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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Debating over 2 options for next year


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My dd (newly 11) will be leaving her current studio (traditional rec/comp studio) to attend a ballet studio this summer, and continue there in the fall. We had decided on a very good classical ballet studio about 15 minutes away. They do not have a professional company attached, but do have a Jr Company for those with 2+ years of pointe. The dancers from this studio get into very prestigious SIs, the staff is top-notch, studio is state-of-the-art and gorgeous, the owner is very personable and dd liked her quite a bit in the placement class she took with her. We paid for the summer session, which starts in July. Now dd is attending a big-name SI, about 30-35 minutes away from home, and the studio where the SI takes place is a pre-pro school, with a professional company attached, has offered to evaluate the students who are interested in their school, and potentially offer them a spot in their year-round program (auditions are normally required for all students over 10, you cannot just sign up for lessons once you've reached that age).


I allowed dd to turn in the paperwork to allow her to be evaluated for placement at this pre-pro school. But I don't know if it would really be the best place for her. She wants to be a professional, I however just want her to be happy. At the closer school where she will be attending this summer, they do 2 full ballets each year- The Nutcracker, and a Spring performance which changes every year. Dd would be cast in these, regardless of level, she would get a part. This is a big deal to me because this is exactly why she wanted to leave her current studio- she wants to participate in real ballet performances, be in a Nutcracker every year, etc. At the pre-pro school their Nutcracker and Spring performances include the Professional Company and there are limited children's roles, which are always filled by the school's children, but obviously there are far less roles than children who want them. So there's a chance that she will go to this school and not participate in the performances. Also something to take into consideration is the drive. I realize that 35 minutes doesn't seem far at all, but with traffic it could be longer, and I have other children with other activities to consider.


I am not a new dance mom, dd has been in dance since she was 5, but I'm new to the ballet-mom thing. I really have no idea if it'd be a huge mistake to pass up the pre-pro school in favor of the closer school, or it would be perfectly acceptable to attend the closer school and maybe re-evaluate in a couple years? Advice??

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At the school with the professional company attached, what are the performance opportunities for students in their teen years? That's something to consider also. Even if your DD 11 is cast in the Nutcracker and spring performance as a child, would she get to perform at 15 or 16? That seems important for an aspiring professional.

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It appears as though the older they get, the more opportunities there are. There is a Junior Pre-pro program, and a Senior Pre-pro program, and the Senior program has even more opportunities to perform with Company. But I'm not sure if that's all of the Senior pre-pros or if it is selective.

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I think you should look past the performance opps and look at the technical training and year round program offered by both schools and compare them. That said, I don't think your DD will get any real dancing roles at age 11 with your second option. Most likely she would be cast as a supernumerary (like an extra on a movie set) with dancing roles going to the advanced intermediate and company dancers.

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Could your daughter take a normal class at each school and decide what training she gets the most out of? That's what we did.

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  • 2 weeks later...

If she is going to regular day school and you have other children, the 35 minutes seems too far if there is a very good classical ballet studio 15 minutes away.


Pre-pro classes are 1.5 hours and then when you add pointe, modern, character, variations, plus over an hour for travel that seems impossible.

We do have one child at my daughter's conservatory that travels 45 minutes each way, but her mom was a dance major and when she misses classes for being sick, tired or having too much homework, she can work with her at home on dance.


At 11, being in a Nutcracker and spring performance sounds like the reward your daughter would want for her hard work. She may shine at this school and feel comfortable.

I speak from the experience of having a nearly 14 year old and a 9 year old DD. We drive 20 minutes each way because we moved 3 years ago. After we moved, I tried to get them to switch to a closer studio but they wanted to stay with their friends and felt they were getting the best training 20 minutes away. I have convinced my older daughter to take 2 days closer to home last year and 1 day closer to home this year.


I assume you got a warm feeling from the nearby place and that she would have friends there and feel comfortable.


With the limited info you provided, I am going out on a limb and saying let her train close to home and then aspire to whatever summer intensives she is interested in for future years that are potentially further from home.

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We are in this boat, with dds dream school being an hours drive, but a good school 30 minutes away. The dream school has prestige, but not the ability to take lower levels to work on basics (DD really needs this, her ballet background is eclectic), performance opportunities that are much larger, and the ability to take many other classes (character, jazz, contemporary, variations, stretch) for a much reduced fee. she auditioned for the dream school, but we have decided to keep her closer to home until she is older- she just turned 12- for myriad reasons. The company attached school will always be there, but right now, with an older sister, limited funds, and a real need to work at a lower level if possible, the beat place for her is not that school.

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Thanks for all the responses so far! We found out last week that DD was accepted into the Pre-pro program, so we definitely have a decision to make now. When DD finished her intensive on Friday I was able to have a meeting with the Principal of the school and get some questions answered and it appears I was mis-informed about the performance opportunities. All children in their Pre-pro program will be cast in the Nutcracker, and will dance with the Company. There are some other Company performances that have children's roles that will be given to select children, but those are few and far between. There will be a Spring performance as well, for all Pre-pro students, that DD would be in, that would just be for students, not Company. So DD will have the performance opportunities at least twice per year with the Company-affiliated school. The Principal also told me what level DD would be placed in for the fall, and DD was very happy with her placement. When talking with DD, she pointed put that the Pre-pro school also had Character and Contemporary classes (which DD would not be taking this coming year, due to level, but would be taking NEXT year as long as she progressed to the next level). The closer ballet studio does not offer Contemporary, nor a specific Character class. DD loved the Contemporary and Character classes she took at her summer intensive, and really wants to take those again. As far as class-size goes, the Pre-pro school actually has a smaller class size than the closer school. The schedule, due to the level she was placed in, turns out to be the best I could have hoped for, as all her classes would be later in the evenings, thus an easier commute without as much traffic. As she gets older and more classes are added to her schedule, things will become a little hairier, but as far as next year goes, it's definitely doable. I also talked with my mom and sister who live in my city and both have said they will help commute my other children to their activities, should the days/times conflict (which they inevitably will). Dh and I talked and have decided we will leave the decision up to DD as to which school she will attend, but if she chooses the Pre-pro school and this year proves to be very difficult on our family, then we will have to move her to the closer school the next year. I have had several discussions with DD about her options and I know which way she is leaning, but I told her to take a few days and we will talk about it again over the weekend and make a firm decision.

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