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Whitenights

Expensive private lessons for YAGP? Is this normal?

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Whitenights

We are brand new to YAGP. I have read many posts but still have specific questions that I can't seem to wrap my mind around.

Background - My daugther is 14 and has extensive ballet training. Her dance school is entering in YAGP for the first time. Girls that want to do a solo are required to take private lessons to prepare for the solo. The cost is $75 per hour and about 20 lessons will be needed ($1650). This is in addition to all of the others fees (entering, costume, travel) but we are being told that they are confident the girls can make it to the finals and have a chance at scholarships. It is being being presented as an investment that will pay off. What % of girls make it to the finals? What % receive scholarships?

Any overall comments? Very confused?

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ballet valet

Yes, very normal and scarily high! I would recommend reading the thread: So you want to try YAGP for the first time in Cross Talk.

This will give you an overview of what other first time parents are asking.

 

Also, the YAGP vent in Cross Talk would be useful if you want a really realistic view of what to expect.

 

A few studios do fund-raising (as a separate 501c3 non-profit) and apply the proceeds to the fees. This is less common than the dancers being individually responsible. I recommend setting up a few privates to learn the variation. Then schedule shared privates (up to 4 dancers) to rehearse for the 2 months or so before your regional. A full hour private is usually more than a dancer can handle along with regular classes. The shared privates can be worth the saved money and the dancers can usually use an adjacent studio to self practice when it is not their turn.

 

Regarding qualifying for NY finals, in 2012, around 900 junior girls competed at regionals around the US and abroad. The finals included around 110, so about the top 12%. If your dd makes the top 12 in her regional and has a classical score over 95, she would logically be invited to go compete in NY. However, no one can guarantee that your DD will be invited to the NY finals. Scholaships are infrequently offered at regionals except to a few students. At the NY finals, usually the top 12 in each age category, are offered scholarships by a mix of small and large schools whos offers range from summer intensives to year round classes.

 

Best of luck to you and your DD!

 

PS. My pet peeve was that the dancer should already have learned the individual elements they will use in the variation before they start learning choreography. The privates should be for timing, epaulment, finishing, etc. and not to learn the technical elements.

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slhogan

YAGP can be a lot of fun and a great learning experience! However, if you're viewing it as a financial investment, I think you may find yourself dissapointed in the end.

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swanchat

Whitenights,

 

It is expensive. When dd's first school first did YAGP, they taught the variations in class and then chose the top students to train at minimal extra cost. A couple of years later, they opened it up to anyone interested and charges were about what you describe. The way that the school charged and told the teachers to teach during their regularly scheduled hours meant that this turned into a money making proposition for the school. In other words, the teachers did not receive extra pay for the private coaching, the school did. I don't know how your school is structuring the financial aspect but I agree with Kristine about shared lessons once the variation is learned. Additionally, it seems that the school should include a regular variations class so that anyone can learn the variations and decide if they want to concentrate on one or two. If the school is just interested in offering YAGP to its students, they might be open to those suggestions, if they are using it to generate revenue, they may have no interest in helping mitigate the expense for you.

 

I really find it distasteful for anyone to suggest that a dancer or a group of dancers have some sort of guarantee to make it to finals and/or receive a scholarship. Sorry, but I think those statements border on coercion.

 

I think it would be very helpful to examine what you and your dd want to get out of the experience. If your daughter is interested in a specific school scholarship offered in the finals, can you spend that money and audition privately? You could actually see the school and the staff that way. You might also get some constructive feedback. Can you spend that money and travel to an SI audition? (if it's an SI that she's interested in) Competition for these scholarships is very stiff at finals; your dd might or might not get a scholarship. Don't spend the money thinking that any one dancer has a great chance.. the odds are just not that great. If your dd is the kind of girl who enjoys competition and thrives under pressure and if she wants the experience and the extra work learning a variation and bringing it to performance quality regardless of the prizes and scholarships, then your money just may be well spent. It really depends on your goals. Just know that there are other ways to get invitations to attend school programs and SI's; you don't have to spend the money on competitions.

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Whitenights

Thanks for all of these insights. It is hard to know if they are using this to generate revenue. How can one really know this? Sharing a private is not an option. It has to be one on one, one lesson a week up until the competition. The atmosphere is, "We know what we are doing" and all questions seem to go back to, "We know what we are doing." It is a small school. The owners will be teaching the privates themselves. People in the meeting came away with, "They really care about the girls" and others in the same meeting came away with, "WHAT?!?!"

So confusing.

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Mousling

From your last post, it seems like you probably know what your decision may be - listen to your daughter's goals and your own instincts.

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ballet valet

I have never been one to blindly respect authority unless it was well deserved. You are a consumer and have every right to 'question the system'. That being said, you can negotiate with your AD. I assure you they will not want to lose your business! If your DD has a private each week for 3 months (Nov, Dec, Jan), that is only 12 privates, not 20. If your concern is the pricetag, I really think an hour is too much! Try negotiating for 45 mins for only 12 sessions ($675 total). Spend the extra money on a tutu that will make her feel like she is beautiful! Go and HAVE FUN! Do the competition, people watch, have nice father/daughter lunches, be amazed at the talent and tutus out there! That is what will mean more after all is said and done!

