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Studying IB academically and Dancing

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I would love to hear from Parents or dancers who have graduated ( or are in the ) IB DP, and have continued their dance schedules. As IB ( IBO Website) is very challenging especially in the Diploma level, as is a pre pro dance schedule, sacrafices have to be made.


I do know that there is a dance credit available as an arts credit through the IBO and may be available at the higher level, but am not sure what is involved in applying for it.


Any insight would be appreciated. We have chosen the IB curriculum for both our children from the beginning, and have one that is now graduated, with our dancer in the MYP.

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  • Gracey


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I am not sure if this will help you. My DD entered a major pre-pro school. It required a move from home where she was in an extremely challanging academic private school. Her dance training needed more expert training that she could receive at home. Therefore the move to a more professional setting. At the same time, we did not want to sacrifice her academics and also desired her to continue in a campus experience rather than home-school. The ballet school helped us place her in an I.B. school that was close to the studios. She was entering as a Junior. The I.B. school allowed her to leave around noon so that she could maintain her ballet training schedule. There was no way that she could do the full I.B. program and graduate on time, even with the transfer of A.P.'s and full course work from previous school. We had to settle on a regular high school diploma. Many of her I.B. courses did translate to the A.P. equivilant. And she was accepted to many top universities and colleges. If you entered the I.B. program from the beginning of high school, I think it is possible to train in the afternoons if the academic administration is supportive. I do not think she lost anything by not receiving the I.B. certificate. And many of the universities were impressed with her focus and achievements in ballet while maintaining academic excellence.


And if this makes a difference, the school was affiliated with the French/American International programs.


There are many ways to maintain a strong academic path while participating in a pre-pro ballet training situation. But this was the choice that we made. She is now dancing professionally and also enrolled in an excellent university as a part time professional student. This is becoming more common for dancers to continue their education while dancing.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Guest yvette


I graduated from high school with a full IB schedule and recieved the Diploma, all while intensively studying at a pre-pro ballet school. It is entirely possible; the only real sacrifices I made were to sleep hours, haha. I did use my dancing hours as Action hours, part of the 150 Community-Action-Service hours required, but other than that I did not get any IB credit (I'm not sure how I would have done that). For my elective (I am assuming thats what you mean by art credit, correct me if I'm wrong) I took IB Theatre in school.

I highly recommend doing the full DP if at all possible, it was a wonderful experience, especially compared to what I now know some of my peers did in high school. Also, it has helped me tremendously in college, with academic classes and also with budgeting my time. College feels like a breeze, when my classes are dance; I feel lazy! The major issue is willingness on the part of your dancer, is she committed to putting in the time-- and finding the time to put in-- to both activites? I had to remind myself of my goals many times during my years in the IB program!

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thanks yvette - I know there are very few people doing both and the challenge in completing the IB. I am glad to hear that the dance was a part of your action hours (at least that took care of 50 hours with only 100 to go!!) I suspect we will go the drama route as well, as the dance credit is still in the pilot stage.


My daughter is very interested in completing the full diploma. What did you choose as your higher subjects and what was your seconod language?


thanks so much for the positive response!

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Guest yvette

Yes, thank goodness I could use dance for my CAS hours, if they did not count then I am almost positive I could not have gotten the diploma. I took French, English and History as my higher levels. (I guess it is obvious that I am not a math-science enthusiast!) So, the answer to your second question is clear, French. At least for me, I wish I had taken a science as a higher level instead of French, as the difference between an SL language exam and an HL one is huge! In the HL French exam I think there were almost double the number of questions and essays in the same amount of time as the SL exam.

I hope this helps your daughter make good choices! What is your daughter thinking for her HLs and Extended Essay? (or is she not to that stage yet?)

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She is not yet at that stage, as she is in the MYP. I suspect she will take math methods, and higher Bio and possibly Econ or Chem. She is not patient enough to write for higher English, and naturally French is her second language as we are Canadian. Those will be standard level courses though.


She is much more into math/science as she likes the structure of it. I suspect her EE will be in Bio or something like that. She talks about doing it on dance, but it is unlikely she will find an IB advisor who is knowledgable enough about the subject to guide her properly, not to mention an examiner to properly mark it. It will be interesting to see what she ends up choosing. Our school does the CAS and EE right at the start of IB1 so they do not have it hanging over their heads.


Were you able to use any of the creativity hours in dance - be it creating dances for younger kids or anything of the sort or planning a recital?


Were you able to get early release? Or was all your dancing after the academic day. I do not see how any IB student can leave the school early or dance during the day and still complete the diploma requirements as required by IB.


I do appreciate all the insight you have provided.

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Guest yvette

I'm so happy to help! I am a big fan of the IB program.


I was not able to get early release from school, although my dancing started in the afternoon so I did not have to miss any classes (school or dance). I know a few people who did not do the full diploma who were able to have a lighter schedule and leave early a few days a week, but I agree that it would not be possible to miss a period or two of the school day and still take enough IB classes.

In my humble opinion, and from what I saw other diploma students go through, I would recommend doing the ee in a science, it is much more structured, especially time wise. They seemed to get more instruction, a clearer time table and deadlines to help them out and make sure it gets done.

