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going to a residence program

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It's that time of the year again!


Are there any threads where I can find info about students who go or went to a residence program at a very young age and about their experiences?


My dk is a very dedicated student (11) who has been invited to the year round program of a very well known school.


We can find a lot of info at BTFD about the different programs, about how to make the decision, how to decide if the kid is ready, how to deal with all the "emotions" etc., but we're very interested in experiences of students who made this big step in their lives or of parents who made this decision for their dk's.


Are their any students/parents on BTFD who would like to share this info, like, do you have good/bad feelings about your choice, would you do it again if you had a second chance? Do you think it was the best thing it ever happened to you, or the worse etc. Are you greatful to your parents that they let you go, or do you hate them, because they let you go....etc.


Ofcourse we've read a lot of interviews with dancers and talked to dancers who "made it" due to the fact that they went to a specific program at a very young age and we also realize that going to a particular program doesn't guarantee you on becoming the dancer you want to be etc. etc.


Well, I think you get my point.


P.S. We would like to hear some recent stories and I am not asking this info, because I am planning to write an article or something about this. It's just been asked to make a well thought decision, if that's ever possible...

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I'm sure there are lots of parents who are able and willing to answer your questions....however it would be helpful to know some additional information before drafting a response...


Are you talking about a residency program that is away from home, or are you referring to an intense training program that your child would commute to from home? Would your child be deferring other activities in order to pursue dance? Does he/she have friends who are interested in dance? Are other family members supportive of the interest in dance?


I'm sure you understand that responses would vary depending on your situation......


All the best!



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Santos, is it really necessary for her to leave home at this age in order to get good training? If the school wants to accept her for the year, then I would have to think that perhaps she is doing pretty well with the training she has had so far. Unless there is simply no professional training at all anywhere that you can get to within a reasonable distance, I would not even think about it. Basically, I don't believe they should leave home before finishing high school unless the training is absolutely not available any other way.

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With a dancer of that young of an age, especially, I would begin right away by asking the administration of the school to provide you with contact information of parents who also have children presently at the school of near the same age as your dancer. It would be best to make the most of these contacts to find the exact information you are looking for. I say this mostly because each residency program has it's own culture, and it is very important that you and your dancer get a good feel for the culture of the school before jumping in with both feet.


Communication with the administration of the school is also of the utmost importance for even the oldest dancers. Do not hesitate to ask the administration who on staff you should approach with your questions, and then go ahead and ask away. It is best to find out now, before your child goes away from home, what the strengths and weaknesses are in the communication styles of those staff members who will have the most contact with your child.


I say these things as the parent of a dancer who decided to go away last year at the age of 15. It has been the best thing in the world for her in terms of education for ballet and education for day-to-day living. But....it was FAR from easy for either us or her. And before I sent her away I had no qualms, because she is one very tough young lady, and I was certain that she would be treated fairly by the academic and artistic staff.


She was pursued by the school from the age of 11 as well. After going through this past year with her actually in the school, I am very glad that we did not send her at that age, but waited 4 years to do it.

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There is not a lot to add from those who have already posted. Every family is different but I know that for me, there was no way I would let my child go to a residency program at 11. The only reason he left this year was that his AD at the home school told him he had to do it because there were not enough boys for male technique classes, male variations and pas de deux class. He said what he was getting at quality SIs was still not enough.


So we made the hard decision to let him go. But he was 16, not 11.


There are so many variables that you have to think long and hard about what you and your dk really want. And you have to be very realistic about what you expect to happen as a result.


I would never attempt to encourage nor discourage someone to make the choice to place a child in residency.


So. To summarize, before you decide you should:


--really consider all options before deciding no quality training is available at home

--research and visit various residency programs to see if they meet your needs

--know what kind of training you and your child want

--know your child's strengths academically, all dancers in residency programs do not end up dancing profesionally

--decide academic needs

--decide how far from home is acceptable


The distance is important. My son called me one night in the middle of the night (2:00 A.M.) from the emergency room He had been injured in his dorm room and was transported to the emergency room. Fortunately he required some stitches and was otherwise alright. I had a minimum of a 9 hour drive and more likely closer to 11 hours. Only one train in and out per day. If it was serious, I would not have reached him for 12 hours.


So reflect and then discuss with your child and the teachers you most respect before making a decision. If the decision is to leave, really investigate the dance program and the academic program as well as social supports in place.

