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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Changing Schools - Maintaining Relationship?


Sewlinda

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Hello!

 

My soon to be 11 yo DD will be changing schools in June, just after her recital at the old school. We would change schools sooner, but are competing, and don't want to let the other girls down on our team. The old school isn't exactly a Dolly Dinkle, but has more of a jazz/tap/hip hop focus. My DD has more of an ballet aptitude and interest. She is excited to change in the extreme. It is killing her not to tell her dance buddies!

 

I have read quite a bit on this topic - how to leave gracefully. My daughter still wants to take tap at her old school after she leaves. If she does take tap there, leaving the competition team on good terms is even more important. What is the best way to do this? Is it even a good idea to take a class at the old school?

 

I do believe it helps that we are not switching to a school that competes with the old one- that it is a serious ballet school. I will try to approach it from standpoint that she wants a career in ballet, etc. To be honest, the old school has some other problems, but I have chosen to keep quiet about them. I know they won't be addressed, so there is no point.

 

Any suggestions? Thanks! :)

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What are her time requirements at the ballet school? Will the ballet school offer comparable training in other areas should she decide to continue with them? In other words, will be be a little behind in ballet at the ballet school but the ballet school offer opportunities for her to continue in the same level/intensity she did in jazz/tap?

 

While I cannot tell you in terms of ballet training what is best. You may find that at 10, staying with your jazz/tap teachers where you are may be best while you transition into the world of ballet while your DD sees if this is what she really wants. That is a hefty charge, but you may find that the jazz at the ballet studio is not the same level of jazz that you've been experiencing. I would not tell you that if you were going from ballet to ballet. But there are differences in most ballet schools to the emphasis and style of jazz/tap/hiphop than at competition schools.

 

What you may find in reality, is that you will not have time for as many other types of dance that you did at the competition school. Ballet classes will be longer and more often, pointe will be added as a seperate class and performing opportunities with rehearsals may substitute. You will be encouraged to take another form of dance, it may be jazz or it may be modern.

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I agree with Momof3 on all of her points. Also, in terms of the relations between your family and the competition school, well, the most you can do is to go discreetly to the director of the school and respectfully explain the situation. How he/she responds is their responsibility and there is not much you can do to control that. Your discretion with other families is important especially if the director(s) expressly request that your family not cause any waves. Directors naturally have their other students in mind when a family departs because although they may wish you well, they also do not want a large following.

 

As far as your daughter being able to comfortably continue to take her tap class after leaving her competition team, well, that too is going to depend on how you go about that and how the others respond. Again, how others respond is not your responsibility - some may be fine with it and others may not be. Then it is a matter of character building for your daughter if she has to face any negative responses.

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Sewlinda-

We made the move a little over a year ago. We kept some classes initially, but by Nutcracker season, dd no longer wanted to continue at the old studio. She found her love and made friends they also like ballet!

The director knew dd loved ballet, so I sat with her and explained everything and she gave us her "permission" to come as we could to jazz and tap. She knew dd was taking ballet at another studio for years and I'm sure she knew it was best for dd to move on.

We still go to their competitions and recitals and cheer them on.DD has kept some of the good friends but most think she is crazy for leaving the "best" studio around for ballet!!

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We moved studios last summer, but initially we were taking classes at both the old and new studios. I was open about that with both directors and teachers, as I didn't want my son to feel like he was doing something bad and sneaking around. In retrospect, I think we should have just snuck around until we made our decision, simply because of the reaction of his ex-director.

 

Anyhow, in our experience, it was much easier on everyone to just commit and switch over to the new place completely. I wanted to leave the old studio on good terms, like you, and at the end of the term, but it didn't work out that way for us.

 

Like Yankee said, you have no control over their reactions.

 

Good luck, I hope everything goes well for you and your DD.

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My dd made the move to a ballet focused studio 2 1/2 years ago. She has continued to take one jazz class per week at her old studio. When she left to a new studio to take ballet, we explained to her ballet teacher and her jazz teacher that she was interested in pursuing ballet at a more intensive level than was offered at their studio. They have both been very kind about it. She has continued with the same jazz teacher, and they have allowed her ballet classes at her ballet studio to fulfill the ballet requirement they have for taking jazz at her level. They apparently have not allowed this with everyone, so :shrug: . We'll take it, though. This arrangement is also O.K. with her ballet studio, since they no longer offer jazz at that studio.

