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Study in an Arts-Rich Environment in Australia


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I'm not to sure if this topic belongs here so please feel free to move it.


My husband and I are currently looking into academic schools for our daughter (2 yo) to attend. To get into a good school here you need to book early. She has just started "Movement to Music" and is a real little performer, so we are now considering looking at academic schools which also enable pre-professional study of the arts (i.e. ballet).


I came across by accident The McDonald College in Sydney.


I was wondering has anybody come across similar schools and what have their experiences been? Is school work still done seriously? Do these schools really prepare a dancer for a professional career?


Much appreciated! :green:

Edited by Bluenightdipper
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Oh, please resist the plague which has befallen America, where the pre-schools are aimed at sending the kids to Harvard and Yale. It is a preposterous undertaking, and the purveyors of such nonsense deserve long, lingering, painful deaths.

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Is this your first child?


The reason I ask is that there seems to be an anxiety associated with the first-born. I have fallen prey to it myself!!


Since I speak from experience, I feel it safe to say that even if your child ends up subjected to public school, she will be just fine seeing as you're sure to be very involved parents.


Aged 2 is waaaaay too young to be deciding upon whether she needs or even will want to pursue ballet as a career. I know it may not feel like it but there is plenty of time.


Wait until she is old enough to attend a good ballet school, and see if she begs to take lessons. If she does, be aware that she still may hit around 8, when the real ballet training begins, and she may hate it!


Expose her to many different things, and see which direction she naturally tends.

Dancing around the house is a long way from 1st position!!


Noodle around this board, educate yourself in the meanwhile about really solid ballet training, and time will tell!!


And if it does turn out that she wants to pursue this as a career, you'll really need this board, and all of the wonderful people on it!!!!!!

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Can I add too, that as an educator, one of the things we learn is that at 2 years old, a child's language capacities are not advanced as far as their desire to communicate, and so often, movement in children this age is highly expressive because language isn't necessarily so advanced as their motor skills. So most children of this age move beautifully and expressively.


Such a pity that the majority of us lose that skill of free and expressive movement later on! :D


But on a more serious note, as someone who lived & taught in Australia for some time, Australian (public - ie state- funded) schools are still pretty good. Finding an "arts rich envirnoment" outside of the state capital cities will be more of a challenge, but I come from a theatre family - actress-dancer mother and all of us 5 siblings have made careers of some sort in the performing arts and we were brought up in a large provinicial town. So we were raised in that atmosphere in a very real (not aspirational or forced) way. We all went to local schools, but did lots of activities after school - however, these were never forced, but were from our own inclinations or offered and taken up or not. And these were wide-ranging (I rode horses and sailed as well as danced) and included not being allowed television any time of the day before 7pm!!! One of my sibs attended the Australian Ballet school, and danced professionally.


So I very much endorse Mr Johnson's response - and seeing students & graduates in my own performing arts department, as they & their careers develop I really think more & more that talent reveals itself - it can't be forced, and those around children & young people need to offer the right support for this. But I'm never really sure about 'hot housing' - I've seen too many young people driven by their parents' aspirations. (And what I think about that is unprintable on a nice messageboard like this one!).

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When my DD was young 3 to 6 years, we lived in a very small town in Northeastern Namibia (Southern Africa). Not a lot of arts enrichment going on there. But my husband spent a great deal of time fostering DDs love of dance.

In the afternoons they would put on music and dance around the living room, spinning and twirling, using ribbons, flags and paper as props they had made. (Oh if I had known to make video tapes, but I was at work.) DH would make up dances for them to do together and for DD to copy, and DD would make up dances for her father to copy- complete with makeup and hair bows. The Namibians, particularly the men, thought he was out of his mind dancing around with a child - but DD learned to love to move, to listen to music and that dancing was a joyful activity that she could share. When I read what many of the early arts enrichment and movement classes include, well that's pretty much what they did spontaneously, but what I believe was really special was that her Dad was as involved and enjoying it as much as she did.

Dh and I really believe it was this that inspired a love of the dance and arts for DD, along with a whole lot of later influences. What was most important was that it was something shared not something done.

Of course at almost 14 DD cringes at even the mention of her father spinning around the living room with her with bows in his hair, but hopefully there will be a day when she too will appreciate it.

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Knock Knock


My daughters are now over 13 so I hope you don't mind me voicing my opinion.


I think you need to consider where your child will be happiest and you do have a few years to mull it over. Other things to consider are the cost and the strain that some of these 'specialist' schools place on families. If you wish your daughter to be

be involved in arts take her to different performances, art galleries, enjoy music in your own home, read to her. All those things that make our lives rich with joy and beauty. And don't forget other activities sport, craft whatever. Don't force things or do too much, she is still very young. And I believe children need time to be children just to fool around, daydream etc. I pity those children that are hothoused with every moment taken up. Some of my fondest childhood memories are playing in the park with my dog, climbing trees, running barefoot across the burning carpark to the pool. Let your child be a child.


Also don't fall for the market driven private vs public, values/no values talk. Public schools DO teach values and have done for years. Make your choice of school based on good research of the school, talk to other parents. As for Mc Donald College, my daughters attend a ballet school where there were some students that left to go to McDonald College. They were nice dancers but would never have gone on to a professional career they didn't have the drive. Why they changed I'm not sure, I didn't know the parents or the girls that well. I have heard that with McD's the students work on dance before and after school, as all schools in NSW have to teach students a minimum required number of hours per subject.


If you want her to take ballet and dance classes send her to a good ballet school (do your research first) if she is talented let it develop there rather than in an academic school. I think academic schools really don't have the time to fully teach ballet no matter what they say.

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:yes: Thank you everyone for your helpful comments.


Like you all suggest my husband and I are exploring possibilities. We are trying to introduce our daughter to as many things as possible and then she can choose those, which she likes.

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Sounds great, bluenightdipper!!


I commend you for your research. Hope you enjoy Ballet Talk for Dancers, and, our sister board, Ballet Talk!!

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