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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Tiers in Residential Schools

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I don't think I would categorize the various residential school into "tiers" if that word is meant to connote "quality" or "prestige".


In looking at the various residency schools, I do think they can be categorized by a variety of factors. Some are attached to professional companies. Some are a division of a larger fine arts school or collaboration of schools. Some provide academics on site. Some provide academics by arrangement with a separate academic school entity. Some provide academics via on-line education programs. Some provide academics via a bricks-and-mortar school program. Some have stronger academic offerings/opportunities than others. Some have more performance opportunities than others within the residency program. Some provide outside performance opportunities. Some provide outside performance opportunities with professional companies. Some provide outside performance opportunities with pre-professional entities and/or amateur entities. Some offer more help with post-grad placement than others. Some have better connections for purposes of helping with post-grad placement than others. Some are more selective based upon body type than others. Some focus more on training for a particular company than others. Some have more college-bound seniors than others.


Depending on which combinations of the various particular characteristics best suit your family, your dancers, and your combined goals, the various residency programs will "rank" differently. The best fit for you and yours, like so much else in ballet or academic training, will not always be the same as for someone else.


I always read the bios of the various dancers that I see. I presume that in that little bit of space provided for such in the programs that not every program the dancer attended can always be named. I can only guess as to why they (or someone else) makes the choice as to what to include. I suspect name recognition is certainly a consideration.


I have noticed one particular residency program that is seldom mentioned on this Board as one that I see over and over again in many bios.

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According to my (unscientific- just read their bios and tried to keep track) research of the dancers at ABT (Principals, Soloists, Corps, and Studio Co.,), there seems to be a wide range of paths that these dancers took that landed them at ABT. There are some common threads, such as many studied at one time or another with either SAB's or ABT's SI., but that's not the only way.


Thank you...that is exactly the list I wanted to see!

Edited by kikiswede
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Thank you Redstorm for starting this thread. It is very interesting indeed. The information is surely going to be very helpful for parents and dancers facing the decision of going to a residency program, selecting a residency program, and especially in creating a list of questions to ask. My child is finishing six years at a residency program. We actually visited two. (At the time, we had only heard of just one other!) He was accepted at both. The decision was made easier because of a scholarship offer (and the child's heart, mind, and soul were totally committed). Our lives were turned upside down. If I'd known about this BT4D, I would have read and read for days on end. We didn't ask any questions. I've never had a conversation with the Artistic Director since the day we signed the enrollment paper. (We've always exchanged complimentary phrases and smiles in the hallway on performance days.) I've never had a meaningful discussion with my child's teacher/coach about the kid's potential, progress, or future plans. My husband and I, for the most part, have held our breathe and waited. Everything has turned out just perfectly. We were just never "in the loop". We did what we were told. We figured that these people were the professionals and we weren't suppose to mettle, especially since we weren't paying the full amount. The results are wonderful (dream come true). The child is extremely well trained and will earn his academic diploma in May. He has the future for which he worked. However, the road to this happy story has been very hard on us. (I wouldn't recommend it. I sort of wished I had asked questions and felt part of my child's training.) Thus, I can sympathize with parents who are at wits end, ranting, panicing, and even willing to sling a little mud. (As I've before, everyone is entitled to his own opinion, and I've never read any of this as the God's-honest-gospel truth, just one person's view!) I do know how isolated I've been for years and how scary its been. Now, after six years, I've found this resource. There are all of these people posting questions and conducting meaningful, helpful, and generally very, very intelligent conversations on line. I'm really still trying to sort in all out. As much information as the earlier posts on this thread give, I'm still baffled. The implications are still everywhere. All the SI threads mention "name schools", too. Everyone writing seems to know which places these are. I don't. Remember, I had to google the location of the deleted thread. I honestly have no idea. Again, I still can't imagine that there are enough residency programs in this country to consider any of them second tier (whatever that is)! I thought that a residency program WAS first tier--just by being a residency program! A couple of years ago, I started reading ballet company websites. I learned then that the dancers come from EVERYWHERE. Yes, the implication of "first" tier is that it is somehow better than "second" tier. Yes, the implication is that "name" SIs are somehow better than the rest. I'm not going to blinding believe these rankings. (Actually, I don't even care that much!) I'd just like to know which places are being discussed. Sometimes all of this is like a foreign language! I can't find the dictionary!

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Worry not one bit. You and your son are in a fine place. I would like very much to speak to sometime in that I have plenty of South Carolina blood flowing through my body and because I have walked the same halls you have with many of the same thoughts and attitudes. It turned out quite nicely thank you. There are classmates of my dd that are at ABT, SFB, Royal Ballet of London, Stuttgart, etc.


Perhaps if you would like to speak sometime, I could pass my phone number to Ms West and she could pass it to you. Also, you will reach 35 (I think that is the magic number) posts soon and I will PM you.



