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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Invitation to full-time program-need advice!


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My DS just got asked to join an excellent full-time ballet school as a day student. He just turned 11 and really wants to go. I think I would prefer for him to stay at his great (and free) public school for 2 more years instead of paying for full-time ballet school (which has a private academic program). While subsidized, there is still a significant cost involved. As some of you know from reading my earlier posts, I am trying to keep his options open for a few years to make sure this is what he wants to do, before going "all in". However, this is such a tremendous opportunity that I am second guessing myself, not to mention having a hard time sleeping! I have to give an answer by Friday. He would be getting about 18 hours of high quality ballet instruction per week at the school (technique 2 hours, 6 days a week plus other classes and conditioning) and must attend the school's SI. If he stays at public school he would take 4-6 hours per week of ballet at a good school (with a similar approach) and he could experiment with different SIs. I could, of course, add more ballet if necessary. I should add that he would have to give up an opportunity to go on tour with a choir next year if he goes to the full-time school as well as other outside interests. I do think he would have a good chance of being accepted again in a few years if he continues on the same path, but I really don't know if I can fully trust the commonly held view that boys can wait a bit longer than girls to begin serious training. Money is not a critical factor here but it would also be nice to avoid the extra costs for a few years. And of course, ideally, I would like my DS to make his decision to do ballet full-time when he is a bit more mature. I would love to hear from any of you who went through a similar decision making process when their DS was around the same age.

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  • Clara 76


  • expat123


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  • Thyme


hi ballerinomom- I absolutely hear you on this! My 13yo DS attends a great school too and I wont bore you with all the ins and outs of our situation but we have recently made a similiar decision not to go down the full time track. Our decision wasnt financially based because his academic school is private and costly- going to full time dance would have costed a similiar amount so that made it easier to focus on what the real choice was. Our choice was to stay in his academic school, do as many dance classes as he can manage (about 10 hours per week plus seasonal SIs). I have asked alot of people about the idea that boys can wait longer and have decided to go with that view. It makes sense to me because in every other way boys seem to develop later than girls in terms of drive and focus. His ballet teacher says that until he develops a man's body, he needs to focus on technique and that in his current schedule he is doing just that (RAD, character, privates and open classes). More importantly however is that we are hoping to raise a well rounded person and citizen, not only a dancer and after much thinking, we have opted for him to have a well rounded life education alongside kids who dont necessarily dance. I should add that we are in Australia where full time dance study for young people seems to a limited option compared to US and UK (or at least that is the impression I have). It is still an option but we are even putting it off until after high school- if he still wants to he can do it at university. Another view I have taken on board is that when his dance career ends (or when he is injured and not dancing) that those 'other interests' can not just sustain him emotionally and socially but also potentially financially.


So as you can probably see, I have given this alot of thought because recently we had to make a similiar life decision along these lines. Not easy stuff as it taps into big thoughts and ideas about life and what is 'best'. Good luck with it- us parents of dancers seem to tackle the big questions with alarming frequency! :giveup: Anyways it very personal and individual but that's what we settle on for our boy. :happy:

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Very hard choice-- my son just turned 12 and he wavers between wanting to pursue a professional career and wanting to do one of his many other interests in life. We want to support his great desire to do as much ballet as possible. He is currently at an out of town SI and could continue full time as a day student, which he would love. However, my considerations revolve mostly around what sacrifices it would be emotionally and developmentally to our family- e.g. what affect would it have on our family as individuals and as a group for him to be away. I think the sibling relationships are important to consider- both from my dancer's point of view and from his siblings' point of view. If DS was an only child and we could see him relatively often at a day ballet school, then that might be a different story. We are not an overly religious family, but he would have to sacrifice his religion to be away from home (his resident SI doesn't have church attendance on the radar). I have an older son and know that at around age 13-15 boys' bodies change dramatically, and there is no way my 12 year old is capable of the types of skills a 14 year old could do, so what he can do in training is somewhat limited at this stage.


My son has 5 technique classes a week in his current school (1.5 hours each), 2 modern classes, and this year he will probably be adding additional styles. In addition, he has a pretty intense rehersal schedule. I would say that if your son does stay at home you might consider adding more classes, and he should still be prepared to enter a day school in the future. Having said all that, each child and family is different, and I know you realize there are many pros and cons to weigh. Good luck!

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Eleven years old is very young to go away from home. If he is getting quality training at home, and can add more quantity as he progresses over the next couple of years, I don't see a reason to go away at this age. My feelings about sending them away to study have always been that it is best for them to stay home unless it is impossible to get the needed training there, and even then I would not send them away at eleven, or probably not at any time before high school. Especially a male dancer.

