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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Making a choice between 2 very good pre pro schools


myrrha

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I am planning on moving my 10 yo DD to a pre pro school this fall and I'm trying to make the choice between 2 very good schools and I don't know how I'll make the decision. Both schools are equal in distance from us and equal in tuition so neither of those are a factor.

 

The first one is a small school, not affiliated with a company. They are associated with RDA and also have students that make it to nationals in YAGP. Some graduates have gone on to professional careers. The training is Vaganova based.

The other one is a big name school, affiliated with a very well known ballet company, if you knew what city I live in, you would know the school.

 

There are a lot of pros for both schools and I'm trying to figure out which would be best.

 

For the 1st, my DD attended an SI there last summer and liked it. The training is good and very consistent because there is basically one main instructor that the dancers have as they move up levels. I also like that at this school, the schedule for classes would not interfere with them going to school, even when they are in the upper levels. A couple of draw backs is that it is not affiliated with a company so my DD would not have the opportunity to perform with a professional company, she would really enjoy that. Also, I don't think this school has a lot of male dancers so I don't know how they deal with teaching partnering.

 

The other school as I mentioned is very well known, affiliated with a company. My DD might have the chance to perform in a professional production if she went to this school, which I know she would be thrilled with. I'm pretty sure that most graduates of this school go on to professional careers. I would have liked to have my DD attend an SI at this school for this summer to see how it compares to the other one, but she is not old enough for their SI.

 

How do I choose between the 2?

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First, I would try to find out how many of the kids in the top levels actually came thru the school, as opposed to the ones who came to that school in the top levels. I would ask about the number of kids who are cut each year and at what levels are the cuts being made. I would gently ask the parents in the lobby about favoritism at both schools. I would ask their opinion on SI's. Are students allowed to go away if they choose, if so when? I would also think about what would happen if you started at one school and you wanted to switch to the other one later. If that doesn't seem impossible, you can think of your decision as more temporary. Lastly, assuming your dd has already auditioned for both schools, I would look at placement and feedback. What are you hearing from the schools in terms of your dd's potential? You may want to see if one favors your dd over the other

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Excellent questions Lemlemish! That is advice I wish someone had given me years ago! I have a DD in a pre-pro with a famous professional company attached, and despite the "reputation" and famous teachers, a day doesn't go by that I question the choice I made to take her to that audition 4 years ago. My 11 year old DD is thriving despite many negatives. The only point I would like to add, is in our pre-pro only a select few students are actually picked for performances with the company and despite a posted policy of "we pick strictly because the costume fits" you see the same students picked over and over again. There are no other opportunities for performance. None. No recital, no demonstrations, nothing. Also keep in mind when performing with grownups they really only want unusually small girls on the stage so if you have a tall girl you will be out of luck! At least that is how it works at our pre-pro in the lower levels. Things change in the upper levels, but many girls of 10 and 11 never make it there.

 

Good luck with your decision!

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My DD is 10 1/2, 11 in June. Another big difference, the smaller school not affiliated with a company has Vaganova based training. I'm told by the director of the school that the main instructor is one of the best teachers in the country in teaching this style and the students have her through the whole way as they move up levels. So, there is very good consistency in training. The big school I think does not teach in any particular style, although I'm not really sure, they don't mention any type in their website. It is a 8 level program and I think they get a different instructor each time they move up a level. I'm sorry, I don't know a lot about ballet. Do all pre pro schools teach in some type of method?

Edited by myrrha
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First, beware of any hyped up commentary given by a business such as "best teachers in the country teaching in this style". My question would be what other teachers in this style are you comparing them to? Can you specifically rank them somewhere or was that some sort of arbitrary comment used for "advertising" type purposes. That's not to be a turnoff or way to eliminate that school, but simply a way to look at that information differently. Much like you would if a school stated: "our teachers are the best in the country". You'd ask collectively? Better than any other school as a group or each individually?. Just dig through those type of comments.

 

My 11 year old DD is thriving despite many negatives.

 

This is a very good way to look at your pro and con list. While you have no crystal ball, is it your belief that your child will thrive in each environment despite any negatives they might have in place? If both schools are virtually equal in their training, then the question comes down to environment.

 

Like buzzandmoo, I would not count on performing on the professional stage in your equation until much later. The amount of actual stage time with professionals students get at a pro school can sometimes not be enough to count in the equation. In that case, the performing time "pro" has to go to the RDA school. Not that students at a professional school don't perform, they do. But students in RDA schools seem to be guaranteed to perform much more because they are student companies and not simply a few students needed for children's part in a pro production.

 

In reality, at 10 1/2 if both schools are close to equal on your pro/con list then I don't see that you can make a mistake. You still have time to change direction if needed later. You likely will not be able to attend the pro school, leave and return. But if you decided that was too much, you could leave and never return and still have time to gain training that fits your child's temperament.

 

Best wishes with your decision making. I don't envy you at all for being in this position. It's nerve wracking at best.

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