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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Worried about moving to a pre pro school


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If it's not appropriate for me to post the names of specific schools on this forum, feel free to remove it.


My 10 yo DD auditioned for a large well known ballet school a couple of weeks ago and I just found out that she was not accepted. It's OK because we have been looking at another pre pro school in the area. My DD went to a summer program there last summer and really liked it and a former classmate is currently there and really loves it. I'm hoping that my DD will be accepted into this school. I'm just worried though, I think at her age they would accept her, but I think they do cut students in the higher levels. Since she wasn't good enough to make it into the larger pre-pro, would she do OK at another pre pro school?

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I can speak from personal experience on this topic! My DD auditioned on a lark at one of the big three letter pre-pro schools in NYC 4 years ago (my personal choice not to name, but trust me you have heard of the school!) I never thought she would get in but she did and has thrived. As mom, if I knew then what I know now, I think I would have thought a little harder about auditioning. This is a school that cuts yearly from the lowest levels on up. As you progress upwards the cuts are different. Often what appears as a cut, is really the student changing his/her mind about path in life. Friends of my DD who have been cut have gone on to other big name pre-pro schools and are very happy. Just because the auditioners at one particular school do not like your DD does not mean she wouldn't thrive at another school. A year ago my DD was on the chopping block (so to speak) and we had to look hard at other schools and whether she really wanted to continue at the pre-pro level. We were happily surprised to find that other qualified instructors loved her and that as they say on this board "many roads lead to Rome"! It is so easy to be blinded by reputation and status of a particular school and allow that one place to be your only reference point. Every dancer is unique and yours will thrive; you just need to find the right fit! Good luck!

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myrrha--I did remove the names of the schools. Not so much because you can't name them. But more because we'd like you to have years and years of time here to ask questions without knowing your exact area and possible school having been posted.


Now, since I have seen the "where", I will tell you that there are many dancers who have done well who have not been admitted to that school. They found their success through training at other schools in the area. So, go about the looking to find the very best that you can and that meets your daughters needs. While we can't see her to know her talent and fit. At 10, fit isn't wrapped all up tight in a ball yet. So she will likely do just fine!

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Thank you for your responses. I'm still torn about moving schools. My DD loves the school she is currently at, she is in a class with the most advanced dancers at the school (there are only 5 of them in the class and the other dancers are 12 or 13 yrs old), her teacher is always showering her with praise and encouragement and gives her a lot of attention. For their recitals this year, she has been dancing lead solo roles which she has been thrilled with. But, this is purely a recreational school and the training she is getting is not great. A professional career in ballet is probably a long shot for my DD, should I keep her at her current school where is is happy but not getting great training or find another school that will give her good training but she might not be as happy.

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Just my opinion, but if she can find happiness and great training at the same time that would be ideal. What does your daughter think about switching schools? Is she open to the idea?

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My DD really does not want to switch schools. She says she wants to become a professional ballerina, but even though I have explained to her time and time again that if she really wants good training, she has to switch schools, she is still not on board. I know that at 10 (almost 11) yrs old, she should be able to understand this but she doesn't seem to. She seems to care more about the compliments she gets and getting a lot of dances for performances rather than how good of a dancer she becomes. I guess it's hard for her to leave her school where she is a "big fish". I hate to have to force her to switch schools, even though I know it would be better for her dancing.

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If she understands the facts, that her dream is not likely to be realized if she stays at her school, and still wants to stay, I would let her stay. She is choosing for herself, and that is important. If a child really wants it, then they will leave friends/success/comfort zone...but if they dont, that is good too- they are choosing something different that is important to them. By 10, she can make that choice herself, IMO. I personally would not force a switch if she understands the realities.

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Myrrha, our DD attended her first summer intensive at age 12. It wasn't until this experience that she, and frankly we, had a better understanding that the training she was getting would only take her so far; she made the change to a program with more intense and higher level training nine months later. The training she had been receiving was good and not recreational; however, just not enough. She was ready to move on; and we are fortunate to have a great program within driving distance. I don't think that we would have forced her to audition and to switch schools, if she did not want to; however, we may pulled back on the level of commitment to a single activity.

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You might consider adding private lessons to the schedule. One advantage to being at her current school is that she is getting experience in performance and a lot of confidence on stage. Sometimes in the larger pre pro schools you lose your confidence and solo performance opportunities. In the big pre pro schools all the dancers are talented and the competition can be fierce. I would suggest that you let her enjoy being the star for now and add some quality private lessons on the side.

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My DD really does not want to switch schools. She says she wants to become a professional ballerina, but even though I have explained to her time and time again that if she really wants good training, she has to switch schools, she is still not on board.

