet Alert Online, and especially the Moms and Dads forum!


My first question in this kind of situation is always is it necessary for her to leave home in order to receive the training she needs? What that means is, is she in a pre-professional school now, where she gets daily quality training, or, is she in a local school where her training is limited? If she is in a major city with a good pre-pro school, then I see no need whatsoever for her to leave home for her last two years of high school. On the other hand, if she is not getting what she needs at home, in terms of ballet training, then it must be considered.


I don't like to see kids leave home before they have to, and the training differences just might not be worth it. It all depends on where she is and what she is getting now.


[ 04-18-2001: Message edited by: Victoria Leigh ]

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Victoria, thank you for your response!! My daughter goes to a very small ballet school where very few of the dancers aspire to be professional. I have no ballet or any other kind of a arts background. All that I really know is that my daughter started dancing at age 5, was in a competition school until grade 8, taking ballet, tap, jazz and lyrical dance. She did very well and decided that she needed to go to a ballet school where she could achieve what she said she needed "real ballet training". She has been at this new school for 2 yrs+ and has improved her technique immensely. Next year she will be the strongest dancer in the studio. The other dancers are all very good but the lack the desire and aspirations that she has. She has been auditioning for summer intensives for the last 2 years and has gotten into some very nice programs, she attended Harid last summer and this summer will go to Boston, so I feel she diffently has potential. I feel the down fall of where she dances now is that the reportire is limited and there is no partnering. As far as technique and what they are teaching I have no experience in that area. I do know that her training is much better than it was and there are no other alternatives near us. We are already traveling to the studio 45 mins daily. How do you know what is good enough?

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The fact that she has been accepted to good summer programs is one indication that she is getting the training she needs. Partnering should not be a concern at this time. That can come a lot later. If she develops a good, strong technique, she will not have any problems with partnering other than finding a good partner to work with! :)

You said she has daily classes, so this is a good thing. I know it is sometimes essential to send them away, but if not, then I really like to see them stay home and have as much of a "normal" life with their family as ballet allows - which of course is not exactly "normal" :eek:


The students seems to think that they have to be company ready by high school graduation, and I really disagree with this. Most of them, even if technically company ready, are not life ready. A year or two of continued study, at that time perhaps away from home in an intensive program or trainee situation, gives them the time to grow up and mature a bit before hitting the company scene. Perhaps even some college courses during that time can be arranged, and this will all benefit them in the future.


I have seen too many young dancers burn out, or get used and abused when they start in a company too early. When they go away and live in a dorm situation there are so many things that they have no chance to learn about being on their own, handling bank accounts, credit cards, rent, electric bills, phone bills, laundry, cooking, eating properly with no one to prepare it for them, etc., etc. These things need to be taught somewhere along the line before they move to NY or wherever and start performing and traveling and trying to maintain an apartment and deal with real life adult situations. The dorms provide them with the away from home thing, but so much is taken care of for them there. That happens at home too, but at least there you can start the teaching of these things.


There are pros and cons for both situations, of course, so ultimately it needs to be decided based on the family and what the parents feel is best for the particular child. It's never an easy decision.

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Hi, Lazer.star,


I have no information about NC School of the Arts. But I'm certain our daughters must know each other. Mine also went to Harid last summer. And she's going to Boston this summer! Small world, huh? ;)

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Vagansmom, hello!! Yes we do know each other, we met at the Boston Ballet at the audition! I have never written on any boards before. I am hoping to get some information on this school. We are planning a visit out there soon. If you find out any facts please let us know. See you this summer :)

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Maybe I could help you. My daughter is an alumnus of NCSA and we keep in touch with the students and faculty there. Please feel free to post me a note with questions. For the record, I strongly agree with what Ms. Leigh is saying. :P There is "no place like home". But as for facts and info, I'm happy to help.

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Hello Gypsy, welcome to Ballet Alert Online, and the Moms and Dads forum!


How long was your daughter at NCSA? Is she now performing or in college? Can you tell us a bit about her experience there?

