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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Career Planning: Maximizing student chances

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  • Mel Johnson


  • mylildancer


  • Victoria Leigh


  • marigold


Just quickly want to add that ABT doesn't have its own school so they are very smart to offer these scholarships to the students they feel have potential. :rolleyes:


There are so many opinions...and there are so many past threads on this where some parents with long term experience have expressed themselves. Major Mel and Victoria Leigh are extremely knowledgeable.


If you haven't already searched back throught all the pages on the parents' forum, you're doing yourself a disservice. Not that new posts shouldn't be started!


There's a wealth of information and as a caring parent it is, of course, one's job to gain as much insight into whichever paths one's child chooses to explore. :P

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I want to add something that might help clear up some of your questions about company affiliated schools and their idiology about sending children to "big name" schools to enhance their career.


I have a letter that was addressed to the parents, from the artistic director, of the local academy and local company. Questions were being raised, by parents, about why the company wasn't or wouldn't hire their academy dancers. The artistic directors reply was "I want to make clear what companies are saying when they say 'from their own school'. I assure you this does not mean students who are from the respective city and have trained exclusively at their school, though this does happen occasionally. But it is rare." Academy parents/March 07,2003.


In other words, he was saying that the majority of companies do not hire their own students. If this is the case, why spend the enormous amount of money facilitating them. If a dancer is gifted, determined and received great technique and training, it doesn't matter what school they mature at.


The best thing you can do for your dd is be supportive and read about the kinesology surrounding solid training. I have had to become educated in ballet to make sure my daughter was being trained appropriately.

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In other words, he was saying that the majority of companies do not hire their own students.  If this is the case, why spend the enormous amount of money facilitating them.  If a dancer is gifted, determined and received great technique and training, it doesn't matter what school they mature at.

I think that this summarization of the AD's statement is an exaggeration. So much depends on the both the strength of the school and the consistency of company artistic staff. Often the school staff remains steadier and the artistic staff changes without respect to the training/methodology etc. being taught at the school. Though both 'branches' should come out of the same 'tree', this may not be the case, and then the AD will go out and hire dancers who reflect his/her vision.

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I don't feel that what I interpreted is an exaggeration. If you read my previous post, I did a word for word quote from this AD. He himself reguards hiring from his own school, as being "rare". His interpretation is other schools are doing the same too.


Their was a previous thread reguarding the BB concerning this same problem. If you read the last thread on the "Boston Ballet School" the concern is raised there as well.

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I think that the situation at Boston Ballet backs up the points I initially mentioned; that the turmoil in the artistic staff of the company did not reflect the school. Still, I find the word 'majority' somewhat inflammatory without solid statistics, to back it up.

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I think the training here is good, but there is no Pas class or character classes like some of those big schools. How necessary are those other classes?

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lurry, I tried to PM you but I guess I'll have to wait tille you hit 30 posts. Post, girl, post! I've saved my letter so that I can send it later. :rolleyes:

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Lots of schools do not have Character classes or Pas de Deux classes, and this does not mean that it is not a good enough school. Character dance is rarely taught on a regular basis, and most students get it in the SI programs. Pas de deux is for the older and most advanced students, and not important at all before that level.


Editing to add that I do not think it is a problem for adults to post their email addresses here. We do not allow teens to do it, but for adults it's up to you and there are no rules against it.

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Interesting observation regarding the point at which it is prudent to begin pdd training. I (of the untrained background) would have thought that an earlier beginning to pdd training would be advantageous. At what point do you normally begin pdd classes at your school? I know you produce wonderful results.



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Doug, it depends on when we have male dancers and how many :wink: Our two top levels, Release Time A and B, have pas de deux when there are male dancers. Some years there are, some there are not. Usually we have at least 3 or 4, but there have been years with no one ready, or at least not enough, like this year. The RT classes range from about 14 and up, but they are the "on track" 14 and up, not all of the students in the school of that age. There are 14 and older students in lower levels than RT. They do not receive pas de deux.


It is not advantageous to start that study before the girls are strong enough on pointe, and that generally does not happen prior to the advanced level and at least 14 or older. Most are even older when they start. If one's technique is strong enough, partnering is not that much of a problem to learn, at least for the female dancer. The male dancers need to start as soon as their physical development and strength are adequate to partner, and that depends of course on their growth and muscle development. Some are big and strong at 14, some are still very small and have not had their growth yet.

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Thanks much. That certainly rings true with what I would have expected but your point about availability of males, particularly physically prepared males, is most well taken. I can understand that this would often be a driving factor.



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mylidancer...I agree wholeheartedly that partnering should start at the advanced level and not before for a number of reasons. Yes it may be wonderful to see 2 very young students doing a pas together (especially if your child is featured) but just think of the time lost in class when instead they could be concentrating on their technique. At a previous studio my son attended at one of their summer performance I begrudgingly was forced to sit through an extrememly long pas de deux by two beginning students. For what it was worth? it was performed well but what was amazing was the reaction of the parents watching...they loved it!

Speaking with other parents about choosing an SI, I find the partnering question comes up everytime making me believe that a little education is still needed in this respect. Speaking through my own experience with my son...his partnering really began at about 15 at his first SI and was minimal. With each Si thereafter as he approached the advanced levels he experienced abit more (but still not a whole lot)...now at 18 he is in a school where he has partnering 3/wk. He is physically ready now for this strenuous aspect of ballet and ofcourse the girls are at an advanced level where they both are working 'together'.

There were 'occations' at his home school where he was given roles where he needed to learn lifting and partnering but it often was a great strain on him as he wasn't physically mature and in my opinion he was given too much too soon just for the purpose of a few performances.

Looking back I must admit that at the time I did worry he wasn't getting enough partnering classes on a regular basis... but I see now that this very gradual progression was ideal for both girl and boy. Good Luck...Tango

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