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Need Help Finding Additional Classes

concerned parent

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If I understand the protocol here correctly, since this is my first post requesting help, I am posting here in Welcome. If this belongs in Parents of 13+, I apologize but I assume it will be moved.

Firstly, I wish to thank all those connected with this site for the education that I have been able to acquire lurking here during the past several months.

I am the parent of a 13 yr old DD, but I am a neophyte when it comes to ballet education.

During the past year our DD expressed a desire to dance ballet professionally as a career.

She has been enrolled in a recreational program, but she does have a highly qualified, experienced teacher (former principal at NYC Ballet).

She attended her first national SI this summer and did very well.

Because of what I have learned here, we have been pressing her school and her teacher for more hours of instruction. The maximum amount of “prime” instruction time they can offer her is 4.5 hours per week (class times are 1 hour and 15 min or 1 hour). Because of our request, they are willing to allow her to take supplemental classes, but those classes are at either one level below or above where she now dances. From what I have read here, taking classes at different levels is not a good thing, but I also have learned that 4.5 hours a week of ballet instruction is not enough for her age either. Unfortunately, class time is used for recital rehearsals, which seems to lower the value of the hours she gets.

Leaving her current teacher is not an option right now for various reasons. The school she attends has sent a few students into professional dance careers, but the older girls seem to take supplemental lessons at other schools.

The only solution I can think of is to try and find supplemental classes.

We live in Northeast, NJ (Bergen County).

The schools we are currently considering are Ballet Arts, Progressive Dance, and Helena Barron. Her teacher recommended Studio Maestro for supplemental classes, but commuting into NYC is an issue. The choice may have to depend on the availability and timing of classes.

I am humbly asking for some advice or reassurance here because we are running short of time for shopping for another school. If we can’t find another school in time to enroll for September, should we allow her to take the supplemental classes at her current school?

Thank you for any help you can offer.

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Welcome concerned parent! I have been in your shoes before and can only tell you what we ended up doing. We didn't want to leave dd's teacher. She loved her and felt very obligated to her. The problem was, getting the amount of dancing hours in that one needs to be on track for a professional career.

We tried adding classes to her schedule and dd's teacher gave her privates as well. It still wasn't enough and it wasn't at the level that dd needed to be at. (we learned a lot from dd's first time away to a SI)

So, we bit the bullet, searched high and low for an alternative that offered more classes with more dancers and a variety of teachers. It was the hardest thing we ever did. DD's teacher understood, but wasn;t thrilled at first. The good news is, we are still friends with this teacher, visit her when we are able and this teacher still allows dd to come to classes when she can.

I don't know what your circumstances are regarding switching schools, but if your daughter really wants to become a professional, she will need a lot more than 4-5 hours a week.

At 13, most dancers are dancing around 12-14 hours per week. My dd is a newly turned 15 year old and her current school is offering only 12.5 hours per week for her level, she will be taking 2 additional classes at 1.5 hours at a lower level at her school per week and is supplementing another 2 technique classes at another school with a teacher she has known for years. Making a grand total of 18.5 hours per week, not including rehearsals. She is looking into an additional Saturday morning class since her school doesn't have class until 12:15.

I guess it varys on what your daughters goals are and what you as the parent are capable of doing. If it weren't for my job change a couple of years ago, none of this would be possible!

Good luck with the schedule. One thing to remember....more doesn't necessarily mean better. One good technique class with a reputable teacher is better than 5 with an inexperienced Dolly Dinkle teacher.

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Hello concerned parent, and welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers :lol:


Redstorm is right, it really might be necessary to change schools. Your daughter is definitely not getting what she needs now, and even though her teacher might be good, she is teaching in a situation where she cannot run a pre-professional program. I really do not like the fact that they use class time for rehearsals, and especially when they have such limited class time.

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Thank you very much for your input.

It's going to be tough because of her emotional ties to her teacher and some of her classmates. Also, her teacher is telling her that she has pro protential, has given her some great performance opportunities, and now we leave.

However, I do think you're right and I think taking supplemental classes at her current school will be a waste of time. Therefore, we are going to at look at some other options.

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Concerned Parent....so many of us have been in your situation. You find a wonderful committed teacher who loves your child, gives their all to your child, extra lessons, performing opportunities and that special attention that makes your child feels like a star. It isn't that they are bad teachers, just limited in what they can offer in terms of classes. Many of these wonderful teachers own small studios and need to have a mixture of classes to pay the bills. These teachers see our daughters as talented with potential but lack the capabilities to take that student to the level they should be at to continue with their dance training. Many hang on a bit longer than they should since those talented students can be a draw to other hopefuls.

Breaking away from this type of school is tough for all concerned. The teacher doesn't want to lose a wonderful student, the student doesn't want to leave her comfort zone and the secure feeling of being a big fish in a small pond and the parents like the familiarity of a sure thing. These parents are usually the ones who help out during all performances, help out in the studio and are well known to all the other parents as the "go to" person. It works for everyone, until that first SI. Then your student comes home with a whole new view on the ballet world. And, if you went to drop off or pick up, you too were introduced to a whole new world. You think.....my God, there are so many other beautiful dancers out there, and those are just the ones at this SI. :o What about all those other SI's and all those other beautiful dancers? Suddenly your daugther is feeling the pressure of more classes, more time, more work, more focus, more technique, more pointe....a lot more. And you realize she is right. :pinch:

How does one deal with that sudden feeling of, we need to be somewhere else. How do we tell dd's teacher? Especially when she has been so wonderful to us?

