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Ballet Talk for Dancers

"Asked to Stay" w/o a residential program setup

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Oh thank you, vagansmom, for your clarification. I did in fact, misinterpret your post and am glad to know that I did in fact misinterpret. It would be a nightmare for me if my thoughts about what you were saying was in fact true.


I was invisioning lots of really good dancers (who should receive invites) getting them but lots of "on the border" dancers receiving them to just to pay the bills. It would be those "on the border" dancers I would worry about giving false hopes to as they are the ones with so much more to lose. The tops of the tops, will most likely make their way regardless. It is those "almosts" who could be hurt the most in a cash cow.


I am EXCITED to know I misunderstood.


Thanks again for clarifying!



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Now this puts me, as a Moderator, in a difficult situation. I will just say that there are some programs that do exist that do accept students who are not always destined for the professional ballet world. This is not a fact that is unknown by quite a few people, including teachers. There are many programs across the country - here in the USA, I mean - that could not survive financially if they only accepted students who had the real potential on all fronts - as they do, for example, at The Bolshoi and other similarly run programs that are subsidized in Europe and other countries.


I am not trying to say that this is why programs recruit students - that is not my reason for starting this thread. This was an aside.

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There are many programs across the country - here in the USA, I mean - that could not survive financially if they only accepted students who had the real potential on all fronts

Very very true. :cool2:

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I agree with BW.....and you need to remember, ballet schools are businesses that have a bottom line. There must be students paying full tuition to meet expenses, one of those expenses being the cost of training scholarship students, even if other donors contribute to these funds. There are so many "pre-professional" schools now. Not all but many compete for the "cream of the crop" and then fill the spots with, as you said “on the border" dancers.


As a dance teacher who has had many students asked to stay at pre-pro schools year round, I know from experience for this to be true. I also have had students asked to stay and the pre-pro school didn't even make an effort to find out if the training they would receive at home was adequate. And unfortunately making the dancer feel that if they did not take this year round opportunity NOW, they most likely were missing out on the training necessary for a professional career. Here I agree with Ms Leigh that if the training is available at home….the dancer should stay home with good training, a loving family to grow up with and a somewhat “normal” teen existence. This environment is more likely to produce a healthy, mature, young dancer.

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Well, this is an interesting thread for me to consider because this is exactly what happenned for what would have been my daughter's senior year in high school. She had just finished a very good year at a residential campus fully set for professional training and academics and residency, and then did the audition towards the end of a company related SI/school and was offered a spot (full tuition scholarship, as were, I believe all the others at that level at that time).


It was an period of high anxiety reviewing the decision, making the plans, etc. It was somewhat risky. Her reasoning seemed to be that this was a better match for her training-wise and if she was going to jump with both feet towards that future, this is where she should be. But housing was a huge hassle, and it was hard to believe that the school truly didn't have more leads than they were giving us. (They didn't - but it was hard to believe) Her first living situation started well, it seemed, and ended suddenly and disastrously. (She says it will make good material for her book). Her senior year took two years by correspondence as more credits were required than if she had just continued on, disruptions in living situations, the rigors of the program, and the challenge of doing such a thing when half your friends and associates are still in school, and half are not.


I think great caution is advised in this area, but don't have much further advice. It was workable for a senior year; it would have been disastrous for junior year. As a career training move, it very well might have been the best thing.


I think the schools should have a simple brochure related to this if they are going to invite students before they are fully set up that makes clear what they do and don't offer and support, what resources are in the area, etc.


And I do think it is true that if students are getting excellent instruction, well matched to their needs where they are, they can go back home, and return again another summer and the company will still be interested in them.

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I think that programs should make clear at the beginning that thye may ask kids to stay. That way, the parents and kids can talk over whether it is even an option. I think asking the captive audience(dk's) after the parents are gone if they want to audition to stay is a bad way to do things and I know several schools that do this. If it is an option, it should be included in the initial info sent out to families to be discussed and thought out before the last week of the summer. What kid is going to say no if asked to stay somewhere??? We have been on both sides of this coin. Asked to leave for a program with no support system for a 15 year old, and then later a boarding program. In the second program, my son was spoken to briefly and asked to give me a contact name and phone number. Nothing was discussed with him until they had talked to me. In the first, he was talked to and invited and I was an afterthought. I would think that if a school was reasonable, they would speak to parents first---unless they are talking to a 17 or 18 yo.

