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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Should I take DD out of Company & Focus on Ballet Training


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My 9 year old DD has attended a dance school for the last 4 years run by an excellent ballet teacher and she has been involved in their competition company the entire time. The teacher feels strongly about kids being in company and thinks it makes them more well rounded. My DD generally performs in 2-3 numbers and has 2 solos in 4-5 different competitions a year. She holds her own and has always done her assigned part but she is always given back row or lesser parts because she struggles with fast paced jazz dances and tends to be on the shy side. She has advanced well in ballet and scores high on her RAD exams. Ballet is what she does best. Recently some kids a few years older than her have joined us from a ballet-only school and they are phenomenal dancers. While I believe we have the best ballet teacher in the area, I am questioning the "well rounded" aspect of being in company at such a young age and focusing on so many different things. My husband and I feel like that if DD spent more time while she was young working on her ballet technique she would be much better off. We spend major money and time to go to these competitions and come home with dog tags and plastic trophies and not much else. I feel my money would be better spent with privates and focus on ballet. I plan to leave her in recreational jazz, tap, lyrical and gymnastics but use the thousands I would save on making her into a more skilled dancer. After going to competitions for four years it feels like a money-making racket more than an enlightening experience and I also feel that I'm not using my money in the best way for her. Am I off base, does company and competing make them more well rounded or can you get that from recreational classes and growing up a bit?

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Welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers, Maymay. :)


I think you will find that the teacher moderators on this board are not generally in favor of competitions, especially those that are not the major ballet competitions, like Prix de Lausanne and Youth America Grand Prix. And I don't think any of have any use for 9 year olds being in competitions when they should be busy with training. The hours and money spent on those regional competitions where everyone gets some kind of trophy are not our cup of tea. Sorry. I also do not think that time and money spent on "recreational" classes are valuable to someone who is intent on ballet.


That said, at 9, does one know one is intent on ballet? Maybe. Maybe not. But the time, etc., spent on the best possible ballet training, at this age, will only lead to that much better a dancer no matter what form of dance one decides on later. We do tend to recommend that one leave a school that is highly focused on competitions if they have any serious intentions of ballet training. And I would not worry about the other subjects at all at this point. When she is a little older, if she wants jazz and modern, fine. ("Lyrical" is not even a recognized dance form except in the competition world.)

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Sometimes I think "Competition" is short for , "alot of money spent and not alot of time spent on technique". (*Obviously this depends on the school.)


The major difference I have seen between the local comp school and our Pre Pro school is this : The comp school learns a dance. The Pre Pro school teaches how to dance. The focus in the comp school here is split equally between learning choreo, competing and technique. Where as the focus should be kept on technique with a chance to perform the technique in a showcase form. That takes away the need for $400 costumes and $500 entry fees.

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I think more so when she was younger, I asked her what she would miss and her only answer was her friends. These are people she would still see daily so I don't think its a deal breaker. I told her father I could buy her a nice friend for the 6 grand I spend every year on company :3dnod: ! But I also think that since they practice every Saturday it would free up her schedule to go to birthday parties, sleepovers and hang out with the non-dance friends that she never gets to see. She hasn't been overly thrilled about actually dancing the company dances for a while, she likes the traveling and the social aspect of it.

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For much less than that you could get her excellent ballet instruction.......



You might find this forum of good use. You can look for your state and city, and there should be some reccomendations of schools in your area to check out.


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I could buy her a nice friend for the 6 grand I spend every year on company :3dnod: !


I guess I can't complain too much about what DS and his hockey playing brother tap me for every year!


