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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Do many pre-teens go to S.I?


mjjav

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Not sure if this goes here, or in the summer intensive section.....

 

My dd is going to be 12. We are not having her audition for any summer intensives this year, as she won't turn 12 until most of the are already in session.

 

I'm curious how many parents send their dd's before they are teenagers? My husband has a LARGE problem with letting her go (he hasn't started to learn how to let go that much, lol) before she's in high school.

 

Thanks to everyone in advance for their input :blink:

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It really depends on the readiness of the child, both technically and emotionally. Many 11 and 12 year olds do go away, however. We usually suggest starting with a shorter program, maybe two or three weeks when they are that age. There are a few programs that are very good for the younger students, and I think you will find a thread on this either in this forum or in the SI forum. Burklyn Ballet is one of the good programs for this age.

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It really depends on the readiness of the child, both technically and emotionally. Many 11 and 12 year olds do go away, however. We usually suggest starting with a shorter program, maybe two or three weeks when they are that age. There are a few programs that are very good for the younger students, and I think you will find a thread on this either in this forum or in the SI forum. Burklyn Ballet is one of the good programs for this age.

 

This is different from the advice you were giving several years ago (see, for example, your replies in the recently-revived thread on Age/readiness: the young dancer's SI opportunities). You used to say firmly that you don't recommend going away before age 13. I am curious about whether your philosophy has really changed, or whether you are simply bowing to the (seemingly) inevitable new realities of the SI culture. I would love to hear your thoughts on how SIs now fit into the overall training of a young dancer.

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Bowing to the inevitable. Philosophy has not changed.

 

As to my thoughts on how SIs fit into overall training, I think they are critical. Even the younger set must dance in the summer, I just don't think they need to go away at 10 or 11 or even 12. However, if there is no valid program in their home city, and they are serious students, then they may need to start going away earlier. And these are the ones who will ultimately need to go away to a residence school too. My philosophy on that has not changed either. I don't like sending kids away from home before high school graduation, however, if there is no professional quality program at home, then so be it.

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We parents are a stubborn sort. A teacher (such as Ms. Leigh) may easily still believe it is too early but when a parent is bound and determined, feel they must give input (in mock protest) about where might be a good program at that age. Meaning "if you really must" :D then look at program X,Y,Z :D .

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At age 9, my daughter went to a true 'camp' in Michigan called Interlochen. It was well supervised, with 8 girls (all the same age) in a cabin with 2 counselors. She had ballet class, but she also had archery, swimming, pottery and string ensemble. It was the perfect place for a creative 9 year old to spend a few weeks in the summer, exploring the arts in a beautiful setting.

 

At age 10 & 11 she went to one and two week ballet programs, but I went along each year and was either the dorm director or we stayed in a hotel together and she commuted for classes. Again, the programs we chose were aimed at the pre-teen dancer and were really great introductions to the larger world of SIs. At 12, she went to a 3 week program on her own and did just fine. She also went to the Royal Ballet that summer, but I went along and stayed in a flat while she stayed at White Lodge.

 

She was 13 when she went to a five week program on her own. She was ready for that length, by that time. While she had lots of summer dance experiences before age 13, they were all short, usually with me along or as part of an arts camp experience aimed specifically at her age group. And even at 12/13, pick very carefully for one that is the right length and that provides the right supervision and attention for young dancers.

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My recollection is that Ms. Leigh's posts have been consistent advisories which have suggested to parents to keep their student nearest their home (attendance as a day student) both during year-round and summer training if their year-round ballet school truly offers good, sufficient training (good as defined in the sticky on how to choose a school) and the student demonstrates the need or desire to remain at home (one who may experience an extreme degree of homesickness, etc.). I have not seen a shift of opinion in this regard especially since there has always been mention of those students who may be the exception to the rule. Acknowledgement on both sides has been given in order for us to best assess our own children in terms of their readiness to leave home. I appreciate knowing that sending a YOUNG child away is not mandatory and being given the reminder to be careful when making the decision. The teachers on these forums appear to have a child's best interests (physical and emotional) in mind at all times. Without this invaluable advice, it would be very easy for those of us with 'under 13' aged students to feel as though this new added layer of young dancer's programs, as mentioned by Treefrog, was 'do-or-die,' rather than optional. It is so easy to feel pressured to do more and more instead of realizing that there is time to contemplate WHEN to begin attending them (at 12 and under, for some, older).

 

I think these one or two (sometimes three) week options for young dancers are serving kids well if they want to be there. Not only can they take classes for that bit of time and get a sense for what the 'big kids' are doing (as many of you have suggested) but they also have fun meeting other kids and making new friends. They have the opportunity to ease in to continuing ballet during the summer (which Ms. Leigh has stated becomes increasingly important) and yet they can still spend most of their summer swimming, playing with friends, vacationing with family, etc.

