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DD Afraid of CPYB Placement Class


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My 14 yo DD is taking a placement class at CPYB a week from Sunday and she is scared to death to do it.


We just moved to Carlisle with the military and have been looking at all of the ballet options available, but we are just not finding a whole lot here. My DD had kind of shied away from CPYB because she is a little bit older - she danced for 6 years as a little girl, then did gymnastics for 4 years, and returned to ballet seriously about 18 months ago. She has progressed very quickly, has been on pointe about a year and is doing very well. She received a wonderful evaluation at the end of the year and was going to move up to the next level at her former school.


When we asked her former teacher about CPYB, she said that she didn't think it would be a really good fit for DD because of the intensity and the competitiveness. But, her teacher really doesn't have any first hand experience, so she is giving an opinion based on hearsay. Unfortunately, DD heard her say that and now it is stuck in her head.


We had to push really hard to get DD to even agree to sign up for the 2 week intensive. We took a tour earlier this week and she was overwhelmed by the size of the program. She is really worried that she will be taken off of pointe and put in a class with much younger girls, based on what she has has heard others say.


I know she would get good training there, but we will only be here for 10 months, so I don't know how much she would be able to progress through the program during that time.


I have tried to convince her that this may be a wonderful opportunity for her to train at a world-class program and that she should at least give it a shot. But, I also know that she will have to go into that placement class in top form with all of her confidence intact if she wants to do well - and only she can make that happen.


Any advice??

Edited by Violin4Me
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Post from Nutsabout ballet removed, as it seemed to be posted by a student, not a parent.

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The two week intensive will be a good chance for her to determine if CPYB is a good match for your daughter. It very well may not be and that is OK. Regardless of whether a program provides exceptional training or not, the culture, size, schedule, etc. all must be taken into consideration and matched to your family's needs.


So, I would just caution you not to pressure her to attend full time in the fall, if she is not comfortable there. It is a demanding program and it may not be what she wants/needs to achieve her personal goals. Take a look at the Finding a Pre-Pro forum and explore other studios in your area carefully. There may be good training available in a setting that will make her feel more comfortable.


Given her age, your daughter is likely wrestling with the question of pre-pro vs. recreational dancer. This is a typical struggle for teens as they reach high school. Encourage her to talk with you about what she wants to get out of her high school experience, what her short and long term goals are (at this point) and how she wants to fit dance into that equation. I'm not sure, but there may be a separate track at CPYB for recreational dancers where she might feel less competition and where her current training is more on par with her peers. For specific CPYB questions, please post those on the CPYB thread on the Pre-Pro forum.

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Maybe find a back up plan or second option. I know you said there was not much else, but go back and look again,maybe tour the other options and take classes there. It might also take some pressure off her about the audition to know there are other options and when it is all over with, she can make a choice. It is probably hard for her at that age moving, a new shcool, a new ballet school and only there for 10 months. She is probably just overwhelmed. Anything you can do to take a little anxiety and pressure off her. Maybe look around and find another dancer her age she can start to hang with and be a friend at the audition.

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DD definitely wants to go the pre-pro route and has no qualms about the hours that CPYB would require of her. She is just a worrier and is afraid that she won't do as well as she wants to do.


As far as other programs, there really aren't any. There is one other ballet school in town and DD would be in the top level there - only 5 hours of ballet a week and that includes taking lower level classes. She also tried a few nights at Pennsylvania Regional Ballet outside of Harrisburg and enjoyed it pretty well, but that was putting 100 miles a day on the car. Ouch!! Those are really our only 2 options besides CPYB.

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A few thoughts:


CPYB certainly isn't for everyone, but not all the kids are as competitive as the stereotype. Some definitely are, but they are easy to spot. The ones who aren't would welcome a fellow dancer who is there for the love of ballet, not to attain that coveted favored status. The 5 week and 2 week program ARE overwhelming in terms of the sheer number of dancers packed into a fairly small space. It's not nearly that crowded during the school year. There are a good number of homeschoolers/cyberschoolers, so she'd fit right in if you decide to go that route.


You can control the experience at CPYB if you want to, especially since you'll only be there for 10 months. Take what you want from it, leave what you don't. No other school in Carlisle comes close to the training, and Pennsylvaina Regional Ballet is probably farther than you're willing to drive.


Best wishes on your decision about what to do.

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Welcome to Carlisle, Violin4Me!


We love having the military families enrich our town. My goodness you have a lot on your plate right now.


Let me try to give you some information regarding CPYB.

The 2 week intensive is much, much smaller than what you saw during the 5 week summer intensive. There are 1 or two classes/day depending on the level. I don't know how much pointe work is done during the 2 week. The two week strongly focuses on technique.


It is true that Marcia will evaluate everyone and determine whether of not they should be en pointe. The levels are based on ability/corrections to be worked on, rather than age. So one can expect to see a wide range of ages in classes.


As Balletbooster said, it is important for your daughter to articulate her personal goals as well as what she would like to get out of her high school experience during your time in Carlisle. Level 3's can expect to do 16 hours of classes/week (Monday - Saturday). Is this how she wants to spend her time?


