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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Choices: College vs Company Auditions HS Grad


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I don't have specfics as dd is a sophomore, but thinking about the need for a flexible schedule, including time to go and audition multiple places during senior year while still taking challenging high school courses (for e.g. dd plans to take AP Biology & AP US history + 1-2 more courses senior year) - was one of the main reasons we are consdiering an online high school program for dd's last two years of high school. We've discovered that many of the residential programs utilize these nationally recognized, accredited online high schools for their student's academics in addition to homeschoolers using these programs.


If this is not something you could afford or were comfortable with I would definitely talk with your kid's current school and see how they might work with you when dd missed school for auditions. In our state you can not miss more than 10 days during a semester and receive credit for that semseter, but there are multiple exceptions if explained and planned (if possible). We have found some administrators to be extremely supportive and understanding, while others "not so much".

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One of the ways we have come to accept this whole dance thing is to understand that it is not about choosing dance over college, it's about changing the chronology and perhaps method. DD's grandparents also get that worried look but even they are beginning to understand that dd is just "different" than other kids going through high school and in so many ways, "different" is going to be just fine! Many good universities are encouraging gap years now. Princeton has set aside a percentage of it's incoming freshman to take the year off after acceptance and Harvard's own web site encourages taking a year off after acceptance. We take all of this a year at a time. If dd is lucky enough to get a contract when her training and high school are over, then she can take that "gap" year to see if life as a professional dancer is everything (or close to everything) that she dreamed. She will apply to college and hopefully, her backup plan will help her feel more secure and when she's ready to go to college, she will-whether it's after the gap year or even later.

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Should the stars align and the gods smile down on my DD for her to receive an offer from a company straight from HS, we have no problem with supporting her following her dream and deferring the formal education at that time. I just wonder about the logistics during her senior year of applying and auditioning for companies and colleges.

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I like swanchat's explanation of this situation as not being viewed as an "either or" choice, but more of a "when" choice. Dd had wonderful support from her high school which was a pleasant surprise and so appreciated. She received a two year deferral from the college of her choice. It seems to me that many schools, both high schools and colleges are more open to kids whose pursuits and passions fall somewhat outside the norm. Or perhaps better to say the usual chronologic path.


Also it is very possible to audition and apply to colleges senior year. IMHO it does require great focus on the part of the dancer/student and lots of research and legwork by parents. Helps to be well prepared for both possibilities.

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swanchat - I love the way you've phrased this - "it is not about choosing dance over college, it's about changing the chronology and perhaps method" It was such a relief for me to be reminded about "gap year/s" too! I didn't know about Princeton & Harvard as examples of American schools that encourage gap years - thats wonderful to know - in the overall scheme of things! Then, too, as a "compulsive" researcher and planner I love having plans A, B, C, and D lined up :) .


We have often laughed and been thankful that our dd's "different" was so positive - no she doesn't spend her weekends hanging out at the mall; but then she also isn't getting herself into trouble or debt; she "struggles" in school but not with grades or work ethic, rather she struggles to fit it all in and maintain her desired level of achievement; she'd not dating, "partying", or otherwise occupied with the many distractions and temptations of today's American teenager - in fact I spend more time on BT4D than she does texting, IMing or on Facebook. When she is on YouTube its to watch ballet and she loves to just hang out with family when she has the rare moment of down time.


luvmyballerina - I think there are probably quite a few good threads with more specifics and actual first hand experiences on how dks manage to schedule and plan for company and college auditions during senior year - I would look through this career and dance education topic and see what might relate to your questions! I was thinking about your question from the side of being a high school teacher and what some of my students in the performing arts have had to do in order to arrange missing school for auditions.

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tcook - I will definitely spend more time looking through this forum for both information and inspiration! DD attends a residential arts school with very strong academics. I am sure the staff there will be very encouraging and accommodating when the time comes. Fingers crossed anyway! :)

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...it is not about choosing dance over college, it's about changing the chronology and perhaps method.

Well put. This is the place that we find our DD in right now, and despite the challenging. well-meant advise from family and friends, we feel certain that the choice was correct. For her, and at this particular time. There is really no one road to a career. College will always be there, ready and waiting. The mind, always ready and able for education. The body, it has its limitations.

What has helped us is that we have helped our DD structure a plan for college in her future. She expects that it will be part of her future. I think it is very good to have this embedded into the dancers' heads while they are young.

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  • 4 weeks later...

2dds and dancemaven - What is the LEAP / St. Marys program? I haven't come across it on the threads I "frequent"


I know that I have read quite a bit on some other threads discussing folks perspectives on the value of a college degree gained while also dancing in a high level ballet performance program in college. I got the sense that things are shifting a bit towards embracing / understanding the 18 year old attending college and training in prep for a professional career in ballet as a viable option for dancers who would like to continue to train at a very high level & dance with a company but do that in the context of getting a college degree too. Can't find it right now, but I recall a wise BT4D member writing about today's tough economy and the tenuousness of securing contracts and claiming, rightly I think, that basically being a "trainee" in college (if getting top notch technique and performance opportunities) adds the benefit of leaving there with both a college degree in hand and as a mature, well-trained "company ready" dancer. It seems that as the Fab 6 becomes the Fab 10 or 11 or... -- with more schools developing top notch ballet programs this option will become more well accepted and understood.


That said, while my own bias would be for my dd to only consider the college option, I also understand that being open to all the possibilities (deferring a year or ??, accepting a trainee or apprenticeship with a company if offered) will better situate her to make the best decision for her at the time.


2dds - i think it would be most helpful to hear from parents & dancers that are "looking back" on these decisions made 2 or 5 or 7 years ago to hear what they've experienced and how they reflect on this now and I really appreciate your questions.


Hope I can follow this thread wherever it ends up!

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2dds--I started a new thread based on one of your questions.


There are some conversations I will look for that do talk about the college journey, the dance journey from people within it and the curveballs they encountered both personally and seen in others. Ed McPherson for one was very informative about what happens to dancers in college who do not keep the same dance focus they went in with because of all college has to offer otherwise and how difficult that could become. But I fear they are not in one thread but as part of discussions of other threads.


In terms of parents posting hindsight, that may be an ongoing request, we have over the past few years had several members whose dancers have moved away from dance as a primary focus discuss the whys of that. But I don't think in a manner of hindsight but really just an explanation of their own dancers decision making. This simply because as the dancer moves away from "seek" mode, the parent moves away from "seek and share" mode. And that is when slow exits from regular posting and board visits occur. We do have some members still here who do have those stories they can share if asked. So please do post a new topic based on the info you'd like to have.


But the new thread is here: Hindsight in College/Trainee decisions

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