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This is another reply from another parent who would not let the DD leave home for a residency until 15 years old-

I could not have relinquished the day to day parenting at eleven years of age even though my daughter has always been mature for her age. It has been only one year since she has been in a residency but it still takes a toll on a parent and child regardless of the age of separation.

While the outcome has been good in our situation there are some situations where it does not turn out to meet everyone's expectation- inwhich a parent needs to be prepared for that outcome as well. Take other parents advice and research comparable training in your area if possible first. If not, could your family sacrifice and relocate for the sake of one child's wellbeing? Speaking from someone who knows, it is a very big challenge to parent coast to coast. Good luck in finding a workable solution!

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MY DS started his residency program last fall when he was 11. Of course, most people thought we were nuts. :D However, I can say after his first full year away, I do not have one regret. He has flourished as both a dancer and a person, and loves his school. That said, I think that majority of kids are not ready for such an experience. We have the luxury of his school being one of the top ballet training facilities in the world, as well as a school that has a wonderful academic program and very nurturing staff. But with that said, I think his experience may be a unique one. Even among the kids that chose to attend his program, there are definitely a few that will not be returning due to the fact that they do not like being away from their families.


You simply need to make a list of the pros and cons. We did so and made our decision, which (thank goodness) turned out to be the right one. We let him be the driving force. Of course, we are still the parents, but my son is mature and sensible enough to be able to make decisions about what is best for him. We felt that he had the maturity to know what he needed at that time in his life, and let him make the decision. He had to really NEED to go there, despite all the obstacles he would face. The door was always open for him to come home if it didn't work out, but that can also lead to disaster as your child may return home with such a bad taste in his/her mouth that they may NEVER want to return to that particular program (or worse--decide that they don't want to dance anymore, either.) You need to make sure that your dancer is the driving force behind this. We have witnessed many dancers whose parents wanted it more than the kids and the outcome is usually not good. These kids sacrifice a lot, and they must really feel down in their core that living away from their families is worth it. But, on the other hand, I think that the right kid in the right residency also gains a lot from such an experience, so it's not all about sacrifice.


Here are some of the questions you may want to ask yourself:


- Is DD a good problem solver? Of course, you will always be there for support and advice, but living in a residency program requires a child to be able to conquer many problems on their own. And, it has been our experience with our particular school that they really try to allow the kids to handle their own problems without involving the parents.


-Is DD conscientious? Can your DD reasonably be expected to get up on time, shower, get ready, do homework, be on time for classes, etc. without constantly being nagged? The kids are supervised of course, but I think the child that can handle these daily living routines independently makes life easier for everyone. If you have to nag your dancer about these things, you may want to wait until she can be a bit more responsible.


-How will you and your family handle DD being away? Of course, we all miss our kids, but I can see how a parent's inability to reasonably give their child the space they need could sabotage success. For example, now that the kids are in their new residence, DS does not have a phone in his room. So now, the only way to reach him by phone is to call the residence and get a message to him, or try and get hold of a houseparent and have them search him down. We sporadically communicate by e-mail. So, (I think this may be more of a guy thing) I will usually only get a call from him about once a week. As a result, I miss many day-to-day details about his life. Will you be okay with these relationship dynamics? It can be pretty hard on a parent at times, as you feel rather cut off from their life.


These are just a few things that come to mind. Yes, sending an 11 year-old to a residency CAN work. However, it is not the ideal situation for most people, and as most folks have already said, it should only be a last resort.


Please feel free to ask if you have more questions. :clapping: Hope this helps a little.


All the best,

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In my opinion (based on my own experiences), attending a residency program at the age of 11 would not be necessary. At age 11, the training one receives at a professional school (if the school is a good school) is slow and steady, and it could easily be found at a good local studio. Also, I do not know about your dk, but I certainly was not 100% certain that I would make ballet a career when I was 11. In fact, I doubt any eleven year-old could predict their future. So much can change in the pre-teen years...the body goes through changes, and being away from home can be emotionally and physically draining. At 11 years old, it would be extremely difficult for a school to be able to predict whether a child would have what it takes to make a career out of ballet. For that reason, most of the major American ballet schools that I can think of do not even take 11 year-olds into their residency programs. I don't know whether the residency program that you are considering is attached to a company or not. For sure, I doubt any professional company would be able to express a real interest in so young a child, because so much is unknown that only time will tell. And, for me, the whole purpose of going to a residency program is to prepare for a company and make relations with a company.


