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To leave or not to leave "big name" school.


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yes well said. I didnt take offence, just had that moment of rushing back to re-read my post! :rolleyes:

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  • DanceMumNYC


  • catdancer


  • Eligus


  • rosetwirl


Thank you Eligus and Thyme for your insights! I agree with both of you:

We switched pre-pro schools three times before we found a great fit for dd. Does this mean we were "studio hoppers?" Perhaps, but the decisions were right for us. One school was great in some areas but neglected to encourage the eloquent use of the upper body/arms. Another didn't allow enough attack of the space. When there seemed to be a hole in her training, we sought to fill it. 

There was no perfect school, even the "great fit", and as Eligus states, problems can also follow a dancer from school to school. The dancer may need to look to herself to solve them. All schools had drama from time to time. Dd (and we, her parents) had to do some attitude-adjusting. We learned that our expectations were sometimes unrealistic. We were able to finally stay the course at her last school, because of all we had learned from her prior schools. 

We are ultimately glad that dd received training from several schools. This process made her well-rounded and helped to stem the boredom that she sometimes experienced in the daily grind of training. Her year at a strictly Vaganova school not only developed the quality of expression with her upper body & arms, it also gave her excellent experience in being a good corps member. The corps at this school looked better than at some companies I have seen! She is so grateful for that experience, so valuable! Another school helped her gain self-confidence and recognized her ability to be an artist, then drew that out of her. The final school developed her ability to attack the space, challenge herself technically, and develop her own personal style. 

Decisions were never made in haste nor were they made lightly. The goal was always to get dd the best training possible, as Ballet Talk stresses over and over. I understand the desire to grow with one school, and that may be perfect for some dancers but not all. I found that paying attention to my gut feeling paid off. Dd is now a professional dancer, and she is grateful for all the lessons she learned from every school she attended.  She is also glad she finally made a school her "home."



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Perhaps I need to clarify my somewhat cavalier use of the term "studio hopper", which NONE of you seem to be.  I think the clarification necessary because I want to make clear that I did not intend any offense it may have caused.

I used this somewhat perjorative term to describe a parent who makes decisions to change studios quickly out of a surge of emotion and without a lot of careful thought or advice from professionals.  In other words, my use of the term does not have much to do with the number of studios you've sought out, but more on the intentions (along with the methods) of the seeking -- if that makes sense.  I was only trying to urge caution and careful analysis, along with the necessary education of yourself, when making those decisions. 

I will freely admit that as a parent of a dancer, I did not understand some of the choices made by the dance professionals in her training.  I was not and am not as knowledgeable about dance training as Rosetwirl is (I wish I had been that clear-sighted and knowledgeable, because that may have made the process easier).  I did, however, as Rosetwirl did, have "gut feelings" and ideas about what was best for my DD, and I am glad that I followed those, as Rosetwirl is, but I am really glad I followed those gut decisions cautiously and with a great deal of research and "checking in" with this Board and with others.  Because it is only with perspective that I now understand SOME of the decisions her pre-pro school made (some decisions I still don't understand, and some I probably never will).  And it is that perspective that makes me want to caution other parents of young dancers about changing studios too easily.

Yes, the goal is and was and should be for a DD to receive the best training possible, and I agree with others on here that finding the "perfect fit" of a studio for the rest of their dance education might be impossible (it certainly was for us, although I longed for that sense of peace and quiet during my DD's young training years).  All I know from my own experience is that it is (and should be) very difficult to know the optimum path to achieve the goal of "best training possible", especially for a novice ballet parent.  As AB pointed out in an above post, changes in your DD's dancing and attitude might be due to improvements in foundation technique... or because of a physical growth spurt... or because of an emotional or mental "growth" spurt... or the dancer's attitude toward self or others... or some other reason I haven't thought of, that don't really have a lot to do with the studio's methods (but may have to do with your individual DD's "fit" in that studio).  So, approaching the decision cautiously (as you all have done and are doing) and trying to figure out the reason for the discontent with the studio are good ideas.

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Dear Eligus, I was not at all offended by your use of the term "studio hopper," and I found your post to be very insightful. I agree with both you and Thyme: sometimes changing studios is necessary, but it shouldn't be done lightly. Both of your posts were inspiring to me and compelled me to share our story. I too relied a great deal on Ballet Talk to see me through. Dd really was happy to finally settle into a school that she could call home. I wish you all the best on this very challenging journey.  P.S. I edited my post above to reflect my respect for prior posts. :flowers:

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On 11/3/2017 at 4:46 PM, Eligus said:


I used this somewhat perjorative term to describe a parent who makes decisions to change studios quickly out of a surge of emotion and without a lot of careful thought or advice from professionals.  In other words, my use of the term does not have much to do with the number of studios you've sought out, but more on the intentions (along with the methods) of the seeking -- if that makes sense.  I was only trying to urge caution and careful analysis, along with the necessary education of yourself, when making those decisions. 


