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Help With Difficult Decision

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My son (17) has just finishing auditioning in New York and Europe at a number of different pre-professional schools. He has been accepted at a number of different schools including: Alvin Ailey, Central school in London, Mannheim Ballet and L'Académie de Danse Classique de Princess Grace de Monaco (he was offered a scholarship by Madame Besobrasova).


We are having a hard time helping him deciding between the different programs as they all seem to very good from their web sites. We would like any feedback or opinions from anyone having attended any of these programs particularly the Princess Grace School. We have searched the board but would like any additional details anyone could add. Any or any perceived advantage or disadvantages.



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I think I'm allowed to post here....


While I do not have any first-hand experience, to give you an example of life at Central, you may want to go to http://www.ballet.co.uk - go to 'magazine' - usually every year there are a group of Central students who keep monthly blogs there....




eta: I just checked, and there aren't diaries from this year. But, on the front page there is a search box, so you can type in "Central School of Ballet". I just did it, and there are 79 results, including some of the diaries, and reviews of student performances.

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rob60 - first, congratulations to your son. From your profile I see that you are in Australia - but before sending my DS off to any school in another country, if at all possible, I would make a trip to see the "first choice" school in person, have him take some classes, talk to the students, visit the city, look at accomodations, etc. The websites have only basic information - they usually do not give you an idea of the culture of the school, etc. For instance, at Mannheim, I think all foreign students need basic German before school starts in Sept and Munich is a very expensive city to live in. All of these four schools are very different from each other and your son would need to discover the best "fit".

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Rob, do all of these schools offer housing? I have not heard of Ailey having a year round school with housing, and I would not want a 17 year old on his own in NYC!

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Although I do not have any specific information on the schools mentioned my DD auditioned last year by video to schools abroad and was accepted to three. We were fortunate to be able to make arrangements to visit the two schools at the top of the list and she was able to meet with the artistic directors and to take and also to watch class. We were also able to watch performances by both affiliated companies in a week long trip to Germany and that also factored into which company affiliated school my DD wanted to attend. In my DD's case the school that seemed to be the best fit both from what contact we had prior to visiting and what we saw on their website was not the school my DD chose to attend. In particular websites can be especially difficult to evaluate with respect to what school will be better for the individual dancer and where he or she will feel "at home". In our case the choice we made to spend the money to let her actually see both schools and to dance at both has made the decision support her moving to Europe at 17 one that we have never regreted. My DD could not be happier and in four short months has made more progress towards to her goals than she could have done where she was previously in the next couple of years if ever.

I see dancemomCA already said pretty much what I was trying to say so I am sorry if I am being repetative. It is a wonderful position that your son is in and he is to be congratulated! :thumbsup:

Another thing to mention is that at least where my daughter was concerned both schools have a three month probation period especially for students auditioning by video so it is important to find a school where your son will feel comfortable as soon as possible to be ready for that three month evaluation which in my daughter's case was a ballet exam in front of the entire artistc staff of the school as well as the AD of the company! :)

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Ms. Leigh, crazy as it may seem my DD is living in a boarding house not affiliated in any way with the ballet school which is honestly a much more controlled and positive enviornment than than her old ballet school residence was (at times) and the other ballet school's residence that was being considered. Again actually visiting and seeing first hand what the options were was invaluable. Before we went I was pretty convinced that a residence would be the only type of housing that I would be comfortable with. A residence or boarding house in another country especially may not be what you would think it would be based on one's experiences closer to home. Certainly JMHO :thumbsup:

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For an idea of what life is like for youngsters at the Ailley School for those housing on their own, check out the book Attitude which follows several young dancers for a year at the school.

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Hi DancemomCA,


My sons school generally has a few students each that go to schools overseas so we have a general idea on what to expect. We are interested in what the students that have attended the different school think of the programs. A couple of the schools (Central, Alvin Ailey, Central school in London, and the L'Académie de Danse Classique de Princess Grace de Monaco haven’t had students attend from his school in recent years, the majority tend to go to schools in Germany.

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Hi Rob60 - I think my DS knows a female dancer who attended the Grace School in Monaco a few years ago. She is now dancing with a European company, I will see if he can get any info from her. I don't know if he is still in touch with her.

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While it is fine here to offer suggestions about various aspects to look for in a school and offer ideas about how to make a decision, on BT4D we don't do direct comparisons of programs.


There are threads set up already in this forum and in the SI forum about some of these schools (such as the Princess Grace School). You are welcome to post specific questions about a specific school there, as we do have users who have attended some of the ones in question, at least for a summer term, and might be able to assist with some information. For the others, you may open specific threads about them in the appropriate forum and ask your questions directly about their housing, training, culture, etc.


You are also welcome to PM other members who have made a similar journey and ask specific questions, once you have 30 posts. Our ballet community has an amazing depth of knowledge and you will find lots of help here. But, when it comes time to make your list of pros and cons for each school and decide which one to choose, this task will be up to you.


I wish you all the best in this difficult decision and hope you will take advantage of the many resources we have available here on BT to help you with this important choice! :yes:

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I posted 2 years ago about the experiences of two of my daughter's friends who went to Madame Besobrasova's school. Here is the link to my post. Scroll down to another of my posts in that thread for a link to a nice bio of Madame. The rest of the thread addresses ways of flying to Monaco, and ends with a solid piece of advice from Major Mel.


My post on the Princess Grace school

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I'm interested that - based in Australia - you've not mentioned the Australian Ballet School, or a number of the really excellent independent full-time classical ballet schools - I know of several excellent ones on the East coast - the Ecole Studio, the MacDonald School for starters.


Overseas training for Australians is not necessary for them then to get work in Europe. A member of my family trained full-time at the ABS from 16, then an intensive time with Kim Traynor & Kelvin Coe (such a loss!) and then a short 'polish' with Maryon Lane in London, before being offered a series of jobs in Germany, and a very good long career!

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May I add that CSB does not qualify as a pre-professional school but the school offers a BA (Hons) in Professional Dance and Performance Studies. Students will start with a Foundation degree (2 years) and will then progress into their final (third) year for the BA (Hons) course. Students also have compulsory classes in contemporary and musical theatre/jazz, however the main emphasis is on classical ballet.

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Hi Rob60!


First of all, congratulatons to your son. He must be thrilled to have so many options.


I know that you are far from these schools, but I really do second mmded's advice that if at all possible, your son should visit the school or schools that he is considering. If he is interested in the European Schools, perhaps he can go to Europe for two weeks and spend a few days at each school. If he cannot go to visit the schools, perhaps you can get the names of other Australians hwo have attended these schools and speak to them and to their parents. While it is very unusual for a student of 17 to be on their own in the US, in Europe it is fairly common, so I would not be afraid of that aspect of his living. You might be able to find a good host family through the school, if that would make you and him more comfortable. There are two Australian girls at DD's school [in the US] who are living in an almost ideal host family situation.



Each of these schools presents different types of training and different options. Wherever your son goes, all best wishes to him and to you.



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Hi again,


Thanks for all the information to date.


My son did the auditions in person at all of the schools so he had a chance to look at the school and even meet some of the students. We already searched for all the relevant threads for information on the different schools. We are looking for any personal experiences for any of the schools or any issues he hasn’t considered in making a decision.


He didn’t consider Australian Ballet School as he’s 17 so really to old for it besides we found certain aspects of the boys program questionable. The other Australians schools didn’t seem to provide much more than the school he’s at now.


He’s keen on the Princess Grace School but understands that it’s strictly ballet. Is there anyplace he can get some contemporary and or Spanish lessons?

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