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Ballet Talk for Dancers

The Day student at a residential school

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Although DD is many years away from "the summer you go for consideration", your post is very concerning for me. Do you think the social things may be because your DD is not a boarding student at this residential program? The reason I ask is because my DD attends a ballet school that also has a residential program. She'll be of age to attend the residential program soon- but because we live close enough we hope for her to attend as a "day" student so we can save money for her to attend college if the stars do not align for her to try for a ballet career. DD is very gifted academically and if the stars do not align and the ballet dreams are not feasible, her "plan B" is to become a medical doctor. We live far enough away from the ballet program that DD would not be able to participate in all the activities available to the residential dancers.


I guess my main concern is that ballet is the main focus of DD's life. Given the choice between ballet and all other social activities, ballet always wins. Because everything centers around ballet and her friends at her current academic school don't understand ballet, I worry that she may not get the opportunity to experience the "normal" teenage interactions . We are currently trying to decide what to do with DD when she gets to high school. We are not happy with her current public school system and need to figure out if a residential program would be better for her.


I guess I've gotten a bit off topic, but I am very interested/concerned about why your DD feels the need to look into trainee/apprenticeship positions before high school graduation.



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Being a day student has its pro and cons. There certainly is a segregation that occurs at times and I've seen with girls other than DD. At other times the same local students' home become "the ballet house". The boarding students enjoy getting out of the dorms, having ballet parties ect. However the further the day student lives from campus the less partys.


The other thing that sets DD apart is that she's homeschooled, as a result ballet classes are the only classes they have in common. IMO homeschooled kids are socially a bit different than other kids. They don't get into clicks very easily.



Here are some of the reasons she wants to go early:


1. "Small town-itis" I don't think that needs explanation.


2. Independence, the typical teenage longing. The boarding students have a different kid of independence than what she has. She wants some of that. But she understands that they also have limitations and frustrations that she doesn't have either.


3. PT work, there are very few jobs for students in the area.


4. Money. We know there are dancers with her level of technique that are getting paid to dance or at the very least are not having to pay to dance. Also we need to start putting resources into our up and coming french hornist (DS).


5. Small fish. She's looking forward to being a smaller fish in a bigger pond. There's less stress (if finances are ok)and more room to grow. At times she misses corps roles.


6. Partnering. The considered company has a lot more men.


7. Professional experience. Her school does very well in this, but it just isn't a full size company. They don't have the same level of financial support. It also doesn't have the same level of staffing in all departments, not just dancers. This limits what they can do. The offset to this is the training at DD's school is very personal.


8. Organization Style. This is pretty much the only place she's danced. She's like to experience different teaching and directing styles, as well as different management styles.

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Our dd has done the day student at the Residential program route.


1. Social considerations:

She did fine socially at both places. In fact, it was good to have friends in two different environments. As parents, it was important to us that she was exposed to "normal" high school life and all that it entails. She liked it but loved ballet more. And yes, our home (30 minutes away) became the "ballet house" Kids loved to escape to us!


2. Ballet school:

The problem with the scenario for dd was that the school wanted her to move into the residential and academic program that it offered. In our eyes it was completely unnecessary. Pardon my cynicism, but it seemed that their business plan was more important than the fact that dd was getting everything she needed without being in their academic and residential programs. This did affect dd in some of their casting decisions.


3. Academic school:

DD was almost like a super star. They thought she was really cool. From the cheerleaders to the brainiacs (she was in honors classes), they loved her.

She had great academics, intensive dance training, friends from all over the town and the world and thrived.


She was invited to attend a prestigious ballet school in Europe this year and is no longer a day student at our local residential program but for that year it worked really well.


Time management is key as is the nature of the kid. DD is not shy, but takes things in stride and seems to have friends in all sorts of situations so it worked. It's not easy but it was rewarding.

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Thanks Swanchat! You have also given us lots to think about. I guess we need to sit down and try to figure out what would be best for DD at this stage. We really appreciate the wonderful advice from others that have been in similar situations. This site is such a wonderful resource!!!!