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I also am a huge fan. I love the structure of it, the fact that student must be well-rounded to complete it, how well it prepares the students for University ( and the extra first year transfer credits don't hurt either!), the fact that it is an international curriculum.


The 150 CAS hours and EE scare me more then the curriculum as it is something done outside of school and with a pre-pro ballet schedule it can be a deal breaker. If dancers can utilize as many of their studio hours as possible, it will make the task a bit easier. 150 hours over the course of 50 weeks is an additional 3 hours of scheduling in an already very tight schedule.


The idea of sticking to a science based EE is an excellent idea. My son completed his in Bio and it was a very well structured timetable as it required alot of lab time.


so...sleep and sanity are the only sacrifices? is that for me or her??


You are a godsend for adding to this thread, as I thought I was on a very lonely and difficult road. It means alot to know that someone else has tried and succeeded with these 2 very complicated and difficult goals.

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Finally other ballet dancers who are in IB!! I'm not a diploma candidate, but I am taking quite a few IB classes. I'm a senior and my academic load will be difficult to manage with all the classes and rehearsals I have giong on. But I find I can get a lot of homework done on my breaks at ballet. I agree that the only sacrafice I've had to make is sleep, but it'll be worth it in the end. Good luck to everyone else trying to live through IB!

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Guest yvette

I'm happy to find another IB-er on Ballet Talk, enpointe37!


I totally agree, Gracey, the well-rounded program appealed to me as well. I love the fact that IB focuses on creating a complete, concerned citizen of the world. The enlightened attitude of all of my IB classmates really made a big impression on me, especially when I went to college and learned that was not the norm (unfourtunately).


The CAS hours and the EE are by far the biggest obstacle for the DP-- of course the lack of sleep too! My bet is that sanity will really only be an issue for you, the parent. I know that was the case in my family, it was harder for my parents because they did not have the same immersion and familiarity with my day to day IB and dance activites as I did. With the ee in science i think the cas hours will probabaly take care of themselves, if you both monitor carefully. I used dance as my main action and helping with rehearsals, etc for service. I think that creaitivity hours for choreographing would be a great idea as well, but I used my theatre activites and chorus class/activities for mine. If you start planning now, I am sure your daughter will have no problems at all!

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The final exams in May are also a big "time" factor as they account for 75% of the final combined 2 year mark, take hours upon hours to study for and then depending on the number of papers you have to write hours upon hours to write.

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I didn't do IB curriculum (my school doesn't have it) but I thought I'd comment because I went to a VERY rigorous private school and took a lot of AP classes while continuing pre-pro dance training-it can be done! I think that there are 2 absolute keys to doing it:

1. develop time management skills, and develop them early. I used to get home from ballet at about 9 every night and then start homework, if I hadn't used every free moment in the day to work, I would have been up even later than I already had to be.

2. This one I learned the hard way (or maybe am still learning!)-take care of yourself! I developed an eating disorder in high school, and if there's anything that will hinder your ability to think at a high level and dance at a high level, that will. So learn to eat properly early, to sleep at least on weekends when you have time, and to just generally be in touch with your feelings about the whole thing. Burnout is a very serious question for al ot of people who do schedules like this. I personally really liked it most of the time, but as soon as it starts feeling like a chore every day for a long time, I think it's time to reconsider if this is really what you want.


hope that helps!

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After doing her lower level IB classes and exams last year my DD was torn as to whether she could manage the full schedule required for the uppers and full IB course work. As of last Friday, she is enrolled as a diploma candidate and her whole mood has changed. She has an immense amount of work facing her but she is happy and excited. She is dancing 20 hours a week and really has little time to sleep but manages to get it in here and there, an hour between school and dance yesterday and hard to wake up to get to her three hours of ballet. She naps these days and I'm sure it will be the only way she gets half of what she really needs. In reality she needs just 1 1/2 hours of class work to graduate from HS and she could have had quite the year playing. Driven kids somehow find the time and energy, they have to be so organized.


Our studio has had many a dancer do IB but they all eased up on ballet in order to accomplish it. My DD is doing the opposite, she's added ballet classes as well. She wants to dance beyond belief but she can't see wasting the opportunity to achieve all she can in school as well. Besides, she'd be bored if she took bone head level classes and as much as she says she hates school, I haven't seen her this enthusiastic in a long time. All she wants is to dance but we all know there are no guarantees in that department. I'm very proud of her for her decision making. There should be an IB support club for dancers. Haven't you always known that dancers are some of the smartest people around!

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Pasdetrois - The teachers at our school have always told us that the ability to be successful in IB requires not only the academic ability but the drive to plow through all the reading and essay, labs etc. We have had some highly intelligent students in our school who can sit for an exam and whip off these incredible marks, but can't seem to do homework or hand anything in.


Ballet students who are academically inclined are very well suited for IB because they understand repetition and can usually get through the works.


Have you given thought to her EE and her CAS hours? Does she leave school early for dance or is that not possible. I think success has alot to do with how badly the student wants it and how accomodating the school and teachers are.


Naps are important as well as frequent snacks to keep their energy levels up.


I agree with the IB support club!!

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