If she is not on board, then you might ruin any chance at her realizing her dream by "making her". It may be against her personality to see what you're asking her to. Or it might be that she herself hasn't felt the glass ceiling of training that comes when you are at a smaller studio that doesn't have the wherewithall to take you all the way through your training.


If it were me, I would simply start with a larger SI if she hasn't been to one already. (sounds like she went to a smaller local one last year). It doesn't have to be a huge one. But one where the playing field will be highly competitive and strong. In this environment, the determined come back more determined. Those on the fence, quietly choose a side of the fence to now be on and those who at that point in their lives don't want to be that competitive or find the atmosphere of not being on top makes them want to retreat often do. So, you may be more able to introduce a stronger pre-pro at that time.


In the meantime, I would simply say to her. "I hear you say, you'd like to become a professional ballet dancer. I am not sure that you can do that where we are right now. However, I also hear you saying you are not ready to leave here. So this is what I will do. I will wait until after this SI and ask one more time if you're ready to do what you need to do to realize your dreams. It is okay if you are not. I will be proud of you for any decision you make. But if you are not, then I will sit back and be a cheerleader for you where you are right now and for wherever that might take you. When YOU are ready, to make a move, then I will move mountains to help you do this. But for right now, it appears I'm trying to make you do something you're not ready to do and I don't want to do that. Remember, the ball is in your court. Show me what you're ready for and I'll help make it happen."


Then after a discussion like this, as a parent, if you feel she needs to see the stronger, wider world of dance. Then you make that happen through education (SIs, visiting recitals at stronger schools, seeing professional companies on stage, etc.). I will tell you that our DD asked to go to find a stronger school. When we did, the first few months were tough and she wanted to walk away. I had a conversation like this, letting her know that she could walk away after Nutcracker if she still wanted to but that we needed to finish at least that much committment. I never mentioned it again until after Nutcracker and then when the studio opened back up in January asked on the first day: "where shall I drive the car today?" She looked at me like I was nuts. I explained that she was supposed to come to me and let me know where she was dancing today and had not. She laughed at me and said: "Mom, really? Drive the car to XYZ, I just had a moment that day." Sometimes the freedom to make their own choices gives them the wings to dig in.

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Thanks to all for all the advice. This is now a little off subject, but would anyone have any insight into why my DD did not get accepted into the big name pre pro school she auditioned for? According to my DD's instructor, she is a very good dancer, she has good technique, good turn out, she's very flexible and had very good arched feet. The one thing she has told us is that she does not have the perfect body for ballet, she is very small for her age and has short, stocky legs. Do dancers that don't have the perfect body for ballet have to be phenomenal to make it into a large pre pro school that have a lot of dancers that try out? If my DD ever does decide that she wants to go to a pre pro school, I hope I will be able to find a school that will accept her.

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Because we cannot see your daughter and because we don't have a crystal ball, we cannot tell you why your daughter was not accepted. The school you mention does not accept everyone and does use a very narrow view of who they accept. So given what you've told us and given the fact that I have seen the name of the school. The reasons might with a capital M be in your post:


The one thing she has told us is that she does not have the perfect body for ballet, she is very small for her age and has short, stocky legs.


But even that, is not a crystal ball. It's probably best not to reflect on why she wasn't accepted. She wasn't at that moment in time. That doesn't mean she won't be in the future. It doesn't end her chances to dance. Yes, larger schools can be more selective. So yes, dancers off the script so to speak must have something that overrides all the other to likely gain admittance. However, because one is not admitted at 10 doesn't mean you won't be accepted later or that you won't be accepted into another pre-pro school.


But for now myrrha, it is important that you focus on what your dancer is willing to do. It doesn't sound like she wants to be at a high level pre-pro yet. 10 is still early. She has a year or so to decide that she's ready to make a big move. Give her time and don't stress about the what if's until you can get her on board to make a move. (in similar ways that I described above) It is her journey and if she makes choices that keep her from her journey that's perfectly okay. That is what life is about. As mom, you don't have to force her. Just research and make possible the path but then allow her to let you know if she still wants to take it.

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I just want to chime in and say that Momof3darlings gives wonderful, thoughtful advice. Wow!

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Thank you both. I just happen to believe in allowing the dancers to reach for their dreams, but doing so with the balance of a parent raising an adult, not a dancer. If the adult happens to become a dancer then great! If you try to raise a dancer, then you've shortchanged the life of your child. I am also perfectly okay with those who disagree with me and put all their eggs into raising a dancer at all costs. That is just not within my acceptability quotient.


Balance in everything ballet!

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