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Ballet Talk for Dancers
KarenD

Your point of view?

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KarenD

I am seeking neutral advice. My daughter is sixteen. We live in a very rural state but are fortunate to live near a small company with a good school. The instructors have good backgrounds and credentials and the quality of instruction is great. My daughter in the last two years has received both recognition and roles and is now a member of the company... but it is time to start looking ahead to what happens after high school. My daughter wants to dance but is also smart enough to know she needs to prepare for a life after dance.

We had a very good discussion with the artistic director. My daughter had been thinking of universities with a good dance program. The directors take on this, is that she does not see many dancers entering the professional world from the university route. More often she feels they come from students who have aligned themselves with a school associated with a ballet company...and then work up through the ranks. And while she feels my daughters abilities are strong and growing, she does not feel she could go very far in the world of a big ballet company. Reason? My daughter is tiny, a bit under 5' 2'. She is still growing but genetics are against her, she comes from a small family!

On the other hand, she could stay in the area, continue to dance with this company, and take classes at the local university here. The director basically indicated that she did have future ideas for my daughter. She felt that my daughter would have greater opportunities for attention and performance here, than if she went elsewhere, even if she was fortunate to get into a corps. Which she felt would be tough because my daughter is so tiny.

My daughter understands the logic of this, and frankly, this would be kinder to the family finances. But I don't want her to have regrets about not having tried either.

Your advice for a tiny dancer?

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CEO

Has your DD auditioned for and/or attended summer intensive programs including those schools associated with a company? Sounds like you're looking for a second opinion. Just auditioning and getting results from those auditions can tell you a lot.

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KarenD

I have wondered about that. There is a major company and school a few hours from here so that would not be an impossibility. But this company also has a stated height minimum of 5' 4". (she is 5' 2") What would you advise us in light of that.

 

She has taken the local company's summer program - 6 hrs/day, 6 weeks - for the last 2 years, and I have been weighing the option of going out of state....

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Victoria Leigh

I think it's time for her to venture out and find out where she is in the real world. :thumbsup: By 16 most of them have several away SI programs under their belt, and a good feel for whether they may be able to have a career in dance or not. She should be auditioning right now, and may have already missed many auditions, as they started in early January. You will need to travel to get her to auditions, or make a video tape and send it ASAP to any program she would like to try for. Get the information on the school's website as to whether they accept video auditions, and if so what the requirements are. If there are any more auditions in Boston, I suggest she get there. Just doing the auditions for the various programs gives one a good sense of where they stand in their training. :P

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Aisadora

I am wondering if anyone has experienced their dancers year around program telling them that if they do not complete the summer program that is offered at the school, that the dancer will not be alowed into the top division of the program the following August, even if they have already been in that division. Many of the SI's conflict with the SI that is offered at our school. Some by a week and others by a few days. I feel strongly that my DD needs to get away during the summers she is 16. But I also feel strongly about her having the best training during the year , and if she is not in that top division, she will be shut out of classes , such as partnering. Any words of wisdom out there?

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hushinfazen

Aisadora,

 

You've come to the right place! I know you will get alot of good feedback from everyone here.

 

I do have a couple of questions.

 

Was your daughter in the top division this year, and is she now 16?

 

Has she auditioned for programs and facing deadlines for this summer, or are asking about the future?

 

I wasn't sure from reading your post.

 

 

 

 

hushinfazen

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Victoria Leigh

I really don't think it's fair for students of that age to not be able to attend away from home SI programs. I think it's time for a talk with the Director, and at least see if she can do both by missing a small portion of the home school SI. It does not make any sense to me to keep them home if they have an opportunity for such a good experience in the summer. It's good for them to work with different teachers, make lots of new friends, experience a new city, and learn to do things for themselves. :yes:

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Aisadora

Yes , my DD has been in the top division of her year around program. She has also been going away to SI's for the past 4 years. This requirement to attend the entire "home" SI is new , and comes straight from the "powers that be". I guess I'm just baffled. I agree with Ms.Leigh, that she needs to continue to broaden her horizons, and at this age it seems critical. She has some great offers this year. Thank you all for your input .

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Sucre

Aisadora,

 

Does your DD have a chance to go to a residential program nearby, and if not, possibly change ballet schools? Is the school associated with a professional company where she would have the opportunity of joining after she graduates? Maybe this is what the director has in mind?

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mirabray

Aisadora, was that information given to you directly, or in some form of school guidelines? I would go the school director and state my dd has been doing this before and you had no problem. How seriously do you think they will enforce this "rule". I would also suggest they offer summer program in August, that would attract more students then their own school, assuming she not going to another big name school.

 

The other thing, if she was offer a summer program before the "powers to be" change the rules, it too late to decline now.

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KarenD

Aisadora, is your dd's school associated with a company?

 

Just playing devil's advocate here... I have heard of this phenomenon of "negative" consequences before, tho have never witnessed it firsthand.

I am wondering if the incentive here, on the part of the AD,is retaining a student that they would very much like to place in there own company, rather than see them go off elsewhere, after they have invested in that dancer...

Yes I know we pay for tuition for all those classes, but I could see where an AD does make an investment in developing talent over the years, hopefully to benefit their own company. And I could see where an AD of a smaller company would find preventing a talent drain difficult....

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quill

I'm curious about what possible justification there could be for putting a dancer in an inappropriate level as a consequence of training elsewhere for the summer. Unless they truly feel that the training she would receive would negatively impact her dancing so that she would no longer be capable of keeping up with that level. In which case that must be some training she's getting at home, and you might want to keep her in it. Sounds like it's time for a candid conversation with the school's administration.

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Sucre

I'd also like to know if "the powers that be" will place the kids that don't go to SI's because they were not accepted and who don't foresee a career in dance, higher than the kids with scholarships to the bigger programs who aspire to be professional dancers?

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Aisadora

Thank you all for your thoughts. Yes, our home program does have a company, and I can see your point KarenD. Not sure yet how we will

face this issue. Maybe something will change by fall, I am not the only parent questioning this.

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KarenD

It's sometimes hard to know whether raising a "touchy topic" with the school or the AD will backfire on you or not..... I myself tend to take the "wait and see" approach, hoping that the other parents will be more vocal and make the point for me..

But, if your daughter is in the highest level, and she is well thought of, a respectfully approached, tactfully worded conversation with your AD might be a very good thing to pursue right now. Especially where it is a new requirement, and you may have already made a decision and/or financial committment to a different

SI, given the time of year it is. Maybe approach it from the angle of compromising for this summer?

The one thing I have learned from sitting down with my AD is the value of establishing a level of rapport and communication with them. Whether you will end up seeing eye to eye or coming to some agreed upon approach for this summer, at least you will have the opportunity to learn more about where she is coming from, and that may help you with future decision making.

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