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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Choosing a SI for boys--what do YOU consider?


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We sat down with our 17yo DS to discuss the aspects of SI's he most values. They included: more than 2 men's classes per week, as much partnering as possible, male instructors, end of program performance. My husband and I added to the list: housing, meals, supervision,not too much down time, evening/weekened activities, and the assurance that the program would challenge him. When the acceptances came in I phoned the site and spoke to the director to get a few more specifics not on the website. Even though he's 17 we have many of the same criteria as when he was 14. He's mature, but he's not an adult.

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My DS is 15 and has attended three years of SI's, four if you count a half-day junior intensive he did when he was 12. Going away to a SI has been a wonderful experience for my son because the world of dance is so much larger than what is happening at our home studio, even with the support and quality training his home studio provides. This is especially important because we don't live close enough to a large metropolitan area....going to a SI has allowed him to experience male teachers, larger men's classes, as well as exposing him to different forms of dance (modern, jazz, character, etc.) as well as different styles/approaches (Balachine, Horton, etc.). All this said, we do have some very clear parameters when choosing a SI, and therefore choosing which auditions to attend.


1. A reputation for having a solid boys program: male teachers, men's classes, performance opportunities for males on par with those offered to females, etc. (via research and word of mouth).

2. A down to earth, caring staff

3. Cost. Our finances are limited, so scholarships/financial aid is important to us...does the program offer scholarships? Actually, this should be #1 consideration, because it wouldn't matter if he was accepted to the very best SI in the world...if we couldn't afford it, he wouldn't go. Simple.

4. This relates to #2, but housing costs are important. Three of the SI's my DS attended have been in cities where we have relatives he can stay with. He did attend Patel one year, and we used it as an excuse for a vacation...we rented a mobile home in a retirement community (complete with golf cart!) and his siblings and I spent the days at the beach. Really, when you think about the cost of SI housing, an entire family can often vacation for less than that cost, if the location is someplace you want to visit, and if you don't mind living someplace simple and clean (that's not the Hilton). So, in four years, he has never stayed in SI housing (and thus perhaps missed out on socializing a bit).

5. Timing. My DS has other summer plans including music and soccer camp, etc. Do the dates work out? This year he only wants to do a shorter intensive, so he only auditioned for programs that offered shorter (2 or 3 week) options.

5. Stye/approach of intensive, reputation for body type preferences...this is a tricky preference, really, as often you are only working with a "hunch", but from our relatively short experience with intensives, it seems my DS has done better (i.e. scholarship offers) with certain programs (Balachine style?) than others...So he has made conscious decisions at times to avoid certain programs.... This is probably unfair to those programs, but because of cost and travel considerations during the audition months, it is a fairly realistic scenerio.

6. Audition schedules. Because of the cost and time involved, my DS chooses his top SI, and then he'll audition for another one that same day if it is even mildly interesting solely because of the convenience factor. At the same time, there may be a SI that would really suit him, but he may have another commitment that weekend, or the audition is on a Friday night (impossible to reach for us), so simply because of bad audition timing, he misses out on auditioning for programs that might be an excellent fit. Of course, we could always submit a video...


Other less important factors have been: location of the SI (my son for some reason refuses to consider any program in the state of Texas, for example...wierd but true!), the "feel" of the audition itself; the personality of the person conducting the audition, how informative and easy to negotiate the website for that program is, how many boys were in the audition, etc...


Hope this helps!

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My guy is younger. We want him to have a summer dance experience but to still get to be a 12 year old boy. We're looking at Blue Lake in Western MI because he can dance 6 hours a day and still sing camp songs, hike in the woods, and watch goofy skits around a campfire.

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This will be my DS14's second year to attend an SI. Last year, he auditioned for a lot of places and we simply went with the program that offered him the largest scholarship-- Ballet Austin (known for being generous with mens' scholarships and having a large mens program). He loved it! At first he was disappointed at being placed in a lower level than he anticipated (very common SI concern, from what I read!), but he worked hard and was moved up to a higher level after a few weeks. He came home much improved in technique, and he counts the experience as one of the best he's had in his life.


For this year, he wanted to try something completely opposite. Although he loved Austin, he and his ballet teacher wanted him to spread his wings more. Ballet Austin is large-- maybe 150 people? So, he wanted to go somewhere small. Ballet Austin has a large age range-- 11 to 20ish, so he wanted to go someplace more focused on high school age. Ballet Austin is Balanchine-styled, so he wanted to go somewhere with a more Russian focus. Ballet Austin involved using public transportation to move from dorm to studio, so he wanted to try something more self-contained with onsite housing.


After doing the research, Harid became his #1 choice for this year, so he auditioned there. He also auditioned for Austin again plus many other popular SI's, knowing that Harid is very hard to get into. Fortunately, our choice was very easy for us this year. He received a lot of tuition scholarship offers from the other places, but the scholarship offer from Harid was the most generous of all, so it was a no-brainer to make that decision. It had everything he was looking for in an SI this year, plus the offer was the best he received. I hope future SI decisions are this easy!!

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This year was a hard choice for me. My son loved the male teacher that ran the Chicago audition. My son received a full room and board scholarship to Austin, where he went last year and loved, and we have family. He also received a tuition scholarship to Washington Ballet, which everyone says is prestigious and hard to get into. We let him choose and he wanted Chicago, my son really wants to work with the teacher. He even refused to go to anymore auditions. He did get a tuition scholarship but we are paying room, board and airfare.

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jhboswell - I think you wanted to ask me some questions about Patel Conservatory. I'll check back in tomorrow to see if you posted any questions and ask my son for input.

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What SI's have strong boys programs? For those at SAB, is the age of the boys typically a bit older? ABT has so many sites, Besides NY are the others just as good? How common is it for boys to be invited for a year round program? And do they still offer some "scholarship" monies? I thought the Newton program at BB they grouped all the boys in one class. Is that a good thing or too many levels in one? May I even ask these specific types of questions?

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Have you read all 8 pages of this topic?

SI's boys and young men have loved

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  • 2 weeks later...

We are attending the SI this year and are so EXCITED! However, we need to find housing for the duration of 5 weeks, June 23-July 27th. Anyone who is a year round attendee or previous SI attendee have any leads? Thanks!

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This year will be my son's second year at NBS. He is 10 so he was one of the youngest there last year. He really enjoyed it but they do seem to not dance a lot of hours. He was in a class of around 18 boys age 9-12-great experience for him. He liked residence and there was no isues with him being home sick. He came back a stronger dancer and physically stronger in his torso and arms. I went up each weekend to see him. We had discussed looking at Patel and Chicago's joffrey but he really wanted to go back to NBS

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