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Small new school vs more established studio?

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Since reading this board we have realized that our daughters are not dancing enough and are in the process of exploring options for the fall. Since our 11 yr old has professional aspirations, we're trying to balance her 'need' to dance with those of the rest of the family! There seems to have been many changes in the greater Boston area the past couple of years with new studios opening, one sold to a choreographer and one merged with Boston Ballet. Ideally, it would be best not to drive into Boston 5 days a week (or more<smile>) so we have looked at studios west of the city.


As far as brand new studios go, how does one evaluate if it's the right place for the next year or two (preferably longer) or are they too much of a risk?




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tc17, I don't know if you've read through the helpful sticky on the main Pre Pro/Residential forum: Evaluating a Program but there are some good pointers in there - even for new programs.


Back to small new school vs. more established... Either way, you still need to know the important stuff! :ermm:


The Greek chorus response here is to ascertain whether or not the actual ballet training that is being given is truly top notch. Now that's all fine if you know what you're looking at. If, however, ballet is not your "language" - it can make accurate judgment impossible. Naturally whatever you can learn about the background of the individual teachers as well as the mission of the program in question will be helpful, and, one would hope, this should be available in print. Even then, unless there is some way to really get some knowledgable guidance as to teaching abilities of the individual teachers your own child will have, it's tough to really know whether to enroll your daughter in the program.


If you know that Mr. or Ms. XYZ formerly danced for and taught at QXR company and DVD school and believe that former school to have a really excellent reputaion that's a help...but it sure would be great to have a variety of first hand feedback about the particular teachers and the director of the new school you are considering. And this goes for the second and very important aspect to judging any program one considers - and that is to find out as much as you can about the "ambience" of the program - as in will it be an atmosphere in which your child will feel comfortable and thrive? More plusses for getting as many first hand opinions from a variety of people who have had personal experience with the teacher(s) and even the director.


If you feel comfortable giving the name of the program or of the teacher(s) and director, there's a much better chance that you will get some responses that will have the potential of being more helpful than these kinds of general "pointers". :clover:

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Guest costumier

Not sure about evaluating the potential of the school, I guess it comes down to the background and track record of the teachers. And the quality of instruction will depend to a great degree on the individual teacher wherever you go.


Our DDs attend a very small school with an excellent teacher, and I'd say there are definite pluses and minuses. Some advantages we've found: smaller classes, more individual attention, all students taught by the best teachers (little ones not taught by "assistants"), more performing opportunities (every senior student is "special" and dances many times, learns a lot of repertoire). Some disadvantages are: natural attrition can lead to classes getting so small they're no longer viable at the top levels, loss of a certain level of formality seems to be inevitable in very small classes, less peer support, can't stage shows with such high production values (if that's important to you). There are social aspects to being in a tight-knit studio community that may be an advantage or a disadvantage to you depending on your point of view.

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Hi BW,


Thanks for the reminder about the archives and your input! While we, as parents, have learned a lot in the past year, ballet is not our first or second or even fifth language. We did read through the thread you mentioned a couple of months ago, and again last night, along with several others<grin> . . .


I like your idea of seeking out direct input from those who have studied with these teachers before and I'm sure we can find them through our Nutcracker contacts. So far, our input has been limited to the websites, phone conversations and second-hand comments. We want to finish our research before we look at placement classes. Perhaps someone on the board will have more input too? The new schools that were recommended to us are:


MetroWest Ballet (http://www.metrowestballet.com/pages/1/index.htm) with director Jessica Wilson who was formerly with Ballet Workshop New England.


The Ballet Space (http://www.theballetspace.com) with director Micheline Cacciatore who was most recently with Walnut Hill.


The more established programs in the west suburbs seem to be the extension school at Walnut Hill (though it seems as though progression could be limited if you choose not to attend there for highschool) and Lexington School of Ballet. Lexington has been around a long time though we've never met a dancer who studied there. All the dancers we know in that area drive into Boston.


As for the ambiance, in addition to our discussions with other parents, I suspect the it's something the kids can help decipher via placement classes and an additional open class or two. Would you agree? They have all danced for many years and participated in summer programs and master classes. They always know when they are comfortable in a class setting, when the correction is clear and if the teacher is supportive or not. They truly want to be better dancers and love the art form along with all the hard work!


