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Ballet Talk for Dancers
Thyme

comparing boys and girls

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diane

It is not necessarily the case that one HAS to start full-time training at 15 to be competitive.

I think it does depend on what companies a dancer is looking to perform with. (though, to be honest, more often than not the dancer does not _really_ have a huge choice; usually the dancer will go where he / she gets work, if they need the job)

 

There are many companies in Europe which are not purely classical but do quite a wide variety of things - from full-length classics through Forsythe to some quite avant-garde modern things - and the majority of the dancers, especially the men, are not that young when they start. In fact, many companies which do so many different things do want to have "mature" people working for them.

 

It is also helpful to remember that a dancer's career is short, and so the dancer should have the academic possibility of going to college or some other higher education if needed in order to qualify for other work when the dancing ends.

 

-d-

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dancemaven

Absolutely would not agree to compromising academics at that age. Career-ending injuries can happen in a split second. The dancer HAS to be prepared to live in the 'real' world. Without a high school education, a suddenly-injured dancer would be in a sorry position.

 

Personally, I think this AD is over-stating his sales mantra. Postpone college? Ok, depending on what the dancer wants. Not finish high school? Absolutely not an option.

 

As diane said, the modern and contemporary ballet companies look for mature dancers. The 'baby' dancers pretty much 'need not apply'. The nature of the choreography and the nature of the work creation, etc. requires a more mature or aged comprehension, which only comes through living life.

 

At 13, putting all his eggs in a classical ballet career basket would be way too short-sighted. Will the AD be willing to be responsible if that path gets derailed somehow? He's pushing too hard, asking too much of such a young dancer.

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TwelfthNight

Thyme, I am not familiar with schooling in Australia, but is it possible that the studio where you spoke with the AD has additional means of education through the teen years? We are in the US and we have always homeschooled our daughter so some things are different for us. However, this year, at 15 she has started a trainee program where she does dance 6 hours each day. It is difficult, even homeschooling, to get everything in that needs to accomplished. If we did not have the option of homeschooling or even virtual schooling, there would be no way anyone could possibly do both. We know of quite a few kids who have graduated high school at 15 in order to pursue ballet as a career.

 

I agree with others that education is the top priority. I understand how difficult it is to know what to do and it seems like there is always a pull between the parent who stresses the education and the instructor, who sees the importance of education, but wants your child at the studio all day. We have also been told by numerous professionals that to be competitive, a dancer needs to train as an Olympic athelete. If not, they will not be competitive enough to make it. However, there must be a happy medium. Would it be possible for you to go back and discuss with the AD you spoke with about his ideas for education? Maybe with the recommendation from this AD you could get into a form of home or virtual school through the government? It might be possible for your son to do some sort of dual enrollment with a college or some sort of virtual school which would at least let him complete his high school studies.

 

I apologize, but I have not read the whole thread. Is the AD offering to give your son some sort of scholarship for the program? A lot of times we have gauged interest in potential from a studio versus monetary gain by whether they are offering some sort of scholarship, if the studio is finacially able to do so. Also, does your son really want to devote this much time to a dance program? Is it possible for him to start the program for a time, say the summer break, to see whether he would really want to be in this program. He might decide he doesn't and that would solve your dilemma.

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Thyme

thank you for all your thoughts- abit more detail.... basically the full time course would provide him with a Diploma of Dance which he can then use to enter university in a general Arts program. Some of their graduates (he says) have done this when they decide they didnt want to pursue dance as a career. The program is focused on contemporary, jazz and ballet as well as choreography etc. He emphasised that an injury can end it all in a minute which is why doing the diploma saves you the option of university. No scholarships for the program. This would absolutely not happen when my son is 13- more like 16. There reason I am tossing this around is because he has the opportunity to start at the school (part time!) in the after school program which is also a big decision to leave his little school. The full time option is looming in the back of our minds but no decision has to be made now.

 

I am trying to get my head around the whole 'deal' and whether this guy has credibility in your minds. There is no suggestion that leaving formal high school at 15 or 16 would leave him without a qualification to take to university.

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HuckleberryDawg

Even the boys at ABT and SAB go to school. I seriously doubt your DS has to make a career out of dance dance dance and nothing but dance by age 15. I think the AD is trying to sell you something.

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dancemaven

Dd has had several friends from Australia. Try as I might, I have never been able to wrap my head around your academic equivalents of high school and college requirements and time frames ---and have't done much better with the UK system. I've also gathered that the dance training schedules (for lack of a better word) are also quite different.

 

But seeing as you are in Australia and the details of academic paths confuse me so, I would say you really need input from fellow Aussies or others who are familiar with the Australian system.

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Thyme

yes dancemaven I agree- I am relatively new to this dance world and I find it hard to follow some of the US based discussions and 'translate them' into our processes. It may be useful to say that schooling and university paths here are much the same as in Canada. We dont have a 'college' system like in the US (or not at least as I understand it). We finish high school typically when we are 17 here and then (if desired) go to university.

 

so - any fellow Australians out there? :cool2: I would be particularly very interested in hearing any thoughts on the model used by the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts- a post high school academy associated with Curtin University in Perth.

