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Overwhelmed with Advice


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So, you may ask...if your overwhelmed with advice why are you asking for more?




DD is a 16 year old honor role Junior with enough credits to graduate HS but still needs to take a 4th year of English to get accepted into some college programs (eg:Indiana) and must pass goverment exam. She has done quality SIs (the Rock, SFB) at high levels and last summer trained, traveled and performed in China with Ballet Ambassador to the Olympics program (youngest in advanced group). Father and I have accepted ballet as a possible profession that (gulp) means she may not go to college right away. We have also decided that it may be OK for her not to finish at her home high school, but want her to have the needed HS credits to get into college if necessary. So.... we read everything we could on BTWT, asked her many teachers and mentors AND they all have very different ideas. They each feel VERY strongly about what is best and we believe they do have her best interest in mind.


So as semi-clueless parents do we:


*Keep her at home school for couple of classes and have her go downtown (new Joffrey Academy).

Teacher concern: New program with undeclared staff for the fall.

Our choice: keep our baby at home, graduate with peers, lower cost.


* Send her to NCSA, Houston,SAB kind of program.

Our concern: does significantly increased cost of these programs equal better job acquisition? Of course, money is an issue but we would find it if we must. Scholarships are nice but....

Teachers: three teachers have recommended three different programs. All with proven track records. All feel it is the best way to go. All feel she can get in to quality programs.


* Have her audition directly for companies now and graduate with credits she has or finish last english credit correspondence. Our thinking: Why not? Teachers: new idea haven't spoken to teachers yet.


OK BTWT community- what do you think?

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  • Administrators

Do you think that your dd is company ready? Some certainly are at that age; others are not there yet. If she is at that level, then by all means do company auditions! That said, her young age might limit here there - particularly if she got a job away from home. Is she ready to live independently? What about medical care? From what I understand, parental consent is required for treatment under the age of 18. If she were in a residency program the residence staff would have some responsibilities here - not so if she lived on her own in an apartment.


All the best!! Not an easy road to go down, that is for sure!!




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Talent does not dissapear over night, there is no rush. Sixteen is really young to deal with working full time in a ballet company and living on your own. Have her finish school with her college entry requirements and look at a one or two year finishing program. If possible one affiliated with a company she would like to dance with.

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All the above answers are good. A lot also depends on her level of maturity- could she function on her own? If you let her audition for a company and she makes it, will they keep and eye on her? I have gone thru this with my DD at 15 (although I know she was not company ready, but did need to move on to a better program that challenged her) and with two of her non-dance brothers (another sport that required them to move out of state to continue at a higher level)


First, all your options are good options depending on what you and her DD want. First, no matter where she goes, do make sure she finsihes all requirements for college (credits and SAT/ACT) and have her apply to colleges next year. You can always defer. Second, if you send her to a company school will she do her work, study, prepare for exams and do her applications without much direction? Or will she need a more structured environment, say a boarding school type place?


Once you have thought these over, then make a list of possible places and check requirements, living arrangments, cost, scholarships, auditons, etc. That may help you whittle down a little. BT is a great place to look over what parents/dancers have said about these places. Make a final list and go for it. Once she has auditoned and checked out the schools, chances are she and you will find a perfect fit.


My three kids all needed something a little different- no supervison, on his own, did his school work, did great, one who needed a very structured environment both for him and our sanity(!) and one who is in between but we wanted to make sure she got a very good education- you cannot dance forever!


Good luck and best wishes. Really only the beginning of the process feels this hectic- it does smooth out a little.

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Hi, 2kids2 -


Your daughter's age will prevent her from auditioning for certain companies anyway. However, she can audition for trainee/ apprentice programs. Be aware that even if she receives a paycheck, you will most likely be her main support in an apartment setting. Also, find out how many classes a day she will take as a trainee/apprentice if she receives an offer. At her age, continued high-quality training is so important. Some company trainees take only one class a day and then are in rehearsal most of the time. A pre-professional school may be a better answer.


The key is her level of maturity, but even if she seems ready to handle it, that might not turn out to be the case. A SI has a close end in sight - a year-round program or company contract makes coming home more difficult. Think about the cost of getting her back and forth, and how often you'll be able to visit her. Her education is a priority, and then, top-notch training. Narrow the choices, test the waters, and see what happens! No matter where she chooses to go, her feelings can change from year to year. There is no harm in making a change. The best of luck to you!