This is what I think "studio hopping" is.  I also think that it is often done because the dancer is not receiving the hype and attention that the parents want and so they take their slippers and their check book and go elsewhere. 


Funny I can think of a dancer now who did that. DD knew this person about 8 years ago. The person is now seeking jobs and has similarly "hopped" around with nothing really solid, no company that firmly commits after a year or two. 

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learningdance -- I, too, have seen what I believe to be "ego" getting in the way of making good decisions regarding a parent's children (in more areas than just dance, by the way!).  I have learned SO MUCH about myself and being a parent by experiencing my DD's journey in the ballet world.  I don't want to get off topic of "when to leave a big-name school" but I have found that those types of questions (training and changing studios) really require a self-examination of the parent and the dancer that is extraordinary. 

Now, when I am out and about in the "civilian" world, my dance parent experience certainly gives me a different perspective on the "my kid rode the bench during the game" conversations and laments I overhear or participate in now that my DD doesn't need my dance training advice/help as much.  I find -- actually -- that being a dance parent has taught me much more compassion and empathy for parents struggling with decisions about training or education of their children.  I certainly understand their fears and worries, since the ballet world takes those fears and worries and multiplies them hundredfold!  Although, on the negative side, I'm also (somewhat unfairly) quick to roll my eyes at the perceived slight/drama/injury of the child and the parent's reactions out here in the non-dance world.

To wrap it back to the topic at hand -- I believe it easy for the parent's ego to become heavily involved in the DK's dance world/experience, and decisions by a school can be taken personally.  I know I struggled with this myself in my DD's journey.  So perhaps the caution about "studio hopping" should include not just a recommendation of time, thought and professional advice before making a decision to change studios, but also a "gut check" by the parent to ensure the parent's feelings/thoughts are not overwhelming or overshadowing the DK's training needs. 

I am -- by no means -- an expert at those necessary "gut checks" or self examinations.  I still struggle with those to this day, and have checked in recently about them.  I'm not even sure I have additional suggestions on how to make sure that parental ego-involvement is happening as little as possible (other than the time, thought, advice route already given).  I do believe, as learningdance suggested, that if you are contemplating leaving because of roles/leads in one or two performances or alleged lack of hype/attention... that should be a red flag to slow down and re-assess because the timeframe here to "grow" a dancer is a DECADE or more. And -- personal opinion here ONLY -- I wonder if the competitions that so many are involved in complicate that ego/training conundrum.  [I am NOT bashing competitions, here, just wondering whether the increase in competition participation changes the parental ego involvement.] 

The goal, after all, is NOT for your DK to be a "star" in any SCHOOL.  At least, it wasn't for mine.  DD's goal was to dance professionally.  And her role and her performances in class and on stage in her various schools waxed and waned.  As long as she felt her training was on an upward progression, the daily/monthly, even yearly ups and downs had to be viewed with an eye to the very long term goal.... 

And I deeply appreciate everyone's personal contributions to this post because reading about how others have handled their past training decisions and what they were thinking/feeling and worried about can only help those facing similar decisions now. 

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Thank you so much everyone for sharing your experiences and insight. Again, my biggest fear of DD leaving is that she would lose her spot at a great school. She has been promoted each year that she’s been here, so there is definitely progress. My only issue is that she lost some skills that she gained at her old school, which we left because it was a multi-genre school and she decided to pursue ballet. She also went to another big-name school last summer and learned a lot, yet also lost those skills since coming back to the big-name home school in the Fall. I guess it’s also helpful to mention that this summer school offered her a spot, but we didn’t want to make any rash decisions and declined. I know this is not an ego issue, but an issue of finding/choosing the right training for my DD. While it seems she’s progressing, I just can’t wrap my head around the fact that she’s picked up skills at more than one other school, but lost all of these skills upon returning to the home school. I guess I feel that she can be learning and progressing even more elsewhere, as she’s done over the summer. Based on its reputation, I know the other big-name school also offers valuable training. It’s a big decision to make, and I don’t want to either rush into it or make it the too late! I will continue to keep my eyes and ears open, wait for progress reports, and see how this year goes. Thank you all for allowing me to vent and for all the wonderful advice!