 

I would also suggest (as I have several times before) to enter you DD in a local 'jazz competition' at least 2 weeks before the YAGP you will attend. For only the cost of an entry fee, you can get your DD on stage as a dress rehearsal. VERY valuable! This will make you have the variation(s) cleaned, music burned, costume/tutu ready, pointe shoes broken in, rosin stowed, etc... Invite your AD (or not) and just get out there for a dry run! Half your DD's jitters will be gone when she gets to YAGP! Make sure to only do a local competition if it is at a performing arts venue (set stage).

 

*edited by moderator, member notified

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slhogan

Our studio did Legacy last year to prepare for YAGP. I think it was a good investment of time and money for preparing the solos and group pieces.

 

Your studio is doing YAGP for the *first* time, so I imagine your teachers/directors are very nervous about it. After all, their reputation is on the line!

 

In our studio, we saw an increase in enrollment after our studio did very well and our teacher won an award at regionals-- a lot of excellent dancers left their studios and joined ours in the couple of months after the competition. I'm sure your studio is hoping for something similar to happen. As a result, they may be going a bit overboard in their demands. Their attempts at appearing confident and non-nervous may be coming across as authoritarian.

 

You can choose to be part of your studio's learning experience (there will be some ups and downs, but I'm sure your studio will appreciate your support in this new venture). Or, you can opt out of the YAGP experience until your studio has a better idea of what its doing.

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Momof3darlings

I really find it distasteful for anyone to suggest that a dancer or a group of dancers have some sort of guarantee to make it to finals and/or receive a scholarship. Sorry, but I think those statements border on coercion.

 

coercion or extremely naive to the process is my take on that! :)

 

I have to agree with sharing that hour if allowed. An hour is a long time one on one. In general, some will split the fee but others will add 20% and then split the fee. But if that is not what they are willing to do, then you may have a better understanding of why they picked an hour for each student.

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ceecee

I think it is an extraordinary amount of pressure to put on these young dancers that they are expected to make it to finals based on one run of one variation in the school's first time to YAGP. Your dancers may be very talented, but competitions are VERRYYY different from performing a role in a ballet or even a recital! Proceed with caution.

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Victoria Leigh

I don't care for the importance being placed on making finals and scholarships. Especially first timers at YAGP! The reasons for doing this at all are for the training/coaching that is necessary and can be very beneficial, and for the experience itself, knowing that it is called a competition, but that winning is not what it is really all about. I have had students make incredible progress, even major breakthroughs, by the process and the regional, even when not making the finals. There is validity in doing it as long as the coaches/parents/students all understand these things. It's learning, improving, doing your very best, experiencing the performance and the classes, the feedback, and meeting other young dancers from all over the region. If they make it to NY, and one can afford to go, great! More experience and learning and meeting young dancers from all over the world.

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Whitenights

Thanks for these excellent insights. I am the type that needs to "figure things out" and something was not sitting well with me. Something did not seem right about the whole process and the harsh demands. I am starting to see that what may come across as "caring fo the students" and wanting the best for them really may be all about their reputation. Last school year, for the very first time, they told the parents about SI's auditions coming to our area. Honestly, I knew about them but felt that it could wait for my daugther. They explained that they wanted certain girls to try out for most of the ones coming to our area but that if the girl made it, they were not too attend them (with the expectation of one school that has a great reputation in their eyes) and gave a few reasons. Then, after most of the girls did make it into them, they took a picture of the girls and posted it our local newspaper, stating that their school had these girls accepted into all of these different schools. Some girls were in the newspaper 3 to 4 times in a month. I found this odd but again, could not figure it out. Again, the girls were NOT to attend them and were required to attend their summer intensive.

Things are starting to come together I guess. The ballet world is strange and mysterious and I am trying to understand all of this.

Any other insights would be appreiciated.

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ballet valet

Can you say 'big can of worms...'?!

 

My DD's last studio AD figured out very quickly that local competitions, YAGP and WBC were a great money maker and the way for him to improve his reputation. He basically sold all of the dancers a bill of goods and promised them the world. Several dancers are amazing and have been his claim to fame. They are on full scholarship at his studio with the studio related, non-profit foundation helping to foot the bill for their year round training and competition fees including privates. Very self serving is the most polite way I can word this! Our current studio has such high standards that even though they know they could gain attention, they almost cringe at the thought of what it would cost them. They believe in pure training and the just rewards will come to those who have worked hard and are ready for their professional future. No hoopla. A very different scenario. One over promises and under delivers, the other under promises and over delivers. As you said, a very strange and mysterious world!

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Victoria Leigh

Too many strange and not reasonable, possibly even ethical, things at your studio, White Nights. Over-controlling and not allowing SI's, and over-selling purpose of YAGP just pull up a lot of red flags for me. Sounds like the interests of the studio way out-weigh the interests of the students. Might be time for you to rethink some things about that school.

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swanchat

Whitenights,

 

Miss Leigh said,

It's learning, improving, doing your very best, experiencing the performance and the classes, the feedback, and meeting other young dancers from all over the region. If they make it to NY, and one can afford to go, great! More experience and learning and meeting young dancers from all over the world.

 

Honestly, that's the only reason to do YAGP or any other competition...IF it fits your budget. Don't let anyone bully you and your daughter into something that doesn't feel right- ballet or any other activity. Yes, ballet is beautiful and difficult and it takes unique training and individuals who are willing to sacrifice to train but it is does not require abandonment of common sense and fiscal responsibility. Take a moment and re-visit The Emperor's New Clothes and apply the moral to your situation. I would start to investigate other training options- sounds like the school is interested in the revenue and is frankly exploiting students for their own purposes.

 

(Posting at the same time as Miss Leigh)

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