Jump to content
Ballet Talk for Dancers

Readiness for the Non-dance Part of Residency?


learningdance

Recommended Posts

We allowed DD to go to residential school when she was a sophomore (15 turning 16). It was, in large part, a snap decision brought on by recommendations made at the SI she attended that summer. Her home studio academy had been on a slow decline, which was speeding rapidly downhill. The number of serious students at her level had decreased, the number of serious students on either side of her level was fairly non-existent, and the number of levels the school was combining was reaching a ridiculous number. In short, she needed to go.

 

We permitted it because the residential school was associated with an award-winning local high school that had wonderful academics. The ballet students were highly respected by the teachers; there was a dedicted guidance counsellor for them. The dancers went to school until 12:30 then came back to the ballet campus for their dance classes.

 

There was a residential advisor (adult) and two dorm residents, who were young adults (either seeking grad degrees or considering). They were very good at their jobs.

 

DD had always been a serious child, a focused, disciplined child, an excellent student (but it came easily). I had never needed to check on homework progress with her. She had learned to be independent academically from the get-go. She was a bit sloppy in her room keeping, a bit scattered in her packing, did her own laundry, made good choices, etc. We were concerned about homesickness, but she really, really wanted to go. So, off she went.

 

I have asked her many, many times over the years if she was happy she did that or if she would change it. The answer is always, 'yes, I'm glad you let me go." and "no, I wouldn't change that decision".

 

She has told me, however, that she definitely grew up ALOT and had to do so pretty fast those first few months there. She told me later of all the shenaningans many of the dancers pulled. And also how wonderfully the two dorm residents handled these issues. She made some wonderful friends, two of whom are still her dearest friends. She has wonderful memories of this residency.

 

Unfortunately, it, too was in flux. She did not return for her junior year, rather she went to another non-residential release-time training program. This time, she lived in an apartment with another dancer, finished high school on-line, and had only a friend's mom for guidance or emergency. She has told me many, many times that without that year at the residency, she would not have been ready for this adventure. This time, at at 16 turning 17, she weathered a wonderful delightful roommate whose parents bought liquor for the apartment and had parties. DD learned quickly that was not her scene and developed her own strategies for removing herself from the parties. Again, she made wonderful friends, one of whom remains a dear, dear friend. She has many memories and was happy with the opportunity.

 

She did quite well, but again, a program that had a major change for the following year. We moved her across country to a different training program, but by now, she was well-equipped.

 

DD's younger sister (by two years), however, did not appreciate DD leaving. She was unable, at the time, to understand her feelings. Their relationship, which had been close, suffered. They grew apart. For that, I am eternally sorry and regretful.

Link to comment
  • Replies 33
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

  • dancemaven

    4

  • Blanche

    2

  • learningdance

    9

  • Noodles

    3

This has been a very eye opening discussion, thank you to all who have shared their stories. I appreciate the frank openness.

 

I have been a bit torn as I look towards the future. On one hand the ballet world is fiercely competitive and I feel a pressure to send my DD away to a residential program. Our home studio encourages us to keep our dancers home until 16-17, I trust them and yet I questioned how this could be beneficial for one who wanted to dance professionally. Now I can see that there is a slightly darker side. Somehow I imagine that all ballerinas are like mine, sweet, innocent and hard working. But the reality is that even good kids can be pulled into behavior that they would not normally be a part of when given sudden freedom. I am glad for the heads up and apparently our AD knows a bit more about kid behavior than I do!!

Link to comment

I can't tell you how very, very valuable all of these stories are. I am truly interested in candid responses and I know that there are many things that I don't know.

 

To me there are absolutely no decisions that we have made to this point as parents that could have more consequence. And I do take it very seriously.

 

I am not a flexible person but this will test my flexibility. I am coming to grips with the fact that I must entertain all possible solutions, including NOT sending her away. I have to really think about her and the costs and benefits as thoroughly as I can. I have to decide what are the "deal breakers" for her as a 9th grader and I am learning that my idea to stay in one place for 4 years may not be realistic or in her best interests. I thank people for bringing this to my attention.

Link to comment

I would also note that DD and I both expected all the dancers at the residential program to be focus, dedicated, etc. After all, these dancers had left their homes, families, and friends, and their parents were paying big tuition prices for the residency plus high school, right?

 

Shockingly to us, there were many dancers who, just like at home, goofed off, used any excuse to miss class, played games to distract teachers during class, etc. When I expressed frustration about that, one of the very wise teachers told me that not all dance students would be like DD and that any where she went, be it class or company, she would find these less focus, less dedicated dancers beside her. It would be up to HER to stay focused and do what she needed to do to dance. Honestly, at the time, I thought this teacher was nuts and making excuses for the residential program.