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2kids2, the good thing is that you still have a good bit of time to work on all of this. I'm thinking there are a couple of good routes to take in the next few months.


1. Carefully check out the Joffrey Program. Talk to them. It's a very good company, and I would expect their school to have a very good staff. They certainly do in NY. This would be my first choice, as I fully believe in finishing high school at home IF one is able to get the quality and quantity of training needed.


2. Audition for SI programs with schools that have post-grad programs, and gather all in the info possible on those programs. Try to select on that feels like the right place to her, in terms of the kind of company and also the sense she gets from the audition itself.


These two approaches seem to me to be the most logical way to go right now. :) The parents advice above is all great! The maturity factor, the company readiness factor, the ability to live on her own so young, etc. Personally, I'm not at all in favor of a 16 year old out on her own. A residency program with supervision and housing would be optimal, IF she decides not to remain at home.

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At NCSA--It has been my observation that many new incoming Juniors and even more often Senior students are not placed in the highest level (even though they might expect it). Be careful. While this is not always true and I can certainly note several lovely dancers who did get put into the highest level--most did not. Was that talent based or lack-of-seniority based?? Who knows? But placement does not happen until you get to school so that is a risk that you must consider :):wink::thumbsup:

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My DD sounds similar, in some ways, to yours. She pushed through her first years of HS and started junior year (where she is now) with an easy route to early graduation. She even had room in her schedule to double up English classes so she would have all requirements out of the way. Last summer she spent it in NYC at the Ailey program. She did not live in the dorms, but at a residency. Initially she struggled but after a couple of weeks she mastered being independent and self-sufficient. All this was great, but when DH and I had time to talk with her and really observe her (DH went out for the last week she was in NY), it was clear to us that she was very stressed and pressured taking on all the responsibility. So we put an end to the graduating early and decided that keeping her in high school and at home would help her build on the confidence she gained by being able to live on her own for a summer.


What I learned about my DD from this experience is at although she is very mature, independent and competent at 16, she will be even more so at 18 when she is ready to spread her wings, which ever way she chooses. So now Dh and I are working on giving her time to finish growing up at a slower pace than her first 16 years.

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There is absolutely no rush at all to get her into a company. I would start with investigating the options for next year, gathering information, and seeing what places accept her. So, investigate the residencies and put all of that information in a folder, including cost. If the resideny auditions are in your city this January, go ahead and have her take the audition class. If she's not accepted, that's one thing.


Take a look at the possibilities for local training for 2 more years, and her staying at home and graduating with her class. (Optimal if she can get the training she needs locally)


Take a look at the possibilities of Trainee Programs for the companies associated with the schools whose SIs she's been accepted to previously, and those where she'd like to be accepted if she decides to audition.


Have her do as many auditions for SIs as possible. See where she gets accepted.


Then you'll have as much information as possible to make an informed decision.


I agree with Miss Leigh- if she can stay at home another year, it would be best for her emotionally, as long as she can get the necessary training.


Let the investigating begin!!!! :)

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I agree with Miss Leigh- if she can stay at home another year, it would be best for her emotionally, as long as she can get the necessary training.


Wouldn't living away from home in a supervised residency setting better prepare a dancer for a transition to living completely independently after high school (as a company member or trainee)? I know I had a difficult time moving away for University, and I was living in a dorm and did not have the adult pressure of being part of a professional company. Granted, I had not attended any "away" summer intensives; have parents found attending SI's eases the transition to post-high school independence?

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I would say that the job market for dancers is more than a little tight these days. So, unless your 16-year old is a phenom, the chances of her getting much out of company auditions at this point seems slim to slight.


Graduating high school without the 4th year of English (which is a pretty standard college requisite these days) is not a particularly good idea either, in my humble opinion. Many dancers at 16 believe they will put college off and dance first. Many are often disappointed when the company contract doesn't come right away. And when it isn't forthcoming immediately, the dancer still needs to train at a high level. So where?


