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Ballet Residency Programs - advantages and disadvantages

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Hey there! Dance students can post in here, right?

I've got a little dilema that I was wondering if anyone could help me with. As for ballet schools in my area, there are some okay ones, but there aren't any that will make me into the professional dancer that I want to be. My current studio is mainly modern based. If I wanted to become a modern dancer, I could stay at my current studio and end up getting into any modern dance company that I want. Although, I don't want to do that. I want to be a ballet dancer. Strictly classical ballet is my love. There are about 5 of us that really focus in on ballet. My ballet teacher was a good teacher, but she will be moving to New York. I'm coming back from the ilness that I had very quickly, and I want to really start getting serious about ballet (not that I wasn't before, but even more serious). I'll be going in to high school this fall. I'm in the highest levels at my current studio, and it just seems like I need somewhere to grow. It seems like there should be girls that I can look up to dance-wise when I have four years of school left. So, when I look at all of this, it seems like a ballet residency program would be the way to go. I would love love love to go to one. I know that this time in my life is a precious time for valuable training. Also, I really just don't feel like I fit in with the girls at home anymore. Dance is my priority and I just don't have time to do the whole boys, football games, drinking (nor do I want to do that anyways) thing. So it seems like this all falls right into place, right? Well, my parents don't exactly like the idea of me going away.

They don't like it because my mom doesn't want someone else to raise me and for financial reasons. Wouldn't life be easier without money?!

I wanted to try to seriously talk to my parents about this again in a mature way. I want to have some things prepared to tell them. So, can any one tell me the pros and cons about going away? I searched Ballet Talk, and I didn't find a topic like this. I hope I didn't just miss it.

Also, how do you guys deal with how expensive going away can be? I know that people can get scholarships, but I don't really think that I'm good enough to get one.

Thanks in advance!

Edited by Grishkorina
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Excellent questions. I'm too tired tonight but will make sure to get to you sunday!!

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As a mom, I think you may have better luck discussing a residency and going away to school after you get a year of high school under your belt. Freshman year is such a transitional time and it takes a few months to get used to the change in workload, social life, extracurricular opportunities and being surrounded by older students. In my opinion, it's easier for a student to handle this transition when mom and dad are there to give support, monitor work, etc. Once both you and they know that you can deal with the non-ballet part of being in high school, they may be more open to you switching to a residency for sophomore (or later) years.

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Grishkorina you are asking some very good questions to begin your search. :thumbsup: It is a little late however to jump into such a big decision. Start with your long range planning today so that by next fall you will have your options in place. Your parent's concerns are valid and real. Residential programs of any sort, ballet, tennis, baseball, swimming, skating and what used to be known as Boarding School, etc...are not for every family.


You must do your research. Are you interested in a program that is highly competitive academically but also offers dance/ballet? Could you be happy in a program that monitors cyber-high school while you study a full program of dance/ballet? There are also programs that offer release time public high school with ballet in the later part of the day. There are many options.


The finances of it all again, is a family matter. It is expensive to go away from your home. Begin with the Residential Programs thread here at BT4D to familiarize yourself and your family with what is available. Comb through the websites, email for information, visit the school. The more educated you and your family are the more prepared you will be to make this very big decision.

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Grishkorina, I'm not sure where you searched for information about the advantages and disadvantages about going off to a Residency School, but this forum is an excellent one with many, many threads touching on many aspects of such a decision. I would highly suggest that you simply go to this Forum's index, scroll through the various topic titles, and drop in on all that catch your fancy. There will much insight and thoughts shared on those many threads that simply couldn't all be covered by 're-creating the wheel' here,

so to speak.


Once you've hit the high points, start looking at the more specific points. Then, hop on over to the Pre-Professional Program/Residency School forum to find specific information on the individual schools in their dedicated threads.


As a parent, I can speak from experience. It took my DD several years to lay the foundation for us to consider the possibility of permitting her to go to a residency school. But, she built her reasoning and educated us, often using the information she learned in these threads. Ultimately, she convinced us it was the best scenario for her. But even then, she had to do research to satisfy our expectations regarding the availability of a strong academic program to go with the dance program.