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A couple of points here: the SI my daughter attended did send out something with the pre-SI literature stating that there would be an audition during the program for those interested in year round. It did not however give any details about the program, what housing was or was not available, the cost of the program, how academics would have to be handled, the times of classes during the day, etc. etc. etc. As Syr mentioned, it would be far better if programs that were going to solicit year round students via their SI would give all parents some details about that program before the fact. Then, they could start thinking more in terms of what the reality of this training arrangement might entail, rather than just seeing it as a nebulus option, that there seems no 'harm' in allowing their dancer to pursue.


At this particular SI, dancers were told within about a week to 10 days after the audition if they were asked to stay. But, they were not told until the last few days of the SI and in some cases after the SI was over, if they would have a spot in the school's townhouse, which houses 6 girls and 6 boys. So, parents were usually exploring other housing options before this time and then several were scrambling around after they were told that no spot was available in the townhouse, to secure housing for their dancer to return to the program in just 3 more weeks. Again, one has to believe that there is a better way to handle this situation that does not involve such time constricted housing decisions for underage dancers, with parents living far from the city where housing must be secured.


On the other note that is floating through this thread, I would like to comment on the fact that many residency/company schools do indeed accept students who have little chance for a pro career. This is the case in just about every program that I know of. It happens rarely with those asked to stay via an SI or who are offered scholarships to attend the school after some other audition venue. I think it happens to some extent with some students who audition at venues other than the company SI, but usually only for those schools who have trouble filling their program (and for most of the major residencies, this is NOT the case.)


I think it is most often the case with those who may live near the school and often commute, rather than live in the dorms. Please do NOT misconstrue what I'm saying here. By no means am I suggesting that local students are all there simply to pay the bills. This is NOT what I am saying, nor is this the case for even the majority of local students. But, it does make sense that a school might accept young, local students (often at ages much younger than their audition tour or SI programs accept) into their beginning level programs. Over the years, these students' bodies change, interest shifts, facility becomes more evident, etc. and while they are still good, responsible students, whose training has been excellent, they may no longer be students with high potential for a pro ballet career. Some of these students will not be asked back, as the years go by and it becomes clearer that their prospects are dimming, but there are always some who do remain at these schools throughout high school, receiving excellent training, serving as model students and then go on to college dance programs or off to pursue another career objective. Their parents may also serve as the backbone of the parents' support group that provides much needed manpower, fundraising prowess and financial backing to the school as well.


Part of the reason that this happens is simply compassion and commitment to long term students who have been loyal and solid participants in the program since their grade school years. The other part is in many cases the fact that these students do provide steady income for the school, without taking up a bed in the limited available housing and without dipping into the scholarship fund pool. As long as the students in question are given good training that is meeting their needs AND they are given honest evaluations along the way of their career potential, this seems to be a win-win situation.

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Thanks syr! Lots of good info in your post for parents in this position.


Oh but to all, don't worry, when I talked about being naive, I didn't mean I was THAT naive. I know that the bottom ranks of most schools are filled with people who just want to dance for fun, may have potential before puberty hits, want to aim for dancing but may miss. That does pay the bills, I know that. I know that the average regular pre-pro school has to do this.


I'm talking (was being naive)about the "dangling of the coin" so to speak at a kid just to pay the bills. The invitation to remain at an SI whether solicited or not has a psychological effect attached to it. Those of us who've been around the block for a while know that it comes with some nods, some maybes and some "just another bodies". The "on the border" I was thinking of was was not the older set but the set of the age who would be believing that "an invitation" meant they had what it takes if the moons all align for the rest of their career. Most of those kids did know that already, they've been tagged at home and pushed to try an SI because of it. But I am from a small town, with a small studio and small studios around me. Not so many of those parents are as educated as those of us who have sought out BT to get educated. Those are the "on the borders" I speak of. The parents of the kids who think getting into an SI means they have "it". They haven't been to enough to know that "it" comes in lots of different packages and you can get accepted to many if you keep trying.


My younger DD has a friend who went away this summer and got one of these unsolicited invitations. She does not have the body, she is behind in her training for her age a good bit (by a national standard not the standard of her home studio), her family was honored. They DID get the idea that this meant she had "it" and they are uprooting immediately to make this "dream" happen for her because as the mom said, "they wouldn't ask her to stay if they did not see her potential". These are the "on the borders" I am talking about. Will she make it in dance, probably, she is good. Will she make it in ballet? Probably not, the moons would have to change direction some (which they might, she's still young enough although already through puberty so maybe not?). The mom wants the best for her DD and therefore was under the gun to make a decision. It makes me sad, that the "invite" may have been for a bill paying slot.


