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Ballet Talk for Dancers

On the Authority of Whom?


Natarajasana

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My new 13-year-old wants to become a professional ballerina. After a number of years at a Dolly Dinkle advertised and marketed as training by a professional and a few years at a competition studio filled with drama and back-stabbing, our whole entire family has learned that dance is a business and training is subjective. Coming from NO background in dance, I naively trusted those early teachers because of their reputations and community status, and spent two years after we left the first studio scrambling to catch my daughter up with her peers that had been trained at better places. So with that as our history and not enough finances to relocate, I am in a quandary.

 

My DD has been at what is billed as a pre-professional school (with a national reputation) for a few years now and has been accepted into numerous big SI's over the past few years. Under the advisement of the pre-pro school and to be rid of the drama, we left the competition studio b/c our pre-pro strongly discouraged outside training. The pre-pro school believes and alerts the parents repeatedly that their training is enough. While our pre-pro actively discourages outside training, approximately 75% of the pre-pro students DO supplement their classes. And the school is aware and will recommend specific outside teachers if asked. Confusing, huh? They don't want you to take outside classes, but will tell you where to take them. :wallbash:

 

Based on the information I have gathered on this site, I have always been concerned she's been under-trained at this school with other pre-pro peers her age. But with their reputation, I just assumed I was wrong. We took some time off and trained only there, but after a while we began supplementing outside again. Rather than worry about being wrong, I'm learning to trust my gut a bit more. I'm learning more, and she's talking more about what really happens in her classes. And with our history, I am far less trusting of the school just because they claim they are "professional."

 

This year, the training seems far more sporadic. And sadly, there are no other options for pre-professional training closer than 1-1/2 to 2 hours away. So we are quietly supplementing with extra classes at other locations. While our community does not have a single comprehensive location for professional training outside of our school, it does have some AMAZING retired professionals that still teach individual classes in multiple locations. I am confident that my DD's training with these few outside individuals far surpasses her training at the pre-pro. Yet, it's her pre-pro's reputation which has gotten her recognized and opened a few performance doors.

 

Because the number of pre-pro students continuing to train outside of their program is increasing, stress levels at the school are building. I have been asked to justify WHY I think my daughter needs additional training since "I obviously have no dance experience." While the school does have a history of training professionals, that history was quite a few years before we arrived. In more recent years, good dancers leave for better schools before they ever graduate. The current teachers have become apathetic and lazy and our students are apt to spend as much time watching videos about ballet as they are actually dancing, not to mention sporadic class cancellations, schedule changes, and teachers forgetting to show for classes (infrequent, but it happens).

 

So how do I respond? They only way I know my daughter needs more training is because of what I've read on this site and what I've been told by parents of other older dancers. She is 13 and has been en pointe almost two years. Her current class schedule at the pre-pro is:

 

3 - technique classes per week (90 minute each)

1 - pointe class per week (20-25 minutes)

1 - modern class (60 minutes)

 

THAT'S IT!!!!! In January, she will gain an extra 90 minute technique class, but we have been alerted to no other changes. Am I wrong in thinking that is definitely NOT enough???? In my gut, I know if we were to do only those classes, she wouldn't stand a chance at SI auditions or with future potential! How do I tell them I know that? On the authority of whom? They are really playing on the fact that I have no dance experience and they know best. :nixweiss:

 

We are supplementing with three additional teachers (all retired professionals that reached soloist or principal levels with professional companies). We currently have added three additional technique classes (90 minutes each) and two additional 1 hour pointe classes. We do allow her to skip one of the additional techniques whenever she's tired or had a hectic week, but added it in as a safety (since we have had times when our pre-pro classes were cancelled or rescheduled as video days) with the hope she'd get a consistent five days of technique each week.

 

The school is saying that I'm overworking her and that their training is more than enough for her to become a professional. She's not getting injured and she love's her extra classes. We've had a number of talented dancers leave the school recently and are wondering if it's not time we do the same. Thoughts or recommendations from anyone who's been through this before??????

 

 

 

 

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It is good not to burn bridges in the ballet world, because it is small. However, something tells me your gut is right about the quantity of training. While the quality may be just fine, it is also important that the quantity matches the quality.

 

I would respond by saying exactly that: "My daughter loves her classes here, and loves her teachers, but she does wish she could feel more competitive in terms of the quantity of classes offered for her level. It would be wonderful if we didn't have to supplement with outside classes! When will you be implementing a more intensive schedule for her level?"

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The schedule you described consists of 6 hours of classes. I am not one of the experts on the board, but for a 13 year old at a "pre-pro" school, that is a pretty light schedule. 9-12 hours would be more like it, but it sounds like you are getting that by supplementing your classes.

One thing I've learned from being in your shoes is to trust your gut and do what you think is best for your child.

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Can your dk take class at her studio one level lower to increase her hours and refine technique? This could increase hours and get the faculty off of your case .... however, even if this would work for your dk I agree with the others... trust you intuition!!

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Momma, no we cannot take extra classes there. I did ask about that. Our schedules are assigned at the beginning of each year. Occasionally, someone will get moved up or down, but that is not typical.

 

Clara76 and cakers, thanks for your input! I'm finding I have become so emotional about the whole issue that I feel I have lost my objectivity and rationalization for how to best manage the situation. And in my paralysis, I find I am doing nothing productive besides driving to extra classes. Clara76, your suggested response is both respectful and direct for the situation! I've managed to lose the ability to compose those responses of late! :whistling:

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Your description doesn't sound like a pre pro to me. Is the school connected with a professional or RDA company? You said they have a "national" reputation? What does that mean exactly? My DD used to attend a school that tooted their horn as the best. I didn't know squat diddly do about ballet and believed them. YIKES! I've learned a lot since then.

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I mean this is the most respectful way, but I don't see a huge problem with the schedule.

 

The OP's dd is a new 13 year old. Here are the general age guidelines for a 13 year old.

 

Age 13- at least 4-5 ballet-only classes of at least 1.5-1.75 hours each, followed by pointe class at least 2-3 times; other dance genres appropriate for these levels are: Character, Jazz, Modern, Ballroom, Rep and Variations, Pilates or Floor barre/other exercise.

 

In Jan she will have 4 tech classes plus pointe and modern. If she is doing also doing pointe at the end of her tech class, is there really a big issue here?

 

It doesn't seem like her schedule is so far off from other pre-pros. There are big name schools with similar schedules.

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My issue is with the current schedule, and the lack of pointe classes following technique. She should have at least 2-3 pointe classes per week. But you are correct that come January, the number of weekly ballet classes will fit within the range! :yes:

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