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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Training: Supply & Demand


mmded

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I just noticed that dancemaven's wonderful post, which started this whole discussion, has been removed from the thread.

 

:) ?

 

Without it, the discussion doesn't seem to have much direction, and my first post doesn't make much sense. Can dancemaven's post be restored?

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Did it get left on the other thread?

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I have been reading this topic with great interest, because I often wonder if it is all worth it. DD will be 13 in 3 weeks. She trains at a fantasitc school 4 days a week for a total of about 9 hours per week. It has been a sacrifice for all of us. She has dreams of someday dancing professionally. After reading this thread, I asked her if she would want to continue even if there was no possible way she would ever dance professionally. When she asked why, I told her "because even if you turn out to be good enough, the fact is there just arent enough jobs out there." She really didnt care. She loves ballet, and she wants to do what she is doing right now, no matter what the outcome. I think schools have the responsibility to turn out dancers that are the best they can be - and if that means the supply exceeds the demand, so be it. There can never be enough people who love the art. If anything, that supply is too small. I never had an interest in ballet until DD got involved with it. Now I am a huge fan, and I read about it, attend professional performances and support it any way I can. I am hooked. You know, its funny...my son plays the clarinet. He takes lessons and practices daily. He is first chair in band. He attends summer programs for it. We enjoy the symphony. But, there is no thought of it becomming his career. We dont sit around dreaming of the New York Philharmonic. But for some reason, with ballet, we do dream.

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This has been a very interesting thread to read and think about. I don't see anything wrong with our kids going to ballet class every day and to summer intensives to become very well trained. It is what student athletes do to be at the top of their game only their coaches say, "most of you will not make it to the professional level so get an education"! Those coaches do not sugar coat the job prospects.

 

I think just as much money, if not more is spent on "club" or "elite" soccer, volleyball, basketball, baseball, tennis, you name it, they play year round and travel all over the country for tournaments. They try out and are cut from teams, it can be ruthless but thousands of kids participate. I think the parents do it to make sure their kids have the opportunity to be the best they can be at their sport in hopes of getting a college scholarship. Even the college coaches tell their players to get an education because this is most likely the last time they will ever play that sport on an organized team.

 

I think our job as parents is to let our kids do everything to pursue their dream but explain the reality of getting a contract is pretty slim and they need to have a second plan in place and they need to work just as hard on that as ballet. I agree with the others who have said there are many ways to support ballet besides performing. Wouldn't it be great to have the fan support basketball has this week? How do we do that?

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Pictures, you are absolutely correct. If the child wants the daily dance because they love it, that is what should prompt the parent's decision. I can't see that worrying about the future career for a 13 year old should be a factor at all! Our kids love to dance, it is good for their minds and bodies, and as long as things like school and family aren't neglected its a win-win situation. Have any of you ever heard the parents of a high school football player stressing about the hours spent practicing when the possibility of that professional NFL job is so unlikely???? My daughter will probably never dance professionally, but she loves dance and I really don't see the downside to her dancing 5-6 days a week as long as it doesn't negatively impact the rest of the family. If she does end up as a dancer, then she will be prepared, if not, then plan b or c will take effect and she will have the benefit of the discipline and love of the art.

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I was going to start a new thread with this post but as I have been following this thread and the 20/20 thread, I felt that maybe it could be a good fit here. Another ballet mom/friend and I were talking about how ballet classes are 'corrections based'. The teachers dictate and demonstrate various steps and combinations and then the students attempt the same while the teacher offers a variety of corrections. But as "correction oriented" as ballet seems to be, we were wondering how often the 'ultimate correction' is given, particularly in programs that bill themselves as pre-professional programs. The 'ultimate correction' being that perhaps a student is not suited for a ballet career and whose time and money would be best spent on other pursuits. It doesn't seem like it happens very often even though statistics would say that very few dancers really are suited to a career. This question is not directed toward those dancing recreationally or purely for their own enjoyment but for those who are enrolled and are training with all their hearts for a professional career.

 

In consideration of the current oversupply and low demand for well trained trained dancers, should a preprofessional program consider, as part of it's responsibilty to the student and paying parents, a gentle weeding out process. I know it's been mentioned that SI's and various other programs weed out many dancers but honestly, I dont think they do. There are kids who want to dance, who are so ill suited to it, whose parents keep ponying up the money and the programs keep accepting them, probably because they need to. Would it not be kinder to give and apply the "ultimate correction'' in this situation?