I'm not real knowlegable about the dance world, I just started coming to this board when my son started dancing. I'm not overly involved in his dancing, I'm just trying to be supportive, and I don't really understand the whole competitive dance thing. However, as you stated in your post, she seems to really enjoy the social aspect of the competition school. Seems to me you probably could get her into a quality dance education, and use some of the savings to find other social outlets, and still have some left over. It seems to me, that the fact that you question the current situation yourself, you are already giving yourself the answer. In my personal opinion, and I admit to being a dance novice, but at 9, instead of living her life at a studio, and blowing through all of your money, she could get a good dance education, and maybe do some other activities and get a little bit of life education that will make her more well rounded. If she wishes later to pursue a career, then she can dedicate her life and your finances completely to dancing. Just my 2 cents. Good luck.

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Let me clear something up, I don't feel we are a competition school. We are not the competitive beasts that we compete against who only practice their competition dances during the week. Most of our company are bun heads playing a very uneven game. We devote Monday through Friday to the best ballet imaginable. Off the chain good. I couldn't want for more for her in terms of the staff and the guest artists that the director brings in to enrich the children. The kids that leave our studio have full scholarships, apprenticeships and other great doors open up for them because of ballet. DD's only company focused day is Saturday. We spend 6 hours three Saturdays a month and we never win because we don't practice as much as our competitors and we aren't as hip for sure. I am asking the question because our most talented kids participate in company, I just wondered if I'm messing her up or making her miss out on something by pulling her out. The director thinks it makes them well rounded but if you aren't aiming to dance behind J Lo I don't see the point...... When she was young it was cute and fun but now that she is almost 10 I have to start thinking forward for her. My gut tells me to stay at the studio and pick another course to follow that is ballet only and use the money I save from company to do that. We do compete at YAGP so she would still have a forum to work towards. Looking at the great feedback here I feel validated with that decision, I appreciate it very much having a place where I could turn to ask my question.

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Maymay, if you are convinced that your child is receiving the best ballet training available in your area, then that is great. Does she really have ballet classes 5 days a week at 9 years old? How long are her classes?

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I'm pretty sure I know the school Maymay is talking about. It does devote a lot of time and energy to competitions. The AD likes her most talented 8-12 year kids (sometimes as young as 6-7 if they show an interest) to participate in competitions because she thinks it gives them stage presence or something like that. Once they're about 12 they focus less on local competitions and turn their focus to YAGP and SI's.


GOOD POINTS: Classical ballet focus (no hip hop, lyrical, etc), Solid RAD instruction with high exam scores, students receiving scholarships at big name SI's, professional dancers as guest teachers, small school with lots of individual attention, inexpensive tuition compared to many other schools.


IFFY POINTS (some would say good, some would say bad): Intense schedule with intense director, strong focus on YAGP, very talented girls put on pointe at 10 (and perform en pointe at YAGP at this age).


Those "iffy" points are pretty controversial. Maymay's got a tough decision to make!

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Those "iffy" points are pretty strong in my book. And 6k a year for a 9 year old to be a part of this? Sorry, I don't buy it.

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I am in the camp that does not like these "dance" competitions. My dd is getting a lot of pressure from an instructor from another studio where she takes classes to go to competitions with her group because there is very little competition in the "ballet divisions" and the instructor thinks dd could win easily. However, that is NOT what I consider to be beneficial to dd's dance education. Although I've complained about the cost of RDA, I am happy that our company chooses to spend our time and money there, rather than on competitions.

If I had to make a very uninformed opinion about what's going on at the school in question, I would guess that the AD probably considers the competitions a good way to make a name for the school and AD, while grooming potential competitors for the more high level YAGP competitions, which students generally don't start competing in until 9-10, which is still a ridiculous age for girls to be competing on point. (Why on earth does YAGP allow that??). Having attended YAGP regionals I'm aware of studios that have students competing that also appear prominently in jazz competition results lists.

At our studio, the Jazz company focused on competitions and the Ballet company focused on RDA and because the Company schedules for each were so demanding it reached the point where the girls had to choose as it simply wasn't possible to be in both companies simultaneously.

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it would free up her schedule to go to birthday parties, sleepovers and hang out with the non-dance friends that she never gets to see.


Now THAT would make for a well rounded 9 year old.

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