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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Too early to settle down?


thislife

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Hi! This is my first post. I've read a lot of posts over the summer and I just made an account.

 

I'm posting because I wonder if someone has some advice for me and my son. My son just turned 15 and he's been doing ballet for several years. He is not fabulous but he is pretty good. I've seen some videos on youtube of boys his age that are amazingly good and that's not him. He's good but not THAT good! In auditions he gets into the really hard summer intensives with a partial scholarship but he gets full scholarships from smaller summer intensives.

 

Okay, that brings me to where I need advice. My son just got back from his summer intensive. It was a program in a medium size company. Big enough that they did auditions in lots of cities in America but I don't see the company talked about very much on this message board. He picked this summer intensive because he really liked the teacher at the audition and they gave him a full tuition and housing scholarship. My son LOVED the program and LOVED his main teacher. Now he really wants to be a professional dancer for this company. He has gone to 2 summer intensives before but did not like them nearly as much as he liked this one.

 

They really like him too! They wanted him to stay during the school year with a scholarship but I don't like the idea of him staying with a host family. They said he automatically has a scholarship for next summer and they want him to be a trainee in a couple of years. The artistic director of the company likes him a lot and says he is a good fit for the company.

 

I think this is great and so does my son. He will be at home one more year or maybe two and then get an apartment in that city when he is 16 or 17 with some other trainees. But, his teacher at home thinks its too early to think about settling down. She says if this company likes him then other companies will like him too and he needs to go to a different summer intensive next year and keep his options open. I say if he likes the company and likes the teachers and artistic director and they want him then that is just one less thing to worry about for the future. What do you think?

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Having a similar experience with DD. I think I will wait and see in January during audition season and see how she feels through that whole process. Kids change and companies change. If he is serious he will be leaving home in the next year or two regardless. We have had friends who were in company after two summer intensives and we have had friends who have had no contracts at the end of two years. Have him stay loose and excited about his career. Sounds like his summer was good.

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We are in a somewhat similar situation. The way I figure it, if my son was enrolled in a company-affiliated school and was attending that school's summer program, it would only be natural for us to be looking at that school to 'promote within the ranks' and raise him up to be a future member of that company. (Yes, I realize the reality is that this often *doesn't* happen in company schools, but everyone hopes for it regardless!). So, in that sense, your son's successful summer is like he was accepted into that school to be trained up.

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If he settles down now, he may be giving up an even better city and job. Please keep your options open. Save your pennies and when the time comes to audition, cast that wide net to see who else is interested in him. Sometimes a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, but he is only 15! He will have so many more dancing experiences that will change him as a dancer. If you had told me that my dancer, at age15, would end up dancing in Europe, I would have not believed you!

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dancincorgi

Sounds like a pretty wonderful situation to me if the training is top notch! He'd be able to move on elsewhere if that became his desire, right?

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This is fabulous news!

 

However, I would still proceed with caution. Nothing in life is every straight forward. Artistic directors leave companies, aspirations change, dancers change. I think it is too early to make a decision about next summer and far to early to make a decision about a traineeship. Who knows? By 17, larger companies in larger cities may be knocking on the door!

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My DS started at an academic year program away from home at 15, that is not a bad age to start. He went to SI's at different schools each summer. There is a lot to consider such as how he would finish his high school education, what living arrangements would be with this school, and how he would do living away from home. Explore the options and what is the best situation for your DS. 15 is not too young to join a pre-pro school if it is the right situation for you and your family but you need to do your research.

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I really do appreciate your comments. A lot of them sound like what his home teacher is saying to us also. I feel kind of like someone has given me a script for his future and its very nice to have it all mapped out and not have to worry about it much. But, your right- he might change his mind or something. And, its not like he has to sign a contract with them or or anything. If he goes to other SI auditions he can still decide to go back to them. Although, it would be nice to save the time and money of auditions and just go back there automatically!

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Congratulations to your son!! This is a really exciting time. You've received some great advice. Just some thoughts I wanted to add:

 

1) Take a deep breath and savor the excitement. But perhaps hold off on any decisions until the whole thing has sunk in and you've gotten back to "normal" for a while. If it's the best choice today it will still be so in a couple months.

 

2) Your son is only 15. Boys can make some amazing leaps (no pun intended) in maturity of dancing in these later teen years. He may turn out to be more amazing than you can envision. I would listen to your home teacher--other companies just might be interested. Was this his first choice SI--his "dream company"? Or was it the one that was easiest to work with? Both can be good options--sometimes we overlook good fits because of dreams and sometimes we let dreams slide because something else is easier. No right or wrong--just thoughts.

 

3) Research this company your son is interested in and the direction they are headed. Are they in a good financial place? Does it look like they will be around and paying their dancers acceptably in the next five years? Does their rep suit your son? Where do their dancers come from? What training did they have to get there?

 

4) Research the school. Does the school feed the company? We moved our dancer from a school attached to a company for better training at a small school and a devoted, knowledgeable teacher. The larger school was not turning out dancers that were ready to join the parent company even as a trainee--or at least the artistic director was not interested in the students the school was turning out. He's now looking at much larger schools/companies because of that change. Training is so important.

 

5) Can your son visit the school during the school year for a couple weeks to see what year-round classes/life is like there? SIs can be very exciting and the dynamic may or may not be the same as the year-round program.

 

6) I hesitate to suggest this just because of the financial aspect--knowing how expensive SIs are; but, could he attend a larger/harder intensive attached to a company? I've seen dancers who may not audition as well really shine when they get to a program. He may find the challenges exciting and they may be willing to offer more year round if he shows he's got potential.

 

It would be nice to have it all mapped out and sit back and watch a career unfold seemlessly, but ballet/dance doesn't seem to offer many straight and easy paths. If you find that easy path count your blessings!!

 

Enjoy the ride!!

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