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Summer Intensive against teacher approval


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Hi everyone! This is my first posting so I hope I'm putting it in the right place. My 12 year old auditioned and was accepted into Boston Ballet's (Newton) Summer Intensive. When I told her dance teacher she flipped out and yelled at me that "no way, no way, do NOT send her to a summer intensive". She went on stating that my daughter will loose technique and take 3 months upon return to get back what she will loose. Her teacher was very angry! She believes in only sending very advanced, older dancers to intensives (my oldest daughter, 17, will be attending Joffrey NY). My youngest, again, 12, is low to mid intermediate level. Should I send her to Boston despite the teacher's worry or listen to the teacher? I'm really stuck on this, not to mention very annoyed at how the teacher spoke to me (we've been at this studio 7 years). Thanks for the advise. - Shara

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Hmmm, that is a tough one. I'm sure others will have some great advice for you as well.


If you have been with this instructor for seven years and you trust her, I would say go with her advice. I understand being upset at how she spoke to you, but maybe you caught her at a bad time and she just reacted quickly. Usually the instructors are familiar with the different intensives and they are familiar with your child so they know what will be beneficial and what will be nonadvantageous. We usually consult DD's instructor every year as to which programs would be good for our DD. The instructor knows from her past students what the intensive is like and she knows our daughter.


DD's instructor has said before that really until they are 13 years old, they don't push anyone to attend SI's because they are still so young and students usually get more out of the intensives when they are older. We've even had one intensive director tell us one year not to send our daughter to their intensive because she would regress and she was getting better instruction at her home studio. If your home studio has a good summer program, I would say stay there. There is plenty of time for your daughter to go to Boston and she can be happy in knowing that she was accepted. Also, five weeks is a long time for kids this young to be away.

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Okay, I don't completely understand this because where my DD currently attends they promote going away to SI to learn from other reputable names as well as different forms of ballet. The only thing that I can thing of is that your director/teacher thinks your daughter will get confused by her getting exposed to a different style of ballet. If she has been taught to dance with good technique, then I don't really understand what the problem is at this point. Perhaps I maybe wrong here, but I think that it would depend on the dancer on a case by case basis. Personally, my DD is 11 years old, I am thinking about allowing her to go to another SI in the next few years anyway if she so chooses to do so.

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Deloris, I think it is a case by case thing also. Last year my daughter went away to her first SI. She was 10 at the audition and 11 by the SI. It was only for one week so it was perfect for her. This year she is 11 and will be 12 by the SI. Again she will be going to one, however, we are limiting her in the amount of weeks she can be away. Still, we did discuss this with her instructor who told us it was okay to go away both years, but they don't push anyone to go. She has said that it really doesn't matter until they get to be 13 and then they start to push the kids to go away. If you have good instruction at home, sometimes it is better to stay at home at least until age 13. We do have great instruction, but DD wanted something in addition to her home SI so that is why she went to an away SI. I would think the instructor would know what was the best for the child.

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...not to mention very annoyed at how the teacher spoke to me (we've been at this studio 7 years).

My first thought was wondering how many times that teacher has been approached with similar questions in the past couple of weeks. :grinning:

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My DD's ballet school is very strict regarding who is and isn't "allowed" to go away for SI's. The school does offer an "advanced" intensive for 5 weeks during the summer. If dancers are in the Professional Division of the School, and they go away without permission, they are dropped from the Professional Division. Their thinking is that unless the dancer's technique is VERY solid (and this doesn't have to do with age), they will pick up bad habits and become "confused" relative to proper technique. DD's directors have talked of having to spend weeks trying to undo bad habits picked up by dancers not ready, in their opinion, to go away. Some girls have elected to drop Professional Division and do as they see fit during the summers. Others have adhered to the recommendations. I think what you do depends on a number of things, including long term goals, trust in your school directors, personal family situation, DD's maturity, etc. Good luck!

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It sounds like the teacher could have handled herself better when speaking to you. I wonder if the teacher was just surprised by the news that you had taken your dd to auditions, and caught by surprise, she over-reacted. :grinning:


I don't think it's all that uncommon for the policy at pre-professional schools to be that only the older, more advanced students go to SIs, say 14 and older. There are some big name schools that don't want their students going to SIs as well. I can understand your situation, though. Dd, 12 years old, was also accepted to Boston Newton this year, but will not go because next month she's switching to a pre-pro school that does not want their younger dancers to go to SIs. They do have an SI for my dd's level which my dd will attend this summer.

