Jump to content
Ballet Talk for Dancers

Training decisions at 15/16 years old


Recommended Posts

I agree. We had to make a similar (yet different) decision this year too. DS 16 was accepted into a 3 letter SI with a full scholarship (shazaam!) as well as another high profile program with no scholarships. First one is 100% classical, other one is mostly contemporary. His teachers all want him in contemporary for the SI to balance out the upcoming home studio SI (all ballet) PLUS they think a solid few weeks of contemporary would 'be good for him, loosen him up and get him moving faster'. So what to do? Nice scholarship at prestigious company connected SI where he would love to wind up or go with the training he needs? Sigh. So we had to say 'thanks but no thanks' to the nice scholarship and pony up the money for the other wonderful school. Don't get me wrong though! I am NOT complaining. Very nice to have choices and extremely nice to be offered scholarships. My point is that I agree- we have to try and go for the training our dancers need right now.

Link to post
  • Replies 72
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

  • Victoria Leigh


  • learningdance


  • firedragon0800


  • Boydancermom


I highly recommend talking to your DK's teacher/s. I was all set to send DS to a company school this year. He is 15 now, but will turn 16 before summer. He's done three auditions to well-known schools, but I talked to his teachers the other day and they said not to send him to a large company school. What he needs his summer is individualized attention because he needs to work on technique. They recommended some specific teachers at specific, smaller programs. When I researched their recommendations, I found their reputations to be outstanding. I am so grateful for the direction of DS's teachers and it takes the pressure off of me when it comes to making decisions.

Link to post

Wow, DobbinsND. It's great that you receive such wonderful, supportive guidance from your DS's instructors. Many of us are not so fortunate. I will occasionally have a brief, helpful conversation with one of DDs' instructors in passing but, as a whole, the school is very hands off with any sort of guidance.


If you have a school that is willing to engage in helping you guide your dancer, you are very fortunate.

Link to post

Starting to consider this now as dd will be 15 in seven months... Wondering if I too need to put together a pro/con truth table and if so what are the requirements...


For instance:






Company Affiliation




What is everyone else's thought?

Link to post
  • 4 weeks later...

I think guidance from teachers can sometimes be more readily available for boys, simply because there are usually not as many of them. When you have a daughter dancing, she is much more one of many - even at a smaller school.

Link to post

I think as to whether or not you are getting guidance depends on the school and if you ask for it. Our school has a policy of mapping out plans with all of our intermediate to advanced level students if the parents request a meeting to do so. We don't care if the student is high school dance team bound, college bound, contemporary or classical--if a parent or child wants it that is part of our service.

Link to post

Yes I think it depends on the school. My DS has not received guidance, even when we have asked. The response is usually generic and not helpful. I have had to do my research and connect with other parents here on BalletTalk.


My DS will be a senior next year and I'm trying not to panic. I have made a preliminary spreadsheet based off of comments in this thread and now are researching each company in ranked order to learn more about opportunities for the next phase in the dance journey.


Other than researching, I'm trying to figure out what else there is to do between now and graduation.

Link to post

Some schools have foreign teachers who are less familiar with the American schools and did not grow up attending SIs.


We have also experienced asking for guidance from a large school and been given a very generic general answer of a list of large schools comparable to the school which dd was attending. A list that anyone who reads this board would be able to generate when asked for the top large 5-6 schools in the country.


I think families should consider themselves very lucky if a school provides real guidance.

Link to post
  • 2 weeks later...

It's sad that ballet training requires such a great committment, and yet, it's difficult to get real guidance.I know ballet teachers and parents on this forum tell us that if you don't have open communication and trust with your dancer's teachers, then it's time to look for another school. But I'm finding that only a few families feel they can approach their child's dance staff and express concerns and seek real direction.

Link to post

Danza2, you hit the nail on the head. Heck, most dancers are very lucky if they live near a ballet school that can offer them solid training all the way through high school, much less one that also offers individual career guidance. It sure would be nice to have the luxury of simply finding another school. But that's pie in the sky thinking for the average person.


As parents, we get the best education we can to help our children, but beyond that, we hope for the best.

