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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Contracts with Scholarships?


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DD has been offered a full scholarship to a pre-pro school that she was hoping to attend. We were surprised when we received her new student packet that it included a contract which we must sign in order for dd to receive this scholarship.

 

In the contract, she must agree to not take any classes at any other studio. She may not attend SI anywhere but at this studio. She cannot attend any auditions for anything, anywhere, period.

 

We were blown away.

 

Is this common??

 

Thanks for any input!

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Not in most of the professional schools in the USA! Small situations may be more apt to require these rigid "rules".

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Not in most of the professional schools in the USA! Small situations may be more apt to require these rigid "rules".

 

I am surprised that it specifies about Summer Intensives but with the way dancers are popping around these days I can see why they do it. Maybe it will become a trend. Why give someone a scholarship and then have them pop off somewhere else mid year. If you are investing money in someone you should at least have a committment for the year if not longer.

On the flip side noone wants to teach a dancer or a parent for that matter :) who is unhappy.

I usually do not offer scholarships or assistance to new students. I did make an exception this year and I did verbally ask for a one year committment. If the dancer is good enough for a scholarship it comes with strings no denying it. That dancer will be expected to dance well at all performances and represent the school or pre pro company and be WORTH the money (that has to come from somewhere) that is being invested in them.

:)

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Not taking classes at any other studio "without permission" is what is standard around these parts for even company members of a pre-pro school. That permission is usually granted when you ask though at most places. So that part doesn't bother me. With the rigidness of your rules, they may not give you permission though.

 

I would most worry about the SI situation and the audition situation. When would this scholarship renew or is it a "forever" scholarship? In other words, would you sign this then possibly not auditins for SI's but have the scholarshipped revoked prior to summer? Are they speaking of all auditions or just SI auditions? Are students at this pre-pro discouraged from attending SI's or is this just a stipulation for scholarshipped students? If the scholarship is for one year only, can you live with the stipulations for one year and then not accept it if offered a 2nd year? Is the Pre-pro of such a caliber that your DD doesn't really have to go anywhere for summer?

 

This is a sticky situation, if you go and accept the scholarship, then you have to follow the rules. If you go but without the scholarship then you may raise red flags about things your DD might be doing during the year (taking class elsewhere, auditioning, etc) which might affect her in a place with such rigid standards for it's students.

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Several of DD's friends have had similar strings attached. There are a few programs, big ones, that do this. When I asked about a similar limit (but w/o the SI requirement), they replied that they were investing thousands in the kid, so it was a fair trade-off. This was a program in a city with several other competitive programs, and apparently there had been some student snatching concerns between the programs. We said no ultimately, but not for the contract reasons. All the scholarships DD has taken had a "contract" of sorts demanding 100% attendance, representation of the program, no outside classes w/o consent, and some had work-study requirements.

 

When it comes right down to it, however, not all the kids who sign those contracts abide by them, and if it's the kid (under 18) signing, then it's not worth beans anyway as a binding agreement.

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First, in concept, I don't see a problem with a contract accompanying a scholarship offer. After all, the school is 'investing' in the child's training and it is only fair that the child/family invest something in the school.

 

The restrictions you have listed may seem harsh, but sometimes listing the bare bones of a contract make it seem harsh. I would suggest that you sit down with the AD and ask for clarification of the terms and the extent of the restrictions and the reasoning behind them.

 

For instance, I do not believe it is either unusual or unduly restrictive for the school to require that the scholarshipped student not take classes elsewhere, especially a fully-scholarshipped student---as long as there are adequate level and number of classes at the studio to keep the pre-pro student on track. Let's assume there are.

 

The reasoning is (I believe) that the studio is serious about working with the child and investing in her/his training. If the student chooses to take classes elsewhere, the training at the other studio may be sub-par (in the studio's opinion), conflicting in terms of method (thus opening the student up to confusion in technique), conflicting in terms of scheduling (both class and rehearsal times), and may simply put a strain on the child's rest time (as the home studio schedules it). If the student is 'over-scheduled', then the student may feel the need to start skipping classes because--take your pick--- (1) they are overly-tired; (2) need more time for homework; (3) need more time to study for a test; (4) need a mental or physical break; (5) are more susceptible to injury.

 

As for the "no audition" restriction---find out exactly to what that restriction applies: other performance opportunities? school plays, theatre, etc? Summer programs? Company auditions? Post-high school training programs? Again, depending on the nature and extent of the restrictions (and the age of your dancer), it might be a legitimate restriction.

 

For example, if the child wants to audition for other performance opportunities (i.e., outside the home studio) or for school dance or theatre activities, well, the dancer runs the risk of having those rehearsals/performances conflict with her regular studio's classes and/or rehearsals. If your dancer has been given a full scholarship to attend those classes and receive the full training the studio has to offer, then he/she has an obligation to commit to those classes and not to 'skip' them because 'a better/more fun' opportunity presents itself.

