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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Training at or near your home - not a residency


AsleepATheWheel

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My dd has has trained at a residency as well as had nice offers to train at others. She decided that, all things considered, she would prefer to live at home and train at a local pre-pro. As I am always 'AsleepATheWheel" we went with the closest school that met our list of requirements. There are pluses and minuses, but having experienced residency, there were probably larger minuses there (and a few big pluses). However, dd really wants to graduate from a regular high school and add all of those experiences (dances, football games, etc) to her repertoire. Perhaps when we are done with this journey, we will look back and find some mis-steps. But, family time is so precious and so fleeting. We chose not to give it up.

 

This thread can be, perhaps, the "sister" thread to 'moving away to residency thread' that is getting so many postings right now.

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My daughter was at a residency for two years of HS and then her senior year we moved for her to take a traineeship. She did her senior year at a public high school where she was until lunch each day and then off to the ballet. She was able to go to football games, go to the prom, participate in senior activities, etc. She enjoyed this 'normal' slice of life that was missing at her residency, although it is a residency that provides some typical HS activities.

 

Having done both residency and training at home, I would opt for living at home, if you can find the training and performing that your dancer needs to stay competitive. Living, training and schooling in an arts environment is exciting and fun. But, there is a lot to be said for the more typical teen experience that really can't be duplicated in a ballet residency environment. :blink:

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Mine also spent a short time in residency and returned home for various reasons. She loved everything about the program but pretty much hated everything about living in a dorm with 200 Type-A's. (as would I) She also was not able to have a car and drive at her residency which is a rite of passage she didn't want to give up, as well as sleeping in her own bed with her cat!!

 

She is really enjoying being at home and experiencing the things the others have mentioned, as well as being in a great ballet school and having lots of performing opportunities. Her school provides her with a nurturing environment, being able to work with top professionals in Nut (NYCB), choreographers, and this year, 2 AD's from top companies will be holding master classes for the upper level (exposure). She is constantly surrounded by professionals in both ballet and musical theater, and her student company is very well respected in our large city.

 

I am not sure that staying home is the end-all for everyone. But I am now a true believer that if you have good training close to home, take advantage of it, and the time you will gain with your dancer! The personal attention she gave up to go away was not what was in her best interest at the time, I believe, in retrospect. There will be MANY times in life, no matter what path one chooses, that we might be just "one of ## dancers/teachers/etc", but only a few times that we will be able to take advantage of the personal attention of good instruction close to home.

 

I know now, and she also agrees, that she needed this last year at home. Even though she will be graduating a year early and will still be young, I think because she realized that it was better for her to be at home this year, she will be prepared for living away next fall. Much more so than if she had stayed in residency. I will say that I personally felt my kid was completely ready to move away, so did she. But it was nice that she had the courage to change her mind, and nice that her Dad and I understood when she wanted to return home. And a caveat to that is that she has very good training right here in River City! :blink:

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Thank you all for being willing to share your current feelings about your dancer's choices. We have such a large contingent of residency parents here that sometimes it appears that we who decide to keep our children home may be lessening their chances. While residency was not a choice we wanted to make, it is comforting to hear those who have done a bit of both to say that if the training is good at home there is strong validity to that decision as well. So, to each his own and if "his own" changes then to each that as well.\

 

What a wonderful gift your children have been given. Parents willing to do what is best for them at any given time.

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Thank you, Momof3. That is very important, as some of our newer members may not have seen all the threads where my advice, and that of our other teacher/moderators and parent/moderators has always been that if there is not a need to go away from home in order to get good training, then we do not feel it is an optimal thing to do for most students and families. If there is no option because of a lack of good training, then, so be it. But, otherwise, we do not feel that it is necessary.

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This is a very important thread. To a new visitor to this site, it may appear that it is mandatory to send your child off to residency in order for him/her to succeed. In my daughter's case, the opportunities in our area were limited, and with a 1 1/2 hour commute each way to decent ballet training, a residency provided the only choice for a halfway "normal" teenage life, that was not spent either being at the studio or in the car. However, my daughter has known many dancers who are succeeding at the apprentice or professional level who trained close to home. Transversely, years of training at a residency are no guarantee of a professional job. Please consider the personality of your child and the training that is available before making the decision. Also consider the cost of the in-between years, that is - trainee, apprentice, etc - where your child may still be paying tuition, paid not at all, or paid very little - before making the decision to spend a large amount of money on a residency. And finally, be aware that all residencies are not created equal - and the value of some can change from year to year. Do your homework!

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My dd stayed home until she graduated from high school. At her home studio, she took all of the ballet classes ar her own level and then also took classes below her level to work on the basics. We added a private lesson now and then when we could. It wasn't the best situation, but in hindsight, it wasn't so bad. She is now in her third year at her pre-pro school. She is improving steadily, and did well at her auditions last spring. I guess you can't ask for more than that.

