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To go to SI or Not


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DD is only going to be 10 this summer, but our local school only has a summer intensive for 13 and up. She currently practices twice a week for an hour and a half each, plus an hour each of character and jazz. She is hoping to move up a level next year and start pointe work. At what age and/or skill level is it important to dance throughout the summer? Would a two week SI be better than having the whole summer off?

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If she is serious about ballet, then a Summer Intensive could be a lot of fun for her, and help her progress as well. However, I am less than thrilled that she will be going on pointe at barely 10. We strongly recommend that a student be at least 11.5 and that they have more than two technique classes a week for the year prior to pointe work.


That said, it is, unfortunately not what is done in a lot of schools, especially smaller schools which are not pre-professional, residence, or company connected. I have seen way too many 10 year olds, and even younger, which is really scary, trying to to get on pointe. It's an economic thing. The smaller schools have to succumb to the pressure from students and parents to be on pointe very early in their training. Generally they are not trained enough, strong enough, or in any way ready, but the schools cannot afford to lose the students. Many will just pick up and go elsewhere if told they cannot get pointe shoes yet. It's sad. :(

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Hi Springflower,


May I tell you my personal experience? My younger DD will be 12 when she attends her first SI away (hopefully!). That said, I have an older DD who went (accompanied) to one at 11. I would say it certainly didn't hurt her, but I do think in hindsight it wasn't necessary so early. Of course our reasons to send her were that she had to have something to go to during the summer since my husband and I both worked, and why not something she loved? We wound up finding a way to go with her through our vacation time and because my husband travels for work - and because she was not allowed to stay in the dorms at her age. All of this contributed to our decision that DD#2 did not need to start going too early. Of course every person has to take into consideration their own circumstances. I would definitely consider looking into something local for her to attend, or even classes locally if you can't find a weekly program in your area. Otherwise you will run into issues as well at her age as most SIs don't allow anyone under 12 to stay in their dorms, which would mean a parent would have to go along for the ride. Hopefully you are in an area close to some programs and can locate some classes for her age. Good luck! :o

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I just wanted to share my experience with you. I questioned that same thing last year. My daughter was 10 during auditions and was 11 by the time she went. We did the auditions so she could get a feel about what other dancers were like out there. She had come home on day and made the statement "I want to be a dancer". I just wanted her to see what it was like out in the real world and how others trained. We did a few auditons and yes there may be rejections. She handled it well. Proberbly better than me. She was accepted and asked to go to the higher level and stay in the dorms. This was unplanned and I decided to let her go. My duaghter is and has always been very independent and has no problems being away form home. Though, I had a friend go and be the dorm mother and her friend who is 2 years older went and her parents as well. She came back not only a better dancer but had a greater appreciation of dance and the hard work that goes into it. We are now actually looking forward to the auditions this year. She will be 12 so the worl opened up a little for her. She did her home school SI for the previous years. It was a good way to start. Look around and see what other local schools have SI for her age group. My daughter gained so much and now doesn't have problems going to new places with out a friend by her side. She has more confidence. She makes friend easily and really enjoys meeting new people. She still keeps in touch with the other girls via text from all over the US.

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I also have a young dancer. She will be 9 this summer and I want her to have experiences but she is not ready to be away from home. Last year I went with her to CPYB August experience. I do think that it helped her probably more psychologically than anything else. It also "opened up a new world." She saw kids and teachers that were serious and focused about dance. She was stretched to her peak. (I have never seen her work so hard or look so good dancing). And she received positive feedback about her hard work and her potential for dance work. This year she has set goals in ballet based on her experiences (work on turnout, lift, etc). So the impact has been in her focus, knowledge of what she can do, and in her work ethic.


This year we will send our stuff to CPYB but we will also prepare videos for Rock and some other opportunities. If I can get her into a local opportunity I will, but last year that didn't work. I don't think that she is ready for an audition setting at 9. Anything that she goes to I will go with her and it will be a maximum of 2 weeks.