 

Right now our daughter is young enough to enjoy a week here and two weeks there during the summer (similar to what balletbooster's daughter did years ago) and it is a treat for her. She is able to get excellent training close to home as well. Like balletbooster, though, our daughter has gone to a program during which we vacationed as a family for two weeks. She enjoyed dancing and touring all in one excursion. We know this type of summer training is less intense than that of longer summer intensives for older kids but it is completely oriented to the younger child and is a truly sufficient stepping stone.

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I do think that it also depends on how intensively a child is training year round. It is a huge jump for a young child to go from twice a week ballet classes to four classes a day six days a week for three to five weeks. I think that's why the Royal Ballet School holds only one week courses until the age of 13, when it goes up to 2 weeks. In fact most of the summer schools in England are one or two weeks, perhaps reflecting the fact that most children there (unless studying at a full time vocational or arts school) only take a couple of classes a week. Perhaps that's why they're called Summer Schools or courses and not intensives!

 

Sometimes it's important to let a child have a break and relax in the summer - resting those muscles and joints - and allow them to be normal kids on holiday. I don't recommend not doing anything and I am all for summer courses - they really give the students a push forward in the right direction - I just think that it's not a bad thing to give them some "down" time too.

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Knock Knock, I also think that Summer schools in UK are shorter simply because the summer holidays are shorter. Most state schools end about the third week of July and begin again the first week of September, giving about 6 weeks off. Independent schools finish a bit earlier and start a bit later, but the holidays are still much shorter than in USA.

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Hamorah, I totally agree about some down time in the summer, even for the older students who attend 5 or 6 week intensives. But, here in the States they have that, sometimes with a week or two before the intensive, and almost always with several weeks afterwards. With the younger children who attend the shorter programs, they will have a lot of weeks free to be children. :shrug:

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Knock Knock (parent of over 13 dancer)

 

Reading this brings back memories of my son's SI experience away from his home studio. He was 13 and went for 6 weeks. I had never considered it at age 13 until his AD told him that he had to go because it was time for him to dance with other males and experience male technique class and male variations. (He was the only male at home) I really did not want him to go, especially for 6 weeks. He went, loved it and has not spent a summer home since.

 

Our home studio offered a 4 week program which he had taken the previous year. If I had been the parent of a pre-teen girl, I would have had her stay at the home studio as long as possible. Not a double standard issue, just that she would have been able to improve her technique and stay in shape. I think that once a dancer goes off to any SI, it will be a forever expense. And there is more than the expense to consider. There is the stress of the auditions, the time and money spent to go to auditions, the heartbreak of rejections and the reality that it affects every member of the family. The longer I could have put that off without damaging my child's dance future, I would have. We have not had a real family vacation since my son started on his SI route. My twins have one more year of high school and I question when we will be able to have a family vacation before they are gone for good. Especially now that he is in residency and his schedule does not conform to his sister's.

 

I realize that at some point a dancer must experience other teachers and dance with other dancers to be able to judge their progress and learn new things. But I would opt for keeping them home at 10,11,12 if there is sufficient opportunity for them to dance and keep up their skills. Having said that, my son at his first at 13 was in a dorm with 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 year old males. The 10 year old was in his second year of a 6 week SI. I guess it is a matter of student readiness, maturity, family finances and situations, and motivation on the part of the student.

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I know what you mean, pink tights, about reading these threads, and seeing that even 9 and 10 year olds are going to SIs (albeit short ones)! In order to preserve my sanity, I've decided to wait until my dd's home teachers tell me they think she's ready.

 

My dd's dance school has grown - just last week :nopity: - and now has not just one, but several permanent teachers with excellent backgrounds - professionals themselves, who have trained dancers all the way from Ballet I to entering big name companies. One of them taught one of my dd's classes once a week last year, and has just returned to my dd's school permanently. I figure she and her other regular teacher (also an excellent teacher, but hasn't been teaching long enough to have turned out professional dancers yet ) know my dd, know her strengths, and weaknesses, and can give the best advice on when to start the SI madness. As far as researching and gathering all the information we'll need to help her have the best experience possible, we'll no doubt use this forum. We're fortunate to have such a good faculty available to our dd. It sounds like you have a similar situation, pink tights. I bet your dd's teachers will be able to advise you of when the time is right. :wacko:

 

Oh and - be sure to remind me of this post a year or two from now when I'm freaking out about whether or not my dd should be starting the SI process! :rolleyes:

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Well, my dd has gone to summer intensives, just not "go away from home" ones. She has done one at the studio where I teach: Monday thru Thursday two weeks in a row for 2 hours each session, and also done the past 3 years of summer intensives at her pre-pro school that is 5 days a week, 1 1/2 per session, 4 weeks in a row.

 

It just seems a whole different realm, the "leaving home to dance" business :nopity:

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