It is a dilemma that many of us have been through.

My best advice to you is to be honest. Go with your daughter to explain your concerns and what you feel, as a parent, and what you feel will be best for your daughter at this time to get the extra training you have been told she needs. Reassure her teacher that it isn't about her or her teaching. Heck, it was her teaching that got her this far! She should feel proud that her student wants to continue this path that she laid out before her. Keep the teacher in the loop. Discuss the other schools you are considering and get her input. You don't have to follow it, but it is a nice gesture. Last but not least, make sure, if it is at all possible, to occasionally show up for a class. Send a note now and then or make a call telling this teacher of your dancers newest accomplishment. Many teachers like to hear about where their past students are.

Now, if you are afraid of a face to face, then write a nice letter, enclose a letter from your daughter thanking her for everything she has done for her and include a nice bouquet of flowers.

It isn't easy. The guilt can seem overwhelming but if your daughter wants to dance, then this is something you have to do. It usually does work out in the long run. (if you have an understanding teacher who truly cares for your daughter and doesn't have a huge ego)...but thats another story. :cool2:

Best to bite the bullet and get it over with. The sooner the better. Afterwards, have a nice chilled bottle of wine waiting for you. It really works wonders. :D

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Knock, Knock. (My dd is only 11)


We just went through this same thing.

I was terrified going in to tell the director. But she said she understood what my dd wants and knows she needs to get it elsewhere. She said that she was being "a bad business person," and we were both teary eyed in the end. I realized that she really wants what's best for dd. I'm sure your teacher does also.

I went ahead and signed up for 1 class, but we rarely make it there.

Now both dd and I are glad we made the jump because of the training and performance opportunities!! And dd loves having lots of new friends her age, who like ballet as much as she does.

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I can fully understand your dilemma--and I am coming from the teacher perspective. Your current studio situation sounds a lot like the type of studio I own. I am a seasoned teacher (20+ years) with many years teaching at a major professional company affilated school. I opened my own school 4 years ago, and being in the building stages, in a rather rural area with little arts support, I am very much where your current studio is in terms of offerings and class availability for students such as your daughter.


Being totally objective here--yes, you need to explore supplemental classes. In the event that they are not available to you, I would suggest trying to take advantage of every class possible at your studio, even at lower levels ( within reason, of course, it would not make sense for your daughter to be taking class with 7 year olds, for example)--as well as private instruction. Audition for as many SI's as possible during the audition tours--look at these as being master classes, if you will. It is important that your daughter attend reputable SI's as well. She will gain a wealth of knowledge from them.


On the other side of the coin--there are some advantages to her being the "big fish in the small pond" as well--assuming that her current training is very good, which it sounds like from your description. I do believe in quality over quantity. If a typical class for her is a 1.25 hour class and there are a very small number of students in the class--she is getting a lot of attention and is moving constantly. The performing aspect is also something to consider. She is likely to be getting the larger roles in performances, which is in and of itself positive for her as a dancer in terms of expanding her technique, but is also important in that she may likely be an important role model for younger students in the school.


Finally, do not feel badly about making a change. Most of us teachers really do want the best for our students and recognize when they need to move on.

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We were in the same position when DD was 13. She loved her teacher and wasn't quite ready to make a change. DD's teacher offered to teach her privately which brought her hours up to somewhere in the 10-12 technique hours per week. When DD turned 14, and after encouragement from her teacher, she moved to another studio that could offer her more hours. DD was emotionally ready at that point to break the ties to her teacher because she wanted to dance so badly. I would definitely talk to the teacher about it. I would also recommend taking classes at the lower level, which was another way for DD to add some hours.

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Knock Knock, I'm not a parent, I'm only 15. I'm not sure if I can write here so delete if it's inapropriate.


I am in the exact same situation this year. I've been at the same studio my whole life and I went to my first summer intensive this August. It was such a huge eye opener. From the first week there I called my mom and told her not to sign me up for my normal fall classes this year {sign ups were while I was gone}. I came back and started trying new studios. I found the perfect place for me and although im starting in a level with girls that are mostly a year or two younger then me, it's ok because I am learning more every day then I did in a whole year at my old studio. Most of the girls I was friends with at the old studio don't really like me anymore and my old teachers don't treat me the same,but I know it will be ok. This is my passion and what I live for. If this is the way your daughters feel I really hope you will see what other options are open to you. My new studio has opened so many doors for me, I feel like I could do anything with thee quality training I'm getting now.


I hope this encourages you a little bit!

<3 Cali

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Thank you all again very much.

Your assessments of our situation are very accurate and your advice and support is extremely appreciated.

We looked at one studio yesterday which has 1.5 hour classes and would allow us to take supplemental classes, provided we take at least 2 per week. Their schedule seems to fit ours. They use teachers from NYC. They did a quick evaluation of our dd and liked her.

We are going to look at at another studio tomorrow.

I think there will be a happy ending to our situation.

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