 

But at each successive training program, be it the well-respected Release Time program for high schoolers, the post-grad professional program, or the BFA program, we learned that the teacher was exactly right.

 

So, if you have a good local option for training through high school, don't think a residency will be any more focused in terms of the dancers surrounding your DD. There will undoubtedly be some, but it certainly won't be all. :wink:

Link to comment

I am not sure that it is wholly a matter of your dancer being "ready" for a residential program, but finding the right residential program for your dancer.

 

Student A thrives with a host family, attending local public schools in addition to the ballet training.

 

Student B cringes at the thought of living in someone else's house and would rather share an apartment and do on-line school.

 

Student C needs a full-on dormitory and an academic advisor/tutor to make sure they are keeping up with academics.

 

Those examples barely scratch the surface of what is out there!

 

You can have the best ballet training in the universe, but if the residential side of the equation isn't right, it will not end well. It's just like those fabulous boots (on sale, even) that are just a size to small. No matter how hard you want them to fit, they are still going to leave blisters on your feet.

 

Our one non-negotiable term was that DD get a spot in chaperoned housing. That was for our benefit, not hers. We trust her to do the right thing and make good choices, but bad things happen. Knowing that she is required to always employ the buddy system and check-in/out of the house provides us with a peace we could not have if she was sharing an apartment.

 

FWIW - DD reports that her biggest surprise is the number of students who have no or very few kitchen skills. Whether going off to school or not, please make sure your children can do more than pour cereal and make a sandwich! ;-)

Link to comment

This has been really helpful as I struggle with sorting out lots of ideas.

 

So funny part of my motivation for this is to help DD FIND friends with similar interests and now I am remembering the difficulty of that-- the competition of all those like minded kids vying for the same roles, SI scholarships, and favoritism of the teachers. And those are the ONLY people that they have access to. Yes, yes. . it becomes a very delicate balance. DD has a great, small group of friends right now. She thrives with small, close knit circles and would be absolutely devastated if someone betrayed her trust.

 

What are the deal breakers? In your opinion what elements of a situation make it completely NOT worth it. Here are a few for us as we think about a 14 year old:

-an environment without full time residential staff

-an environment where there is no clear evidence that the staff care about the students as people

-an environment without a staffed cafeteria

-an environment where the dance training does not appear to be putting people into traineeships, etc.

-an environment that does not value academic performance. (We have seen it and heard of it. Kids (ages 13-15) taking class 9-5 and then "home schooling" at night)

-a location where I couldn't get to her easily were she sick, upset, injured. (e.g. overseas, across the country)

 

I would have to add cost as well because we really can't afford the glorious places like Nutmeg or Rock or Kirov that approach 30-45K per year.

 

I am also seeing that I should not hold out any hope at all that DD would get a contract, 2nd company position, etc. I think that people get in this "Whatever it takes mindset" and then sacrifice values that are really important to them. This is why I can''t have her somewhere that does not really value academics, not so much for later life earnings, but for the educational value that expands her as an artist.

 

Also, I am seeing that keeping her at home, might open up the door for a company affiliated school at 16 or so.

 

Also now she is only 12 and I don't really know what her body or heart will want in a almost 2 years.

 

Flexibility is the key (and I am so NOT flexible). Why does this all require us as parents to grow and develop? ;)

Link to comment

If her home studio is good and she is progressing well, I would keep her home. If you haven't yet, do read the threads for the last several years for the Contracts Congratulations. (I'll try to find the link for the most recent and add it here). It is not necessary to 'go away' for high school years in order to be prepared for a trainee/apprentice position. It is ALL about the training. So, if your home studio provides that, that is all the best.

 

ETA: Here is the link for the most recent year: http://dancers.invisionzone.com/index.php?showtopic=55791&hl=%2Bcongratulations+%2B2013-2014

 

You will find a similar thread for several years prior, also, with a little searching. These threads are for not only announcing and giving congratulations, but also have a 'reporting' element to help folks understand the various paths to 'Rome' and to show that it is not always necessary to go off to a residency school prior to high school graduation or to do YAGP. Yes, those are paths that are taken, but so are various other paths. There is simply no one road that everyone must travel. It all depends on where you are, what's along the path in front of you, and how you choose to get to 'there', whatever 'there' may be. :wink:

Link to comment

My dd, age 15, is in her first year at a residency program. We chose to send her, because we felt it offered the best training available to her at this time, a mostly positive climate, and a safe dorming situation, with all meals provided. The meals are balanced and nutritious, and we feel good knowing that she doesn't have to worry about her meals along with the stress of many hours of dance classes, rehearsals, and academics. We did not expect her to find only like-minded dancers there. We expected that many types of people would be there. As long as she keeps her priorities straight, we are fine with that. She has always been of an independent nature, so we knew she wouldn't suffer excessive home-sickness. She is not particularly neat or organized, but she is learning quickly out of necessity. If we would have required her to fully develop those qualities before leaving, she would have waited a long time! She doesn't want to disappoint her roommate, so she's working hard to improve her neatness! Having been home-schooled her whole life, the independent online schooling is a good fit for her. So far, she is very happy at her residency program and is experiencing great improvement in her dancing as well as her maturity.