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Thanks, Ms. Leigh. She left NCSA before graduating in order to attend another school on scholarship. She still has another year before making the college or company decision but I seem to be finding a lot of college brochures in the trash nowadays. :P

As for her experience at NCSA, she enjoyed quite a bit about it but I think she was too young when she first started (13). Although she came home often and we chatted every single day, there is no replacement for good old-fashioned hands-on parenting. It is exciting to live on a campus with so many accomplished artists and I am glad she had that experience.

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I've been reading so much on these ballet web sites re year round programs. I was so glad to read Victoria's response. I totally agree. What's the rush? Yes your daughter and all the others attending year rounds are talented, but is their talent going to go away if they stay at home? I don't think so. I think it's so important for teens to have overnights, school dances, etc.!! and be at home with family. How many have said at 18 (when they should really start concentrating on dance), "Gee, all I've ever done is ballet! I think I'm burnt out. I'd like to try something else!" Now that's too bad and a waste of talent. Anyway, thats just my opinion.

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Talent only gets a person so far. I have a daughter who was a junior olympic gymnast. She didn't really have the talent that so many of her contemporaries had but she did have the grit and desire. It was my job as her parent to find her the safest and best training I could. That sometimes meant sending her 600 miles away. Ballet is a little more forgiving but the hard fact is that if the basic training isn't great, talent won't carry the child.

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In spite of my thoughts about sending kids away, Gen51, I must agree with Gypsy that no matter how much talent there is, without good training it won't go anywhere. And 18 is definitely too late to start concentrating on developing that talent if it's ballet we are talking about. What I meant was that if the training is good at home, by all means keep them home, but if it is not sufficient then, unfortunately, it may be absolutely necessary for them to go away. Home is best, but if there is real talent, and it is not being properly trained, then that training must be sought.


If a parent is in doubt about the training the child is receiving, perhaps a talk with the teachers at the summer intensive program might help. Or take her somewhere to a pre-professional school for an evaluation. Let her take class as a visitor, and ask the teachers there if they feel that the child is being well trained. I don't know if they would all be willing to do that, but I know that I have done it many times when the parent has asked for an honest opinion of the child's abilities and also of the training. It's sometimes very hard to do though, if the child is not very talented. Naturally, many parents do not want to hear this, but generally most will appreciate knowing the truth. If they are spending a great deal of time and money and the child does not have the ability, they need to be guided. It does not mean the child should not dance, but perhaps she should not be thinking about leaving home to study and/or aiming for a career in ballet.

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Hello Gyspy,

Since your daughter did attend the school there are a few questions I would like to ask. How are the ballet classes and how do the teachers treat their students? How good do you think their academic program is? Did your daughter go there for 9th and 10th grade?

I am very concerned about the fact that there are college students on site, is there much interaction between high school students and college students? Is there alot of partying? Do the kids have acess to DRUGS and ALCOHOL?? How is the campus security? Are there many people with eating disorders and psychological promblems? Were you happy with the school while your daughter attended NCSA? :confused:

Where is your daughter attending now? If you would like to e-mail me please do - lazer.star@snet.net I am asking hard questions because I am a concerned parent. Thank you

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Thank you for your suggestion of having her evaluated by her summer school or at another school in regards to her training. This will be of great value to me since I am not sure if the training that she is getting is sufficient especially for the next 2 years?

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Lions, and tigers and bears -- Oh my!

Drugs, alchohol and eating disorders are, sad to say, going to turn up in every residential program just as they do in ordinary high schools and colleges, public and private. Your questions needs to be redirected so you get answers that can help yo make decisions. Find out: How does the school deal with these issues? Are the rules clear and enforced? Are the more "talented" kids forgiven for infractions that cost other kids their enrollment (at a wonderful SI last summer a gal who moved her boyfriend into the room at night was not expelled because she was one of the better dancers.) The ED issue is tricky. A program that takes teens entering or in the throes of puberty is dealing with youngsters undergoing enormous and often unforseen and not always controlable physcial changes. Do they provide genuine assistance on fitness issues? Do they have a fitness and mental health counseling staff that really plugs into students lives and provides them a kind of safety net?

There are no perfect schools, here or at home, but there are places that are well run, caring and prepared to help youngsters be their best. The real reason to hesitate on sending people awya mid-puberty is that so much is at stake when they have all their dancing/educaiton/friendships in one spot. The tip of a pointe shoe may not be meant to take so much "weight".

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