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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Inaccurate statements


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No one will ever know what the truth is. An indiviual's own perception is their perceived truth on each side of the equation. One person's "fair and balanced" is another's hyperbole.

 

It is very unfortunate that things have dissolved.

 

In order to have worth while and fair discussions about important issues that pertain to ballet programs anywhere of any type, perhaps the best way is to have well thought out and truly equitable guidelines that are made clear to everyone - teachers, administrators, parents, students, moderators, interested by standers - so that everyone who reads or posts will know what is or is not considered acceptable from the Administrator of this board's point of view.

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  • Mel Johnson

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  • BW

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  • kikiswede

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  • AsleepATheWheel

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Sometimes, what some feel is misrepresentation is the actual truth about what is happening with a family. We have all heard the shocking stories, here and there, and we think...can this be true? Well, lots and lots of times, it is.

 

Reading on BT, and I havent been here that long, it's amazing how many positive postings there are on the various schools, with very few negative or dissenting opinions. I understand that many people value their privacy and choose not to post. When someone actually works up the courage to post a more negative experience that they have had...well, how do we all respond to this? Often, it's not up to the members of BT because the moderators set the tone and decide what we can see and respond to, as well as how we respond. I understand the need to keep the boards tidy... but why are we cut off from open discussion if it's regarding a negative experience?

 

I dont know if what happened is true or not, but I would like to formulate my own opinion.

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I think that the most important thing to remember is that everyone's comments on this board are all slightly colored by their individual experiences to each situation. As a ballet parent, it is next to impossible to be completely objective when it comes to our dancers. And, while Kikiswede may have been venting regarding certain issues as they pertained to her dancers - we all know what goes on between ballet administrators, parents and dancers - and that is that parents cannot advocate for their children without repercussions.

 

When Mel "takes sides" and removes a thread from this board - it illustrates how little control we have over our dancers ballet training - we cannot even "vent" on BT4D. The reality is - we don't really know what happened. It is most likely a combination of both sides - but it is important to remember that this parent spent 4 years (I think) at this school. Her anger at a certain situation did not occur overnight. What went on to make her finally take a stand? What went on to make the administrator address her on BT4D? We must read between the lines. But now - we cannot even do that.

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To be clear, my daughters are enjoying the classes. They auditioned in two performances at the same time. The decision to not do the ballet program's performance is a practical one based on rehearsal demands and wanting to also complete an academic senior project required. The casting helped to make the decision easier to figure out. The other sister is also a singer, so she wanted to focus on the performance with both dance and singing. I hope this clears up motivations here.

Edited by kikiswede
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Okay, I will probably regret this, but how do you audition for a performance in a pre-professional program and then be able to withdraw based on the parts assigned?? :wub: I am for sure no expert on the whole culture of ballet and auditions but I could certainly be comfortable in saying it wouldn't be acceptable or tolerated at the professional schools I am familiar with.

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Yes, censorship lives. As does the climate of fear. And it is one thing to close a thread and another to remove it all together, including posts from other parents that had nothing to do with the program involved and everything to do with coming out from behind closed doors and speaking of things that would benefit an entire world wide "village."

 

A post is neither TRUE or FALSE. A post is a post is a post. And readers can certainly read and understand that a post is one persons opinion. There are implications and inferences. And the way a person posts and another responds can tell us much more than the written word itself.

 

Unfortunate set of circumstances all the way around.

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Sometimes there are schools or productions that ask for an agreement or "contract" with the students after auditions but before rehearsals begin. I am familiar with this from several different well thought of venues.

 

*P.S. Having written this I will say that I am not talking about productions that are part of the regular school curriculum - as in their spring performances and the like, but extra curricular performances that are considered optional. I felt that I needed to correct myself and thus have added this to make myself clear.

Edited by BW
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  • Administrators

At the professional schools in Canada that I am familiar with, the performances are really part of the program and the expectation is that dancers will prepare for the roles as assigned. Of course, that doesn't mean that last minute changes won't occur and these would be at the discretion of the AD. I am trying to think of a situation where a student declined a part, but in our limited experience I just can't think of one.

 

Are the expectations different in US schools?

 

I know that here there are some local productions which cast from open auditions, and these of course require some sort of contract or agreement prior to rehearsals, but this is a very different procedure to what you see in the full-time schools.

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Please understand this is just MY perspective… What I basically came away thinking after having read kikiswede’s posts were: 1- Kiki moved the entire family for ONE kid’s dream. 2- The family now thinks the price was too high to pay. 3- The family was so overblown and seduced by the hype and they failed to consider all the ramifications. 4- The training is good but the administration is somewhat strict and heavy handed.

 

Kiki admitted she failed to do enough research and is duplicitous (as many parents are). I don’t think any of these 4 points would really stop some one from sending their child to this program. Also the discussion was moving AWAY from this particular program to a more general discussion about 1st versus 2nd and 3rd tier programs, moving an entire family versus just sending the dancer, etc. The reply by the program’s director – attacking the original poster (giving very specific family information) and the subsequent actions by the BT4D board was far more injurious to the program’s reputation than the proceeding discussions.

