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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Would you switch schools if they were too slow to begin pointe?


manhattanmom

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My daughter is getting good training right now with excellent teachers, but although the girls are all around 12 yo, this school is in no rush to get them started on pointe. This particular school is known for contemporary, but they do have ballet. The other day when my daughter asked her teacher when they would start pointe, she said not before they were 14. Seriously? I can't imagine any of these girls will come back in the fall if that's the case. We were led to believe that pointe would start this spring when we enrolled. These girls are currently taking 4 ballet classes a week and to my somewhat educated eyes, they look strong enough for pointe. Have any of you experienced this? My guess is that the group above them isn't doing pointe, so they are most likely afraid to start a revolt if this group starts pointe. The group above them takes ballet, contemporary and jazz.

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I think it might be time to have some concerns. Fourteen is a bit late, especially since they are taking 4 ballet classes a week!

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Thank you, Ms. Leigh. Something seems fishy to me. It's a shame because her teachers are former professional soloists and they are so good. It might be the politics of this school, unfortunately.

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@manhattanmom: I think the fact that the group above them does not take pointe should be a signal for you to begin researching other schools. Is pointe part of their ballet curriculum or are they simply responding to parents' requests to institute pointe training into the curriculum? Is this a new school?

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The school has been around for a very long time. They offer recreational ballet and pre-professional ballet, which my daughter does. The level above her takes ballet 3x per week and also a jazz and a contemporary class. The level above them is an ensemble and they take ballet, contemporary and jazz. I haven't seen the groups above her taking pointe. The school has a professional contemporary company, and I guess that is their leaning. It seems their is a glass ceiling when it comes to ballet. They are doing themselves a disservice if that's the case. I am considering Gelsey Kirkland for the fall, and I know they do not hesitate to start pointe when ready. Fortunately, my daughter was able to get into good intensives for the summer without pointe, but come next year when she is auditioning at 12 going on 13, no one will consider her without pointe. That in it's self is enough for us to look elsewhere. Again, it's a shame because, she is getting wonderful training.

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Lovedance, to answer your question, this school instituted a more serious ballet program by bringing in a couple of top notch teachers. That is the only reason why we came to this school, because of the teacher's credentials. It was understood that a serious ballet program was being implemented, and we were told that they would start pointe in the spring, but that's not the case. Fortunately, we live in a city with many choices. But then again, my daughter cannot get into SAB or ABT without pointe at her age.

Edited by manhattanmom
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@manhattanmom: I have first hand experience with ABT, and your daughter could get into the year round at ABT (the young dancer division) without pointe. As for summer intensives, most 12 year olds would be expected to be on pointe during auditions, but not all them are--there are also intensives in which there is no audition that still offer excellent training (e.g. Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet). GKA has an excellent Junior SI which would be a good time to try out the school. Not sure what your current SI commitment is, but if you could try to take at least a week or two of the GKA Junior SI I'd say it would be worth it (it runs from last week of June through first two weeks of July).

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Thanks lovedance. Actually, she is going to Gelsey Kirkland and to Bolshoi this summer. One week at GK and 3 wks at Bolshoi. About ABT, if she will be 12 and 1/2 in the fall, I don't think she would be able to do ABT. They have their prepro that requires point and the children's division which mostly is filled with the kids who move up the ranks so to speak. I guess she could audition, but I can't imagine there would be space for her in the oldest division of the children's division. If I remember correctly, I think the oldest kids in the children's div. at ABT might not get enough ballet hours. I have to check. Do you anyone who does the GK afterschool program during the year? I like their schedule. You have been so helpful and nice to take the time to "talk" to me. I am being longwinded, but I have had so much to say/ask for so long and it was bottled up and voila, I am writing like a fiend;)

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manhattanmom: I know some that went to the Junior SI. My DD is also going to Bolshoi this summer! Will you be in NY or CT? Mine will be in CT, she's 11.

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manhattanmom, I know from personal experience that the upper levels of ABT's Childrens Division have 12/13 year olds just starting pointe. Often when girls change schools just as they are starting pointe they are placed lower in the new school, so your DD would not be alone at her age or experience level. ABT would have placed her in Children's Division for at least 1/2 year even if she had beginning pointe somewhere else. Good Luck!

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lovedance, Bolshoi in CT is supposed to be excellent. Congrats. My daughter will be doing the Bolshop Prep In NY for 9-12yos.

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Thanks Buzzandmoo. I enjoy your posts (when I was lurking). I will look into ABT as well as GK. My concerns with ABT is that in the children's division they have fewer spaces in the upper levels, because the kids move up every yr or every other yr. Also, you get more dance hours at GK for a little more money than ABT. The best thing would be to try out for both.

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Manhattanmom: I am not sure how to use the Personal Messenger but I am sort of in the same boat in that we may be switching schools in the Fall. I have some info that might be of interest to you.

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You have gotten such great advice already! I know being 14 and not en pointe isn't the end of the world, but for a serious pre-pro student who has all the facilities to do pointe work, 14 does seem late.

If the level above her isn't en pointe, there could be valid reasons, but if other students are being held back to "save face" for others, then I would take a serious look at switching because that's not right. 1/2 of DDs class wasn't put en pointe, mainly the older girls actually, but DD and the other 1/2 of the class are starting now. They didn't hold the whole class (and then subsequently perhaps the class below) just because some of the kids in DDs class aren't ready.... perhaps they never will be. The next level down are doing pre-pointe now and will probably be considered for pointe in a year or two, it has been almost 2 yrs since the last "batch" of new pointe students because our level contained younger girls (=DD and her friends who are 11 now) as well as older students who needed more strength (and didn't quite get there even this year).

Certainly sounds like your DD is totally on the right track though, congrats on the Intensives this summer!!!!! Best of luck!!

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