 

http://www.waapa.ecu.edu.au/courses-and-admissions/our-courses/disciplines/dance

 

I could be very wrong but I think that Hugh Jackman is a graduate?? :nixweiss:

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Alan

A couple thoughts on this post. My DS is attending a year around resident program at a well-respected dance school and there are a number of boys in the school. DS's roommate gave up on dance this year and will attend college this fall, he is not planning to take dance in college, not all boys can find jobs in ballet. I believe boys can start dance later because they often do not have the physical strength for lifts until they are in 19, 20, or older. My son is tall but he is 16 and has a hard time with lifts. Because of the later physical maturity of boys they have more time for training even if they start later than the girls. Girls can join companies at 17 so they have to start younger to be ready for a career.

Edited by Hans
Edited to standardise font and size for readability.

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enlair1989

I'll throw my two cents in because I've seen it from both sides as a male dancer and the father of a daughter who dances. Boys, as a rule, usually start later. Most of the girls in our company started in pre-ballet and by the time they're 14, the more serious ones already have their minds set on a professional career and have already been working toward that goal. Of the handful of boys in our school, roughly half of them didn't start until they were 15, including both lead male dancers this past year in the company.

 

Because of that, a lot of them, a lot of them are still trying to figure out where dance fits in their lives, much less making a career out of it. No doubt they face a lot less competition, and yeah, they probably do have a greater learning curve, at least with opportunities with smaller companies. But if they don't have the skills, they won't rise any further, and they'll be soon out of dancing. That was the case with one of the two male professional dancers our company. He found that out quick and his short professional career ended with the end of this season.

 

I think other factors come into play. There is that dreaded stigma that I think keeps some boys from starting earlier, and I've seen that forces boys who did start early to quit. I could be wrong, but boys, I think generally don't have the base of support that girls do. The times are changing, and I've met some really remarkable parents who have been really supportive of their sons. But I'm also aware of a few dads (and even some moms) who aren't cool to the idea of their sons dancing, much less wanting to do it for a career. And let's face it, emotional and financial support is a really big factor, ballet, even if your kids aren't pursuing it as a career can be expensive.

 

And yeah, I think the fact that boys generally not maturing as early as girls plays a role. Boys at 14 generally can't do the more demanding lifts in partnering such as press lifts or shoulder sits. And even when they're not partnering, there is a great deal of athletic skill involved in jumps and leaps, that boys at a younger age have a harder time mastering, such as double tours.

 

That said, a professional career is not an easy path for either boys or girls. Pay isn't great for either gender unless you're a star with New York City Ballet or ABT. I don't think either gender has an advantage when it comes to the length of a career. Not every male dancer is a freak of nature like Baryshnikov, and some of the great ballerinas were able to dance well into their 40s. Because of the skills that are required for a male dancer, their bodies break down as years go by just like female dancers' bodies do.

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wembley

At the Australian Ballet school, students certainly do not neglect academics! They are scheduled to spend about half their time in the ballet studio and half in the classroom up until the end of level 7 (there are 8 levels), which takes them to the age of 17-18 and finishing their high school education. They are expected to complete the VCE (Victorian certificate of education, high school diploma equivalent for those in other states/countries). One friend graduated from the ABS last year (and was hired by the Australian Ballet), another is in level 7 this year. It is difficult to juggle ballet, rehearsals, and academics (and for students who are living away from home, they are also doing their own cooking and cleaning), but they manage it.

 

Thyme, I'm in Australia, dancing at a studio which produces some very good dancers, and this teacher's statements do sound a bit extreme to me.

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Thyme

Hi Wembly- thanks for your Australian opinion! I have decided to not head my DS down that track of the full time/ nonacademic study. We are staying at our small studio for better or for worse.

We decided that we dont want the 'product' offered by the studio with the full time program and would rather he complete his HSC. Better that he takes his time and takes the risk that those 17 year olds are out there before him. Maybe he will go to WAAPA (you can see a discussion on that in the university forum- very interested to hear any thoughts or ideas you have on WAAPA?) and maybe he will just end up as a very fit biologist! I am interested in your comments on ABS- my understanding from our time there (outreach program) is that the students dont do their VCE but receive a diploma in dance. Has that changed?? Very interesting!

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wembley

The graduate diploma is what they get for completing level 8- during that year they are dancing full time, learning repertoire etc.

 

Up until the end of level 7, they do their academic classes at the Victorian College of the Arts. I think that they do the minimum number of subjects possible for the VCE, maybe only four subjects? The subjects are targeted towards supporting their ballet studies, rather than being physics, chem etc...., so wouldn't be suitable preparation for a science career.

 

My information is second hand, based on what my friends who attended/are attending there have told me, and they tend not to talk about their schoolwork as much as what they are doing in ballet classes and rehearsals! Try the ABS website for more information.

 

I've had some fanatastic teachers who were trained at WAAPA, both of whom had professional careers, so it is certainly an option for high level training.

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Boydancermom

Bumping this thread up to see if much has changed in the last 3 years regarding the career track of boys/men. We have been told a similar thing as Thyme in that by the time a classical ballet boy is 15/16 years of age, that they should be in serious training mode (including men's classes) 4+ hours a day which as far as I can tell can only be realistically achieved through shorter than normal academic hours. (through online or conservatory abbreviated academic school).

 

From what I can tell from reading the bios of company men - it's not common for them to get trainee or second company positions unless they have studied ballet in a conservatory, residential setting, or company school - more than a few hours in the evening.

 

One question that I have related to this topic: are the "typical" age progressions for trainees, 2nd company, and corps positions similar for males and females? Or are they different?

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vrsfanatic

Young men are at an advantage in this area. In recent years gentlemen have been more apt to land company contracts upon graduation from a professional ballet school or within a few months of graduation. It is a numbers issue. There are fewer men than young ladies in ballet.

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