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Ballet Talk for Dancers

PANIC


carwalsh

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I've just been reading the postings on the site and panic has set in! My DS has just turned 14 and has been doing ballet for approx. 18 months. He successfully completed the RAD Inter Found exam earlier this year - it was the 1st ballet exam he has ever done so we were all very proud of him!! My concern is that we live in the west of Ireland and both my husband and I work full time I have no idea how he is supposed to train at the level that his peers train at. There is no local ballet school in the town where we live (West of Ireland) so we travel to ballet in another city twice a week at the moment. His school day doesn't finish until 4:00pm and my work doesn't finish until 5:00pm which means the very earliest class he can do is 6pm and that isn't allowing for any homework!! He does three hours on a Saturday...I really don't know how I can fit in the time for more classes for him but reading the posts would indicate that he hasn't a hope in succeeding in achieving his dream because he doesn't spend enough time at it. Also because the classess are in another city he hasn't got any friends in the class and he is the only boy in the school!

 

I have accepted that it is likely he will have to leave Ireland to pursue his dream but I don't even know when he should leave :unsure: or where he should go. Has anyone any suggestions as to what I should be looking at? I'm an Accountant so I'm seriously out of depth here.

 

Any pointers would really be appreciated!!

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Breathe! There is still some time. Hopefully posters who live around you can offer some ideas. My idea would be to take him to be evaluated at one the UK dance colleges. But we'll see what others say!

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Hi carwalsh. Please don't panic yet your son still has lots of time. The hours that are considered the norm in USA for training are rarely matched in UK, we tend to have a more "slow burn" approach to training. There have been threads about this is in the past, so I recommend you do a search to see what you can find. I don't have time to write much now, but I will get back to you with some ideas. When you say twice a week, does this include the Saturday, or do you mean twice a week after school and then the 3 hours on Saturday?

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He does one hour on Thursday evenings of Ballet and one hour of Hip Hop also. He then does two hours ballet on a Saturday and an hour of Modern. He does a further hour of hip hop on a Wednesday. Must point out that I don't consider the hip hop classes he does of any benefit to him developmentally as he is at the point of out growing the class and he has nowhere to "grow" at this point. He does additional ballet classes when his exams or a show are approaching. He is doing the Grade 5 RAD exam in November after that he will begin to train for his RAD Intermediate Vocational Exams. I would like to say that the Ballet school he goes to is one of the best here and they really do encourage him but he is the only boy in the school so it is difficult for them.

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UK site - Boys thread

 

Have posted a link to ballet.co a ballet site in UK which may give you some more insight into what is available in UK. This thread is about boys, and anyone, wherever based, will find it interesting. The thread contains a further link to a site specifically for boys learning ballet.

 

I think you may need to send your son to Britain for short courses over the next few years and then definitely to a vocational school for 6th form. Do you have the same half terms as us? There are audition insight days at the Royal Ballet School in Covent Garden at the end of October during our half term week. Several of my pupils have done these over the years and found them very helpful. Then there are various Easter courses and summer schools for you to consider for next year.

 

Perhaps your current school could find some more classes for your son to do, e.g. continuing with Grade 5 even after he has taken the exam and is studing Intermediate. This is what my pupils do, they end up doing the grade for several years after passing the exam, but it gives them an extra class.

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I was also going to suggest visiting ballet.co - lots of UK based dance parents (with quite a lot of boys) and hopefully someone from Ireland might come out of the woodwork!

 

It might be worth considering dipping your toe in the water and having him audition for some of the vocational school in the Autumn term - if nothing else, you might get a feel for his potential dependant on whether he gets recalls. Try Elmhurst, Royal Ballet School, Hammond (as it might be a closer option for you), Tring. Also have a look at intensive weeks - I know you've missed summer schools for this year but there are a few at Easter - Dance Forward, ENB for example.

 

Keep asking questions..... we're here to help

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This probably sounds like a stupid question but at what age is 6th form - our class structure is different over here. We do what is called the Junior Cert, state exam at around 16 years old. Then the leaving certificate at approx. 18 - that is the final state exam before university. I have accepted the fact that he will not really be able to do his leaving certificate here and will probably have to leave after his junior certificate - would this age correspond with your 6th form? My husband is having difficulty with our son not doing his final state exam but I feel that if his passion is for dance and his the opportunity to potentially earn his living from it then it is well worth trying! I am going to look into some of the auditions for the vocational schools so that even if he was trying out he would be able to see what level his peers were at!

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I was also going to suggest visiting ballet.co - lots of UK based dance parents (with quite a lot of boys) and hopefully someone from Ireland might come out of the woodwork!

 

It might be worth considering dipping your toe in the water and having him audition for some of the vocational school in the Autumn term - if nothing else, you might get a feel for his potential dependant on whether he gets recalls. Try Elmhurst, Royal Ballet School, Hammond (as it might be a closer option for you), Tring. Also have a look at intensive weeks - I know you've missed summer schools for this year but there are a few at Easter - Dance Forward, ENB for example.

