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Ballet Talk for Dancers



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So, DD was invited to participate in NYCDA. She really wanted to do it despite the extra classes and rehearsals it will add to an already busy schedule. Her father and I agreed. But, now I'm having second thoughts. Will the added stress and classes be worth it? Will she really benefit? She is interested in ballet and will be doing a ballet piece in the competition. I know this competition is geared more toward other dance styles, particularly contemporary. So, I'm wondering if this is really the thing she should be doing. Her teacher does not think she should do YAGP so that is not an option (DK does not have the 'ballet body').


I'm not a fan of competition...I always root for the underdog and I always feel bad for the participants who don't win. But, that said, I'm not the one who will be doing the competition. So, I am hoping you will all give me your advice, feelings, thoughts, opinions, remarks, etc. on this matter. I guess I'm asking for either validation that we made the right decision or confirmation that pulling the plug now (before rehearsals begin this summer) would be a good thing. I've benefitted greatly from this forum and once again I find myself needing to rely on the community for advice.


Thanks in advance for your assistance!

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What would the benefit be?


This is something that we have discussed recently in our house. Dd came from a competition background, but just group dances. None of the solos/duos/trios that many routinely do. She has watched recently as friends have gone through the process of preparing a piece to compete at YAGP.


As a result, her arguments into the pro column. She sees preparing for a competition as a way to get large volumes of individual attention. She has watched the few friends who have competed improve greatly during the coaching season prior to the competition. She wants that for herself. She'd also like the challenge of studying the minutia of a variation (her favorite activity in life I think). And, moreover, as she said, she wants the opportunity to take the stage by herself. It's a type of performance opportunity that is just not available to her otherwise at this point in time.


So, those are the benefits as my dd has presented to me. Aside from the attention from coaching, I am not quite as convinced of the benefits. I do think YAGP at the national level is a great experience, but most do not make it there. Obviously, NYCDA is a different ball of wax altogether. But, I do see the value in the preparation and perhaps even in the solo performance aspect. I do know someone who has judged ballet at NYCDA. She is extremely knowledgable about ballet. I would hope they choose judges from the ballet world similar to the person I know. Having been in the more generic dance competition world and having family members still active in it, I can tell you that is not always the case. There are other competitions that do not have judges who know much about ballet- commenting on choreography as if it were original when a classical variation was being performed is just one example. I don't know about NYCDA aside from this one former judge.

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My DD participated in the past, but not for ballet. I think of it more as a fun thing to do especially for competition dancers or dancers interested in many genres. I think there is always value in performance experience. My DD really enjoyed the workshops. She only did it one year and she no longer trains in other styles just ballet.


The finals in NYC is a pretty big dance event.

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My daughter participated in NYCDA for the first time this past year. She did a contemporary ballet piece (on Pointe). This was her first time to compete (never did YAGP but her friends have). It was a very positive experience for her and not overwhelming (as her friends described YAGP). The judge that was speaking into the microphone giving her corrections while dancing (you will get a flash drive of the solo with the judge speaking) was extremely knowledgeable. Actually, we met others that were from "ballet schools" and did YAGP and NYCDA only. As a parent, I very much enjoyed the convention (I sat in on some classes). They had a parent class and that was very informative also. The talent level exceeded my expectations. It was obvious that many of the girls had a lot of ballet training.

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When DD did comp dance, nycda was her favorite competition, and she also placed higher there than any other- she is very much a ballet dancer, so to me, it seems they understand and appreciate ballet technique there. In my (limited) opinion, nycda is the best of the jazz type competitions for a ballet dancer.

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  • 1 year later...

This is an old forum but NYCDA is by far our favorite competitions. My DD did YAGP twice, and has done NYCDA convention twice and competed this year. They are very positive and consider every dancer an individual and really seem to care about them, regardless of their skill level. We have done a few other comps, as my DD loves the conventions! She loves the fast pace and the different teachers and styles. She is by no means a "competition" kid but has gained some great things by doing them. Not only learning and performing solos, but they have helped her be more confident and has helped her be a better "performer" in a class room setting. She has met some amazing people and made some friends along the way (she does this stuff on her own, her studio is supportive but does not do comps)

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  • 1 month later...

My DD attended NYCDA dance conventions several times and found it to be an overall positive experience. Their conventions offer a variety of dance gendres, however, the competition (as do most we found) leans toward contemporary in style especially the higher scored dances. Maybe contemporary pointe routine with an edge to it for your DD?

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DD has done NYCDA in previous years. It is valuable and Joe Lanteri is a passionate and dedicated person who wants to equip dancers to be successful and employed. That said, his focus is on jobs in Broadway and the commercial area. He champions ballet as the base and, in fact, has really promoted a number of very successful ballet dancers (E.g. Catherine Hurlin, Dusty Button). The scholarship opportunity is structured like a Broadway audition. Everyone learns and does a ballet combo and a jazz combo. There are cuts. Finalists do both combos again and winners are announced at the end of the day. It's really a great thing to do if you think that you will be trying to audition in the future on Broadway.


My observations about the classes:

The focus is a large convention-style class in a hotel ballroom. The ballet space is a big problem. No barres. No pointe. Dancing on carpet. One of the ballet teachers is excellent Scott Jovovich (sp?) The other is not very good and there is no discipline or focus in the room. .Ican't take the whole doing ballet in a bra top and shorts. It breaks up the lines so much (but that's my baggage).


The classes can be very crowded and overwhelming. There is intense pressure to get noticed from the teachers and to stand near the front. The kids learn the combos quickly and then do them for the teachers who take note of standouts. The entire weekend is usually a competition for Outstanding Dancer spots. That said, that part of it can all be ignored entirely.


The jazz classes are great (Joe Lanteri, Joey Dowling, Andy Blankenbuhler). The hip hop with Dana is also really excellent. These people are not just super dance teachers but super people.

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