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My dd just turned 14. All she thinks about is dance and she doesn't have back up interests. She is smart but doesn't put the effort into academics because it is all dance. She is usually liked in her classes because she works hard, is serious and takes all corrections and applies them, but she still never gets into the elite groups or parts, other girls her age are both in higher classes and lower classes. I think she looks beautiful dancing, but what do I know. Her dance school is excellent and several girls have made top companies including NYCB and ABT, but it is still a business that thrives on convincing me to sign her up for increasingly more classes (last year was 11 hours). I have other kids, and can't figure out how to decide how much to put toward dance, if I just knew she had a future it might be easier.

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Welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers, kobbymom. :)


Have you talked to any of her teachers at the two SI's she has attended, in order to get an outside opinion? I notice she is, or was, at ABT Detroit this year. Is it over yet? If not, I strongly suggest that you talk to someone who has worked with her the most while there.

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No we didn't talk to anyone, we had a two day drive out and back and really didn't have much time, although I would have had I known how to go about it. She definitly improved there, I thought she looked amazing, but she was not accepted at JKO for the fall. She just took it in stride, since she knew it would be a struggle for us to get her there, and loves her present school. At her current school, at last year's scholarship sudition, they said if she worked hard she could realize her dream of getting into a company.. but she didn't get that much scholarship money. I guess, we will see how this year's scholarship and nutcracker auditions go.

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Here is a link to a sticky on the site that has some valuable info and covers some of your questions.




The bottom line is there is no way of knowing. There are no set rules about who will make it.

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Thank You for the sticky...I also was wondering similar things. My dd is 11 1/2. She went to her first SI and is ready to move to get on a Pre-pro track. I am a single mother and have a job that can be easily obtained any where. My question is then how do I know this is what we should do as a family (its just me,my daughter, and my son who is wanting to move as well.) I had 2 thoughts. Should I wait til next seasons for SI auditions and see where and or if she is accepted and go from there? I also had the idea of going to another school for an evaluation and see if they can honestly tell me her potential. She lives eats and breathes dance. I have been told she has the body and stamina but again she is 11 1/2. If we move, I want it to be a smart move. Any thought will be greatly appreciated....

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The most important thing is quality training and a personality match between the student and teacher. Do not always assume that just because a studio is small, that it is not a gem, or that just because the studio is large and the teachers had illustrious careers, that it is good. Do your research. Where have the dancers they trained ended up?


At 11 while one can see potential in a physical structure, all that can change almost overnight.


That being said, body type is not everything. Drive, work ethic, and desire play just as much a role (if not more). I've had dancers with less than ideal bodies do very well, and dancers with the "ideal" walk away at 16 or 17 deciding it wasn't what they wanted after all.

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several girls have made top companies including NYCB and ABT


As a preface I may be talking with sour grapes, since DD's so far short career path has gotten a brief stall. I've also come to learn there's great merit in dancing rcreationally and have no intention of a career. For probably 90 percent of dance students that's the way to go. Getting in a dance career is like being accepted to Oxford or the NFL. Lots of people go to school or play football.


Do you mean SI acceptances or paid company contracts? If you're talking SIs that doesn't give enough indication of the training. As far as what attributes a dancer needs the answer is "all of the above" including cash. Don't believe body doesn't matter.


Listen to your gut. Look at your DK's prospects honestly. If you're sure in your mind your DK has "it", that's probably true. If you see exceptions, your DK probably doesn't have the whole package. It's like shopping for jeans or bathing suit. If you try them on and say "perfect, except for..." (you probably know by now) in 3-6 months you're not going to be happy with the choice.


As far as relocating to training, I think it's a good option as long as you don't make it too permenant. Keep a way out. Rent instead of buying. You may find for example you get there a find the teachers are great but the administration is horrible. There are so many things that you might not see when touring a program that you find out after you've been there for a bit. Also once your DK is done with training the first couple of years they make be working for free. I so wish we could up and move where ever DD gets her next contract and support her there as we had during her training.


DKs just focusing on dance is not a good idea. Not just for future financial reasons but also psycological reasons. There are times when dancing may be a drag for a variety of reasons. It's good for a dancer to have additional interrests. Many muscians have a "primary" instrument but play others as well. Those secondary instruments don't get the time and attention as the primary but they get picked up as a break. Dancing can be a "primary passion" but a DK needs others as well. All the better if that secondary passion can produce an income for the DK.

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We very much appreciate your taking the time to share your perspective vicarious. It is an important one to hear.

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Have you talked to any of her teachers at the two SI's she has attended, in order to get an outside opinion? ... If not, I strongly suggest that you talk to someone who has worked with her the most while there.


Ms. Leigh ~ How does one go about this properly? My DD's SI (3 weeks) did not give any type of feedback or evaluation. We didn't want to be pushy or rude by asking when it wasn't offered. But it would be so helpful! How do home studios/teachers receive an SI opinion? Is it most often welcomed or not?

Edited by Gracegirlz
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Yes, how does one ask for feedback. My daughter was supposed to have a "report card" by the end of the SI but 2 weeks after the finish and she hasn't received it.

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Ask - that's not being pushy. If all students are supposed to receive them, then ask the administrators. More directly, ask the teacher you trust the most for some sit-down time. Most of us are happy to do that. Since the term is over, that may be more difficult, but asking is never out of order.

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kobbymom, if it is a large si, it is not unusual for it to take a few weeks to receive the evaluation. My daughter attended ABT Alabama a couple of years ago and didn't receive her eveluation until the middle of August. Also, my experience has been that teachers at home are eager to find out the feedback from summer programs. Of course, DD has always attended schools where it is encouraged for dancers to travel to other summer intensives. I understand that not all schools do.

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Kobbymom, that program will send their "report card", but it does usually take a bit more time.


Gracegirlz, most teachers at SI programs will talk to the parents if they ask, but every program is different. The only way to know is to ask. The teachers are extremely busy during the SI, especially at the end if there is a presentation. I used to have a meeting with all of our out of town students during the last two weeks of a 5 week program. It took a lot of time, between their schedules and mine, to find a few moments, and I used to fit in as many meetings as possible during the day, but then would go to the dorms on the weekend in order to see everyone.


When parents called or wrote and asked for a meeting, I would schedule them during the last day or two at the end of the program when they were in town. These parent meetings are hard to fit in between classes, rehearsals, and performances, but since I talked to the students themselves, there were not too many parents who asked. I always found a way to fit it in somewhere if they did ask, though. :) (Keep in mind that I am not talking about under 13's, as dorm students were all at least 13, and most were older.)

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We were never told that the SI at the Kirov would provide an evaluation & we did not know to ask for one (DD's first away SI). The dancers were not given feedback individually that we know of. (That is an amazing gift, Ms. Leigh, that you give your dancers!) My DD would love SI feedback, but she is rather shy. Would it be appropriate to go through the program director to inquire if we could still receive any feedback? I think we will email & inquire. Now we know for the next time! My DD is now at her home studio intensive & so far the teachers have not commented about her time at her SI except 'how was it?'. She is a little down & thinking maybe she didn't really improve, although she feels she made great strides in her foundation & basics. She had hoped they would be eager to hear about it & see/acknowledge some changes.

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I have a lot of the same questions that Gracegirlz has about asking for feedback after the fact. My DD just returned from the SI you are very well acquainted with Miss Leigh and I hate to bother anyone on staff at this very busy time. As my daughter is older (almost 16) would it be more appropriate for her to contact someone at the SI herself? She is very interested in returning again next year and would like to know exactly what she needs to work on to be able to move up to the next level.

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