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What age to start thinking about SI?


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I am trying to decide if I am going to take DD to audition for a SI. I tend to be a REALLY protective parent, and I am having a difficult time deciding. I am looking for your experiences with SI's and how young your kids were when they first went.


I really think that she could benefit, but I wish she didn't have to go away from home. I do think that she is responsible enough, but she is only 10. Seems very young to me. I am thinking we still have lots of time-any thoughts??


BTW-educate a newbie-what is a Dolly Dinkie school??

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I think 10 is too young to go away. I would try to find something local to do during the summer that you could take her each day. (of course that is a general statement and some kids do very well at that age). I think summer dance for 10 year olds is great but if you own studio does one I would opt for that first.

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Welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers KatieScarlett!! :blushing:


I will answer you as best as I can:

First of all follow this link for more than you ever wanted to know about 'Dolly Dinkle'

Dolly Dinkle


Now to your daughter. What does she want to do? Did she raise the subject with you and is asking to audition for SIs that may be out of town?


If yes, then why not try some auditions.


If not, then I would relax, take it easy, and start saving your pennies now!!!!


There is still plenty of time for her to begin the SI process.

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KatieScarlett (love the name!), I agree with previous posts which state that it is not necessary to go away so young if there is a program for them at home. If there is not, then look into the programs that have been recommended for younger students, like Burklyn Ballet in VT. There are also some other programs listed that are a bit more "camp" like than intensive, with a very safe atmosphere. Check out those forums about that! :blushing:

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Hi KatieScarlett,


I just wanted to say Welcome and that I love your name! Is that your name in real life? My last child was going to be Katie Scarlett, but he turned out to be a boy. :thumbsup:




(More on-topic - my dd is 12 and I won't be sending her anywhere out of town for at least another year and then only if she *really* wants to do it).

Edited by airlie
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Knock-knock. I'd like to add some thoughts to this topic that I haven't seen mentioned in the past.


First of all, parents of young dancers should distinguish between starting their DK's with SI auditions and actually following up on SI offers by having them attend the programs. I deliberately introduced my daughter to SI auditions the year before I suspected that she'd outgrow her non-audition SI. This way, she could check out what auditions were like without the pressure of needing to be accepted. I'm glad we did this since, sure enough, she was a little overwhelmed by the experience the first time, but has loved auditioning ever since.


Next, I agree that younger than 12 is probably too young to go away to an SI, but it's not too young to send your child to overnight camp. Kids need to learn how to get over homesickness and deal with bunkmates before they can deal with the intensity of Summer Intensives. (And some moms need to be forcibly removed from the assumed role of hairdresser. :( )


So if anyone here read my recent, very long-winded post, this is what I meant about staying two steps ahead of your kids. Auditions and learning to be away from home are those two steps you can help your child prepare for before taking the step of sending them off to an SI.

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Pierrette, you make some good points. But beware of going to SI auditions prior to being ready to send your child. It can be very hard to say no when --surprise--an acceptance comes. Your dancer may beg and plead, and you may somehow feel that if they don't go they will be missing out on something... And all too soon you get caught up in the SI frenzy. I would wait until you are really ready to accept what happens when an invitation is given.


I know that you can go to auditions having aggreed with your dancer that there will be no attendence that season. But you would be surprised at how that agrement can be forgotten if you have a child that really wants to go.


From experience I think 10 is way too young for a serious away SI, and anything less serious is not needed at this age. Let her go to "camp" instead.

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I agree that it is easy to get caught up in the audition frenzy, but I think it really helped my dd to audition last year -- without going away. She was very nervous about auditioning, and ended up in tears after last year's Nutcracker audition. We discussed it, and she did a couple auditions last year mainly to help her get over that-- and boy did she!