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Thank you Thyme and Expat123 for sharing your stories, in particular, the reasoning behind your decison to stay at the home school. It sounds like you both made a good choice for your family. It is very helpful to hear about your situations. And thank you Victoria Leigh for your comments. My situation is a bit different because the ballet school is in our city so he would live at home and attend as a day student. I don't think I would send him away to school at this age but I am not being asked to make that kind of decision. My choices are keeping his regular life with ballet classes after school and other important extra-curricular activities or putting him into a private ballet school with academic and ballet classes every week day from 8:30 to 6:30 (or later) and ballet on Saturday. He would have to give up most of his other activities due to the evening school schedule. He is showing promise in other areas in addition to ballet so I am hesitant give up these other activites before giving them a chance to take hold. My son says he has no trouble dropping these other activities and that ballet is his thing but I can't really tell if ballet is his true passion. Today I am leaning a bit more in favour of letting him go to the school but it still feels like a very big, and potentially very costly (financially and otherwise) decision. And like you, Thyme, I am concerned that he will not be well-rounded if he goes to a single-focus school.

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Hi ballerinomom- I probably didnt make it clear but yes our decision was also about a program where he would still live at home. just sos you know! Yes I think our kids are so young to be

making these essentially vocational decisions. They are all 'big calls'. Arent we fortunate to have these e-discussions with people who arent invested in our decisions or benefiting from the outcomes? :clapping: Sometimes I dont think there are 'right' decisions- many of them can be tinkered with later on. We just do the best we can at the time.

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Interesting point. I am perhaps trying too hard to get this decision absolutely right.

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I know! I do that too. I find the dance world a hard one to navigate with a high degree of certainty. In the end I have to go back to what our family values and what the 'big plan' is- not get too OCD about the dance dream. Our dance teacher said to me (in regards to our decision) 'if he is talented at 12, he will still be talented at 20 and that is what the companies want'. I find the pressure to somehow get out there and be the 'first on deck' abit demoralising, like we are all in race. I hope my DS is able to realise his dream but I dont want to pay too big a price for it.

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Oh, I didn't realize that your son would still be living at home while at the ballet school! I got the impression that he would be in a different city. I do think 11/12 is too young to live away from home, but I might consider DS being a commuter student. On the one hand, one "trial" year wouldn't make a huge dent in other activities or academics as long as your DS isn't struggling with school now. On the other hand, I am inclined to think he would get a lot more out of the exprience (physically and emotionally) at a bit of an older age. I don't think any school would fault you for holding off for a year or two considering how young your son is. Does this school have evening classes?


I have found that anyone in a serious ballet program- no matter what the age or gender- does have to make sacrifices on other extracurricular activities. Essentially, the kids at our studio have zero time for anything outside of ballet (also discussed in other areas of this board!) If DS was to drop ballet (which doesn't seem likely), then he would have a hard time fitting into another niche sport, even at the age of 12. But similar to your son- he doesn't mind missing out on other things because he loves ballet so much. Actually, if your DS finished ballet by 6:30, that would leave more time in the evenings than most of our kids are getting with after-school ballet. When my son was 11, he often didn't get home at night until after 9 PM, which was rather stressful with schoolwork. I think that if I was in your shoes it would boil down to how good the academics are at the ballet school.

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I am waiting to hear from a family whose child left my DS's current school a few years ago to attend the ballet school. I will see if they can give me an academic comparison of the two schools. This idea of having zero time for other activities is interesting to me. Doesn't a more inter-disciplinary approach in the early years produce a better dancer? I would like to think my DS's experiences in musical theatre, violin, choir and fencing (and other dance classes such as tap and jazz) are very valuable in terms of musicality, confidence, acting ability, etc. It seems a real shame to cut most of them off at age 11.

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From 4th grade, my DS's ballet schedule (5-6 days a week) precluded all other activities, and the studio was strict about absences from the sheduled program for other activities.

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What a process! Yesterday I was leaning in favour of him going to the school and today I am leaning against. Honestly, I felt like I was commiting a crime when I suggested to the school that he could apply again in 2 years, but I have to take a lot more into consideration than just the quantity and quality of his ballet training, and I am growing more confident that the world will not end if he doesn't go this year. Still waiting to gather some important information...

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Did you feel that way on your own, or did the school give off that vibe?


It might be helpful to note that in my opinion, if a school was trying to make me feel that way, I would definitely run away screaming. :wink:

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Clara 76 - Good observation! I felt that way on my own. The school simply stated the fact that my DS would be behind his cohort if he does not start now. They did not say this would cause irreparable harm - but that is what it felt like to me -- that his true potential would not be reached if he did not start the intensive program at the beginning.

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