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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Training decisions at 15/16 years old


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Networking is something I've talked to all my kids about (one dancer and two non-dancers). My career has been entirely built upon networking opportunities and I have told them so. I want DD to realize that meeting people (both students and teachers) from other studios may be tremendously helpful later.

In fact she was just looking at the YAGP NY list of participants and found half a dozen dancers she knows from SIs. She is hoping their paths cross while she is there so she can say "hi."

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  • 2 weeks later...
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  • Victoria Leigh


  • learningdance


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  • Boydancermom


I love the "networking" topic being weaved into this thread. I find it amazing how truly helpful and nurturing and supportive other dance parents and dancers can be. Most are happy to share information based on their expereinces.Love the networking.

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I agree with the importance of networking.


I do find that at times people get confused about networking. Networking is a mechanism for sharing information, with an emphasis on the word share, meaning that you don't simply take. You go out of your way to help others and to freely provide information that you have when you know that it can help someone else. Some in the ballet world use and take without really sharing. I have encountered the occasional ballet parent who will pump me for all kinds of information and then when I have a question, "Oh I don't know."


Also, networking is about fostering relationships where there is an authentic interest. It is not about schmoozing people and kissing up and brown nosing. . .that's incredibly transparent and usually backfires.


Yes, being friendly, connecting, catching up, saying "hi!, " and meeting are all good activities. In fact, a great deal of my work gets done that way as well, but I have learned that true networking and what people sometimes think of as networking can be confused.

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I agree learningdance. The type of networking we are talking about is the development of relationships along the way. You are correct, many times others look at networking as getting information from you, but bringing nothing to the table. We, as moderators, feel this way on the board alot. People want all the information here to help them reach their goals, they want everyone else to share and help them with their journey. But when there is a need to help another then: the internet is too small, the ballet world is too small, it's too hard to post because then others share a different perspective and that feels bad, I'll share in pm only, etc. etc.


What you are describing is using someone for personal gain. It is taking but not giving. It is a one sided relationship and is not networking. Because of the competitive nature of ballet placement, it is easy for some to fall into that trap. Couple that with how detached we are from personal contacts these days and you have a recipe for that which is not "give and take".


So for the purposes of the networking we're talking about. Let's use an example. Many of us have been here a very long time have shared, had disagreements, had victories, met each other, met each other's children but we generally had a respect and care for each other's place in the journey. That is harder to do now as the internet is not as small anymore. These are people we interacted through good and bad with and that is the kind of networking that helps in dance.


But, our children have dancers in their schools, have dancers they befriend at SI's, have teachers who have mentored them. In order to build a network of people who will help you later, you must foster those relationships (two way streets of relationships) along the way. I look back to DD and her SI journey. There were dancers she met that have kept in contact all these years with genuine care for each other. This was way before Facebook way of contact. Some might have been pretty constant contact through phone calls or emails. Some might have been one or two times a year to see how things were going. But there was more than a one summer connection. The give and take is where the networking comes in. Because of those relationships, she had people to call who knew people and then they knew people. But those are dancers and parents who shared with each other so at the time help was needed, there was a willingness to do one's part. You are correct, it must be organic and come from an honest place to work.

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I would suggest that the 'like' button be an active sharing of experiences and information in keeping with the spirit and principles of true 'networking' rather than simply a single keystsroke. :D Some of our members do use the metaphorical 'like' button. :thumbsup: We want to encourage every member to be a part of the active network and not just bystanders or observers.

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  • 4 months later...

Thank you for this thread!! It is just what I was looking for. Has anyone experienced having a DD who some professionals feel is especially gifted and some don't seem to see it? Does anyone have any advice on how to determine if letting DD make big sacrifices is worth it? I am so confused...

Edited by Bigfoot12
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Maintaining networking relationships and not burning bridges is why I'm coming to this thread. My dd has accepted a spot to a very good year round school which is connected to a well known company. The caveat? The school is overseas. Over the summer, she attended a very good summer intensive (not associated with a company) which also has very good training. She loved it there and the director really wants her to stay year round. At this point, she is committed to the overseas school, but what if she goes and doesn't love it as much as the school here in the U.S.? What do you do?

