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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Follow the Scholarships?


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I've been having a discussion with a ballet mom friend concerning whether it would be wiser to have our 16 year old dancers to choose SI's where they received scholarships (if it's a good program with a good company) rather than going to the bigger name SI's where they did not get a scholarship.


It seems to me that if they are hoping to get a job in two years, going to a place that is actually willing to invest in them financially, would up their chances of getting a job for that company.


It just seems logical to me.


I know that getting a scholarship does not guarantee you a job in the future, but if a company is investing in you, they are showing more than casual interest.


Any thoughts on that?

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I think it is usually a good idea to go where a scholarship is offered, as long as one likes the program and the company. By 16 the dancers should have some idea of where they are going with ballet, and whether they are potential for a major company or better suited, at least to start out, for a regional company. If they get scholarshipped to a good regional company school, it would make sense to me to accept it unless it is just someplace they really do not want to attend...in which case they should not have auditioned in the first place! :thumbsup:

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Thanks Victoria,


That was kind of what I thought. She got a scholarship to WSB and a few other places, but decided not to take them in favor of a bigger name company. I'm not sure why she thinks one company is better than another. How does one evaluate this? It seems like word of mouth or comments from her instructors seems to weigh heavily with her. Once an instructor made a derogatory comment about one of the top five companies - and that influenced her tremendously.


Is there a list of major companies vs. regional companies? I would like to explore a few options with her, but it seems like the only options that keep coming up are the "obvious" big name companies.


I feel like we are limiting ourselves. Also, along that line...Is it wrong to not let her "shoot for the stars" so to speak by making her take a scholarship? Will she always wonder "what if"... What if I could have gotten into ABT? What if SFB would have given me a contract had I spent every summer there and gotten to know them? What if...you get the picture.


I know this is hard to answer. But any insight from your vast stores of wisdom would be helpful.

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I would never 'make her' go unless there was a financial situation which totally required that she have a scholarship. However, going for the top is another story. She needs to know whether she really has what they are looking for and a realistic potential of making it. If she is in a professional school, her teachers would surely know this and should be able to advise you far better than I can without seeing her.

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You are right to not want your DK to limit herself. You are also correct in allowing her to shoot for the moon. But what you need to stop doing is thinking that there is any crystal ball to reflect in to let you know if your decisions have been the correct ones until after the fact. So drop the what ifs and just give your daughter the best chance you can within your means. If she chooses to forego a scholarship at her age, it becomes part of her decision making and also part of the consequences she may herself have to accept. It just is what it is. She has to be responsible for her choices, again within your means and circumstance. It's not that cut and dry really but she has to take ownership for her decisions also. I certainly understand your frustration.


Remember you'll read here about parents for whom their decisions did allow them to receive the "golden ticket", they worked the system, their child had the talent and the road while not easy was a straight path from here to there. There will be others for whom they were financially able to take their child to the best of the best schools or residency and their child was at the top of the perceived game, but no contracts were offered and they had to move on or re-focus and allow other companies to now be acceptable. Others still will detour because life gets in the way by choice or demand. There is also every other imaginable variation in between. You can only guide and control so much.

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Momof3, I loved that post, especially the second paragraph. Hayvn, you have had words of wisdom shared with you. Even if a dancer goes year round to a top company school, there are no guarantees. Look at the statistics that have been posted on this site this year and you will realize that an awful lot of year round students, graduating programs, did not find company spots and have indeed had to find other options to keep training and to keep dancing. There are dancer out there getting jobs who went to smaller schools. It's essential to find a match for your dancer. So, you may get a scholarship one year and the next they may not even give you a spot in the program. It happened to us and so many more who read this site. As dancers develop they change, both physically and as dancers. Some remain a match with a school, others do not. Take this journey one step at a time. You may have to change directions, you may not, just go for excellence in training. It is the foundation all dancers need as they develop into performers, artists and professionals.

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I just feel compelled to chime in here because the queries and thought processes you are going through are what every ballet family goes through- especially at this age if they want to pursue a career. As Momof3 pointed out- there are many roads to take and it seems there is never just one path to get where they want to go.


What is great is that you are allowing your dancer to make choices and remember- blessed are those who have choices! :)

Just being accepted to some of the bigger name SIs is great and scholarships are always good indications that your dancer has something that the instructors like! Every SI gives your dancer opportunity to learn, grow and share information about the professional ballet world.


I would give you and your dancer advice to start researching your post-HS graduate path now. You both need to start reading the threads on college programs, company trainee programs and/or post-grad ballet schools (this will take a while- we spent many late nights reading!!) Then, talk to her year-round instructors/directors about the different options that interest her and ask for advice especially for her last summer before senior year. Unfortunately, there is no easy formula! Just gather as much information as you can so you can make more informed decisions and remember- there are lessons to be learned on every path!

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