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Ballet Talk for Dancers

How Important is Age 13?


scballetmom

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scballetmom

First off, let me say how much I have learned from all of you on this board! I appreciate all the time and effort you have put in to provide so much information and encouragement to "newbies" like me! Thank you!

 

We are struggling with our SI decision. Our 13 yo dd auditioned for summer intensives this spring for the first time. She was accepted to each program, with reasonable to good level placement (in the programs that indicated this information). All of the other dancers from her studio who auditioned were accepted to the programs they auditioned for as well. This makes me feel that they are getting solid training. However, although all were accepted, none (including our best dancers) received any form of scholarship or instant acceptance or any other special attention from any program. Apparently, no auditioners felt any of us had "potential" worthy of a scholarship either! :blink: Perhaps I'm reading too much into this.

 

All of the other girls have sent in their deposits and are making travel plans for their chosen SIs. We're still on the fence. My husband is very hesitant to spend the money on the SI my daughter is most interested in. This SI will offer many dance forms (including ballroom, modern, etc.) and favors Balanchine. (DD has had no Balanchine training.) They also have a well respected Company. She was accepted to another SI about an hour away (that costs less than half of the first one and would be in commuting distance) that is strictly Vaganova. They have turned out lovely dancers and YAGP winners. They teach only ballet and some jazz at their SI. (Our studio emphasizes classical ballet and offers one jazz and one modern class weekly.)

 

At age 13, I'm wondering which would be the best choice for her future (I know! No one has a crystal ball!). I know that the more selective SIs like to train dancers while they are "young". How young is "young"? She will be auditioning in the older groups for some programs next spring. Should we choose to hone in on Vaganova ballet technique at the closer-to-home SI (and start saving for next year) or would it be a better decision to invest in the more expensive SI and provide exposure to more forms of dance and also to Balanchine training? Is this 13th summer critical for her ballet development? Thank you for your opinions.

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Victoria Leigh

scballetmom, while we don't make any comparisons or direct recommendations for one program over another, I think that with a 13 year old, and the very first SI, it just makes sense to do the one closer to home and not quite so expensive. Did she audition for any other programs besides these two? I like the idea of more variety in the summer for the young ones, but that doesn't mean it is essential, especially for the first year.

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scballetmom

Thank you so much for your reply, Ms. Leigh. She auditioned for 5 SIs. We felt NYC would be too overwhelming for many reasons, including housing issues, so we chose against this one. The other programs are more expensive, further away, and offer similar programs to the one she chose. We are trying to decide between the two that are close to home and also less expensive.

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DD is 14 and is only attending her third "away" SI, so probably anything I have to say should be taken with a grain of salt. I think you should try to figure out what your DD needs or really wants to do at age 13. Then try to look at all other info you can compare about the programs- training, cost, distance from home, amount of supervision at SI, after hour activities, etc etc etc. We make a spreadsheet comparing programs for the things important to us before making a final decision (even if DD is sure she wants to attend a program she attended a previous year). Maybe your DDs teachers can give you input as well. Hope this helps!

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Victoria Leigh

scballetmom, have you checked our forum that reviews all the major programs? Go to 2009/2010 SI Programs. There are first hand opinions there from all of the programs. They are in alphabetical order.

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scballetmom

I've pored over the board for months! The information shared is incredible, and it has helped me very much. We've made lists and discussed the pros and cons since we began auditioning. More than comparing the specifics of these two particular programs, I think my question is what approach or path would be the best for her at her age. I truly believe that my daughter will improve in either program--the question is which improvement would benefit her more and give her more options in the future. Her ballet teacher says her technique is "already pretty good". Should our goal this summer be to improve her current technique (classical with a fair amount of Vaganova) to "great"? On the other hand, the same ballet teacher says that she has the "NYCB" body and is encouraging her to audition for Balanchine programs next year. Perhaps the question really is this: At 13, should we focus on solidifying the current technique or expanding her exposure into other forms and techniques? Thanks for your opinions as I'm trying to sort things out.....

 

a little background: danced from age 5-9 at a Dolly Dinkle, classically trained since age 10, placed on pointe at 11, improved dramatically in the last year at home studio,

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Victoria Leigh

I would encourage her to stay with the classical at this point.

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In agreement here. She can pick up the Balanchine style and way of moving at a later date. Better to cement her training now.

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Can we generalize this at all to say that the moderators recommend that under the age of 14 or so (or some other age range), it is generally better to chose an SI which focuses on improving current technique rather than exposure to other styles? Or does that not hold true in all cases?

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Victoria Leigh

I don't think I'm comfortable with generalizing it, lemlemish. I think we are better off trying to help with each individual situation in terms of questions like this.

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I just wanted to say how nice it is to hear someone else has spent months poring over the SI forums! DD only auditioned for one program (going to ABT Alabama) so we didn't have the dilemma of choosing. Her first SI and BT4D has been incredibly helpful.

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scballetmom

BT4D is a great place to see that we're "all in it together"! It has been a true lifesaver for me. I hope that your dd has a great SI experience at ABT Alabama!

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All of the classical ballet instructors, and one of the most respected, that we have talked to during our DS's training have stressed that the young dancer should focus on technique first and foremost. The other types of dance all flow out of the learned technique. There will always be time later to learn other styles, but technique is the dancer's foundation from which to build. Best of luck!

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