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Maximizing SI benefit


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I've been debating where to post this - under SIs, parents of under 13's, or parents of boys. Since our situation is specific to a boy under 13, I posted it here. Moderators, if you think this would be better elsewhere, please feel free to move it.


It took DS a few years to realize that he really loves dancing. He took a partial year of classes when he was 7, stopped for a few years, then became much more serious last year at 10. He auditioned for, and was accepted into an SI that has 2 three-week sessions. His 12th birthday is in the middle of the first session. We're torn about whether to enroll him for only 3 weeks or for the entire 6.


The SI is close to home, but since the daily commute is so bad (horrific really seems a bit dramatic, but that's how I'd prefer to describe it), he would stay in the dorm. He attended a couple of sleep over camps last year, so that part doesn't concern us.


Since he started much later than the girls his age, he feels like he's really far behind in technique classes. We (parents and child) all think that he'll get excellent training in the 3 week session. We're struggling with balancing the cost (which is significant, especially since he'll be 12) of the 2nd three weeks with the training, and also the intensity. I'd hate for him to be so exhausted that he doesn't get the full benefit of the program, but I know he'd love to get a huge jump in his technique this summer. He currently takes 2 ballet and 1 tap class each week. He's an active kid with lots of energy, so I'm really not worried about the first 3 weeks.


Have any of you parents been in a similar situation? What did you decide, and how did it work out? Teachers, do you have any suggestions?


If it matters, the SI is the Kirov. The first session concentrates on technique, and the second on performance. We're also looking for other local programs to keep him dancing through the summer.


Thanks for your help.

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I would say if he's game for it, and wants to do it, go for it!

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My DS is in a similar situation. He feels behind the girls (especially including his sisters :) ) since he started later and became serious later - not that I can really say he is *as* serious as my older DD yet, and he is still ambivalent about if he has any desire to be a career dancer, but he is certainly becoming more serious about dance as he gets a little older. This is his first summer that he will be dancing, and after some debate and pleasant surprise about certain acceptances he has decided to do a shorter program that is local. He didn't want to enter headlong into the SI world in one huge step, which I think is a wise choice for him. I don't think it would be wrong to do a longer SI, but for him, as a first step into that world I am happy that it's a relative baby step. A concern of my DS is also the number of boys his age in any summer program...


Also, summer training is a small part of the big picture. Adding another weekly class (or 2) year round would probably improve his technique more than adding another 3 weeks to the summer training, IMO. At my son's school boys that age typically take 4 classes a week.

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It all depends on the boy. I think at that age, boys are a little behind compare to the girls. When he's behind in technique in terms of ballet basics, the first 3 weeks at Kirov will be a very smart choice. If he wants to do more boys stuff and he's 12 maybe you should opt for a SI where they also teach separate boys classes every day.


At age 8 and 9 ds did a 2 week SI at his local school in a mixed class with all kind of classes except for boys classes. At 10 he went away to his first SI where they also taught boys classes everyday to get a taste of some "boys stuff", because he thought that he was missing something :) He got into a class with a lot of older boys and we were not so sure if this was a good idea, because he felt pretty frustrated that these older boys could do already so many things that he couldn't (he just turned 10 :wink: ). So, we decided that he had to wait and to grow another 2 years (when he would be 12) to go to another SI with separate boys classes.

Last year he did the first 3 weeks of Kirov to clean up and improve his technique and that worked out very well for him.

He did not do the 3 week performance session, because he did perform quite a lot that year with the local ballet company and other companies.

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:) I would echo Doublejoy's suggestion that instead of the 2nd 3 week session, put your money towards the addition of another class or two in the fall. That will do more to improve his technique in the long run than any SI. I sent my DS away (very reluctantly) at 12 for 4 weeks to a residental program and I felt that was sufficient - I don't think he could have handled another 2 weeks away. He came home about 8 lbs lighter too! I would put the emphasis on the first technique 3 week session and let him be just a "normal" kid for the rest of the summer. That's my 5 cents!
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DS regrets not having more focused training at 12 and feels he would be so much further alone if he had done something more intense during that time frame. Of course, hind site is always so educational. If your son is up to it, I say go for all six weeks. You can bring him home on weekends to do fun stuff. The school seems to be attracting younger boys than in the past, so he wouldn't be alone. He would only do 1 technique class a day (probably a fairly long class!), but it would be 6 days a week. The rest of the time would be filled with other dance forms and a variety of additional classes. The one bad thing is that a lot of the out-of-class activities are targeted at introducing the kids to the DC area. If your son has already spent a lot of time downtown, then that might get kind of boring!