:wub:

I also belong to a college admissions forum where “the good, the bad and the ugly” about specific LACs and universities are discussed very openly. In one thread posters were identifying colleges that were a disappointment after the college tour. What one poster viewed as a negative about a mid-western university – I saw as very positive and added that school to my DD’s short list.

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I have been thinking about the declining of the part situation. If one is planning to be a dancer, one has to get used to the idea that one has absolutely no choice in casting whatsoever. Many times, dd has not been pleased with an assigned part. That is life in show biz. You prepare for the part, do your best and that is that. Plus, there is a grade assigned for participation and effort and heaven knows what else :wub: . I can't imagine dd even being able to decline a part.

 

My guess is that there is something else going on here.

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I feel compelled to offer one small observation here. This is not to excuse what's happened today, but maybe to simply remind other parents about the "caveat emptor" nature of this board, which I certainly have experienced first-hand myself. BT4D essentially is owned and operated by teachers. If they tend to give each other the benefit of a doubt first, well, they do. It saddens me deeply that this whole "crisis" does demonstrate that there is often an adversarial relationship between parents and teachers/administrators. I wish it weren't so because we all do tend to have similar goals -- helping our kids get the most out of their ballet experiences. But we often do differ on strategies about how to achieve those goals and it's a shame we can't always communicate freely about those differences.

 

I think we're beating our heads against a cyber brickwall when we demand the ability to post anything and everything about schools. Until a parent owns and operates a board where teachers can enter at their own risk, we kind of do have to respect the rules of the house here. We don't have to agree with them, but it probably behooves us to respect them if we want access to all the other helpful info.

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Okay, I will probably regret this, but how do you audition for a performance in a pre-professional program and then be able to withdraw based on the parts assigned?? :wub: I am for sure no expert on the whole culture of ballet and auditions but I could certainly be comfortable in saying it wouldn't be acceptable or tolerated at the professional schools I am familiar with.

In our community, if kids aren't dancing they are acting, singing or doing musical theatre. Musical Theatre kids also benefit from the ballet training. During Nutcracker they are pulled into the performance from these outside groups, and everyone enjoys themself. When our local Theatre has a musical, many of the dancers are incorporated and this gives more positive exposure of the ballet program's name to a different audience. In our case, dancers auditioned for both a musical at our theatre and the ballet. It is a new ballet so there was no knowledge at auditions for how many roles would be cast or what most of them would be.

 

Some dancers are in both performances if they don't have principle parts and the directors of both are careful to not conflict performance or rehearsal schedules when possible. These are kids who go to school together in highschool and middle school.

 

The ballet cast list and characters came out...and was still in flux when my daughters felt is was wiser to focus on only one performance for reasons stated earlier. There was no performance commitment letter issued yet to either group, but those letters will come soon. After you accept a role, and sign the commitment, then you are expected to be in it to the end. The process had not evolved to that point yet. There was no blind siding anyone here, nor did anyone just walk out of rehearsals. I hope that helps clarify.

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Since I have a dancer away at a residency, not at the one being discussed, I was very interested in this thread. While it can be uncomfortable to read some of the information, meaning I might get that "uh-oh" feeling, I think it is important for parents and students contemplating a residency program to hear the "good, the bad and the ugly". It is part of the research necessary to make a decision about a program. I've always found this site to be a good research tool!

 

I really do agree with the perspective "thedriver" wrote about in her post, very well said.

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Please understand this is just MY perspective… What I basically came away thinking after having read kikiswede’s posts were: 1- Kiki moved the entire family for ONE kid’s dream. 2- The family now thinks the price was too high to pay. 3- The family was so overblown and seduced by the hype and they failed to consider all the ramifications. 4- The training is good but the administration is somewhat strict and heavy handed.

 

Kiki admitted she failed to do enough research and is duplicitous (as many parents are). I don’t think any of these 4 points would really stop some one from sending their child to this program. Also the discussion was moving AWAY from this particular program to a more general discussion about 1st versus 2nd and 3rd tier programs, moving an entire family versus just sending the dancer, etc. The reply by the program’s director – attacking the original poster (giving very specific family information) and the subsequent actions by the BT4D board was far more injurious to the program’s reputation than the proceeding discussions.

:offtopic:

I also belong to a college admissions forum where “the good, the bad and the ugly” about specific LACs and universities are discussed very openly. In one thread posters were identifying colleges that were a disappointment after the college tour. What one poster viewed as a negative about a mid-western university – I saw as very positive and added that school to my DD’s short list.

It is good to see healthy balanced views expressed here. Thanks for the objectivity.
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To the question of having to accept parts if cast. It probably depends on the location. My DD is at a public non-residential arts school as a dance and vocal major. This year she was accepted into the school's dance ensemble and chose to participate. At the start of the year they signed a contract for the ensemble stating that they would participate in all dance productions as cast/assigned. This was a very clear expectation for the ensemble members. If they did not want to make this commitment they could continue on as dance majors but in a different track of classes and then had the option of auditioning for productions or not.

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