This year she wasn't nervous at all. That partly may be due to maturity, but I think it helped that she knew what to expect etc... She's be turning 13 this summer, and we're letting her go away for the first time. I might've waited another year, but her teachers and AD thought it would be good for her to go somewhere this year-- so she's doing it. I'm still nervous about her age, but she's mature and responsible-- and so excited! I think the age range to go away varies due to the varied maturity levels of the children in question. Just trust yourself-- and read all the good advice here-- it's really helped me.

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Ten year olds want to do what the big girls are doing and that can cause a bit of "what do I do?" for the parents. My dd went to her home ballet school's Jr. Intensive at that age. If your school does not have one, look around and see if there is one in your area. It will give your dd the "I'm doing a SI" experience.


Stork, you are sooo right. I almost got caught in the "Let them audition and try it out" trap.


She got an acceptance and we were facing the ABT dilema first hand. It was very exticing that she had an acceptance, but we calmed down and decided to not let her go just yet. She had her heart set on other first choice schools that would take longer to hear from than ABT's deadline. Even if it turns out that ABT is the only acceptance she got, (and can't go because we decided to wait for other envelops), it was a high stress time for the family. But she did learn a few things, found that she did like some schools and not others. Information we would not have if we hadn't tried the SI audition frenzy.

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  • 2 weeks later...

My DD brought up the whole SI think last year. At 10 she went to CPYB for one week and I went with her making it a vacation. This year she will do Milwaukee Ballet for 3 weeks. However, she is staying with family for the first half of it until I come up the second half. I think she would still be way too young to be 'sent' away. From what I read here the average is 12-13 years old for the every so scarey dorm life. I guess each individual is different and can handle things sooner than others. Situations vary too. You just have to listen, to some extent, to your child. You know your child best. Just don't force the issue. :o

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A caution -- what you read here is probably not "the average" or "the norm". Posters on this board are a highly self-selected lot (self-selecting for mostly being "on track" for a pro career, AND a certain obsessiveness about the endeavor :o:cat::P ). Victoria has been saying for years that she recommends staying at the home studio until 13 or so (but I don't want to put words into her mouth -- perhaps that has changed). Also, just in my experience as a mom and a teacher, many, many kids are not ready for the residential experience at an SI, which is very different from a summer camp. The ones that do push for it are the exception, not the norm -- at 12, anyway. Thirteen is a different story; there's a large developmental leap in those years.


I'm really guessing here, but I'd think that the average first age for SIs has dropped substantially over the decades, and especially in the last few years. There seems to have been an explosion in SIs -- in awareness, in the "need" for dancers of all calibers to go to one, in availability. Just as an example, four or five years ago Joffrey Midwest held one audition here in Chicago, and there were only a handful of dancers under 14. This year, about 50-60 dancers auditioned in the 12-14 audition alone.

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I think that the "right" age to go away depends on the child's maturity and readiness, but also on the structure of the summer program. I feel comfortable sending my not-yet-10-year-old dd to a program that has been designed for young children, and has many years experience caring for young children, and a reputation for proving excellent supervision. I would not feel comfortable sending her to a program where she would be housed with teenagers and be expected to behave as a teenager.


I am one who let my dd audition for a program, on the advice of her teachers, without fully thinking through the ramifications. Once she was accepted, she was so excited to go that I felt I could not deny her the opportunity. If you knew me, you would know that I'm a very (over) protective parent; I have never even let my kids go to a daycamp unless I personally knew the instructors! Sometimes, we have to let them go a little bit; we have to let them follow their dreams. We need to make sure they will be be safe, but then let them live their lives. For us, it is not about training for a professional career; it is about allowing dd to be who she is meant to be. Maybe that is a professional ballet dancer, or a modern dancer, or maybe something completely unrelated to dance. In any case, she will learn something about herself this summer, meet kids who share her interests, see a new part of the country, and learn new skills - dance skills and life skills. She will have FUN - she would gladly choose a summer of ballet over a summer of archery and canoeing. Then she will come home and have plenty of time to play with her friends, go to the beach, and spend time with family. That said, I'm sure I will miss her terribly while she is away.

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