 

We make sure that if there are scheduling conflicts during performance seasons (winter and spring), that we give highest priority to the ballet studio, since they are putting the most time and effort into her training. This was difficult for my dd during the first year after she'd switched main studios, since she was so used to her loyalty going to her original school.

 

We, of course, do not blab around the old studio about what we're doing, but if people ask either one of us a direct question about her ballet classes, we answer honestly. I have always been very upfront, and also very polite and understanding. Year to year, I always ask the old studio for permission to take ballet elsewhere to fulfill the ballet requirement, and I never act like I assume they will say yes. I did recently learn that the director of the old studio, who was my dd's pre-ballet teacher for years, is hurt that my dd left, and thinks that their ballet program is good enough for a child to become a professional ballet dancer. I was shocked to learn that she really thought that their program was adequate for a serious ballet student, since at their highest level, they only offer 4 hours of instruction per week - including pointe! When confronted with this news, though, I remained respectful of their ideas, didn't try to educate them on the realities of the ballet world, and just said, "Well, dd just loves ballet so much that she wants to take more hours of classes than are offered here."

 

So far, so good. The thing that has amazed me the most is that in 3 school years, she's never had a schedule conflict with taking the exact jazz class she's wanted at the old studio. Good luck with your transition!

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Thanks for all the advice! It seems like it might be best to take tap and hip hop as long as they will fit DD's schedule. But, like Yankee and Tuesday said, if the old school's reaction is bad, it might be impossible. I will have to explain this to DD.

 

I like your way of putting things, LauraGG - "Well, dd just loves ballet so much that she wants to take more hours of classes than are offered here." It is true, and I am hoping that saying something like that won't hurt her old teachers' feelings.

 

Momof3darlings - the old school actually offers more levels of tap than ballet, so you right about the intensity of jazz/tap there. DD will have to switch focuses, but this is something she really wants to do. We'll see if she changes her mind!

 

Hippiechicken - DD attended 1 class at the new studio, and found two girls from the old studio there! DD had a wonderful class, so I don't think there will be a probelm in the friend department. It seems like a good idea to attend a local competition and cheer, if the move goes smoothly.

 

Thanks to all of you for helping with DD's move. She is so excited to make the switch, but I want to do it in the right way! :D

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DD's first studio was primarily a jazz studio, though the ballet teacher was excellent. When DD realized after her first SI that she needed more ballet than her old studio had at her (or any!) level, the teacher's answer was to pick up another class or two each week at a studio 45 minutes away (read non-competitive with this studio). We were not willing to commit the time and money to this when there was an excellent studio 7 minutes away. So I called the studio director, who was also the jazz teacher, and explained why we were going to move ballet classes. She immediately took offense, said it was a "slap in the face" to the ballet teacher who was "bringing DD along so nicely", then called several other parents in the school to let them know what I was doing. I was stunned to hear of our decision from these other people later in the day, when I received several phone calls about it!

 

DD loved her jazz classes and wanted to continue, but after getting the cold shoulder from the director/jazz teacher for a couple of months, DD decided to stop going to jazz. To this day, she loves the jazz classes she gets during SIs, but doesn't regret the studio change.

 

What's to learn from all this? Sometimes the best of intentions are bushwhacked by studios who only consider the bottom line or have their egos to stroke. We were disappointed, but are wiser now.

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Yikes, beckyb! :o I hope we don't have that, but I am a little fearful. There have been girls who have quit in the middle of the competition season, and that created a lot of waves at the old studio. That was understandable, because all the dances had to be changed, and some even were abandoned. I am hoping that by waiting until the summer we can avoid a fiasco.

 

When anyone leaves the old studio during the summer, it is quietly done. I only know of one who still takes a class or two. The others just disappear...

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I like your plan to leave in the summer, Sewlinda. In addition to being able to make the move under the radar, so to speak, you're also setting a very good example to your daughter to fulfill her responsibilities to the competition studio by not leaving them in the lurch.

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I completely agree, you have to set the example for your daughter.

 

(Even it gets ugly.)

 

We know we are going to be leaving our studio at some point. I have been very honest and up front about this possibility- and so far so good- we will see as the time draws nearer.

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