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Ballet Talk for Dancers

SI at age 9?


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Recently I brought DD (9) to audition at Joffrey Chicago. The AD approved it, grudgingly. I know its new for children this age to attend SI's. We were all actually surprised she was even accepted, especially the AD who said that while my DD has a "beautiful facility" and is "naturally gifted" she needs more ballet (she only takes 2 hrs a week.)

The problem is that now the director will not excuse her from summer classes to attend Joffrey. It states in our contract that SI's must not conflict with their program's SI's dates and DD would need to miss 1 week. I'm conflicted. I don't want to defy the AD but isn't this an opportunity that DD should take?

We have been told that if we do not finish our program's SI program for any reason we will be asked to leave immediately.

I do hypothesize that the reason may be that there are a number of mothers of students there complaining quite loudly that they did not have the opportunity to audition and it would be unfair if only one member of the company was allowed an exception.

Now I must decide if I want to stay in a program that has become increasingly hostile to my DD and I or go to Joffrey and find a new program for DD and DS.

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At 9 I'm not sure about it being an opportunity to "miss" or "take". She's 9 for goodness sake, and apparently has access to summer classes at her home studio. Why the rush? Would you consider leaving your home school if this hadn't happened? Did you know about their policy about summer attendance prior to having your DD audition for another program? I'm just scratching my head at why anyone would feel the need to send a 9-year-old away to a summer intensive.

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Some of the language you have used makes it sound like your daughter may be at a competition school. I may be off base completely, but the concept that one must attend the school's summer program to participate in a "company" is a typical competition school scenario (and rightly so as many are setting their new competition pieces during their summer programs or it is the only time they get to concentrate on technique).


That said, at 9, it is generally not a true summer intensive. At the ballet school my dd attends, dancers aged 9-10 and up are encouraged to participate in the school's summer programs. At that stage of the game, it is a "junior intensive." There are other threads on whether school's encourage dancers to go away or not and at what age. In our case, it's generally high school aged dancers that are given "permission" (ie encouraged) to spread their wings and go to other programs. Younger dancers are encouraged to stay at the home program (which happens to be a program that attracts dancers from other areas as well).


All that said, you might want to look for a program that offers more ballet anyway. At 9, I would think most are taking 75-90 minute long classes, 2 to 3 times a week, depending on the school and the level.

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Actually, Joffrey's Chicago jr SI is only a 2 week program that is only about 4.5 hours a day so it's not like a typical intensive geared towards an older child. Sorry, DD is only 9 and we have only been dancing seriously a few years now. Yes, this is a competition program. I didn't initially intend to go this direction but the level of instruction for this program is the highest available in my current area.

I really had no intention of leaving the program before this. I actually love it except some of the other parents have been a quite rude to me and even DD over her acceptance to the SI. I feel as if this opportunity is being removed from DD simply because the AD is trying to keep the peace in her studio and not for DD's best interest. I could be wrong...

The question is, should I skip Joffrey for a small program's SI? Will I be passing on something that I should take advantage of? I have been told that DD is built more for ballet and the course of study at her current program's SI will consist of a mix of types of dance.

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Hmmmm this all sounds very familiar to me. I have a dd who is currently age 10 almost 11.


At age 9 we did ABT Young Dancer Summer workshop and I thought it was an "SI." It was not. It was wonderful. fun, and expanded her horizons considerably. It introduced her to the world of serious ballet. We found it all a bit unchallenging and she likely did not progress significanlty from going. We were glad we went. We received a very honest and positive evaluation that indicated that DD had some capacity for ballet. It motivated me to evaluate her training. Her school did not raise a big fuss about her going instead they made a big deal and were very supportive and they have continued to be.


I would say five things to you.


First, if she is only taking 2 hours per week then it is not likely that the Joffrey Young Dancer program will be a deal breaker in her training. In fact, she is very likely to be admitted again and again with more training. And she can investigate the other Young Dancer programs, ABT's, Bolshoi Ballet program, and the others that are emerging. And, while I am not your AD and not a dancer teacher I tend to agree with the idea that going from 2 hours per week ballet to 20 might be a bit shocking and might in fact turn her off. I actully made this mistake with my DD when she was 8. We went to CPYB August Experience for 1 week, and it was a bit too serious-- good training, too serious for her at the time. If she does go to summer workshop (and at that age they are workshops--use the word "dance camp" even), she wants to make a good impression and it should be positive. If she goes and then there is a big trauma and she has to leave her competition team and studio, then she might view it negatively.