 

I'm grateful for the time she was at home, but I still worry that she needed better training at that time. She was ready to go away at a younger age - financially, we just weren't able to do it. So far, it seems that it doesn't matter.

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In all honesty - it hurt my DD a little to stay home through her last two years of high school. She isn't quite where she would be technically etc. if she had gone away. But . . . it was so worth it, to her and to her parents/brother to be able to share in the dance journey during those years, to enjoy high school with her, and just to spend time giggling on the couch together. There is no one RIGHT way. It's so child and family specific! She was young, graduated at 16, and now at just 17 is delighted at her "away" program. So little homesickness, so much joy. Because we got to "keep" her until the traditional post-high school moving on time, our journey worked out well for us all and the transition seemed easier. Yes, those crazy 2 hours a day commuting, no time to sleep, no time for homework were sooooo difficult. If she'd been a prodigy dancer, one of those absolutely destined for a career in a big company, we might have chosen the residency, but we simply weren't ready until she finished school. And you know what, that's okay!

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DD is a freshman this year. We are fortunate because we live in a city with many good training options. This keeps the door open for ballet in our family. I am not sure I could have surrendered my dd as a freshman to a residency program. I have respect for those brave parents who selflessly allow their young kids to pursue such a difficult dream.

 

Even though our dd lives at home and trains at a local school, it is also a very difficult path. DD attends local high school for 3 hours in the am, is allowed to leave for ballet class and returns for her final class of the day and then goes back to ballet. She is getting quality ballet training and she is getting a rigorous college prep education. She sacrifices much of the normal high school life. Yesterday there were tears because at high school no one knows her at all and no one even spoke one word to her. They aren't being mean, they just have no idea who dd is because she comes to class, dashes out and then reappears only to dash out again. She sounded like "Mr. Cellophane" from the musical "Chicago." My heart ached for her but we discussed this scenario before making our decisions about high school, ballet training and life. I asked her if she would like to scale back the ballet or return to her old prep school. The answer was a resounding NO... so she will hang in there and I pray she will find a friend at high school. The ballet school would like for her to be more available in the day for rehearsals so she is sacrificing there too. I am sure she will miss opportunities for roles but we are also committed to trying to provide a more traditional college prep environment since the high school has been so accomodating.

 

The kids in the residency program at her ballet school are bonding but she is not there; however, she is friends with this crew (thankfully). The result of her crazy schedule is that socially, she is out of the loop everywhere. I am still tring to figure this one out.

 

It seems that everywhere she goes, there are compromises being made and it makes me uncomfortable. There is no one perfect way to put it all together so we count our blessings that we have a kid who has found her passion in life and that we are able to hold her close for now. We will clock our hours in the car and realize that in only 4 years, she will be off to whatever lies in store after her hard work, training and studying.

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Swanchat: DD's first public high school (freshman year) was not very accomodating to absences that were dance related, and not very supportive of the dance dream. She had a hard time making good friends and feeling really part of the school. She switched schools sophomore year, and the new school was extremely accomodating (even though it is a more rigorous academic school, though still a public school). We got the teachers very involved from the first day, sending letters to each teacher before school started with some info about her and about ballet, getting the school to post her picture and dance information in the lobby so people knew about her and the "cool" thing she was doing with her life, getting the school paper to run a story on her, bringing in her ballet teacher (as a paid private lesson) to talk to her homeroom class about dance, paying for 15-20 tickets for her school friends for each show and giving each teacher and the guidance counselor and principal tickets for each show. She missed out on ballgames and most dances (though not prom) and most extracurricular activities, but she still got to be part of the school, and they got to be part of dance, even bringing classes on field trips to see ballet performances. If the school will work with you, your daughter will soon be known and have good friends there.

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my daughter has known many dancers who are succeeding at the apprentice or professional level who trained close to home. Transversely, years of training at a residency are no guarantee of a professional job. Please consider the personality of your child and the training that is available before making the decision. Also consider the cost of the in-between years, that is - trainee, apprentice, etc - where your child may still be paying tuition, paid not at all, or paid very little - before making the decision to spend a large amount of money on a residency. And finally, be aware that all residencies are not created equal - and the value of some can change from year to year. Do your homework!

 

I strongly agree with your statement here. I have two DDs. We sought out a residency school with pre-professional ballet training for the older one, and after visiting the school and town, made the decision to move to the town of the program instead of sending her away from home. She attended the school as a day student with other day students and a mix of resident students. She has graduated. She IS in a company now, and her younger sister is now a student at the school for academics and she dances elsewhere.