College programs can be a good place for dancers to acquire both maturity-- intellectual, physical, and artistic. But, if the foundation for achieving college admission hasn't been set up during the high school years, that option is severely limited. Few of the upper tier ballet college programs admit students deficient in the requisite academics. So, it would be in her best interests to make sure her college admission requirements are in order before she graduates high school.


My DD has always been considered mature, intelligent, and responsible way beyond her peers. She went away to residency when she was 15 turning 16. She lived in a dorm, attended the local high school for half-days, and had a small administrative & teaching staff, along with a very nurturing residency staff to help with that transition. She always insisted she was not going to college right after high school, but would 'dance first'.


When she was 16 turning 17, she moved to WSB and lived in an apartment in Georgetown with another release-time dancer, age 19 turning 20. She lived two blocks from the studio and had spent two SI summers there. Unlike the residency, WSB does not have staff who are really responsible for the out-state students. And that was a big concern to me.


She did her junior year of high school on-line. She, like yours, only really needed the 4th year of English to graduate after her junior year class credits. Our requirement was that she take the same classes, including AP classes that she would have taken if she were still at home. She was very disciplined and finished on-line classes easily and early. For instance, she did several two-semester classes in a matter of months and did quite well on the AP exams. She did accelerate classes, took the 4th English course and graduated a year early. Several of the kids she's known doing on-line courses talked about how much they procrastinated and they hated them. Many she talked to really had trouble staying disciplined enough to do the on-line courses on time.


Quite honestly, I was sure I would have my 'mom-license' revoked for permitting this entire arrangement. I'm still not sure I would be quick to recommend it to anyone else. I probably wouldn't. DD survived it, but I can't say I have ever been entirely comfortable with that decision. But at the time, we felt it was the best of our alternatives for her path. And, looking back, I still think it was the best option at the time. Nevertheless, I would have preferred something more structured and less independent-living for her.


The following year (age 17 turning 18), we pulled up her stakes and she went cross-country to San Francisco where she lived in a house with two roommates, knew absolutely no one in the city, and was not familiar with the area of town in which her house was. She was totally responsible for herself, her transportation, and her lifestyle. She had been in the city for two SI sessions the previous summer, so she knew her studio and teachers, but not much else.


Last spring, much to my surprise, she announced she was accepting the spot in the BFA program she had been offered in the fall. She is now a freshman BFA dance major. As a result of her high school resume and academics, she received more than half-tuition scholarship. So, it did pay off for her to have completed her high school diploma without compromising her academic courses.


And she and I have talke-d over the years--Alot---about how she grew up in these last three years and whether it was as easy as she seemed to make it look to us--and others. Basically, she says this: if she had not gone to the residency school, she doesn't think she would have been prepared to go on her own the year at WSB. She was homesick that year at residency, initially big time, and later, off and on---as things waxed and waned as they always do. There were many, many things that she talked about requiring her 'to grow up fast' those first few months.


Then while at WSB that next year, going into it, she assured me she was ready for that much self-responsibility. She was very happy there and wasn't really homesick that year. But she, again, talked about how much she had to grow up and we learned of many choices she had to make and navigate that teens typically make in those junior/senior high school years. The difference was, she had no parents (or anyone else) to keep an eye out for her, keep an eye on her, or even to set/enforce things such as curfews. She had to do that all by herself--or not. She had to learn when it was safe to walk at night, when not, etc. Roommate and friends party with alcohol---should she participate? How to deal once tried it and decided not for her. These were not the easiest ways to provide parental influence or advice . . . .


As for last year, she again will acknowledge that it still required a great deal of growing up. Only a couple of her classmates were her age. Most were several years older and could legally go clubbing, have alcohol at parties, etc. She had to learn to set her own limits. I'm quite impressed with her and how she has handled things. She made the decision to always go to class--even when it was the 'boring' class or the less popular teacher or discipline. But many of the dancers just like her, i.e., on their own, responsible for themselves, made the decision that it was okay to skip those classes, or not come because they'd been partying late.


And she learned sooo much more about the nature and type of companies that exist beyond the more recognizable classic ballet companies, how professionals work and train, how choreographers work, how important networking is, and how networking is not just going to SIs, but really developing contacts with individual people such that they really can make recommendations attesting to work ethic, openness to correction and instruction, excellent memory and recall skills, quick learner, etc.