Second, if she does have a beautiful facility and the SO knows this then what is the SO doing for her? I agree with Melissa GA, she is not taking enough ballet and may not be in the right place. But the SO might be trying to tell you this when she says your dd needs more ballet. She might be trying to say, she really needs more training before she does this. This might be the first indication that the SO has that you are interested in more ballet. She might be willing or able to offer more ballet. Although Melissa GA is also correct. Most (but not all ) comp studios don't really do ballet. In terms of this decision--go to Joffrey and quit comp or stay with comp and turn down Joffrey--you should not feel concerned that you will make a wrong decision either way. But you have to make the decision about the kind of training you want based on what you and your dd want, not on an acceptance to a Young Dancer program. I wouldn't just jump to a pre pro ballet studio entirely because a 9 year old got accepted to Joffrey Young Dancer. She might go and find all that ballet, in such a high dose all of suddent "boring." She might need to gradually change (or not at all.). So you could stay or go with not heavy consequences from my perspective. Most dance teachers know that ballet supports almost all other forms of dance (jazz, modern, "contemporary").


Third, no one can take any opportunity away from your DD, you are paying for the training and you can make the decision to stay or go.


Fourth, take a cue from your DD. Talk lightly about it and the choices and see how she feels about giving up her comp team this year. She might very well be glad to do it. She might find all the hype, hoopla, and drama stressful and might fit much better with the culture at a pre pro ballet studio.


Fifth, plan and plot for next year and if you do decide to stay mull over what you want to do in the future, all the while watching your DD and having her take more ballet (Or even taking "contraband" ballet at a local pre pro studio. . comp studios usually don't want you to go elsewhere for ballet because then you will learn that they are not really doing a good job.)


You won't make the wrong decision. You have found BTFD and you are a questioning, smart woman. Trust your instincts.

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welcome NCMTDMom! We are also in the dilema of changing our DD 9 from her current "competition" studio to a pre-pro school. We have decided to fullfill her obligations with her school that she attends currently until June but then it will be over. We decided not to switch now because of the expenses already out and the pure fact that your on a team and cannot let that team down (Plus we want her to know that once you start something and commit to it, you need to do that) So I guess it comes down to this then..if you plan on staying at her current school you will need to fill your contract, if not then move on and do your thing!! LOL!! Best of luck to your DD and just like I say they have plenty of time they are just 9!

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Now I must decide if I want to stay in a program that has become increasingly hostile to my DD and I or go to Joffrey and find a new program for DD and DS.


I think this is the crux of the matter.


I agree with the others that going (or not going) to any kind of SI at the age of 9 is in and of itself going to make a significant difference in your child's training. However, I also think there is good, sound logic for keeping a child at home when the home studio is providing the training needed but not necessarily so when a studio trying to "bully" a family into staying so that they can boost revenue, save their reputation, etc.


The first question is, is your studio going to have this same "stay at home or else" policy when your DD is 12, 13, 14? Then what will you do? Would it be better to make a change now or later? If you don't go to Joffrey, will the "increasingly hostile" program become less hostile or is the damage already done? (These are rhetorical questions - you don't have to publically respond)


In the end, you have to do what is best for your child and your family.


BTW, there is a link at the top of the forum here that shows how much ballet training a child needs per week at what age. Your DD isn't THAT far off the recommendations for a 9-year-old.

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Some schools do not want their young dancers going elsewhere because of consistency in training. Different ballet schools use different approaches ie. Vaganova, Cecchetti etc. While moving between one style or another may not be hard for a more mature dancer, when foundational work is still being learned consistency can be important.

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  • 10 months later...

once you audition how long before you know if you were excepted? MY DD auditioned in NY Sunday for ABT young dancer program. How many kids do they take for this program?

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Hi Lee,


My DD did the YDSW last year and she heard the Friday after after that audition!! Good luck!

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My DD did the YDSW 3 years ago. She also heard within a week. I don't remember how many people total were in the program, but there were about 25 in her level (Red) comprised mostly of 9-year-olds. I know of at least one 9 year-old in the Orange level and one girl who was 9 when she auditioned but turned 10 before the program started who was placed in Blue.

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My DD did YDSW in 2012 and got acceptance email I think on the Friday following the audition. There were 8 levels with 20+ students per level.

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Posters, please continue your discussion(s) of specific SIs on their dedicated threads in the SI Forum. :thumbsup:

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  • 2 weeks later...

My dancer went to ABT young dancer summer 2012, she was 10. Her regular school teaches ABT training curriculum but the program was not chalanging and the year we went there were 280 kids total for the program. There were alot of kids in class and she looked the same when we left.

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