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My dd is a day student at the same residential program where Swanchat's dd was. My dd is a day student because we can not afford the boarding tuition (she would LOVE to live in the dorm and actually is there most weekends for sleepovers with her friends). We live close enough for her to commute via bus/train/bus/walking and we're saving clse to $25,000 a year. However, our experience has not been 100% positive and did not seem to work as well as Swanchat's - so I'll share. This may be unique to this particular residential program, but it has been our experience that our dd has felt very "on the fringe" because of her day student status; she certainly feels that she is treated differently by the administration (ie second class). It's taken her 2 years to feel that she's even really known at all. She's not on all the lists, remembered for group activities, and certainly not cast (though, IMHO very worthy over younger, less able dancers who are cast and happen to be residential students). Also, we're never informed of class cancellations, changes in schedule, etc. This drives me bonkers and makes me feel that the school is not taking into consideration their day student population. I don't know if the administration is catering to the economy of the tuition the boarders bring in or what, but the atmosphere is certainly divisive. For what it's worth...you might want to ask current day students at the residency program you are considering what their take is on the subject.

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A couple of questions that popped into my mind while reading to ask the day students: Do you really feel the instruction you are getting is better than a home school situation? What opportunites do you receive as a day student that you would not be receiving at your home studio besides the time of day you take ballet class? Does every "con" on the list for social standing equal a trade of "pro" that makes it worth it?

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101 Driver is correct about the issues with our particular ballet school's handling of day students. I found it frustrating too that the ballet school was less respectful of dd's unique situation than her academic school. And like 101 driver's dd, it did affect casting for my dd and it wasn't fair for either girl and many other day students. Having been at the school since dd was very young, I can say that we had gotten accustomed to being "out of the loop" with schedule changes, cancellations, etc. I had gotten to the point of saying, "if they want you there, they will let you know." ....and it was true, if the person running a rehearsal knew dd was needed, they made sure to tell her. They also used not telling her until the last minute as a way to apply pressure to become part of their residency/academic program. My personal favorite was the day that dd asked if there was a rehearsal, was told no and seconds after we left the building, they posted a rehearsal to set a piece. The rehearsal started 15 minutes after we left - dd as a soloist. :) When dd returned after finishing her academic class, she saw the posted rehearsal, went to the director and removed herself from the role saying, she couldn't make the rehearsal and the director said, "that is why you need to be in our academic program," :thumbsup: As dd got older and the residence program and academic program came into play, it became clear that those aspects of the school were a very important part of the business plan for the school. Honestly, scheduling at this school was just as disrespectful to those kids who were in the residency program because they used free time to complete their academic day too and many times, last minute rehearsals caused these students to fall behind in their academics. I tell this story to highlight the need for you to ask the school directly about scheduling. How and how far in advance are schedules planned and how are they communicated to students? A school that respects student's time and a school that is well managed should be able to plan rehearsals far enough in advance for no one to be out of the loop and consistent enough for student's to manage their time wisely. Of course, there will always be a need for "emergency" rehearsals but they should be rare.


The situation worked for dd because she was so happy with her academic school, knew she was getting enough hours training for ballet and had good friends in both locations. She also spent the night at the residency program and we had her ballet friends for sleepovers. There were cliques that she wasn't a part of in both places but that's life. dd also knew that at the end of the year, she was going to have to alter the ballet part of the plan because of the games being played and pressure applied for her to become a part of the school's business plan. Fortunately, she had many good alternatives; even one scenario where she changed studios locally where they were clear about respecting her academic schedule!