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I guess I don't understand the logic of a teacher not wanting a student to go away to a SI. My daughter is at a pre pro school and at 12 (turning 13) this will be her 3rd summer doing SI's that are not her home school. If a dancer is solid in their technique, and good enough to be accepted to a reputable school (Boston Ballet) I don't understand where the problem is? :) She, and her teachers at the year round school, feel that it is good to have a fresh pair or two of eyes correcting her. My daughter has also had some "aha!" moments when something was explained to her differently and it clicked! I could see concern if it was a no name dolly dinkle summer program,but...that's not Boston!Besides, don't dancers need to understand different schools of thought when it comes to technique? My DD has certainly learned,even within her own school, which teachers prefer things a certain way (as there is a mix of Russian dancers and American trained dancers).Sometimes too, my DD has found that just the "change of scenery with a new group of friends" has been refreshing. She is at her studio 14 1/2 hours a week in class+ rehearsals as they come up and while these students at home are her very,very good friends, change is good sometimes!

Just my 2 cents... :grinning:

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It might help you understand the different approaches taken by different teachers if you can find some of the older threads on this type issue. I don't have time at the moment to locate any for you, but you might just scroll through this Forum, the Parents 13+ Forum, SI General Questions, and maybe even Cross Talk.


In a nutshell, one reason a teacher may not advocate a 12 year-old go to an SI---especially if the home studio is technique-oriented and provides good to excellent training---is the philosophy that a student of that age needs time to really 'set' the technique they are learning. Muscle memory takes time---lots of time. The brain may understand differences, but muscles are slower to have it ingrained. The teachers at these type studios have a master plan that can be impeded by diversions in training, i.e., different methods, different focus.


Typically, in this type philosophy, the studio/teachers are quite willing to encourage their 16-17 year olds to go out into the world, try their wings, and see what the 'real world' has to offer. At that point, the dancer's technique is quite stable and the dancer is ready to learn and experience different approaches, different schools of training, different methods, and has the muscle memory and brain maturation to absorb and acclimate to these differences. They learn to shift among them---as a professional dancer must.


These same experiences may not be as useful to the much younger dancer. They do not have the same cognizant ability to switch back and forth. If their technique is not solid to begin with, then they are very susceptible to 'technique confusion'---which is something that may become difficult to untangle.


If, however, the home studio training is not solid in and of itself, then summer intensive provide a needed boost.


Do understand that going off to an SI at age 12-15 really isn't absolutely necessary in terms of incubating a dancer. It is something that provides wonderful opportunities, but ultimately, if the home studio provides good training, the dancer is not losing out on anything to stay home at that age---if the primary focus is promoting the technical training of the dancer.


Please understand, this is one philosophy regarding a dancer's age/training and SIs. Obviously, there are others.


In order to fully understand your studio's philosophy (which may make it easier for you to assess whether your dk should/should not go at this age), I would highly recommend simply asking her teacher/AD what their philosophical approach to SIs is and why they subscribe to that philosophy. Worked wonders for me whenever I asked. :grinning:

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IMHO - I would send her. My daughter went to Boston - Newton at age 10 (I had to stay up there with her). She had the best 5 weeks of her life and returned home a very much improved dancer. I can't say enough good things about their program. My dd's teacher also thought my daughter was very young but I had to go with the maturity level of my daughter. She is a very mature now 11 year old. My dd's teacher will comment about which programs she should not go for and that I have listened to - so far! I wish you the best in your decision making.

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I agree with mad4ballet--send her. Boston is an awesome school. My 12 1/2 year old attended a SI last year and had the "best time of her life" and improved immensly. They pick up things that maybe are explained a little differently by a different teacher. If she wants to go, send her. AFter all, she's at the home studio from Sept through June. I don't think the head of a studio has the right to dictate what their students do over the summer. :thumbsup:

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Yes, I would go to Boston Newton. I think sometimes you learn more in five weeks from a different teacher who gives you corrections that you've never thought of. I loved it!

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Here's one: School doesn't approve of SIs


There is another thread, but I cannot seem to locate it right now. Possibly because I'm trying to do it quickly. I'll look again when I'm not so rushed.

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