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Not sure what I plan to say because I'm on the fence about my own thoughts but going to type and see what comes out. 

DDs ultimately left our city's big school (not nearly NYC standards, but it's what we have and not bad) to train for two years with a private coach at a rec studio. There were other issues around teacher personalities and dysfunction at the big school that drove the decision and we knew we burned that bridge with at least some. This was a very well thought out move and my DDs were 16. Not sure how old your DD is but I'm guessing much younger. But don't assume you can ever go back.

With that said, I will advise that you need to be careful to not read too much into this "loss" of technique when returning to year round.  Or maybe learn from it and discuss with your DD how to recognize it and combat it.  I felt similar when my DDs would go away for the summer.  I think there is a difference in attitude on a daily basis when kids return to their yearround school plus dance schedule. The all-in enthusiasm during the summer is traded for the normal, which can seem like a slide backwards.  Summers can be a time to push, for exploration. Summers are wonderful but that pace is not sustainable on a week in, week out basis. And new teachers can challenge in unexpected ways, resulting in quick growth from fresh eyes.  DDs also had the unfortunate circumstance that their home studio played favorites big time. It was summers where they gained their confidence and saw it erode yearround with the favoritism pervasive in the school.   

When DDs were maybe 15, they started to recognize this tendency to become complacent in the everyday and worked together to motivate each other (benefit of twins).  They also took notes on corrections and comments from those special summer teachers and periodically revisited them.  

 It's a very long road. Slow and steady wins the race. 

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So very true, Eligus and learningdance, and I too struggled with my ego becoming too heavily involved in the decisions made by my dd's ballet schools.  I was also quite aware of my weakness and worked hard not to let it rule my decisions. Ironically, it turned out I should have let it rule my decision regarding one school.  Dd was being overlooked there, and I stuck with them for four years. When I finally removed her and took her elsewhere, she soared!  I kicked myself for not being more vigilant and listening to my gut, and after that I paid more attention to it! :blink:  What a trial this journey has been! I'm so glad that it's really ALL up to her now.  :)

DanceMumNYC, you come across to me as very worried. My impression is that your dd hasn't lost technique but rather skills, such as more advanced steps. Is that what you mean, or am I wrong? If I am right, were those skills being executed with proper technique? Perhaps that is where the emphasis at her home school lies, so they have backed her up to make sure her technique is solid. On the other hand, she spent the summer at another big-name school, where she learned new skills and was offered a place in their year-round program. It seems like her place in the current big-name school is not an anomaly and that her chances seem strong that she'd get into other big-name schools. NYC certainly has a nice selection of fine pre-pro ballet schools! Perhaps you could take her around to audition for some, and see if there is a better fit. Good luck! 


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Such a good turn this conversation has taken. 


Eligus,  I really agreed with the "gut check " --ensure the parent's feelings/thoughts are not overwhelming or overshadowing the DK's training needs. I can't imagine anyone not facing this.  It's kind of your job to be your kid's biggest advocate but you can easily allow that role to overshadow perspective and no parent can really be objective. I find with time I am able to see things that are just not possible in the moment.  So sad that by the time I "get it" the decisions are long gone.  I also agree with the competitions getting in the way of training decisions. But I will say that competitions, like schools, favor different things and are influenced by the owners, boards, participating schools, and vision of ballet. Like companies they favor different styles, body types, etc. Ultimately for us the competitions were overtaking training and becoming too much of a focus. Too much time was being spent drilling variations. I could see technical issues that were not being addressed.

Rosetwirl, I also think that you are right, sometimes a school will "dismiss" a student's potential and that is soul sucking.  In my experience it can occur around body type or even personality as much as it can around talent. This is really hard for a parent to figure out because I know that I am susceptible to thinking that my child can do anything.  I probably don't see limitations the way that teachers do.  That said, IMO, teachers, must believe in the potential of every student in the class. This is the essence of teaching. If there is not a belief that a student has potential then the student should not be with that teacher.

I have actually seen a very damaging cycle occur as teachers kind of lose faith.  Perhaps the child went through a growth spurt, or a difficult teenage attitude, or is not really incorporating corrections. Sometimes the interface between the teacher and child is just not working.  The child does not understand the corrections but is trying.  What occurs is the teacher loses faith.  The child loses confidence and the situation does not work.  I see kids held back for "needing more confidence"  which is kind of crazy because you need some positive feedback to be confident. 

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Learning dance, Thank you for articulating exactly what I have been thinking for months. We pay the studio handsome amounts and get assigned to classes. Some are taught by superb artists but very few are superb teachers. The cycle of confidence is so true.