I think that what I would want her to get this year is similar to what she got last year, with more technical improvement due to 2 weeks.

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Thanks for all your thoughts! My DD has been to overnight camp (though not through dance) the past two summers and I'm happy and sad to say she had a blast and was fine away for two full weeks! I will try and get to a program where at least she can dance a little over the summer. Maybe she would be interested in one of the two week programs for younger dancers. I know there are a few that will board kids that young, which is what we need.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers, camercad!!!!

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Guest poetandlyric

I have two DDs. The older one went away for 3 weeks at age 12. The younger one went at 12 for 5 weeks but her older sister was at the same intensive. Here is my personal experience. So much of the intensive experience is dancing outside of your comfort zone. If I had it to do all over again I would have looked into a summer intensive at another local studio when they were 11 or 12. It would have given them the experience of all new teachers but kept the cost down. At the time our dance teacher discouraged it, I guess she was afraid of losing students if they liked the other studio better, but I wish I had saved all the money of sending them away so young and had done it anyway.


My two cents!!

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I hope the home studio option works out. My DD has been fortunate to have that, and it is nice to be able to save the money and the travel expenses. It's a great chance for her home teachers work with her more intensely. She has loved it!

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Every dancer is different in temperament and personality in addition to their dancing itself. Is she/he shy or outgoing, etc?

We've also tried to consider the rest of the family in making decisions about SI's too, e.g. our son's activities, how much do we spend on one child vs. another? Also, we don't want our children to see going away to summer camps, SI's or vacations as something we owe them (because other kids get to do those things), but as a privilege and/or blessing... The cost of the intensive includes not only the tuition and room and board, but transportation, weekend activities, supplemental food, etc!


We were fortunate that our studio has summer workshops. Traditionally, the artistic director selects who's ready to start en pointe in the spring, and then the intro classes are in the summer. So, our daughter's first experience with intensives came at the home studio.

At 12, we had her spend a week with a schoolmate's intensive at another dance studio.

At 13, she went to a 3 wk intensive within the state.

This year, she'd love to return there, but is also auditioning for out-of-state SI's...

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • Administrators

Jodyvera, the quoted post showed up, but your own post did not, so I removed the quote. Please post again. :(


Oh, and welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I accompanied by 9 YO DD to her first SI. She loved it and worked very hard. It literally changed her focus at a young age. When she returned from the 2 weeks she had improved in such small ways but leaps and bounds in her ability to stay focused. Last year at 11 she attended two SI both by herself. The first one was 2 weeks then she was home for 3 weeks then gone again for 3 weeks. We choose to do two seperate SI totalling 5 weeks instead of 5 weeks straight because we felt being away for 5 weeks would be too long and hard for her. She had the option this summer to split the 5 weeks or do the 5 weeks straight. She felt that splitting the 5 weeks would be best again.


DD handled the SI without a problem and rarely called home. Actually wished I could've gotten her to text or call more. However, I knew she was enjoying herself. I sent letters and small care packages, which helped let her know I was thinking of her. So what I am trying to say is there are many options regarding SI. You should talk to your DK to find out what they want and what they feel they can handle.

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  • 3 weeks later...

:sweating: okay - dd is 12 years old - she was accepted into ABT Austin. We are letting her attend and be boarded. This is her first SI experience. We're excited for her and she is thrilled to be going. She didn't think she'd get into the intensive.


Ms. Leigh -

I hope we made the right decision. She also wanted to audition for PNB - but we'll try that one next year. We also took a friend of her's a DB and he got into ABT California (which I understand is the better of the ABT Si's). How is Austin ranked??? Is it a good one to attend for a first timer??? :blushing:

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  • Administrators

All of the ABT programs are good, Bebe. :blushing: NYC is considered to be a bit more difficult to get into, but I have heard nothing but positives from all of them. Many of the students in my classes went to ABT Austin as their first SI. Good choice. :sweating:

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