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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Upside / Downside of Repeating Same SI Each Year v. Different One


firedragon0800

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Extrapolating several years out in the future and this upcoming SI season is not even at hand. Yet-my mind is already thinking about next year.

 

Dd, loved her SI so much she decided to repeat, and it wasn't a big deal it seems to do so again this year. But what about next year? (Yes sorry.... I went there) If she feels that she is growing and learning and stretching her boundaries do we consider staying there for another year? What is the upside to going back to an SI year after year? What is the downside?

 

Same two questions for doing a different SI each year?

 

Is there a strategy/checklist at hand for determining or identifying what we will want to accomplish for her in terms of the SI she should pursue.

 

I have seen evidence of several advanced students going to an SI 3-5 years in a row, should we consider the same provided there is no specific instruction to do otherwise from her instructors?

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Ok been business traveling a lot and dd is going strong on her own, so I've been enjoying not feeling compelled not to look at BT4D every other hour.... Was hoping that someone would have posted their insight on this question by now... So just wanted to make it top of mind as I still am looking for feedback.

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As a parent of an older teen (how did that happen so fast?), I suppose it depends on several factors.

 

I know my dd loved her very first away SI. In hindsight, it was simply because it was her first SI. Her first time away with other people who loved to dance, with new teachers with new voices, etc. It was really the experience she loved, not the program specifically. She went into the next audition season knowing some of that and enjoying other audition classes. She had only auditioned for 2 programs that first year and we actually had not intended to send her anywhere (she had gone to her home school program and a second shorter program). So, if this is your dd's first SI, you do have to wonder how much of an effect that sort of situation is having on her decision. If that is the case, she has nothing to compare it to.

 

Dd has now attended a few away programs. She attended one last August where she felt the teaching was consistently excellent and she felt she gained a great deal. She is returning to that program this summer. I hope she has just as great of an experience and is not disappointed. She is a different dancer than she was last year and I imagine has different needs to some degree.

 

Upsides of repeating the same program? You know what you are getting. You may even become a known entity to the faculty. If a dancer is older, it might demonstrate interest in the company, if a company affiliated program.

 

Downsides? Not knowing what else is out there. A dancer's needs change. A program that is just right for a 14 yr old may not be just right at 16. I know the program my dd attended at 15 is one that she thinks would have been better to attend at a later age than a younger age.

 

Also, programs change. This could be an upside or a downside. For ex, there is one program in particular that dd has had several friends attend for 2-3 yrs. The dancers all loved the program very much at younger ages. When the dancers attended the program at a somewhat older age, they were not as pleased. Larger class sizes at the older ages were probably mostly to blame. So, class sizes and numbers of students in various age ranges should come into play in this is as well.

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I didn't see this post the first time for some reason.

 

This year, my DS15 will be attending the same SI as last year. I guess I won't know until the summer all the pros/cons, but a couple have popped up already.

 

PROS:

-- We didn't have to do the time-consuming, expensive audition season. In early January he received an email inviting him back, and he decided to go again. It was a relief to not have to worry about auditioning.

 

-- A lot of the friends that he made last summer are also returning this summer. He had a wonderful time last summer, so he's looking forward to a similar experience.

 

-- Friends and relatives already know the routine. "Oh, you're going back to that place again this summer? Cool!" . That's a lot easier than having to explain the whole SI thing to everyone again.

-- We know what to expect. I'm not feeling that pre-SI anxiety this year wondering what he needs and how it's all going to work out. It's the feeling of visiting old friends or cousins rather than embarking on a new adventure.

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I don't recall how old your DD is now, I'm thinking 13. I think at 13 and even 14, going back to the same place is perfectly fine if she feels like it still meets her needs. I do recall which SI you are talking about and it has repeat attendees year after year - and we are big fans so some of my advice is very pointed because I know the program to which you refer. My DDs attended this same SI at 13. In hindsight, I wish they had gone to the full 5 weeks a year earlier at 12 and attended for two years in a row. The training is solid and there is a benefit to being a known entity. Even my DDs who had only attended said SI for one week the previous August at 12 years old were remembered by the key year-round faculty. Perhaps this particular place is unique in that sense but I doubt it - it's a small world. DDs are going back again this year for two weeks in August and fully expect that certain teachers will remember them.

