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Ballet Talk for Dancers

To switch schools or not ?


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My daughter who is 7 was just accepted to a prestigious ballet school. She auditioned at the recommendation of a former ballet teacher. She is very happy at her current school and I am wondering if moving her would be a wise decision. Besides being a "better" school, meaning generally more widely known and well regarded, it is an easier commute and the schedule works better for us. My daughter is very attached to her current taecher and I worry about hurting her teacher's feelings since we have come to like her very much as well. I also have a younger child at the current school and wondering if "defecting" could have any impact. I am also concerned about her being a smaller fish in a much bigger pond since at her current school, she already knows she is one of the "best" students. I am wondering how tough a serious school can be on a 7 yr old. If she does not enter this coming fall, the next entry point is age 14, I think. Thanks in advance for everyone's input.

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Besides being a "better" school, meaning generally more widely known and well regarded, it is an easier commute and the schedule works better for us.

 

That right there sounds like a good enough reason to me!

 

My daughter is very attached to her current taecher and I worry about hurting her teacher's feelings since we have come to like her very much as well.

 

Any truly good teacher will want what's best for the student. If the "prestigious" school has more to offer a talented student than the current school, the teacher should understand that, and wish her well.

 

I also have a younger child at the current school and wondering if "defecting" could have any impact.

 

In what regard? Her treatment by the teacher? Or her self-esteem at being left behind by her sister?

 

I am also concerned about her being a smaller fish in a much bigger pond since at her current school, she already knows she is one of the "best" students.

 

I think she would do better if she were challenged. Being a big fish in a little pond never made anyone a better dancer. As a younger dancer, (7-8) my dd tended to advance faster than most of the girls in her age group, due to her natural aptitude, so I was constantly asking to have her moved up a level to make sure she was continually challenged to improve. Not being allowed to rest on her laurels never bothered DD. She enjoyed the challenge of the higher level classes, and there IS a certain amount of self-satisfaction for them in just knowing they are good enough to be in the higher level class, whether they are the best or not.

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YPK, my thoughts on this are that it is never too early to get the best possible training when it comes to ballet. The longer you wait, the harder it is to undo bad habits and retrain everything. Certainly waiting until 14 is not the best idea at all.

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I had a brief discussion with my daughter and she wants to stay where she is. I am really torn by the thought that she may be passing up a wonderful opportunity. I am not sure if she understands what the acceptance really means. I hope I don't sound shallow when I say I am also very impressed by the facilities of the new school, if that matters. I have decided to let her tour the new school next week, if they will let us in. If she moves to the new school, should I write her current teacher a nice letter or disappear quietly in the fall ? I am thinking perhaps her sibling should quit the school as well and go some place else. I have been an involved parent at her current school where a few people know me and I simply dread the idea of explaining where her older sibling is. (FWIW, younger sibling wouldn't care if older sister was in the same school or not, in fact, she does not care for ballet that much, at least, not yet).

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I had a brief discussion with my daughter and she wants to stay where she is. I am really torn by the thought that she may be passing up a wonderful opportunity. I am not sure if she understands what the acceptance really means.

 

There are some small decisions that are appropriate for a 7 yr old child to make and some important ones in which the parents' understanding of the situation requires that they make the decision that is best for the child.

 

I think you know what to do here.

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Thank you Mousling for your input. Growing up, my mother was always telling me what to, what to wear etc, right into adulthood. I suppose I am trying to do the opposite. It is hard to find the right balance sometimes.

Edited by YPK
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If you leave the school, with one or both children, it would be best to tell the director in person. Second would be a very nice and appreciative letter. Just not going back and not saying anything would not be the best idea.

