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Options for vocational training in the UK


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I'm posting here because I reckon people from many groups may have an input but please feel free to move if necessary.


My daughter is 10 and as far as any 10 year old can be, is convinced that she wants to become a classical dancer.


I know that there are the 4 main schools here in the UK (Royal Ballet, Elmhurst, Tring and Hammond) that take children at 11 but I am keen to explore other options for vocational training either at other boarding schools with dance schools attached or at schools that would allow her to stay at home. Her current teacher will be unable to to train her at the intensity that I believe she would need so we would have to make a change.


Does anyone know of any other boarding schools here that she could attend? I have heard of Abbots Bromley, Hurst Lodge and Legat and would be particularly interested to hear from anyone with experience of any of these. I would also love to hear about any non residential dance schools that are able to offer the intensive training that is needed whilst allowing students to remain at ordinary academic school as well. We are based about half way between London and Birmingham (although I'm not suggesting that we could travel that far on a daily basis!).


A final question. How realistic is it to expect to get into the upper school of any of the major vocational dance schools (those listed above plus ENB, Central, etc) without having trained at one of them up to that point? And, if it is realistic, what sort of intensity of training is normally required?


I feel that it is a bit of a minefield out there and would be grateful for any comments that might enlighten me as to what the best options are!


Many thanks in advance.

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I already posted this in cross talk but hope it is OK to post again here as i didn't pick up any responses and this may be a better place! I know there are some knowledgeable UK teachers and parents out there!



Edited by ifnotwhynot
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ifnotwhynot, we do not allow cross-posting topics on BT4D. It just becomes too messy and hard to keep track of things.


So, I have moved your original post to Parents of Dancers Under 13 in keeping with your second topic thread.


It could be that no one has viable suggestions for you, but hopefully, it was just a matter of the topic falling through a crack. In the future, do keep in mind that it perfectly permissable for you to "Bump" a topic that you would like to bring to the forefront. All you need to do is post a "Bump" message and the topic will re-boot, so to speak.


If you think your topic might get better responses in a different forum, simply ask a moderator to consider moving it for you. :blushing:


Hopefully, someone in the UK will have some advice and/or suggestions for you. :ermm:

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i'm not sure either if the kind of school my daughter is attending is what you're looking for,and it surely is in the wrong country :devil: ,but i think they must exist in the UK as well.

She's going to a RAD balletschool,it's only a small,private school but they have all the grades there,grade 1 to 8 and all the vocational grades too.Every year there's someone coming over from the UK to take the exams.

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Although my DD is over 13 perhaps I can be allowed to post anyway. If your DD does not get into one of the four schools you mention first, RB, Elmhurst, Tring & Hammond, I do not think there would be any advantage in boarding for the sake of boarding at any of the others. In fact if she is very classically minded, as opposed to wanting to include musical theatre, I would only recommend the first two.


The money you save on boarding would be much better spent on intensive courses, in Spring half term, Easter and Summer holidays. If she has the right potential she would probably gain a place on one of the year round Associate schemes run by the major schools or a CAT (Centre for advanced Training).


Your main task now is to identify a school that could give the necessary training. Your current teacher ought to have some idea of schools in your region that are producing students who go on to Vocational schools at 16. That is the real crunch time - but there are many private schools who are producing such dancers. Which part of the country do you live in?

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Hello Doubleturn and thank you for your input.


I am interested in your comments on the schools as I thought that that Tring and Hammond also offered reputable classical courses. I know RBS and Elmhurst are seen to be the "best" places to train, but are there any other particular reasons why you would not recommend the others?


I would love to think that intensive courses and good weekly classes would suffice, if only I could identify them. I love the sound of the American summer intensives but the longest course I know of here is RBS and that seems virtually impossible to get in to! She has already been on a couple of courses at Tring and also the summer school operated by the National Youth Ballet, which is held at Elmhurst. (The audition for this years's season is this Sunday and she is really keen to be accepted again!). Which particular associate programmes can you recommend for this age group? My daughter is actually a JA so we can hope for MAs but, again, I know this is hard to get into and does not necessarily reflect potential as seen by other schools.


Sadly, my daughters teacher does not seem to know what to do with her if she is not accepted by a school and this is the problem. It is really just a recreational school and there are no resources available to concentrate on one pupil so intensively.


We live in the Bucks/Berks/Oxon triangle but other family members would make it very tricky to spend too much time travelling to classes. I know that incredible dedication is required but I really don't want to compromise family harmony because of it, which is why I was keen to explore the boarding options.

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Haven't time to reply at length now, but check the British web site Ballet.co and their forum Doing Dance. There is a thread about Tring which explains a lot (I have not posted on that thread).

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Ifnotwhynot - for indepth discussion for UK, I second doubleturn's suggestion above. There is also up to date information on UK intensives (and there are plenty of options for easter/spring/summer courses and associate courses). When you have PM rights, please feel free to PM me here with any questions. Otherwise I recommend spending some time searching and reading threads there on summer courses etc.

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Tring and Hammond do indeed have excellent ballet training - they just have a less specialised emphasis on ballet in that they offer a wider range of dance and musical theatre training. However, even Elmhurst and the RBS now also teach modern and other dance genres. I don't know for sure, but probably Tring and Hammond are less picky than the RBS and Elmhurst in accepting only those dancers who have the physical requirements to be classical ballet dancers. You mentioned that your daughter is an RBS Associate, so she must have recognisable potential.


She is however only 10 - that's awfully young to leave home. I know kids do it, but it's not easy and she needs to want it pretty badly. You could see if it's possible to make her a weekly boarder, so that she could come home at weekends. The other alternative is to search for another private ballet school, where they might be able to offer your dancer more serious training. They do exist - you have to look for them. The RAD, Cecchetti and ISTD headquarters will all send you a list of schools in your area if you contact them. Have a look in particular for those schools run by the actual examiners - they're bound to have a good standard.

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Thanks to everyone for their input. I have checked out Ballet.co and it does answer some concerns but I'm still searching for more specific information!


We will certainly look at weekly boarding options where available. We could easily get to three out of the four main schools on a weekly basis but travelling too far during the week is more tricky because of other children etc. Checking out other fairly local schools is high on my To Do list for the next week or so so I'll see whatt I can turn up. Looking for school run by examiners is an excellent idea!


Edited for typo

Edited by ifnotwhynot
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Another option could be the Young Dancers Academy. A friend of my daughter's goes there. It's fairly new so not so well known but offers classical training and academics either boarding (iva the Billy Elliot house) or non-boarding if you are within reach of Shepherds Bush. We have considered it ourselves but are content to stick with our local teacher for now. Their website is www.youngdancersacademy.co.uk. Let me know if you want me to find out any more info for you. Good luck in your search!

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I have heard of YDA but had discounted it because it is too far to travel every day and I thought that they didn't offer any baording opportunities. Do you know what sort of accommodation is offered by Billy School?

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Apparently very good - the boarding house even has a swimming pool! But I have not seen it myself, nor do I have any idea whether they have vacancies or not but I guess the school would be able to give you more info if you rang them.

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A couple of comments -- my mother trained at Tring and went straight into the theatre profession -- but that was over 40 years ago!!


But one of my younger siblings did ballet classes after school most nights of the week and Saturday in a local school (run by ex-Sadlers Wells dancer) and went from there to the main national school of the country we lived in at the time at the age of 16 (and after a "late" start at 12). She was taught by several teachers who are now senior teaching staff at the RBS. So it is possible to follow good training locally, and then take up intensive training at 15 or 16 -- Elmhurst has a post-GCSE 6th form course, for example.

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