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I have noticed one particular residency program that is seldom mentioned on this Board as one that I see over and over again in many bios.


OK Dancemaven, I'm really curious now. Which school is it?

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There are some common threads, such as many studied at one time or another with either SAB's or ABT's SI., but that's not the only way.


Thank you...that is exactly the list I wanted to see!



That may be the case but I do not think going to SAB's, ABT's or any other SI is going to have any great effect on whether they make it professionally. My dd attended ABT one summer and numerous others over the years but her foundation was developed at the two residencies she attended. The SI's served only to introduce her to other environs, other dancers, and other instructors. Sound foundations are not built in three to six week spurts. They are built over years of detailed disciplined training.


Thanks for the opportunity to express this opinion as I have always wanted to put it out there given all the efforts that go into attending SIs. The other advantage was to maintain her strength over the summer down period.



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mylildancer, Virginia School of the Arts (VS) is one residency that is not discussed alot on this Board, but nevertheless, is one I have noticed appears more often than not in at least one, if not more, of the dancers' bios that I read. VSA does occassionally show up in our discussions of residencies, but seldom with the verve or detail of many of the other residencies.

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Thanks CDM. I was pretty sure my child's school is a good one. As one of the other posts indicates, the best school is the one that fits your child. It does. The child was "at home" instantly. Even at age eleven I knew it. I'm trying to post a little more frequently just in order to gain the PM priveleges. There was a link I didn't have access to because of so few posts. I'll get there

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Just a little add on, since the ABT dancer biography listing made me curious. I discovered 4 dancers at ABT graduated from-- or had significant training from the Kirov/ Universal Ballet in Washington D.C. and Sasha Radechsky (can't remember how to spell it) also list the school in his biography--unless he meant the one in Russia--it gets confusing sometimes. I just looked, because my dd's going to the SI at Universal this summer. It always makes you feel like you're spending your $$$ better if you can find professionals that went to the school you're trusting your child to, and since mine has never left home before, I need all the reassurance I can get!

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quote]discovered 4 dancers at ABT graduated from-- or had significant training from the Kirov/ Universal Ballet in Washington D.C. and Sasha Radechsky (can't remember how to spell it) also list the school in his biography--unless he meant the one in Russia--it gets confusing sometimes


Mr. Radetsky comes from a wide variety of ballet training actually. Basically he did most of the more Vaganova, SIs of the 1980s and 1990s. He was in the School of Classical Ballet, SI only from what I remember (Baryshnikov's ABT school program in the late 1980s-early 1990s) as a very young boy 10-13, I believe. He also studied at the Bolshoi program at Vail, Co where he won a two year scholarship to the Bolshoi school in Moscow (completing the 7th and 8th year of study there). From Moscow he completed two or three years in Kirov/Universal Academy in Washington, DC. I do remember him in the year end performance of 1995, but for some reason I think he graduated in 1996. Boy, time does fly by...these are dates and years I should remember. I will check to make sure I have the dates right! :)

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Wow vrsfanatic! What a great, detailed response-- I appreciate it. That's a lot of traveling to get training as a young man. Like many people mention, the listed biographies of dancers don't tell the whole story about their training. Thanks again!

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vrs, I hope you heard the clapping and bravis -- that's a wonderful summary!


The biographies don't tell the whole story; that's true. There are some companies that want their dancers to be graduates of their company school, and some do have most of their training there. But others may only be there for a few months, a year at most. They're "graduates" -- but most of their training was elsewhere. Also, some students may stay at their home studios longer than others, because they're not mature enough to live away from home, financial reasons, etc. Some of these smaller studios may be excellent and provide very solid training. Going to one of the larger, more well-known schools may give a student polish, but the years at the home studio are very important. Most important of all to remember, I think, is that no school can magically transform a child with average talents into a star, and no school can guarantee that their graduates will have a job with the company of their dreams. (I'm glad your DD wlll be coming to UBA this summer; I teach ballet history there :thumbsup: )

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I heard you teach there, and how wonderful your class is! :):D


My dd is thrilled to be going, and would love to attend year round. However, that might not be possible yet due to finances etc... Therefore, it is good to hear that attending "the big year-round program" of your dreams isn't necessary to have a career!

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my dear pal sent her one dk, now a principal dancer, to a residential school for all of their high school years. that dk loved it and thrived there,. getting a regional contracts straight out of school as a soloist and moving a year later to an even better position. her younger dk is also very strong, with great protentioal for a pro career, but has a very different personality type. mom feels her elder dk's residential school would be as wrong for her youngest as it was right for his older dance- sibling. now she is in the process of seeking one that is right for her younger & feels she is starting all over again-which she basically is, in search of the right fit for her 2nd dk. as all have said, the combo of great teachers and the right environment for a dks learning style and persona matter most.

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