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asleep there are many facets of answers to your question. One problem I see in giving this type of definite "ultimate correction" is just because a dancer may not be suited for ballet doesn't mean that they are not suited to a professional career in dance that their ballet training will help them with. There are smaller regional ballet companies where the rules for entry are not as strict. There are contemporary ballet companies who want ballet trained dancers who don't fit into the classical box so to speak but are classically trained nonetheless. There are also many modern companies that would love a ballet trained dancer who could also move in their style. The list of options goes on and on. So I would hope that a correction of that sort would include options rather than "you are not a ballet fit so your dance options are done". It may just be my limited perspective, but I have not seen many students come through the schools (that we have around here) that go from pre-dance through high school graduation in a pre-professional setting that are not trained well enough to dance somewhere in some form. Because of ballet's limitations it just may not be in that form.

 

I think that is why I have a love for ballet as an artform but I am not a ballet purist believing that ballet is "it". I do see a wide world of dance out there especially in 2007 for well trained dancers. To give that ultimate correction in a ballet only way, in my opinion would be unfair. To give that "ultimate correction" would negate the classical ballet trained dancers we know who work on cruise ships or at Disney, with Paul Taylor or Ailey, on Broadway or in a smaller company. Many of those didn't fit the ballet mold and might have been given an "ultimate correction" to give it up. But dance they do!

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Making the "ultimate correction" is a very difficult thing to do. The decision is not so clear cut in the US because of the availability of various dance forms. In the European state ballet schools, the goals are more clearly defined. Royal Ballet, Paris Opera, Stuttgart (J. Cranko), Hamburg, Vaganova and the Bolshoi schools are clearly the professional training schools for classical ballet. They do not keep students amongst their ranks who, in their eyes, do not have a future in the classical ballet world. However, there are many students who have been asked to leave these esteemed schools who have, against all the odds, attained careers in classical ballet.

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Asleep, I think I have addressed that somewhere here, in terms of the students themselves, when they are in professional training, will recognize their potential, or lack of it, by the time they are high school. Most teachers will talk to these students about their chances, options, and help them to know all of the things that their training can lead them towards in the dance world.

 

I know not ALL teachers do this, but I do think that most do. I have found over the years that somewhere in the 15-17 year old years the students will want to discuss these things, and when they do, they come in asking for options and how to stay in ballet, or dance, and what the teacher feels would be the best path for them in terms of college programs, etc. I have found almost all of them to be very realistic, and very open to the real facts when given with the positive options. Many have already decided by that time that they want to do this training as long as they can, definitely through high school, and maybe through college, but that they have other talents and/or academic strengths that they really want to pursue.

 

Over the period of years a teacher works with a student they generally get to know a lot about her/his abilities and strengths, and also about their emotional maturity, their feelings about dance, and their ability to handle reality. Reality does not have to be negative. If the teacher is willing to explore with the student where this can take them, in terms of what their heart really desires, it's really quite amazing how positive things can be. :blushing:

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At at least one of the schools mentioned above by vrsfanatic the training is totally funded by the state. Fifty to sixty hours a week of training and academics is provided by world class teachers at no cost to the student. Dancers must remember all the times, both in the studio and outside, that poor choices or lack of commitment as seen by the artisitc staff of these state schools or anything else outside of the studios that may affect the dancer's potential for a career in classical ballet or will reflect badly on the school will result in them being ejected from the program. Parents do not have ANY influence or indeed any involvement which may not be a bad thing! :blushing:

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You know, I have a friend who got a Master's in English, and his overwhelming desire was to write the Great American Novel. He worked odd jobs, and plodded on for three years, and while the writing was perfect from a mechanical point of view, it was pedantic and turgid prose, and the characterization varied from none to wildly impossible. "That'll come, that'll, come, it's all in the mop-up," he told me. In the meantime, he was a lot of fun at parties. Hemingway and Faulkner were his models. After awhile, the odd jobs did not provide a sufficient living, so he became a bank teller. The Novel is still unfinished, but he's an Executive Vice President of an international investment bank now.

 

So, forays into the arts are NOT wasted time.

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I just noticed that dancemaven's wonderful post, which started this whole discussion, has been removed from the thread.