Link to comment

Thanks.

If her home studio is good and she is progressing well, I would keep her home. If you haven't yet, do read the threads for the last several years for the Contracts Congratulations. (I'll try to find the link for the most recent and add it here). It is not necessary to 'go away' for high school years in order to be prepared for a trainee/apprentice position. It is ALL about the training. So, if your home studio provides that, that is all the best.

ETA: Here is the link for the most recent year: http://dancers.invisionzone.com/index.php?showtopic=55791&hl=%2Bcongratulations+%2B2013-2014

You will find a similar thread for several years prior, also, with a little searching. These threads are for not only announcing and giving congratulations, but also have a 'reporting' element to help folks understand the various paths to 'Rome' and to show that it is not always necessary to go off to a residency school prior to high school graduation or to do YAGP. Yes, those are paths that are taken, but so are various other paths. There is simply no one road that everyone must travel. It all depends on where you are, what's along the path in front of you, and how you choose to get to 'there', whatever 'there' may be. :wink:

 

I did review the company contracts. It's interesting but it's 18 pages and about 2/3 of the posts are "Congratulations!" Not a problem but there's not a ton of substantive info in those pages. Also, it's hard to tell from the posts if the student was in residency. In fact, you can only glean non residency from the term "local school" which is used in some posts or "college." People will say Pre Pro School or company affiliated school or Small pre pro school without any information if they were residents.

 

The training in her home is very piecemeal. We are cobbling a program with 2 privates a week 2 1.5 hour classes a week from a qualified teacher and complimenting that with classes at a competition studio. It's about 12 hours a week for a 12 going on 13-year old. So, it's not really going to get her there and frankly I could get more for my money (maybe) at a residential school. I am spending 700-800 a month just to get that piecemeal schedule. :wink: I know that it is really hard for people who live in large areas to imagine but that's the way it is in many places. I also work full time and the next best option is 2 hours away, which is not feasible during weekdays.

 

Believe me, I am completely entertaining keeping her home, even more so after reading many of these stories, but ours actually may be a case where it may not be possible (but it may). There is a college nearby that may allow her to audit classes and get what would amount to a full program from an excellent teacher, the trick is that she would be spending her days as a high schooler on a college campus interacting with mostly college kids and homeschooling, which I would not prefer.

 

Bottom line, there must be some type of sacrifice made but I have to decide which sacrifice will have the least impact on my DD and our family, and which we can live with in the future, were there no professional dance career to emerge.

 

I won't sacrifice health, relationships, psychological well-being, or academics. I am raising a person who dances.

 

This has all been very helpful for challenging my assumptions and for helping me to really think this through critically. :D

Link to comment

Learningdance...this statement in one of your previous posts seems to sum it up in my mind ' I think that people get in this "Whatever it takes mindset" and then sacrifice values that are really important to them.'

 

When your values are clear I believe it frees you from the 'whatever it takes' mindset and helps you to make the best decisions for your family. Sometimes things have to bend, but if you are mindful and deliberate about what you are willing to bend, it goes a long way towards making the right decision.

 

Plus, there may be a best option but not a perfect option!

Link to comment

Yes. . .Noodles. You are right and I am being kind of adolescent myself in seeking "the one perfect" option. It doesn't exist. That's life.

 

And of course, as someone else has noted, I need to involve my DD in this all. Before I involve her, though I have to know where my husband and I draw the line, as in what is not acceptable to us. Many, many options are simply not affordable and I also need to get a grip on what we can realistically pay before I go much further.

Link to comment

If you have concern that your DD would only be surrounded by competitive dancers, that is not necessarily the case. I believe the Rock & Kirov have dance-only boarding schools. (I know nothing about Nutmeg.) Schools like Interlochen & Walnut Hill are arts boarding schools where dance students would also be surrounded by music & theater students.

 

If you believe these programs are out of your budget, do investigate if they offer financial aid.

Link to comment

Learningdance if the higher priority is strength and vigor of academics, then I think you have your answer. You CAN get both (excellent ballet training and excellent academics), but I think you would have to move with your DD for the 4 years that she is in high school.

Link to comment

 

Right. So academics are not a higher priority but an equivalent priority. As in, the academics must be equivalent to our area HS and the dance must be better to justify the move and cost and compromise to our family life.

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...