Another pre-pro school in the area is PRB (Pennsylvania Regional Ballet), in Enola with a very good reputation and more flexibility in types of dance classes offered and tracks to meet personal goals. For a recreational track there is Carllisle Ballet.


If a student is clear about what she/he wants to get out of a short time in Carlisle and would like to receive top-notch training in that time, while accepting all that goes with it, then CPYB will be a great place.


I wish you the best in making your decision that best suits your daughter's needs and goals at this time.

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Hi Violin4Me,


Our daughter attended the August program for 2 years. The very first year she was 13, had been taking ballet since the age of 8 and was not strong technically but starting to think about becoming a dancer. She knew she would probably get placed in a lower level but decided to just go and see if she could learn something. At this point she had spent several months overcoming a pronation problem caused by faulty training.


In the August sessions, they do not use numbers or letters for levels. Levels are assigned by colors. I peeked in the window at the end of her first class. Marcia was teaching. Our daughter was obviously one of the older kids in the level. I braced myself that she might be upset and want to leave. She came out of the room and actually thanked me for bringing her there. It was one of those moments where you check your kid's face to see if she's being sarcastic but she was being sincere.


At that level, they had 2 classes each day. One of the good things about being assigned to a lower level is that Marcia teaches a good portion of the classes. Marcia breaks down each movement of a step. The lower classes are very slow. She learned a LOT about placement, using turnout, closing her fifths. Basic, but necessary details. Marcia was kind and attentive to each kid no matter the age and no one made her feel weird about the level. It was all about the work. To this day she is not ashamed to admit she was in a lower level that first August course (her next year there she was in the second or third color from the top, so quite an improvement was made in technique that year.)


I read an interview with Noelani Pantastico who had a similar experience when her family transferred to Carlisle and she enrolled year round at CPYB. She was initially placed in a lower level but moved up quickly as her technique improved. It's not such a bad thing to start off in a lower level.

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Dear Violin4me,


While I think Spiritfire gives very good advice about checking out the other local options and I do think you and your dd should weigh the amount of time she likely would have to spend at ballet were she to sign up at CPYB, I also would like to reassure you about CPYB and its vaunted competitiveness. As the mother of a young teenaged dancer at CPYB, I'd like to share some experiences and my dd and I would also like to extend a welcome to you.


CPYB can indeed be a very demanding place to study dance, but the faculty really do all they can to bring each student along, and my dd certainly fell for the place practically overnight. She loved the challenge, and many students here find it exciting, if not downright exhilarating, to be doing what they love at a place that really pushes them to move forward.


The competitiveness comes in mainly in relation to casting for the frequent shows, because CPYB is very much a performing school, and it's hard at any school for children to understand casting decisions. However, students are rarely cast in shows their first year (although there are many exceptions), so your DD, judging only from what you have said about her previous background, is unlikely to be too taxed in that direction at first (but you never know!!) :(


Certainly, I don't think your dd should be scared off by a visit during the 5 week, or even the 2 week---the winter course is VERY VERY different in feeling, and of course, nowhere near as big! There are always several newcomers being fit in to different levels, and your dd should understand that it is a venerable and desirable CPYB tradition to be a "big girl" in a class with younger kids; there is no shame attached to it here, because it's so usual, nobody even notices, or thinks anything about it. Students who work hard and consistently, and have the desire to improve, are often rewarded by being moved to a level with students their own age, or closer too it, before too long...


If you have specific questions for me, or your dd for my dd, please email me at contrapuntalist@gmail.com and we'd be happy to give you more specific details of our personal experiences. Good luck with your decision!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well DD made it through the placement class and actually came out smiling - she was placed in the teal group and was very happy about it.


She has found her first week there to be challenging but enjoyable and she feels like she has already learned a lot. She really seems to enjoy the structure and the discipline and meeting all of the different teachers. She hasn't really met any of the other girls in her class - she says they are all really quiet.


We paid for Week 2 today - she is going to stay and I am pretty certain that we will be registering for the fall term next week.


Thanks for all the advice and encouragement.




The competitiveness comes in mainly in relation to casting for the frequent shows, because CPYB is very much a performing school, and it's hard at any school for children to understand casting decisions. However, students are rarely cast in shows their first year (although there are many exceptions), so your DD, judging only from what you have said about her previous background, is unlikely to be too taxed in that direction at first (but you never know!!) :)


I know DD is hoping for some performance opportunities - she loves to perform. She danced in The Nutcracker and Coppelia last year and had a great time!


How are shows cast at CPYB? Are there auditions or are parts assigned by levels?

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No audition , a list will appear with names of dancers to "learn the part"

Most times the part is figured out before. Marcia has a feel of who she wants to do what.

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  • 3 weeks later...

As in many Nutcrackers, whether Balanchine's or not (although CPYB does do Balanchine's) a lot has to do with size, and who will fit in what costumes, and the demands of a certain role respective to the level she and the rest of class she is placed in have reached. The kids will share with your dd what she is likely to be up for...many kids dance more than one part, sometimes several different things (not on the same night, of course).

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