 

At 14, my DDs went elsewhere but they went to a program more for the unique experience of it than for exposure because the SI at 14 is closely tied to their home studio so there was no "try it out" for a future company experience. I think 14 is the wildcard year. Some will want to start getting the feel for different programs for the future but they are still young enough not to make that the number one priority in the selection process.

 

At 15, my DDs feel it is important to branch out to the companies where they have future potential interest. They will be attending SI this year at their current top choice for long term goals. If they love it, it will be back at the top of the list at 16. If they don't love it, then they will research and figure out what their new number one target is going to be and go for that.

 

So at 12, 13, 14 I think our kids should do what seems right to them without the pressure to figure out the future too early. At 15, future company affiliation or some other unique quality that helps round out their year long experience becomes more and more important. If you are at a school that doesn't perform often, that will weigh heavily. Or a school that is light on partnering, you will seek that out. It also depends on whether or not a move to a bigger, better or just plain different (it happens) program is part of your equation. The draw to be "asked to stay" can be strong at some places. As the parents, we have to be prepared for that scenario and know ahead of time whether it is something that is on the table or not rather than get caught up in the emotions of such a large decision. Hard to believe but you aren't to the stressful years yet!!

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Dd will be 13 at SI and 14 in the fall. It never really occurred to me that dk's might repeat an SI for three or more years, but I have learned quite a few in dd's school are, which got me thinking... Folks of advanced students, have suggested that the only SI's that have any real bearing are from 16 and older as that is when companies start to take real notice, and where it is absolutely necessary. If training is generally pretty decent at said SI it doesn't seem like a disadvantage to have her attend the same SI until 15-16, unless of course her instructors suggest otherwise. I suppose 15 might be the number to think about companies, but I suppose it depends on where your birthday falls.

 

I also don't want to chase something and find it less than what you envisioned, that would be a terrible outcome especially as the summers appear to be essential periods of growth! I also have heard some fears of kids being over exposed to many SI's which never even occurred to me either.

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Firedragon0800 - it also depend on where your DD is academically and how many more years she has for pre-high school graduate training. My DDs have a similar birthday scenario - younger for the entire SI but then have a birthday in late September. My DDs are sophomores in high school now so are young for their academic grade. This gives them one year less before they are technically high school grads, making the 15 year old summer important to start seeing companies in their eyes. If your DD is the opposite and is the oldest for her academic grade, you have a little more breathing room. We also homeschool so the grade level could be adjusted if we wished to stretch out the pre-high school grad training by a year. As homeschoolers, I have front loaded electives in the past two years so they will have less of an academic burden as the training intensifies.

 

I struggle with the SI thing a little bit because wouldn't it be great if they could spend a little bit of time at each of their top XX targeted future companies? But it's just not possible. Pick a handful, rank them unemotionally and without peer pressure (teacher input would be nice but we don't really get too much of that - at best they get affirmation of their choices not really true direction) and trust your judgement. Everyone's path looks different. If any one person claims to have figured out the secret formula just roll your eyes and walk away.

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Mom2two, there in lies the rub... Who am I to choose, I'm not an expert...

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Who am I to choose, I'm not an expert...

I always let my DD choose. She seemed to have the best bead on what she needed/wanted from a summer intensive . . . . . .

 

 

 

Contrary to how it might feel as a parent sometimes, these are not earth-shattering, career-making or breaking decisions. Nothing happens that can't be changed, re-directed. Nothing is ever lost regardless of the decision for any one summer. Just different experiences, all of which go into the stew pot of what will shape your daughter into a productive, respectful citizen. No adventure is without value, whatever it might be.