Link to post

I think there is an element too of just what knowledge or suggestions a teacher or pre-pro school can offer---even if they want to. Giving more general generic answer of a list of known schools or companies may just be the best they can do. After all, the real 'guidance' we all seek comes about and is generated by networking. Once the teacher or pre-pro school staff has been out of the 'circuit' for a few years, the less information they are privy to via THEIR network. Eventually, maybe, they get some stronger, fresher networking informaiton as their students venture out and report/share their information. But, information and intel changes quickly, pretty much year to year.


So unless the teachers/school really has a pulsing, viable network, they are doing the best they can by giving/sharing information on what they know, what they have experienced, what they can discern by trends over the course of their experience. But, specific, current information and detailed guidance? As much as they may wish to give it, they simply may not have it.


So, once again, the dancer's best opportunities come from the network they build, starting with their friends, classmates, roomies at SIs, teachers, etc. It is never too early to start forging that network. It will serve them very, very well---from sharing tips of which auditions are worth attending, which companies are hiring, who has an open couch to offer for an audition trip, who has travel tips, who has a friend worth getting in touch with, etc. It is a lovely living thing, this dancer's network---if it is nurtured, cherished, and reciprocal. The reciprocity is very important----one must give freely to others and not just take, otherwise the connection to the network reached a dead end.

Link to post

I wouldn't also discount the pitfalls of a dance Instructor or school offering their "opinion". I've seen some pretty ridiculous situations develop from " helpful" guidance offered by instructors, i.e. School. It used to be that you might have gotten more frankness by using the phrase, "off the record, how do you think dd is doing". But that even now, is dangerous for instructors, because what is divulged to one parent in regards to one student, gets "reported" and now that instructor is besieged by other parents and dk's with impressions wildly out of context. My guess the bigger and more competitive the school the worse this dynamic is. Instructors at dd's old school at 300 plus students were quite different at 525 students.


We used to be able to wait in the atrium/lobby until classes were over, and often you would see instructors go by and they would wave or smile, but then they would get ambushed so all the parents were banished to the cafeteria. Even the cafeteria dynamics changed as it was often a good time to have an instructor actually come over to ask about dd or offer up a suggestion, or just a nice touch. However that dynamic was changed from an instructor perhaps walking through the cafeteria imparting a few words of encouragement, advice or insight after purchasing their snacks, to them purchasing their food and walking out through the in door, so as to not have to run the gauntlet of parents.


I had also seen instances where the school actually might have actually dis-invited a dk, based on the parent's consistently obtuse behavior. More often the case when in the younger levels.

Link to post

fireragon0800, you bring up a very good point. I have seen that parental "consistently obtuse behavior" scenario happen at the 3 ballet schools I know best. The worst case created a ruckus on Internet boards where the school was unfairly condemned for letting go of a dancer. But anyone who knew the situation was absolutely confident it was the right thing to do. So sad for dancers in such cases.


dancemaven, yes, I totally agree that dancer networking is the way to go. In fact, I think that's one very good reason for going away to SI's, aside from training, living on one's own in a protected environment, etc. The networking is as vital as the technical training. Most, certainly not all, dancers I know have gotten their jobs through networking, whether it be from just being seen by important people at SI's to being told by friends about certain auditions to ballet teachers telling AD's from various companies about an aspiring dancer, etc. There are many other kinds of networking. My daughter was given advice by a ballet teacher who liked her at an SI as to which companies to audition for.


Hehe, money and famous parents help. Some of the most prestigious ballet companies as well as other companies have taken on dancers whose parents have made promises to support the company. We certainly were never in that kind of position.

Link to post

Dance Maven,


I just copied and pasted your very sage advice about networking and sent it to our 14 year old son. He is very motivated to be a professional dancer but doesn't do much research or networking on his own. I can only do so much to help him. I feel that he is old enough to start researching on his own as he is the one that will be dancing there....thanks for giving me the words to explain it to him (at this age, they never listen to us anyway - as our IQs have somehow dropped at least 40 points in the last year since they became a teen).

Link to post

Dancemaven, I agree with Boydancermom that one huge benefit, often unstated, from SIs is the networking. To me the networking may be one of the strongest arguments for attending a larger, higher profile SI where actual attention in class may be somewhat limited. I think another way the kids network, with limited detail, is Instagram.

Link to post

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...