 

If the younger child is happy there, and you can manage a schedule between two schools, that would be fine. Seven is soon enough to go to the more professional school, if she is still interested at all in ballet by then. If you can't manage the schedule, then take her along to the new one too. :)

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Hi Victoria, thank you for answering my posts ! The matter is complicated by the fact that the current teacher is one of the directors. She is highly regarded by everyone and my daughter seemed truly to have thrived under her. This makes it extremely painful for me to speak to her in person about it. I live in a competitive town where I know over the years, she has lost her best students to this other school. The acceptance rate I have heard is only about 10%, which makes it hard for us to pass up this opportunity. Ideally, I would like to keep the younger sibling in the current school as in all honesty, she may never be able to get into her sister's new school. Besides, she is too young to audition right now. One of my biggest fears of course is, what if the new school kicks her (older sibling) out after a couple of years? I have heard that the so called "best schools" cannot afford to keep students who fall behind. If that happens, I would like for her to go back to her old school if she still loves to dance, but will she be welcomed back? Tonight, I am actually sleepless because of this ! On a more selfish note, it also means saying goodbye to a few of the ballet moms I have come to know. One of whom I confided in said to wait till my daughter is 14 or older to go to the new school. I am also beginning to think that sounds kind of old in the ballet world, although I am not an expert myself. I think my husband and I know deep inside what we should do as parents, even though both of us are not dancers. Thank you all for listening to me ramble on and on tonight !

Edited by YPK
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YPK, my older daughter started at a pre-pro school at 12 and came from a gymnastics background with some ballet experience, it took her years to unlearn bad technique and relearn correct technique. At 16, she really hit her stride and now 18 will be auditioning for companies. My second daughter has been with the school from 4 years of age and is currently 9, yet she is not that far behind from where my older daughter started. My 9 year old is not as dedicated, yet stays because she loves the performances.

 

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that, the longer you wait to place your daughter in a "better" school, the harder and longer she may have to work to catch up to those having started with good training. As for your younger daughter, she will have the benefit of good training from the start, whether she chooses to stay in ballet or not. Good luck in your decision. BalletTalk is a wonderful resource in navigating the ballet world!

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I guess the point I'm trying to make is that, the longer you wait to place your daughter in a "better" school, the harder and longer she may have to work to catch up to those having started with good training. As for your younger daughter, she will have the benefit of good training from the start, whether she chooses to stay in ballet or not. Good luck in your decision. BalletTalk is a wonderful resource in navigating the ballet world!

 

Well stated, askaherm. I agree.

 

YPK, you do not "owe" the current teacher anything but common courtesy and appreciation. You have paid for her classes and participated in the studio events. Now your child has an opportunity to move on, and receive training that will be better for her at this time. It is your right to make this move. If you can do it without burning bridges, fine, but if not, do not waste your energy worrying about the "what if's". Who knows where your child is headed in dance? She is 7! She could hate ballet by the time she is 10 or 14, or whatever. Or, she could be one of those who is truly talented and also has the passion. In either case, she deserves the best training available.

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  • 1 month later...

:thumbsup: I just want to say thanks to everyone, in particular Victoria Leigh, who responded to my posts. By talking to as many people as we could (former teachers, friends who were former dance professionals etc) and 'hanging out' here, I think my husband and I have done our due dilligence before making the difficult decision to switch schools. My daughter has become very excited after touring the school recently. They conducted a family orientation and tour for those who did not audition on site, and so now she is really looking forward to it. My final doubt was that the school may not be 'warm and fuzzy', since DD only just turned 7. Then again, most competitive sports aren't that way anyway, and ballet requires not just talent but hard work and discipline. I am hoping she won't be too sensitive to criticisms, which is part of the whole learning process. Perhaps I am projecting my own fears and remembering my earlier days of not feeling too co-ordinated in dance classes ! I think that this new school will teach the fundamentals well. This is very important to me, recognizing that this will minimize injuries down the road if she continues.

 

As for my younger daughter, she too, will be switching schools. We are looking forward to a fresh start for both of us. I have found a ballet school that works with our current schedule and offers adult open classes as well. My old ballet teacher is probably not coming back to the local gym after a serious injury. I had no idea he is almost 80 ! (This is one of the great benefits of dancing IMO ). This school also offers a pre-professional track as well as a recreational track. I am already thinking ahead that this school may be a great backup if my older daughter's new school proves too intense for her. We are fortunate to live in a place that offers so many school choices. I hope that my children will continue to dance their whole lives, whether professionally or not, simply because it is so much fun, like riding the bike on a cool summer day.

 

I will come back to post on how switching schools go in the fall. Our family will miss the old school and the people we have met, but life is about making the best choices you can. Have a great summer, everyone !

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:thumbsup: It all sounds very positive, YPK! Will look forward to hearing about the new classes in the fall.
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