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Ballet Talk for Dancers

To Compete or not to Compete

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In reading all the comments since my last, it saddens me. The money invested to be in these competitions is oh so high. That definitely limits those that can participate. We really had to scrimp to enter, and most dancers that won anything were in more than once. If this is the wave of the future in ballet, we might as well bow out now. It is true that those that have monetary means do have more options, but can we not hope that those not so well endowed in the pocket book can aspire to get where they want, too? Let us not forget that being at the right place at the right time works, too!!! My DD's and I are counting on that!

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KS--the moderation of the thread was not directed at you, but at a tone that was coming across in the way several posts responded. No worries, we just needed to redirect a bit.


Lovesmyjob--please don't try and justify your expenses. See my post #58 above. Explain what you'd like, but please don't feel you need to justify for anyone here.

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I think YAGP is becoming so large (and has it's own issues) other ballet driven comp's might spring up. In the meantime we had the best time doing the other less expensive local dance competitions that were not geared to ballet but allowed the entries. Still you have the fixed costs of privates and perhaps choreography but depending- those can last several years. Costumes need not be elaborate and I'm always impressed by a lovely dancer in a very simple (and cheap) costume.

We loved those!!!!!






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Some posters have pointed out the changes in Summer Intensives from a relatively rare phenomenon to an all but a required basic training component in order to keep up with ones fellow classmates. I join ranks with the more fatalistic thinkers – I believe what we are seeing now is the beginning of the same path for participation in dance competitions.


Anecdotally, in many (if not most) schools that place a great deal of importance of competitions – and the numbers appear to be increasing – students who do not compete are clearly at a disadvantage. They do not receive the same attention, level of training, encouragement, accolades or recognition. Many young dancers and parents now feel they must join the competition bandwagon in order to stay, not ironically, competitive. If dancers and their parents start to feel that the dancers who are competing are getting more attention, better training, and increased opportunities at scholarships and contracts - well it’s obvious what happens next - isn’t it?


I certainly hope you're not seeing the future, caliope. But I worry, too, that you may be right. To ease my worry, I looked at the Regional winners lists for all the Regional YAGP competitions in the US and found that some big name schools were not represented: SFB, SAB, CYPB, and PNB among them. If these schools are either 1) not sending students to these competitions, or 2) sending students, but none of the students are even placing in the top 12, then I do not think we are yet at the point where YAGP is seen as a necessary step to ballet greatness. That being said, do these schools all participate in IBC, or the Prix de Lausanne? If that is the case, then I'm wrong, and competitions really are becoming the way to "make it" in ballet. Sigh.

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We contemplated entering YAGP next year when DD would be a junior but with the cost of SIs and yearly training there would be no way to pay for YAGP. I didn't realize how expensive just going to a regional could be. After reading this thread and others I just don't see the benefit vs. cost. I guess we will just hope that her dancing at auditions for SIs, college and eventually companies, if she decides to travel that road, will be enough. We are fortunate that DD has a variety of performance opportunities and has competed in a smaller competition where ballet is not the main dance type. I always wondered what the judges thought when a classically trained dancer comes out in pointe shoes. She has done well in this competition but it's nothing like a YAGP.

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After reading Momof3darlings post above and then re-reading my posts, it occurs that it may have been me she felt was being judgemental. :thumbsup: I apologize if i came across this way. I was seeking clarification, because after reading so much lately about how important competitions are these days I was actually considering allowing DD to give it a shot this year. I was speaking/asking from my own circumstance in order to learn. Please forgive me, I didn't intend to "judge" people because they can afford to spend so much to help their daughters & sons achieve their goals. With all of the talk about how competitions have become a necessity, i feel "judged" because we can't. :jawdrop: Hopefully, for DDs sake, the road to Rome for the talented but broke dancer is still passable. :crying:

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BelaNina, SAB has not participated, to my knowledge, although I have heard that some of its staff does attend in NY, possibly just to see the competitors? PNB has sent at least one competitor in the past, if I recall the list correctly. I am not sure about SFB, but it does offer scholarships at YAGP, so it would seem that their staff attends. I don't think CPYB participates. Keep in mind, though, that some students whose schools do not officially participate enter as "Independent", so it can be hard to know exactly which school/teacher has sent a student.