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My DD attended a well known overseas school with ties to a major company at age 17. She was an international trainee and was expected attend the school for two years to graduate from their top level. She loved the ballet, teachers and other students at the school but was not so enamored with living in that country. She kept contact with other schools and people she had met through various SI experiences and was lucky to be accepted as a trainee at her dream company/school in the US. She felt bad about not finishing with the second year at the international school but knew the US position was where she always dreamed to be. Making a change is not the end of the world. Making sure you do not burn bridges is important in ballet as in every other life aspect.


Bigfoot12 my daughter also had fantastic comments from many but funny enough never received them from home school until about age 16 when she started getting lead roles in shows. Her AD then got her the audition for the major international school. It was hard for DD when she was younger. She was always in the corps for whatever parts the girls at her level were given in shows. Another dancer was always in the starring role. We talked with the AD and he assured us that the time would come when DD would pass them all. Now I appreciate the approach they took with DD. She learned how to be part of the corps- although because her body looked different ftom most of the other dancers at her school she stuck out like a sore thumb.


There are positives in most situations. It is just how you approach the situation and make the best of it.

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Is there a difference in decision making between a 9th grader vs. an 11th or 12th grader?

Is it more critical to have at least half day training in terms of competing for trainee and college ballet positions at age 16-17?


If a girl is taking 6 days a week ballet/pointe but that only totals 1.5-2 hours per day (plus rehearsal and performances) and it is quality training,is that equivalent to someone who does a morning of online school but maybe spends 1/2 a day in a focused conservatory program? My feeling is that by age 16 a girls who trained since age 8 or so either "has it" or doesn't. What do others think?


Seems like if you went away just for 12th grade, that year round school may still be getting the student up to speed/initiating the student into the program and the student hasn't paid her dues to the school like someone who was away from home from 9th grade on.

9th graders are so young to leave home, make a decision about their entire life and give up regular high school if they have been in the public school system.

Edited by workmail
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Victoria Leigh

Thank you for this thread!! It is just what I was looking for. Has anyone experienced having a DD who some professionals feel is especially gifted and some don't seem to see it? Does anyone have any advice on how to determine if letting DD make big sacrifices is worth it? I am so confused...


Bigfoot, there will always be differences in opinions in something as totally subjective as ballet, and all of the arts. So, the fact that some feel someone is especially gifted, and others don't, is really not at all unusual.


My thought on "...if letting DD make big sacrifices..." is that if she feels that she is making sacrifices, then she probably does not want it badly enough. What sacrifice is there when someone is passionate and devoted to doing something, and would prefer to be doing that than anything else? Things you might consider sacrifice might not really be that way for her. So, it's not really up to your "letting her", it needs to be up to her. Becoming a professional classical dancer takes someone who has to dance, so, if they have to dance, and have the talent and the drive and the work ethic then there is probably no stopping them! :)

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Thanks for the advice! By sacrifices I mean she will leave best friends and good school. She isn't worried about it but I am.

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Wannabe - Thank you! It is nice to hear someone else has had this strange experience. I guess I'll trust my eyes and the positive comments and support my daughter in going for it! Congratulations to you daughter :clapping:

Edited by Bigfoot12
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I'm wrestling with the idea of "sacrificing". If my daughter were to leave home to train full-time, something I know she wants to do, she would be giving up other things and they would feel like sacrifices. She'd be giving up two incredible trips a year at her (private) school. She'd be giving up having her pets around every day. I think it's OK for a dancer to feel like they're missing out on other things in order to dance. Otherwise, it seems to me they'd be awfully one-dimensional. I don't think Ms. Leigh that you were implying a dancer should only live, eat and breathe dance and have no other interests whatsoever. Were you? It does seem to me that a dancer could make a choice to pursue dance full-time because they love it and would rather be doing that above all else while also acknowledging that they were giving up some other things, temporarily or permanently.

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