 

Keep asking questions..... we're here to help

 

Thank you very much for your suggestions. I have looked up the Dance Forward course and it definitely looks like something that DS would be interested in although it is expensive. I don't know what ENB means - am not usually this clueless but ballet is all new to me. Hammond looks very interesting and not as formal as Royal Ballet - DS is not sure about ballet as chosen form at the moment he is just certain he wants to dance, in fact I think he is losing ability to walk because he hops, skips and pirouettes from A to B which is better than when he used to cartwheel. I don't really want to send him to a school that focuses strictly on ballet as the dance form. Please keep suggestions coming....I've learnt more in the last few weeks and at least feel like I'm gaining insight into what he needs to help him on his way.

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I think - though could be wrong - that ENB is English National Ballet. Another thought is in regards to summer programs. I don't think they are as prevalent - or as long - in the UK as the are in the US. Perhaps you could consider him auditioning via video for something here in the states next summer. I thought about this over the weekend when I found some really great flight prices from Ireland to Washington, DC or Boston via Aerlingus. There are a number of good programs in both of those cities which would cut down on the expense of flying to yet another city once he got here! And in the summer programs, there is often more than just ballet. Though some programs are better at offering a variety of dance forms than others. It would also expose him to possible training opportunities here in the US.

 

Boston Ballet gets a good number of boys in the summer. Not sure about Washington Ballet but I know they do attract male dancers. He wouldn't get much exposure to other dance forms at Kirov Academy (also located in Washington, DC.) You can get more information on these and other programs in the SI forum.

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Would the classes in the US be residential? Am filled with dread thinking of my small boy heading off to America... :unsure: but if it's what's best for him I will cope! How long are the courses in the US held for? My sister lives in Long Island and he could perhaps stay with her if it worked logistically but she works long hours so that would bring it's own worries. All this info. is of so much help. I can't thank you enough!

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Many summer programs are residential. I'm not sure if there are any in Long Island where he could stay with relatives, though.

 

Basically summer programs last from 2 - 6 weeks. Some begin as early as early June and most are over by the end of July, though there are still a few that last into mid-August. You get in on a weekend. Have classes 5 - 6 days a week. Classes vary according to the program, but for a male student you might expect technique and possibly partnering every day and then classes that rotate each day such as modern, jazz, hip hop, ballet history, stretching, etc. Students stay in dorms of a local college. Transportation is arranged to the studios. For some programs (like Kirov, Harid, NCSA, etc.) the dorms are on site with the studios. Meals and activities are provided, though some weekend activities will have extra fees. There are Resident Advisors (RAs) that look out for the student. Every SI is different and it's important to find one that is a good fit for you and your son. Ages at programs differ. Some allow students as young as 12 to attend. Others start at 13. At 14 going on 15, your son would not be the youngest.

 

You might speak with his current studio to see if this is something that might be a good fit for him. Then identify what you would like for him to get from a program and start searching that way. There are some threads devoted to good SIs for boys - those threads might have some good information for you, too.

 

One thing to consider is that there are possibly a lot more year-round residential programs in the US than in the UK and an SI is a good way to identify whether or not one of those programs might be a good year-round fit. Don't forget that there are also a number of really good year-round programs in Canada as well.

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It would appear your Junior Certificate is equivalent to GCSE exams (General Certificate of Education) taken at 16 in UK, and Senior Certificate is like A-levels (Advanced Levels) which are taken at 18.

 

Ordinary schools generally speak about Year 1, Year 2 etc, so GCSE exams are in Year 11 and A-levels in Year 13. HOWEVER, many schools revert to the old name of 6th form for Years 12 & 13.

 

Vocational dance schools always talk about 6th form or Upper school. Many of these courses are now for 3 years, so after A-level exams have been taken there is a further year devoted to polishing technique and attending auditions with the aim of securing a job for the following season.

 

A you say your son would like a more varied training rather than just ballet, carwalsh, I would suggest you look at Tring Park, Hammond, and Legat. These are all boarding schools in UK.

 

Summer intensives in USA & Canada don't really match British schools summer holiday dates, so the logistics can be difficult.

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Would I be right in thinking that these schools are incredibly hard to get into? What standard would they be looking for in a boy of 14 - is Inter Found completion and Grade 5 completion an acceptable level of knowledge. I do understand that the audition will dictate alot but am wondering will the standard of the audition requirements be OK for him?

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Yes, you are right, competition is intense. But certainly having done Intermediate Foundation and Grade 5 at 14 is enough to be in the running. These schools are looking for students who are trainable, so the right physical attributes are more important than exams passed.

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:) Phew!! He has done well and I would hate it not to be enough. He is only doing ballet 18 months and the Inter Found exam was the first one he ever did. He was the only boy in Ireland doing the exam at the time...more pressure for him but thankfully he seems to be able to cope :ermm:
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