*edited to correct a missing word in the last paragraph by momof3darlings

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I feel as tho I must ask what may be perceived as a contraversial question here...are some kids asked to stay, because of money, as in, the program somehow knows that the family has $$$ ? I have heard hints of this for a while and I am tossing this out there. Conversely, are some kids not asked to stay, even tho they are talented because they would require scholarships? Perhaps the $$$'ed families of the borderline 'asked to stayers' are supporting the programs, maybe even beyond room, board and tuition, while potential talent is culled from locals who do not require room and board. Frankly, there is 'talent' everywhere and these programs really don't need to grab a mid teen when they have plenty to choose from right in their own city.

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AsleepAtTheWheel, thanks for asking the controversial questions: :)

are some kids asked to stay, because of money, as in, the program somehow knows that the family has $$$ ? I have heard hints of this for a while and I am tossing this out there. Conversely, are some kids not asked to stay, even tho they are talented because they would require scholarships?


I would say that, yes, occasionally some kids are asked to stay because of their family's potential nancial commitment to the institution. But that student has to be good enough so as not to embarrass the institution! :o Let's consider the case where a school has been approached by a well-known celebrity or "important" business person with a track record of generosity towards organizations his/her children attend. Perhaps this person has a dancing daughter or son who would like to train at this institution. This student doesn't have as much potential or talent, perhaps, as another student they're considering (who's not a standout but a pretty decent dancer who can be molded) . But the "important person's" child is decent enough.


Yes, many institutions, both ballet, academic, and whatever other kind, will accept the student whose parent will almost certainly support the school very generously over the student who has potential/talent but isn't such a standout that every pre-pro would do cartwheels to get. :) If the school had one slot to fill and they were trying to make a choice between, say, an Ashley Bouder (NYCB)or a famous/wealthy person's not equally talented dancing daughter, they'd choose Bouder for sure :)


I work in expensive private schools in CT with very well-known celebrities' children as well as children of business people and heirs who own most of the stock of well-known companies. Do academic schools seek out these students? You bet. But they still have to be good enough to do the work. The school will not offer the position to them if they can't be successful as a student there. They have turned down some of these students too.


The situation I know best involves a competitive boarding high school (accepts less than 10% of applicants) and the daughter of a famous actor. One of my kids was applying for a scholarship position there the same day as this actor's child. The school accepted my kiddo on a nearly full scholarship but didn't accept that other student because they didn't feel s/he could do the work.


Re your second question: Schools have a scholarship fund and they will use it each year on students whom they feel show extraordinary promise. Those are the students whose success will elevate or maintain a school's reputation as training the best. Those are the students whom the school is actively seeking and who give the teaching staff the most pleasure. Teachers live for those kinds of students. :flowers:

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I think that it is in fact the challenge of trying to read into exactly what the offer means that makes this all so tough.


The school may just be saying - you are of our caliber, you are a match for what we do here, we can teach you, you have potential, we would be happy to have you. Now if that student has better living and academic circumstances back home or elsewhere - and also equally excellent instruction available --- well why move at a young age for that? If the student is in the middle of no where, they may very well need to move for that ... or the best situation they can find, IF they have the potential and they even want a CHANCE to explore it.


But then there are all those gradations of stronger singnals. Scholarships from mild/merit - to full - to full plus stipend. Help with putting together the housing/academic plan. (And of course, some schools may simply have more to put into a package like that). ....A call to the parent to discuss the school/companies potential interest, what the training plan is, etc. The student who is truly recruited.


Going back to my daughter's situation and what we weighed .... The academic concerns weighed very slightly --- She's had a great charter school middle school education, and some good dollops of excellence through junior year. Both my older sister and I had scooted out of high school combining 11/12 courses in one year (we were so bored), so I was more upset at how many MORE course she had to take to finish to get a degree. She made a very carefully calculated decision about the training that she felt would maximize her potential at her age and level -- well realizing that she was giving up some other pluses that were also important to her. Again, if it had been a year earlier, I think it would not have been an acceptable decision. I am really glad she had that one more traditional academic year, AP English, regular classes, as well as a year to be a real kid in school with all the trappings.

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.....students whom they feel show extraordinary promise. Those are the students whose success will elevate or maintain a school's reputation as training the best. Those are the students whom the school is actively seeking and who give the teaching staff the most pleasure. Teachers live for those kinds of students.


I think this attitude is a bit of a slippery slope.


Presumably these extraordinary students are rare, and one hopes that the teachers gain pleasure from teaching the rest of their students as well.


I would hate to think that teachers just "put up with" all those hardworking "average" students who are there to help pay the bills.

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