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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Large 'big name' pre-pro versus smaller pre-pro

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So we might be back to the beginning question - should you turn down an opportunity to attend a pre-pro school at a young age?


Well, my dd has never found herself in this situation, and I have no personal experience with big 3-letter pre-pros. However I can say that I would not go out of my way to send my child to such a program at a young, pre-teen age. I never wanted to encourage my dd's hopes to be tied to one particular company or path. I would prefer to find the best training available that kept options open, and everyone in the family healthy, sane and developmentally appropriate; then let the chips fall where they may. If that produced a dancer that caught the eye of a big pre-pro/company later on, then that's great and I'd cross that bridge at that point. To me, it is a bit like the whole idea of, if you don't get your kid into the right pre-school, then s/he may never make it into Harvard.


If the pre-pro is a stone's throw away, won't cost me my retirement, my marriage or my other children, and works for my child so she is actually growing into a happy, healthy mature person who is also a great dancer and loving it, then I wouldn't automatically turn it down on principle. If the negatives outweigh the positives, however, then I have seen too many fabulous, successful students out there, trained by fabulous teachers outside of the big 3-letters, for me to be convinced that there are only one or two choices worth considering during the early years. And yes, too much confusing rejection, too soon, would definitely be included on my list of negative things to think about.


I don't really want to take this off topic, but this thread does make me thing about Malcolm Gladwell's latest book where he considers the concept of the top and bottom 25% of any class. He posits the idea (with supporting research) that the sense of success can actually generate tangible, real-world success, and vice versa, in academic situations. So, the bottom 25% of a Harvard class might actually be performing at a higher level than the top 25% of a public university, yet the latter may go on to greater achievements in their professional careers, whereas that overachieving bottom 25% at Harvard may drop away from their chosen course altogether. Often on this board I've actually heard that in reverse - that those students who are not at the top often develop the strength and resolve that is so critical for them to succeed in the professional ballet world, whereas the top of the class may often suffer from complacency. Although, I imagine that the top few at the big-3 typically land well. However, I do wonder if this concept also comes into play where a child is removed from a highly competitive, stressful ballet environment and finds success in a smaller, less competitive school that affords them more attention and opportunity to thrive. And if that is so, then perhaps it is another approach to take when looking for an answer to this thread's question. Wouldn't it be nice if some dance major conducted statistical research to see if the same result patterns emerge in dance training as in academic arenas? Even though our dancers are trained to be a strange, tough breed, they're still dealing with the same basic psychological stuff as the rest of the population!

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  • vagansmom


  • Balletpop


  • buzzandmoo


  • est


I have not read Gladwell's book but I'm sure that makes sense. I did read the Confidence Code by Katty Kay recently. It's a book about confidence and woman. The general theme is that confidence trumps competence. I'm not so sure that this applies directly to the field of ballet but perhaps if we look at dancers with equal competence, we can see how confidence really enhances performance. So to make this relevant to this forum I think it is worth considering whether or not the school, big pre-pro or smaller pre-pro, is adding to our dancers confidence. Does this school make my daughter or son feel capable and good about themselves? That might make the difference between a corps or principal level in the future.

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Balletpop this is perfect. My dd has lost all confidence in herself & her performing skills at the school she's been at for the last three years. It was a subtle attack with remarks by teachers, placement, roles. It has effected her dancing, technique & performances. We will not be returning. Hopefully the damage can be undone.

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Amazing thread. I am learning so much!

I can see how the confidence aspect might spur a dancer to seek out opportunities that the less confident might not seek. I would imagine that when it comes to SI choice, the teacher would steer the student to the best program, but do all kids get that individual guidance, or is it only the top few? Do kids have to seek out that guidance, usually? How do you know if your student is ready for privates? How do you know if your student should do two SIs? As a parent, do I need to be super-confident in encouraging my child to seek opportunities, or will the school guide my dancer, or is it a bit of both? Being a dance parent is not for the faint of heart! :)

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For my daughter.....her 5 years at SAB have had an equal number of positives to negatives. In answer to the question of should you pass up an opportunity to attend one of the big names for the younger divisions...our answer would be yes. If the school (like SAB) is really not considering any of the students seriously until they are, say, 13-14, wouldn't it stand to reason that seeking out the best training (smaller classes, more hands on, performances) be more important than a name? I am extremely lucky.....if anything my DD's confidence has soared since leaving. She is thrilled at the idea of performing (almost never at SAB) and no longer worrying about getting cut...that is HUGE. One of the true ironies is her dancing at SAB really improved once the decision was made...to the notice of all her instructors! LOL

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Sounds like things are going to work out well for your daughter buzzandmoo. At big pre-pro schools, every class can feel like an audition. Perhaps now that the decision is made, she can relax and enjoy dancing again.

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Yes, I agree with Balletpop,, buzzandmoo. Sounds like your daughter has a good head on her shoulders and that she loves dance. She'll thrive!!!! And her mom sounds supportive, involved, and pretty awesome, too.

Thank you for sharing your story. I've learned a lot. Lots of good karma to the both of you! :)

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