Here are some topics that are pertinent, for example: Academic issues- Looking for boarding school, Ballet AND good education


Dealing with Parents


Going to a residence program


There are other threads in this Forum that would also be useful to you (and your parents). Take some time to really look through the forums. :thumbsup:

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Thank you for the quick replies! Yesterday before I posted this topic, I read the Pre-Professional Schools General Discussion board. This morning I started looking at specific residency programs. As all of them look wondeful, the ones that I narrowed down to were Virginia School of the Arts, North Carolina School of the Arts, and Harid Conservatory. From my research, they all seemed to be cheaper in tuition than other schools. I've been dreaming about SAB ever since I can remember, but I don't think that I would be accepted into their program.

I'm working on a big written packet for my parents about this. I've made it clear to them before that I want to go, but my mom replies with "Well, i'm sorry, i'm not the Queen of England. I didn't have children to send them off to boarding school!". I can't get her to understand that I can't be the type of dancer that I want to be at my current school.

So parents, what are the type of things that your children did or said to convince you that a residency program would be best? I don't want to wine to my parents. I really want to ask them in a mature way so, they understand how important this is to me.

Thanks again!

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I am one of those parents who never imagined sending my child away and my youngest just finished her first year at NCSA. She was helped because I had learned from my experience with her much older brother that at some point, children get to make their own lives and need to make their own choices. Some families are fortunate and have excellent training in their home cities, but many of us live in small communities that simply can't provide the access to training and teachers that will help our dancers have a shot at a career. While the quality of the instruction, the opportunities to work with a varied and talented faculty and the connections and introductions to the dance world are of primary importance to many dk's, parents have a different agenda and you need to address some of those issues and concerns when you talk to your parents.


Some of the questions I had were:

Is my daughter mature enough to be on her own - to manage her schedule, nutrition, health, laundry etc.?

Does the school provide a safe environment? - physical safety, oversight, drugs/alcohol, attention to potential health issues or eating disorders, etc.

Will my child suffer academically? While our dk's are focused on their dance dream, many of us want to be sure that our children will have options in life if dance doesn't work out. What colleges or universities do the residency program graduates attend? How qualified is the academic faculty (whether the school has its own faculty or students attend a local school)?

Are the artistic and academic aspects of the program respectful of each other? (One of the things that made it easier to let my dd go was that it was becoming increasingly difficult to balance her dance and her school. I will say that I feel her life is much more balanced at NCSA and there is not the stress of studio vs school that we had at home.)


Your best bet is to do your research, show that you are mature enough to be involved in making this decision, address as many of the concerns your parents have that you can, and take the time to really explain why it is so important to you to leave home to dance.


As a parent, children are lent to us for only a very brief time and it is very difficult to give up any of it. My dd is happy and has grown incredibly as both a dancer and a person in this past year. but I miss her.


I agree with previous posters who suggest taking your time with this decision. You need to try to visit the campuses with your parents and let them talk to faculty and campus staff, observe classes, talk to students and figure out if it's the right place for you. You will also have experienced a year of high school and can really decide if you want to give up the social life and opportunities to try other things (drama, chorus, clubs, newspaper etc.) that a traditional school offers. Moving away from home at 14 or 15 is a serious decision and you need to give it the time it deserves.


Good luck.

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I can't really address the residency question in general, but I'd like to suggest that you hold off a bit in talking with your parents in light of your recent illness. In practical terms, you probably aren't talking about this September anyway, as you are just coming back to ballet. And in emotional terms, your parents are probably feeling especially tender and wary just now. Nothing like a sick kid to make parents feel, well, attached. Give them some time to see you healthy and flourishing before you bring this up again.


BTW, you sound like an extraordinarily mature, thoughtful, and well put-together young lady.

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I don't know that I can add anything to what has already been said...great advice all around!


Grishkorina, you mention that you have a therapist. Not sure what sort of therapist this is, but perhaps there are personal issues which you wouldn't post here? It is not appropriate for us to pry of course, but I do wonder if there is something here affecting your family's decision about residency.


I can understand your reasoning for a residency program. However, as a mom I can tell you (as you have already heard) that it is not easy. Every family must make the choice that is right for that family...it is so very hard to apply one situation to another! It is so hard to give advice - I wouldn't want to assume that someone else was in exactly my shoes!


All the best,



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Thank you for the compliment Treefrog!


Yes, I'm looking into going away next year. I'm sorry I don't really feel comfortable talking about being sick because sometimes people start to look at you in a different way.