Thanks again,


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Some advantages we've found: smaller classes, more individual attention, all students taught by the best teachers (little ones not taught by "assistants"), more performing opportunities . . . .


Hi Costumier,


Thanks so much for your insight into the tradeoffs at a small school. I think it will really help the discussions with our children and our decision overall! We will add the question about critical mass at the upper levels to our list. I suspect these schools will continue to grow and expand but predicting the future is tough! :innocent:



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Popular Boston-area opinion is that Boston Ballet is the place to go for those who wish to dance professionally. The number of class hours required of students is certainly the highest there. However, I do think very good training is available in MetroWest. Take a look at this link, which describes Walnut Hill at some length and also has a response from biners6, who takes class at MetroWest Ballet:


Boston MetroWest Ballet Schools


I would recommend that you visit schools which are within a good commute for you, and then decide. I would ask explicitly about how each school would provide the number of classes required for your daughter as she progresses (this board would recommend six technique classes a week plus separate pointe classes for the prepro student by age 14, if not before).


You might also want to consider the Dancing Arts Center (www.dancingartscenter.com) in Holliston.


As aside -- I'm curious which school it was that was purchased by a choreographer??

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I've danced at the Dancing Arts Center, Boston Ballet School, and Walnut Hill. I loved them all very much so if you have any questions about them, please, please ask!

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I am a current dancer at the Dancing Arts Center! If you have any questions, feel free to PM me! I loooove this school, the training it offers is very professional and in fact in the past year two of our dancers went off to train at great schools like Harid and Universal, just show how well trained our dancers are. The most intense program is their homeschooling program which follows a schedule like this each day : 7:30-9 modern, 12:30-2:30 ballet and pointe, 2:30-3:30 variations for YAGP and other private coaching 3:45-5:15 ballet, with one jazz class per week. You can also take less intense prgrams. Definitely check it out if you want tons of great training! There are two primary ballet teachers and both had successful professional careers.

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Guest Chedva

Boston Ballet has a school in Newton as well as in Boston. Would any of the classes she needs be available in the Newton studio? Or is the intensive division offered only in Boston?

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I attend metrowest ballet and absoluetely LOVE it. The training is excellent and the classes are really small (generally less than 10 kids per class) so we get a ton of personal attention. Jessica Wilson is fantastic and i caannot speak too highly of the training!

feel free to ask me any questions about it!

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. . . feel free to ask me any questions about it!




Any details that you all would be willing to post about the level of instruction, number of students in a class, prior training of the girls in your class, etc. would be most appreciated. I'd also be curious if you were previously with Ballet Workshop or another school.


Thanks so much!



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Im abroad right now and so cant post a long reply, but will return thurday and post more soon!!

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So, some more details about Metrowest Ballet. I did come from Ballet Workshop of New England, but had only been there for one year.

I'm in the highest level at the school, and there are usually between 6-10 kids in my class. I think that the biggest level is the one below mine, and that one would rarely have more than 15. The age range in my class is about 14-19, and some of the girls came from BWNE as well, but some came from other studios. The level of training is high (in my humble opinion!) and definatly can prepare people for a professional career or for dancing in college. Out of the three seniors in my class this year, one is going to college to dance and wants to be a teacher, one is going to college to train and wants to dance professionally, and one has been auditioning and is probably going to stay another year for "finishing." My schedule is as follows:


Monday, technique 6:30-8

Tuesday, technique 5:30-7, variations 7-8

Wednesday, technique/pointe 6:30-8:30

Thursday, no class for our level but I usually take the lower level technique class

Friday, technique 4-5:30, modern 5:30-7

Saturday, technique 1:30-3, rehearsal/repertory 3-4:30/5 (or later close to perf. times)

Sunday, optional class 12-1:30, rehearsals sometimes

(note...we had partnering first semester but now don't have any guys this semester due to schedule changes!)

It's really a fantastic school with a great deal of personal attention. Ms. Wilson usually meets with each of us at least twice a year to discuss progress, future, etc and she has been very very helpful to me in trying to figure out what to do next year (i'm a senior). We have ballet with her and one other teacher who is also fantastic.

We also get a lot of performing oppurtunities that i suspect will increase as the size of the school grows....right now we just dont have enough people to do a full length ballet.


Feel free to ask if you have other questions!

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