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Dancemaven, it always helps to reminded of that. I can't help but feel like the more I know the less I know.

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Welcome to the world of ballet, firedragon:)

 

dancemaven is correct. SIs are not the making or breaking of a dancer. Once the dancer gets to, say, age 14-15, they tend to know exactly where they want and need to go for the summer. DD will be starting her senior year soon and she has been the one to determine where she wants to go for the summer since she was 13. Has she always been right? No. Have we always been able to send her? No. However, I can confidently say that it hasn't hurt her one bit. It is the every day training at her home studio that has made all the difference in the world. Each day of class, each summer, is just another piece of the puzzle which makes up a dancer. It is ever evolving and growing, even when they graduate high school and head off to further training programs and companies.

 

We've found that the parents that try to map out a specific path for their dancer(s) are the very parents that are thrown that curve ball. Yes, we have found it out personally, lol. It has been difficult over the years to just let go and let what happens, happen, but it is necessary for one's own mental health. Trying to second guess every decision is just a formula for madness. Enjoy the time you have with your daughter because it really does go way too fast. Enjoy seeing her grow, wherever she winds up during the summer. Enjoy watching her dance in the here and now and just enjoy the ride. The path to a professional career can have many twists and turns, so don't worry about the future. It really will fall into place.

 

Oh, one concrete piece of advice that has helped us tremendously. Even if your daughter decides to attend the same intensive every year, have her audition for as many programs as possible. Auditioners do remember students and you never know when a great opportunity will arise that you didn't foresee ahead of time.

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I agree about having your daughter audition for as many programs as possible: not just in terms of being remembered by the auditioners, but because auditioning experience is very valuable. Dancers learn how to "read a room" to sense how they compare with others, pick up clues on what the auditioners are looking for if there are cuts or they scribble notes at key times, gather ideas for how to "up their game" from better dancers in the room, etc.

 

I also found that my DD was the best judge on where to go each year. For her first SI (which she attended 2 summers), for which she was awarded a full scholarship to come back for a 3rd year, she decided she had gotten all she could out of the program and opted to move on. She always chose programs where she could be in the middle of the pack, not the top. This proved vital to her development as a dancer, as our local studios were not top-notch.

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TwelthNight, Pierrette "AHA" the value of auditions well noted.

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I am not a fan of repeating SIs in consecutive years. Young dancers need to learn to work in new environments and with a wide cross-section of the artistic population. (FWIW, I'm also not a fan of attending with other students from your home studio.) Get out of that comfort zone and grow!

 

That said, my DD is attending the same SI she attended last year. :whistling:

 

She is 17, going for a pre-SI program and staying for the year-round program. It makes sense to repeat. If she were younger and/or not entering the year-round, we would have encouraged her to find another program.

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  • 9 months later...

Just thought I would recycle this thread, mainly because it was really helpful to me in learning the upside and downside to repeating at an SI over a period of time. Also we've reached another milestone it would seem so would like to educate myself more.

 

Dd, who is will be 14 this summer, is going to attend the same SI this year and thus it will be her third consecutive year there, she had another summer of amazing growth this year, but there is that creeping feeling that perhaps "Fonzie has jumped the Shark Tank"...

 

So while we are both comfortable that this the right place for her to be again this summer, also her year round school basically suggests that they go to this SI. I seriously doubt that she would make it a fourth year...

 

Rereading some of the great reponses from mom2two and dancemaven etc. etc. we are or will be, next year at that threshold when we need to consider perhaps seeking company affiliated SI's. She will be 15 when this threshold is reached, so what is it that we need to look at this next step.

 

Dd is still on the professional track so that is still the end goal.

 

Current thinking is that we need to focus on SI's that focus on performance skills, rather than just rote technique, but I'd love to have others who have been there and can help me understand the upside/downside of the next big move.

 

So what don't we know that we should know?

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