As another thought, perhaps you could schedule a class during the week - or on Saturday - to let him have a taste of what the actual classes might be like. Explain that you would like for him to experience a class at the level he would most likely be for the summer. Depending on the instructors, technique classes can be very slow and tedious, so if he is highly energetic he could become easily frustrated. The school would not have been a good fit for my energetic DS at 12! Best to find out now before spending six weeks trying to deal with it!


If he seems committed to going away, there are other programs that might be of more interest to a boy that age, but you've missed the audition dates for several, at least for the DC area.

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I wonder if the program might offer you some flexibility with this decision. Perhaps he could commit to the first session, and decide mid program about the second half. Of course, they may be full and unable to save him room, but you could ask. Also, where is he with growth? If he is in the middle of a huge growth spurt, be more conservative with the amount of dance to avoid potential injuries. Best of luck!

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My DS is 12, but will be 13 when he goes away to his first SI this summer. He is going for 4 weeks, which in my opinion, will be the perfect amount of time for him. He dances a lot during the school year, so he could probably physically handle 6 weeks, but I think for a first time at a summer intensive, that might be a bit much. It's hard to say, though!


I like Vision's idea of going for the first session and seeing how it goes before committing to the second session.


Also, I agree with the suggestion that you should get your son more classes during the year if it is possible. That is really the best thing you can do at this age, and I think it is more important to do that than an SI right now, if you had to choose between the two.


Good luck! :)

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The school has limited space for boys and will usually fill all rooms as soon as possible. In the past, the second session has filled up quicker than the first, so if you want to talk to them about this option, best to do so now.

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Thanks, all, for your suggestions. I really appreciate hearing from those who have been in similar situations. The advice to spend the money and time on more weekly classes is fantastic, and honestly I hadn't thought about it.


We decided to register him for the technique session, look for other options for the remainder of the summer, and look around for an additional class or two now. He says he wants to work on his technique, so we'll look for opportunities that will allow him to do that. As difficult as it is, this decision would be even more difficult if the second 3-week program were technique-oriented too.

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Not sure where you are in MD, but Maryland Youth is having an August intensive. You could check them out and see what type of flexibility they have and what ages they're targeting. I know of studios in VA that offer drop-in youth classes in August. Perhaps you could find some similar situations closer to home.

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Excellent suggestion from dancersteven:


"I would like to throw my support behind the idea of adding an additional ballet class during the year as opposed to adding the additional weeks at KAB. Don't get me wrong, after the first 3 weeks of KAB, he will be crazy about ballet, he will love the teachers (hopefully!) he will LOVE the fact that there were other boys in his class, and will desperately WISH that you had signed him up for the second three weeks, and may even talk about wanting to attend classes there during the year.


However, an additional class a week at his regular studio will provide him with more classes (30 or so, vs 15+ at KAB) at a lower cost (I don't know what you studio charges, but an additional class must be less than a summer program at KAB). An additional class a week will give him the opportuinty to actually learn, absorb, apply and practice all that he learns at KAB and from his regular teacher over the long term. He will be a better dancer 16 months from now taking an extra class a week than if he takes an extra 3 weeks of summer intensive. Hope this helps!"

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Clara 76 and dancersteven - thanks so much for your perspective on this. Based on the first paragraph, it's almost as if you know him. I'm searching now for an additional class or two, but I haven't had much luck so far. We're too far from Maryland Youth Ballet for him to attend there.


I definitely appreciate everyone's advice. Thank you!

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  • 3 weeks later...

I was able to follow some of the great advice here! DS will take a third class at his studio immediately, will start an a 4th one in a few weeks, and will be getting semi-private tutoring in ballet occasionally.


He had to make some adjustments to his schedule, including giving up something that he really loves. He just realized he loves ballet class more right now.


Thanks again.

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Yay!!!! That's what is supposed to happen here!!!!!!! :party::shrug:

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