 

As for the summer program requirement, again, depending on the reasoning and actual restriction, the age of the dancer, and his/her current training level, there may be a perfectly legitimate purpose. Is the summer program at the home studio well-respected? Is the studio interested in making sure its dancer's technique is rock-solid before the dancer goes off to perhaps acquire 'bad-habits' or encounter differing techniques/styles? Is there a time in the dancer's training that the home studio DOES encourage its dancers to 'seek their fortune' and try their wings? (If not, then I would be worried!).

 

And, although a contract signed by a minor is not technically binding in a court of law, having your dancer sign one and then letting her ignore the obligations she committed to would not be a good lesson for her. Often the contracts also require a parent to sign, which does make them legally enforceable. So what would the remedy be? Certainly it would NOT be to force the child to continue at the studio. Most probably, if the family decided not to adhere to the terms of the scholarship as offered, the remedy would be to forfeit the scholarship and repay the fees for that part of the year that the scholarship terms were not met (if any). But what the student and parent would most lose would be integrity and character and the opportunity to teach the student that living up to one's word is important.

 

I would recommend that you sit down with the AD, discuss the terms of the offer, the reasoning behind the terms, discuss whatever reservations or 'what if' situations might be important to you or your dancer and then decide whether you can or can not live with the terms of the offer. If not, thank the AD and politely decline the scholarship and let that be the end of it. No bad-mouthing the school.

 

Remember, the scholarship offer is not a right to be had, but an offer of support.

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I am learning everyday on this website. :dry: What is being called a contract here could be covered in a handbook or a manual for scholarship students. A form could be signed showing recognition of the terms of the scholarship, but I would not really call it a contract.

 

Recently I have been taking my nephew to his very high level high school soccer leagues (multiple) enabling him to play soccer every evening of the week and weekends. What soccer parents are doing is amazing. What the players are doing can definitely be compared to a high level ballet school. Parents and players sign "contracts" to ensure that the players will show up, abide by the rules, work and pay! To my understanding, thus far, there are no scholarships. Perhaps, as I am learning in soccer, the "contract" is to assure student availability for performances/games etc. :wink:

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Dd has been the fortunate recipient of a scholarship for several years at her school. The scholarship letter always includes a "scholarship acceptance agreement" which must be signed by both student & parent. It is for the school year only, Sept. - June. It does not include SIs. She has never been prevented from auditioning for or attending the SI of her choice. However, I believe if her school felt that she was making a "bad" choice, someone would speak to her about it.

The agreement does stipulate that she represents both the school & company; that she may not study, perform, audition or compete elsewhere without permission; she must attend all classes & rehearsals; may not smoke, drink alcohol or use illegal substances & must write a thank you note to the donor of her scholarship.

Last year dd had two surgeries which kept her out of class for some time. Her scholarship remained in effect, and her school was very supportive.

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  • Administrators

All of the professional schools, or most anyway, have contracts for the year for all pro-track students, not just scholarship students. Some have them for all students at every level. However, I don't know of any except one in Canada that forbids auditions and going away to SI programs. The residency schools in this country that I know of all allow, and probably encourage, their students to go elsewhere in the summer.

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At my school the program for the oldest and most advanced kids requires a contract to be signed. It does not allow you to take other classes at other studios without permission. It also puts a limit on the number of classes you can miss during the year. No more than 5 classes (for weekdays) during the year. On weekends no more than three. (If you miss more than 8 clases during the year you can be kicked out). If you have an issue though, suck as a prolonged sickness, or an SAT/ACT on a weekend they are pretty understanding.

They do not however restrict where you go for SI's. They encourage us to attend other places to experiance the other teachers, students, locations, etc.

This contract must be signed before you even audition for the program, and then renewed each year that you re-accept.

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  • Administrators

Yes, I believe it does. I was thinking primarily residency programs, however, I do think that most professional programs also encourage SI attendance elsewhere, or at least don't forbid it. Houston would certainly be an exception.

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While I agree, in principal, with the signing of a contract when a dancer is on scholarship...I do have issues with the no SI ...this severely limits a dancers future job prospects IMHO...if a dancer is not seen by other SI's and their company affiliates, then their future placements once they leave their HOME pre-pro/company affiliation is greatly diminished...I feel the more SI/company staff contacts that a dancer of say the 16-20 age can make the better employment opportunites are available to these said dancers...just my thought from our past experiences.. :dry:

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My son is on scholarship at his home school and has to agree to a number of requirements that fall in line with what has already been discussed. (attendance, volunteer hours, character, etc..)

 

The only thing of note is that we are limited to only those SIs that we receive full scholarships to. The reasoning being that if we can afford to pay for an SI, we should be able to pay our home studio first.

 

I understand the purpose for this, and we've been fortunate so far that this year's SI was willing to increase the scholarship offered when we explained our circumstances.

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That is interesting Tauwillow. I have had some of these problems. What if I offer a scholarship (based on need) and then they go to an expensive summer intensive (that I could not afford for my kid without a scholarship) and then head of to Hawaii for 2 weeks after its over. Putting it on a letter or agreement seems like a reasonable way to avoid frustration.

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