I moved away from home at the age of 16, and I am now deciding between taking a company position or going to Europe at several schools that I have been accepted to on scholarship (with hints about company opportunities). I did not start ballet training at a local pre-professional school until age 10, and I did not move away from home until age 16. At the time, I begged my parents at an earlier age to allow me to go to one of several residency program. They were unrelenting, and at the time I was upset. However, looking back, I know that I would have benefitted from moving away any earlier...in fact, I think I might have gotten burnt out, and it has proven to be unnecessary.


Of course, every situation is different, and every child is different. But, I think you really need to consider this decision delicately, because of how young your dk is. It is obvious that you are already doing this, and I salute you for it. :clapping:


If you would like some more specific info about my experiences, please feel free to PM me.

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Thank you all so far for your replies and very good advise! Dancetaxi, your reply really bucked me up!


Dk is a boy, by the way.....I would love to hear more experiences....

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My dd left to attend her pre-pro school at 17 as a high school graduate. Her training at home for the years before she left was not adequate. She worries that she is too late, and wonders how much better she would be today if she had received really good training sooner. As a parent, I love having all the memories of the time we've shared over the years. I also have guilt that since dance has turned out to be her true passion, we might have waited too long. If she gets a job without the early move, we will all say it worked out o.k. If not, we did the best we could do. Anyway, I don't think she could have handled it at 11, but then again, at that time we had no other option. She's pretty headstrong, independent, and an honor student, so it might have worked out. Let your son be the guide - the best of luck with your decision. Remember that no matter what you decide, there is nothing wrong with changing your mind if it's not working out. :clapping:

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My DS left last year. He regrets that he didn't go sooner - at 12. With a year's worth of experience, I don't think it would've worked out, at least not at this particular school. We caution not to get caught up in the initial rush of a year-round offer. Talk to people who attend the school year round. Things can be dramatically different in the fall. Each program will have pros and cons. Make sure you get a good understanding of the cons. And remember that this will be the middle school years. Just because all the kids are passionate about dance does NOT mean that they do not participate in middle school behavior. A lot of good questions have been posed for you to ask. I would add to them - Is my son strong enough to say no when asked to do something that may phsyically harm him? If he's hurting, can he willingly sit out and handle the criticism of others? Is his body physically strong enough to make the jump to a super-intensive schedule? Can he handle change - which may occur on a daily basis? Can he handle rejection - especially when it comes to casting decisions or not being part of a particular social group? Can he entertain himself for countless hours, especially on a weekend with no planned activities - and no ability to get out of the dorm? Can he accept that others will have absolute authority - and that sometimes there will be no logic in some of these peoples' actions? Are you strong enough to act on your son's behalf if you feel that things aren't right? Can you initiate communication without being perceived as "rocking the boat?" Can he make good choices with regard to eating?


I in no way mean to say that these things happen at every school. But they are situations in which your son might find himself. We knew the pros and cons going in. The pros have worked out beyond our expectation. The cons were just as bad as people had warned. I'm glad we knew as much as possible going in.

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Cheetah, may I ask you some questions?


Your post sounds very warning, but realistic to me. Did your son encounter many of those cons you mentioned? How did he survive? Will he return to the school in Fall? How many boys same age where there last year? Why does he think he should have gone earlier?


Thank you so much...

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--really consider all options before deciding no quality training is available at home

--research and visit various residency programs to see if they meet your needs

--know what kind of training you and your child want

--know your child's strengths academically, all dancers in residency programs do not end up dancing profesionally

--decide academic needs

--decide how far from home is acceptable

--The distance is important.

I would add to dancerdriver's list:


--what are your DK's emotional needs?


This cuts both ways. For some (as Cheetah suggests) it can be overwhelming. For others, it can be inspiring. For my DD (who went to residency at 14/almost 15), it has given her self esteem a huge boost. :shrug:

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Once upon a time, a wise poster on BT4D pointed out that one must keep in mind that once they go, it's possible that they will never live at home again. Essentially, you will be giving up several years that you would have had with your child; you can never get those years back. It is very difficult, but it isn't easy to raise a dancer at home, either. If our daughter does not attend a residency next year, we will be looking at other academic options. It is just too difficult to train at the required level and still lead a normal middle school life and excel in regular school.


It has been interesting to read the various responses. I would like to here how other children reacted to the departure of their siblings. Our little dancer's siblings are NOT willing to let her go; we may be faced with moving our entire family to keep eveyone happy. :shrug:

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