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Excellent insights, learningdance!  With my dd, it was ADHD/Inattentive type. I tried talking to her teachers about it and how we were exploring ways to deal with it, but they seemed to think that just yelling louder would do the trick. Finally, they just ignored her. Meanwhile, we actually were finding ways to deal with the problem,  and she was making real progress, but for that school it was too late. They really didn't even see her any more. That experience made us seriously doubt whether dd should be at a pre-pro school at all. We considered pulling her out, but dd had such a strong desire to stick with it, and we decided to get a fresh perspective from a new teacher. Thank goodness we did! 

Eligus and learningdance, you are both so very right about this: "--ensure the parent's feelings/thoughts are not overwhelming or overshadowing the DK's training needs."

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Hello mom2two,

Yes, I mean she is losing more advanced skills, as well as a little technique. I just feel that DD is at an age where she should be settled into a home school where teachers get to know her & work with her for optimal growth. I am worried because I don’t know if her current pre-pro school is that school or if the other pre-pro school would be a better fit. They both are great and have produced exceptional dancers. However, they have different teaching methods & ballet styles, so if she should switch, I don’t want to make the decision too late. (Or too soon and regret it.) I knew the 2018 audition dates would soon be up, so I wanted to make a decision prior to then. 

I did want her to audition for a few schools & then make a decision from there, but older dancers & parents advised me not to do that because I’d better have a good reason why she’d reject any of the schools she gets accepted into, and it may hurt her chances with said school(s) in the future. What is everyone’s thoughts on that? 

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  • 2 months later...

Wow this has been another incredible thread to follow!   I'm in similar dilemma and loved reading everyone's insightful opinions.   First and foremost I will keep my personal ego in check going forward.   But here's our story:  My dd (13) was definitely the a big fish in a small pond for many years at her old school.   Of course I am grateful for the crew of wonderful teachers who brought her to this point.  Last year she was old enough to audition and got into our city's 3 letter/company affiliated summer intensive.  And then she was invited back for the year round program.   We have been there since September however some bad realizations got me questioning whether we should even stay if we were invited back next year.   

There was a huge house cleaning last year at this high profile school where half of the 12+ yr old kids in various levels were not asked back to the programs.   So in some ways, my daughter was very lucky and they must have seen some potential for her to be invited to the program.   Only 4 new girls from her level came into the year round program from last year's summer program.   From day one, 2 of the them got into the level above my daughter and that was a bit disappointing.  But since my daughter had the least amount of ballet training coming from her old school we took that with stride.   Nutcracker season was another hard pill to swallow because she was relegated to be a soldier from her height.  Even one of the senior teachers came up to her to tell her that her artistry was great but her height was limiting.  We understand that the costumes and the company has their requirements and that's not to be questioned.   Her teacher's mid-year assessment seemed a bit tough but according to most the girls that's common with this particular teacher.  What is the biggest shock was finding out that in recent years there was only one girl that made it into the company from my daughter's current level.  Just to be clear....she is in the first level of their pre-professional program and 4 levels away from being a trainee.   Now this particular dancer was clearly a prodigy because she is just 18, in the corps and have been selected to dance a principle role in the upcoming story ballet.   The school advertises that at least half the company is trained at the school but clearly that's seem deceiving when they just keep taking in new talents as they get older.   Fortunately, reading this thread has eased my disappointment a bit, to find out that most 3 letter schools have this same approach to their training.   I guess you can call me naive since I don't have any ballet experience and it's a rude awakening that we are experiencing.  

Not to mention, her first 2 summer program auditions have been rejects but most of her classmates got in.  I will start another thread about that ;P    I know we've got a few more auditions to go through but I can't help but to feel overwhelmingly discouraged that this has not been a good year for my dd.   And I can't help but to want to blame it on the school.   However, my daughter does like the school....just dancing ballet everyday makes her happy....so that's a good thing.  DD is also really scared that unless she is at the caliber of that "prodigy" she won't make it into the company....and simple math says she can't afford to repeat a year at this school.  But some signs are leading towards that repeat year......   So do we pull her out and get training elsewhere until she is older.  Of course that isn't a simple task either because you assume this is the "best" training and finding a "better" school seems really hard.   We will have a meeting (the school allows for only 10 minute assessment meeting once a year!!) soon.....so we will get some clarity hopefully.

I can tell that the collective wisdom of this site will tell me to look at bigger picture and that it is a long haul......but can't help but to feel so urgent by world of ballet.  But thank you for letting me vent since most of my mommy friends are not dance moms.

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