But as she's matured, she has also become more willing to talk (and confess) how many things were very, very hard for her since she left home that she had to learn to deal with by herself, earlier than most of her peers. If she had any doubt, it is really underscored by the freshmen dancers surrounding her at her BFA. She often feels very much older, wiser, and more world-aware than they who have just left their homes and parents. These are not 'immature' kids in the least (well, a couple are, but not most! :P ) But DD is years ahead of them when it comes to independent living. And she's loving her program and enjoys her classmates!


So, the point of all that was not to focus on my DD, but to give a synopsis of the amount of growing up that still needs to be done by a 16-year old, no matter how mature and responsible they are for their age. There is so much more they still need to experience, navigate, and learn about themselves, their surroundings, and the larger community they live within. To go from parents' home directly into a self-sustained, total self-responsible situation on top of a work environment populated by several years older and more adults as opposed to a school-type situation is a HUGE step.


Smaller steps building to that ultimate environment would probably make for a better transition. Something more along the lines of a 'finishing' program---either at one of the post-high school grad training programs or a trainee/apprentice program with a company (but definitely keep in mind not all trainee/apprentice programs are created equal).

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Well written, dancemaven!!



That's why the 'if' is so important, as in if she can get the training at home, then there's no reason to go to residency.

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Our DD, at 15, about to begin senior year, was accepted to various residencies. She chose to stay home, finish high school at her big public high school, and let mom, dad and brother enjoy her prom, graduation, etc. with her. She graduated at almost 17, got lovely college scholarships (which she turned down), and went on to a grad program in ballet out of state. Sort of a trainee situation, dances as the corps with a company, but pays tuition for classes. That was more than a year ago. Keeping her home may have delayed her dance training a little, as she danced for such a small program here, but it was such a joy to have her complete school with her peers, be ready for college had she chosen that route, and grow up just a little more. Since she left at a natural transition point, when her friends were leaving for college, it was less painful and more joyful for all of us. Yes, she was still barely a day over 17, but it seemed "right" at that point. I am a huge advocate of keepng them home as long as possible and of finishing high school. If your DD is bored with just having a few classes to do, let her take a basic college class or two. And, being in a big city with the Joffrey Academy right there, you won't lose out on training. Once they are gone, they are gone for good. Our DD can't even make it home for Thanksgiving this year, and dances through Christmas. As long as the home situation can work out, make it do so! In retrospect, that last year with her still living at home was one of the greatest gifts of our lives.

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Such a wonderful post dancemaven!


I cannot add much except to say that the turnover rate in Trainee/post grad programs is high. Both from those not being asked back, to those who find that they loved dancing as a student but not so much when a paycheck becomes involved. Of course, there are those also who find the "golden ticket" along the way also so either they move on within the company or elsewhere.


Also remember that in trainee/post grad programs, the mix of ages of dancers will be much greater than in a residency setting. So the friends of the 16 year old could be any dancer from age 16-24. Social life is tricky since there are some things a 16 year old can attend and others not. Some young students can handle both the environment and the social aspects and for others it makes for a lonely time when they cannot attend functions of their "friends" because of age. Even for new 18 year old company members this is sometimes a tough transition not because they can't handle it but because they just don't fit outside the studio. Even the two years between 16 and 18 are huge when it comes to maturity of 2 dancers who will become friends. This scenario will be different based on the current mix of the trainee/post grad students and cannot be tracked from year to year. It just is for any one given year. And again, one of the things you just don't know until you get there.


While it may be a "debbie downer" to look at the "what ifs" and the "if nots" in this journey, I do think it's important regardless of how you choose in the end. Don't forget to add not only what is best for your daughter's possible dancing into your thoughts but also what is important if she should not be able to. When the dancing is done no matter how long that takes, you will never get your child back. You will get back a grown woman! Is there truly a need to hurry? What will she be able to do the next month after it doesn't work out with her high school diploma intact and then without it, same for college? Each family will answer that differently in terms of how those answers affect their thinking. But they are important to consider, even if just to dismiss. Will one more year of academic schooling make her any less ready? Since her ballet training appears to have her on the right track, would one more year with them while she finishes high school change her projected outcome?

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