Mom of 3, I'm not sure I understand the question but for us and for dd, she LOVED being at our local public high school, socially and academically it was a great fit. The school worked with her scheduling needs and encouraged her to follow her passion every day! The academic instruction was rigorous and excellent. It wasn't easy. There was a lot of commuting. DD ate lunch in the car every day, the car became a locker and study hall all rolled into one. I have a LOT of miles on my car but I miss every minute of it! The con's were the scheduling of rehearsals that conflicted with the last academic class of the day causing dd to sacrifice some "choice roles." The pros were that the control over academic time and academic instruction remained with us. It was a matter of perspective, dd is able to look at her "big picture." She knew that those "choice roles" weren't going to get her a job as a dancer and she knows that academics are important because a dancer's career ends so early.


wannabe, keep asking questions of both your academic school and your ballet school. As I said, if the ballet school is well managed and organized and they include day students as a part of their business plan, it can work. If the school that you are looking at is open to day students, respects their need for consistently clear scheduling while respecting their desire to obtain both excellent dance instruction and academics that fit your dds needs then the problems should be minimal. If the school recognizes that day students are also a part of their business plan instead of viewing them as conflicting with it, then you are ahead of the game. If the school is asking you to move your teenage dancer out of your home and your home is close enough for her to be a day student, ask why it is necessary. Is it for their convenience? Do they need to fill the bed? Are they offering the room as a part of a full scholarship or are you paying for the room? If the school is insisting that your dd become a part of their academic program, then interview and assess the program just as you would interview any school that you are considering for your daughter. There will be sacrifices in both areas, you just have to decide which sacrifices make sense for your dd's personal goals and needs. Just make sure the decision is based on your dd's needs, not the schools!

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101driver and swanchat, Thank you for your comments and adding to the discussion.

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I'll just add a couple more things -


Momof3, in our case, this studio really is our "home" studio. There are not many of this calibre close to us, so it happens that a residential school is the closest (we considered ourselves lucky that such a good studio was close!).


In terms of pro/con - my dd feels that, as long as the hours spent in the studio under the guidance of her dance faculty are positive and she is benefiting from their instruction, she's in a situation that is good for her. She'll put up with her wonky day student status, the administration she (and certainly I) view with question, the politics, favoritism, etc. if the day-to-day class work - the essence of her experience - is worth it.


and a PS...thanks to BT4D yet again...Swantchat and her beautiful dd are now best buddies of ours. When we knew we were moving across the country to this coast, I PMd Swantchat and she and her dd greeted us with open arms. What a great connection made through this board and thanks to Swanchat for helping us through our transition! :yucky:

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Momof3, in our case, this studio really is our "home" studio. There are not many of this calibre close to us, so it happens that a residential school is the closest (we considered ourselves lucky that such a good studio was close!).


In terms of pro/con -


Thanks 101driver, I was meaning just that. That's exactly the type of answer I was looking for. In your case, the residency sounds like the best training available within a reasonable distance. In other people's cases, it may be that the residency is one of many choices for quality training depending on that hour or so drive in either direction. In that case, it's important to weigh it all out when the residency program becomes to you basically what other people consider their after school studio.

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My dd has had a positive experience to being a “day” or “local” student...probably because she has been able to attend the ballet schedule with the residential students. A few years ago my husband’s job moved us to an area where there is a pre-pro residency program. She spends quite a bit of time in the dorms on the weekends or a group of dancers head out to our home for the weekend. After 4 years of homeschooling and participating in the residential dance schedule, she decided to attend the local high school. The local high school was very accommodating and worked out a schedule for her to be dismissed early (arranging for the last lunch and study hall at the end of her day) and she is still able to attend the first class of the day at ballet. She is thriving at her academic school and is in all honors classes and seems happy with her decision to attend. She has two sets of friends…dance and school, which has been wonderful for her socially. Though classes or rehearsals at her pre-pro school do not start until 1:45, which works for her situation…not sure what time other pre-pro schools start.

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Thanks 101driver :wink: I miss seeing you and your beautiful dd! I agree that BTFD is a life saver.


dance notations, It is my sincere hope that the experience that 101 driver's dd and my dd found is not the rule but the exception. It never made sense to me that day students did not fit in the scheme of the school; a student is still a dance student no matter where they live or how they complete their academics! :P

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Hello swanchat...I fully agree with you:


It never made sense to me that day students did not fit in the scheme of the school; a student is still a dance student no matter where they live or how they complete their academics!
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