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Just curious...what about academics? How have families managed to keep up with education while rehearsing and traveling to and from regionals/finals? That would be a major concern of mine. BTW, in the cost estimates, no one has factored in pointe shoes! That alone could just about break my bank! :jawdrop:

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:whistling: Again, as stated earlier, it was not any one post but a combination of posts that caused me to try and shift focus on the thread. There is really no need for one by one people to say sorry, just shift the focus to what it should be, and that is getting the question answered on exactly how much was truly spent.
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Oh Ligne... be afraid be very afraid!!!!! haha!!! While finances were stressful missing school was even worse as far as the stress-o-meter! Regionals might mean missing Friday and as I mentioned in an earlier post on this thread NY Finals ... up to 7 (or more) possible school days. We were always stressed before and ugh - then going back and facing what was missed. DD managed very well and her teachers for the most part worked with us but it really didn't diminish the stress.


Really tough on kids who "attend" school. It was amazing to see how many kids went to home schooling in high school in order to avoid all the trauma of traditional academics.







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I know for a fact that SAB does not believe in competitions. Therefore the dancers in the school are not allowed to compete. There are certainly dancers who are in the school and NYCB who have had competition experience.

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Guest coupe66
As an example of this, our home studio never charged for choreography...........There was a charge for private time to clean and rehearse but not for the choreography itself.



This has been our experience as well. So much has to do with how your particular studio wants to handle it. Also, there is not supposed to be any points deducted for a dancer who performs in a basic dance outfit (leotard and tights) instead of a full tutu.

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Guest coupe66
Really tough on kids who "attend" school. It was amazing to see how many kids went to home schooling in high school in order to avoid all the trauma of traditional academics.



Actually, we homeschool and it still is really hard, especially as the dk gets up there age wise and the overall workload for school - whether in a traditional classroom or at home - increases. Especially when you add in the fact that many of the Regionals happen around the same time that many schools are either preparing for or have just finished getting through Nutcracker! I can understand that it is probably pretty tough to have to go back to a brick and mortar school and try to make up all the missed work, but it is also not easy even for homeschoolers.

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My experience with YAGP competition is as follows. Participation was done separately from our company for those students who wished to compete. More didn't than did.


Teacher coaching: $175

This included 2 hours of learning choreo (more if needed) including required music on a dvd, an extra 30 min/wk per piece over a 5 week period of rehearsal (knowing the dancer was required to put in time on their own), as well as help with all paperwork. No one was required to pitch in for the teacher's and choreographer's expenses - and they both did attend.


(An aside: The coaching part was a total bargain. My DD learned a gorgeous variation and tucked it away with the handful of others she has been lucky to learn for different reasons over the past couple of years. I paid the $175 and she chose to not compete at all - which we were upfront about from the beginning. This was for several reasons, not the least of which stems from my philosophy of " I abhor ballet competitions - though if you want your child to do it, do so with absolutely no judgment from me and I will cheer you on from way over here", and having a daughter who shares this opinion.)


Based on conversations from other parents, these are roughly the costs everyone else incurred:


1) $600 - ave for 2 round trip flights if parent and child traveled

2) $800+ for hotel (they stayed at the YAGP recommended hotel)

3) Car rental $60x4 days or $250, not including gas and taxes or whatever else this entails

4) Food - who the heck knows. We have a few deep purses, but I am sure this varied greatly

5) Costumes - varied greatly also, but the teacher did try to keep these lower if possible, unless a tutu was involved. I would say $200 per piece.

6) $75 per piece entered


So as nothing more than educated guesstimate, perhaps overall you could do a 4-day regional competition in one of the less expensive cities for about $2500 - 3000, not including some incidentals, if your child competed with only one piece.


Here is what I understand:

1) You really need to compete in several pieces to get noticed

2) Just because you place top 3 doesn't mean you will be invited to New York

3) Many other students practice their YAGP pieces daily and some begin next year's pieces immediately upon arriving home from the last competition

4) YAGP can be as big a deal as you want to make it based on the amount of time, money and energy you choose to invest. (For some it is a really, really, really big deal.)

5) There is no qualifier for YAGP regionals. For as many brilliant artists as there were, there were also a few who were overmatched.

6) For the short amount of time these other girls I knew prepared, I was impressed at how they performed. Some of the more type-A girls came back disheartened and angry at not being on top as they were used to being. One was shattered completely and really does not need to be in this type of competition ever. I think she and her mother realize this, thankfully. Others were inspired to practice more and do better next time.


My post started out being about costs and evolved into something else. I have some strong personal opinions about YAGP which I rarely share publicly, but have done so here. For some families, it is worth it. For some it is not. You have to do what is right for your dancer.


Winning at (or even just participating in) competitions is not a prerequisite to obtaining a company contract at our company, and many others. I hope that doesn't change.

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