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Ballet Talk for Dancers

New students placed below level?

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I am looking into potentially switching schools this fall, and I have been told by several sources (including some in the school) that it is very usual for the local, company attached school to place new students below their level, and then wait and see and eventually more them up in 6 months to a year. I don't really care what level my daughter would be put in, but I would be very worried if my 13 year old would have to be stuck at a lower level, only taking classes 3 days a week just because she is new. Her reason for finding a new school is because she wants more hours dancing, so depending on how they place her it could be a major step backwards. Do other schools do this?

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I think you have to look at the reason the school may choose to start one off 'below level'. If it is really just because they are a new student, that's not much of a reason. However, if it is because the placement teacher evaluates the students and notes areas of foundational skills that are lacking, behind, not-quite-mastered, or that placement/alignment is a bit off, then the reasoning may be that placing the student in the lower level will give them a better opportunity to 'catch-up' more quickly, fill in the missing pieces, and/or make corrections to the placement/alignment issues.


Working in a lower level often permits the student an opportunity to focus on specific areas that need attention by working at a slower pace and because they already know the 'big picture' skills regarding the movement, they can focus more easily on refining the specifics without having to split their brain's focus on a number of things to be remembered when performing the skill/step.


It is not uncommon for dancers coming from one studio to another more pre-pro focused to be placed in a 'below skill level'. And the reason it because there are missing foundational pieces and parts. But, if the student is serious and open to the corrections (rather than focusing on the 'demotion'), they can move forward to where they felt they should be fairly quickly.

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I agree with dancemaven totally. In my case, when I went over to a new school, I was placed in a level where I have more classes compared to my previous school. But I always go for adult classes to go back to basics! It is important to build good habits that will be instilled for life! It is always about the quality than the quantity of classes!


I know of some girls, they take two levels, so it is a half half of each. Some days they will go to the level lower than theirs and some days they will go to their level. But, they have special arrangements with the AD of the school so I am not too sure if your DD is allowed to go onto this path!

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I would also suggest that if in fact your DD is placed in a level where she doesn't have enough classes, you ask if she may take additional ones to supplement them. If they do not have a way in place that she can do that, I would ask them what they would recommend. Chances are they will be happy to walk you through their thought process and explain to you exactly why she was placed where she was, and your concerns will probably be put to rest. I wouldn't worry about what others have told you; there could be a million reasons why a dancer is put in a certain level, and every situation is unique and individual as it should be. You really can't go by what has happened to others in this situation.

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