 

In retrospect, I am very glad we made the move to the town FOR HER. It has been hard for the rest of the family but we have managed. Several other famlies have done the same, though it is not an easy thing for most families to do. The biggest thing was being able to provide my girls with daily support and understanding. I was able to be an immediate advocate for them when necessary, and this kept them from fewer frustrations. Students really need their parents at times. Residency kids can feel guilty about the financial sacrifices their families have made to send them to the residency program, so they swallow their frustrations and that can translate into bad eating habits or lack of rest by juggling their academics as well as the ups and downs of the dance program.

 

Only a VERY FEW of the graduates from the dance program for over their ten years of teaching have gone on to dance professionally. That is the stark naked truth of it...no matter where they go. I agree that we have to cherish our time with our kids as long as we can because before you know it...they are grown and the time for "family memory making" is gone. If there is a school close to home, I will always advocate for that now to anyone who asks.

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Yesterday there were tears because at high school no one knows her at all and no one even spoke one word to her. They aren't being mean, they just have no idea who dd is because she comes to class, dashes out and then reappears only to dash out again...The kids in the residency program at her ballet school are bonding but she is not there; however, she is friends with this crew (thankfully).

 

What do the students at the residency do for academics? Could she join them?

 

We moved to the residency program and the pros and cons of that should probably be a thread in itself. We also homeschool, also another thread. This has worked for us because dd gets good training and still has our daily family influence.

 

The school is almost four different schools in one. 1. It is a well-recognized ESL (English as a second language) program. 2. It is a prominent pre-pro basketball program including post-graduates. There have been several players that have gone on to the NCAA. In fact when I tell some non-dancer people about where my dd studies they say "that's a great basketball school." Players come from all over the US and other countries. 3. It also houses the ballet residency program. 4. It has a contract to provide public high school education for the local population. Thus, it provides all the typical high school stuff down to the letterman jackets and class rings.

 

With all these things in play I think it provides a broad high school and residency situation. The ballet dancers can do all the usual high school stuff. They are all very excited about Homecoming. They go to football and basketball games, dances, drama performances, attend music concerts, and take driver's Ed. They can have local friends sleep over at the dorms or sleep over at friends' homes in town. They can have friends "over for dinner" in the cafeteria. DD complains at times that she can't have "the dorm experience." But, oh well, this is the way we can make this whole deal work financially. Even though dd doesn't live there or do her academics there, she has a lot of dancer, non-dancer, resident, and local friends at the school. Even many of the ESL students know her by name.

 

If I had to look for another program for some reason, I think I'd choose a residency that has an association with a public high school. That way dd would have the friendship and support of fellow dancers as well as the high school experience.

 

The situation is certainly not perfect, but we are able to cover a lot of the bases. She's enjoying herself and is learning and growing. In fact, I rather envy my dd's teenage life. Youth is wasted...

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DD is a freshman this year. . . . She sacrifices much of the normal high school life. Yesterday there were tears because at high school no one knows her at all and no one even spoke one word to her. They aren't being mean, they just have no idea who dd is because she comes to class, dashes out and then reappears only to dash out again. She sounded like "Mr. Cellophane" from the musical "Chicago."

 

Swanchat, how large is her high school?

 

My non-dd spent her pre-school through middle school years at a small private school. Her whole class was 40 students. She chose to go to our local public high school--enrollment 3200 students. Her freshman class was 850 alone. All of her closest middle school friends went to other private schools.

 

Non-dd is an elite level athlete. She received permission to leave high school an hour early every day. Her club athletic practice starts at 2:30 and goes until 7:00 every week night and she has Saturday practice beginning at 8:00 a.m. That type of schedule puts the same crimp in any type of social life that the pre-pro dancers experience. Non-dd is unable to participate in extracurriculars at school, although she did work it out with the school's coach for her sport and her club coach sufficiently for her to participate on the school's team. Her particular sport has a very short season---October to first of February--and very small roster. Nevertheless, she did feel a little connected.

 

This year she is a sophmore. She has told me that "I love being a sophmore at H.S.! Sophmores know so many more people than freshmen!"

 

So, my point is, let your daughter know that it does get better the longer she is at school. Make the most of meeting and greeting the kids in each of her classes (in non-DD's school, she often doesn't even have a single repeat of kids in a class from one hour to the next). Although, my daughter still doesn't have as active a social calendar as perhaps she would like and if she weren't as engaged in her sport as she is, she does feel part of the school and does not feel as invisible as she did as a freshman.

 

The members of her club sport are from all over the city and different high schools and the surrounding area--not to mention the age array. So, the club sport itself doesn't really provide her with the needed social outlet that my DD's dancing buddies always have for her.

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