Edited by Grishkorina
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So, I think I've finished my letter to my parents. It's 9 pages long. I put it all organized in the locker. There is a title page, a three page letter that I wrote to my parents (long enough? lol), four pages of research about ballet schools, and I printed the "Family Moving to Residency: Pros and Cons" topic from this board. Now, i've just got to get the courage up to actually give it to them.... :unsure:

What do you think the best way to come to them with it would be? Do I ask them if they want to go out to dinner and talk about it (the plus to that is that they can't yell at me in a restaurant! :D lol jk they won't yell.. hopefully)? Do I just leave it on their desk? Help!

Edited by Grishkorina
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It sounds like you have put together a nice little information binder. My suggestion to you is as much as you want to give it to your parents as soon as possible, sit on it for a while. I know it's hard but try to wait. Why? Because you may find more information you want to include, you will want to wait a day or two and then reread the information including your letter again to see if there are any changes you want to make or additions you feel need to be added.


Once you've wait a reasonable amount of time, ask your parents for a sit down meeting. Preferably at a restaurant. Yes, doing it in a public place is scary but it is also provides an environment which enforces civil behavior (hopefully). Also a public environment such as a restaurant gives you added security, strength and ego boost. At the end of the meal or time, then present the binder to them. Tell them you have prepared something for them that you hope they will take the time to read, study, and digest. Don't rush them in this process. I would suggest you ask for a follow-up meeting. Not immediately as they will need some time but make the suggestion that you meet again in a week or so to discuss when the next meeting can be scheduled. If you haven't included this information already, I would include the web address of the ballet schools, and ballet talk for dancers. This way your parents can go to these sites for themselves.


Since you have a therapist, I would include your therapist in this as well. Your therapist can talk with your parents about why she feels it is in your best interest and what can be done to ensure your health in a new location. Your statement that your therapist feels it would be beneficial for your emotional health to go away to a boarding school speaks volumes. I would speak with your therapist about referrals for therapists in the areas of the boarding schools.


Speak with your current ballet instructor and explain what is transpiring. Ask her if she'd be willing to speak with your parents about your options both locally and nationally. I know she's leaving for New York and may not have a lot of spare time but maybe you can offer to help her pack as both a thank you and a way to help her make up for "lost" time. I'd let your instructor contact your parents for a conference. It's up to your instructor as to whether she'd want to include you in the conference as well. Don't be upset if she wants it to only be with your parents. Have her explain to your parents what you need in terms of training in order to become a classical ballet dancer.


You do sound like a mature young lady. So my advice would be to start proving to your parents your maturity. Start being responsible for yourself if you aren't already. Set up a daily and weekly schedule for yourself. Start taking care of your own laundry, the bulk of your meals - ensuring they are nutritious; keep your room tidy, make up your bed, clean your bathroom, etc. Start showing them some financial responsibility as well. Actions speak louder than words and for parents, they practically scream.


I know you are excited and want to get the "show on the road" so to speak but I have to second what has already been posted, take your time. Since you are rebounding from an illness, you need time to recuperate plus build up your strength, stamina, and overall health including mental health. I know you feel like time is escaping and flying by but you do have time and opportunity. Don't rush it. Be patient. Let things develop. Besides if you push the situation, it may have the opposite effect on your parents which is exactly what you don't want. Good luck and keep us posted.

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Wow....thank you all for taking the time to post such helpful thoughts for Grishkorina!!! You all have made such excellent points, and presented her with great information. :D I have nothing to add!!!


Grishkorina, you've been handed some amazing advice here, and you sound very much like an amazing young lady. I wish you the best! :unsure:


Please keep us posted on your journey. :(

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Your Mom sounds a lot like me... "I didn't have children so I could pack them off to boarding school!" We spent many years preparing for our children's high school years and we explored every option. My DD's dance studio was 77 miles from our home. It was an excellent studio and she misses them greatly. However, to continue dance with her home studio and carry the academic load from our local high school did not look like an option, she would need to give up dance. We spent 3 years exploring every option available. I agree with the others here, start investigating now, for possibly next year. Another thought would be for you to see if you can get into a summer intensive (it might be too late for some) at a residential program. Also inquire regarding some intensive programs that might be offered during the academic year during vacation periods. Good luck with your search!

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