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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Introducing daughter to a pre-professional school

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Husband, daughter and I are coming to the conclusion that if almost 13yo daughter wants to dance professionally, she might really need to get to a bigger pre-professional program for high school. I know that the best choice would be to stay where we are if she is getting good training (which she is), but at an advanced level there is just not enough training. Additionally, our concern is that the track record of dancers going on professionally is almost nonexistent. The current students are all doing well at summer programs, but long term is a different story.


Here is my question after reading through lots of old threads. How does one even start trying to figure out which year round program would work for her or want her? Do we go on an audition tour for year rounds? Hope that where she goes for the summer asks her to stay? Try to do YAGP next year to see if anyone is interested in her? I’m just not sure where to go from here. I know there are no guarantees even if a student goes through a strong pre-professional program, but I would like to try to get her the best training possible. Most of the past threads have to do with evaluating year round schools, but how do we introduce our daughter to those programs? Thanks.

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Victoria Leigh

I would start by making a list of the schools. Will it be necessary for her to leave home, or is there one within commuting distance? You are in New England, but how far from Boston, for instance? Or Nutmeg? Bossov? Walnut Hill?


Anyway, once you have a list of the possible schools, which is not a long list if you are looking for academic and residence schools, then study the website from each school. Look at their program for ballet and academics, the housing situation, and of course the financial aspects. Do they require attending SI for acceptance to full year? Some do, some don't, and even those that do will sometimes make exceptions.


Narrow the list and then either go to the SI if accepted, or visit and audition. Some might even accept video auditions.

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Like Miss Leigh says, make lists! We made a long list of questions and applied them to all the schools that we were considering and like Miss Leigh stated, the lists included all issues relating to boarding school (Housing, Food, Academics, Expenses, Communication, Supervision)


Any of the ways you listed will work. There are pros and cons to each.

If your dd goes to a summer program and is invited to stay, remember that the year-round program will have a different feel than the summer program. Make sure that the teachers who taught summer are going to be at the program for the next year if that was one of the important parts of the summer program and ask to see a copy of the year-round curriculum and a sample schedule of a week for year-round kids.


Much like interviewing colleges, I personally think that your own audition tour will give you the most information if you can afford to check out the schools yourselves. Many schools will let your dk audition during the year and then you can go and check out the school, the residence and it's directors, the city and the costs of living in the city and any academic situation that the school offers. Be honest and tactful if you are looking at all options and do not get pressured into on the spot decisions.


YAGP: Not many year-round scholarships are awarded and those that participate also hold auditions. Do YAGP if your dd enjoys that kind of thing but ...If your dd is offered a year-round scholarship at, you will need to be prepared to act quickly on the offer. Look at the possibilities offered and do as much homework as possible before going to finals. Ask yourselves tough questions: abroad or not? move the family or a guardian with dk or not? academic considerations, etc.... The downside to this is there is no visit to the school to check it out unless you negotiate something when the offer is made. ( ask if dk can accept with the contingency being approval after going to the summer program- some will agree, some will not)


and a post script:

We began to accept that our dd was going to pursue this dream at your dd's age. We kept her home for her freshman year and let her bump up her training at home in terms of hours and difficulty of classes. We felt that if she experienced "normal" high school and still wanted intense, vocational training after seeing all that high school had to offer, she would be making a more informed decision. She really loved her high school but loves ballet more and had very good choices for ballet training the next year. She is now in a residency program far, far away and it is hard but it is worth it to her and she will not ever wonder "what if I had just gone to high school." :blushing:

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Miss Leigh and Swanchat...


Thanks for the quick response. I think we will start making our lists! We aren't in any rush, but want to start thinking about this for later. Next year, we plan to do more auditioning for summer programs to get a feel for more of the schools and their possible interest in her. This summer, our daughter is going to Boston's summer program and I guess we will see how that goes, as this is her first summer in a long program. I hope we will gain a little feedback from them.


I understand that a summer program may be very different from the year round, but does a school's acceptance/rejection of them for the summer indicate interest in them for year round? For instance, if she is rejected for the summer - should we just cross that off our list of year round programs? Or will they evaluate them separately at the year round audition? Thanks.

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perhaps I can add my thoughts as well?


The Canadian Schools, such as NBS or RWBS, take you for summer as an audition for the fall. Therefore, they wouldn't take a dancer they had no interest in for fall. Some will be more of an interest than others to be sure, but generally speaking that's how it works. (Bear in mind that interest in a student might vary considerably from year to year, so one "no" shouldn't be devestating, just a "no" for that year.) These two schools tend to have earlier auditions - both start in the fall I believe, so perhaps even a video audition would give you a good place to start.


All the best,




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Just adding that if you've missed the boat on the SI auditions of the schools near you, after you do your research, I would suggest just seeing if you could take your dancer in for an evaluation class where she can see the school and you can get feedback either from the person who taught the class or by her placement. You may have to ask for that feedback when you make the appointment.


Since you say you aren't in any rush, this might be an easy way for your daughter to see what's out there and decide if she's ready to move on or not. For some students, they see the intenseness of the larger schools and want no part of it. For others, they begin to beg for it. You won't know where your daughter is on that scale until she's put in that environment. I'm assuming she's done SIs so knows that the push is what she needs already.

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Hi drivingmissdancer!

An exciting time to be sure...

I would also recommend that your daughter keeps her own lists to refer to - separate and uninfluenced by your own. Ultimately it will be her decision (with your guidance). Wherever she winds up, when she hits a "bump in the road", she has ownership of the situation and it will be easier for her to deal with the good and the bad. I am sure she will enjoy Boston!

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Excellent idea. In fact, when our DD made the decision that she might need more than her home studio could give her, she started her list before we did. After research on both our sides, we compared and went from there. In the end, her list narrowed down to exactly what ours was. We only had 6 months however, you have much more time. Have her make short term goals as well to keep her invested in it- 13 is young. Where does she want to see herself, say next fall. Do not forget the acedemics in the equation. Can't dance forever! And if you are not close enough to monitor her HS progress, you are going to want a place where you will not have to monitor and worry on a daily basis. Been there, done that!

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Oh and a response to the question that "if you were not accepted into the summer program does that mean you should cross it off you list". Well I would say from experience that you might as well try because I auditioned for the summer program for my school and I was rejected. When I tried out for the year round program at the begging of the school year I got accepted. I hope I helped. :yes:

Edited by Ballet=life

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