 

. . . .

 

Can dancemaven's post be restored?

 

Actually, when I first came upon this thread, my post wasn't in it. My preference would be for it to remain where it was originally posted (and currently resides). That portion of my post that seemed to spark this train of thought is included in this thread via a quote in one of Treefrog's posts. I think that gives enough context for my meager thoughts on this subject.

 

My intent in the original post really had more to do with the other topic than this one--at least in my mind. In the context of trying to make a point in that discussion, I made the observation that in the current market, the supply and demand model for qualified company-ready dancers and job openings is radically out of sync. The manner in which that model could be corrected to become more evenly balanced is really not something for which I have a clear or reasoned suggestion ready [shocking, isn't it? :blushing: ]. Even there, part of my point was that, in addition to an over supply of well-trained and qualified dancers being market-ready, there is an even bigger supply of under-trained, not-quite-qualified dancers flooding the market and over-taxing the traditional audition/hiring process model. My thought, at the time of the post, was more an inarticulation of how could those dancers be 'educated' appropriately so as not to frustrate the audition process.

 

As to this topic:

 

I would agree with Victoria that a "pre-professional" moniker for a school should not be understood by a parent or a dancer to be a guarantee or promise of a professional career, but rather should be understood to mean that the level of training provided is of a professional level caliber. I don't necessarily believe that a school's designation as a 'pre-professional' level school is tied solely to the number of graduates who go on to secure a company contract--primarily because I have come to believe that so much more than empirical training factors into that outcome.

 

If pre-professional is a description of the level of skill and training provided, then it is a function of the level of instruction offered and provided, not the actual result determined by the number of professional contracts. That level of instruction offered and provided together with the number of professional contracts its graduates receive simply separate the programs into elite and less-elite programs----much like the business schools, law schools, etc. get separated and ranked.

 

A graduate of a law school has acquired the skills and training to practice as a lawyer whether the person ever takes the bar exam or ever practices law. The fact that the graduate doesn't does not make the law school not-a-law-school. It would simply be one factor that would be used in comparing that law school's program to other law school's programs.

 

I would tend to agree that in a professional school setting, the dancers do seem to come to know by age 15-19 where they fall in the scheme of things regarding the realities of a potential professional opportunity. I think the biggest problem lies in the schools that are not really 'pre-professional/professional' (whichever term we choose to apply) but believe in earnest that they are. In these settings, I think it is much more difficult for the dancers and parents to really get a good basis for self-evaluation, primarily because the school doesn't provide a proper basis for evaluation for itself, much less its dancers. How can the dancers and parents be expected to 'see clearly' when the school's view is distorted to begin with?

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Asleep - DS met a beautiful young woman over the winter holidays. She was told in her junior year by her pre-pro school that she no longer had any potential and would NEVER make it as a professional ballet dancer. She is now with one of the major companies. She's been there a few years already. She received the "ultimate correction" and went on to prove that it was wrong.

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tsavoie, you have a great point. I think that we as parents many times are the ones that foster the "dream" of seeing our little princesses dancing on the professional stage. The demand feeds the beast. For some reason everyone understands the level of performance that is required to become a professional athlete, and the rarity of it happening to our child, or even the child of someone we know! But when it comes to ballet, in our heart of hearts, we believe it can happen for our child.

 

No parent with a non- dancing child tries to get them to commit to a future "career" at the age of 12 or 13. We don't bring our child to be analyzed by experts for their potential for the NFL! When you look at the situation this way, it really seems hysterical. As many times as experts have told us on this board that puberty is a big factor in determining a dancers future suitability for dance, we still want to know that our ten year old is unusually gifted and headed for ballet glory!

 

To conclude this ramble, I am one mom who is prepared to accept responsibility for my part in the ballet in feeding the ballet beast, right up to and including the emotional rollercoaster of the audition circuit. This is the point that we decide insult has been added to injury. Now, we are finally up in arms, time to assign the blame!

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Cheetah, I like that story, except that the school that said "NEVER" should be disowned or banned, or something! :wacko: Seriously, I don't believe one can use that term when dealing with a person, even one that you might not think has the right stuff, because the finality of that term goes against the factors of human nature. Being realistic about the odds is one thing, saying never is totally another. Not a good thing to do! However, in this case, the dancer had the last word, and a positive outcome, and that is great! :blushing:

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