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Switch from local studio to professional dance school?


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My daughter was accepted to a ballet company's academy training program. I'm torn because while I believe it will be an incredible resume builder, she feels after spending the summer there that the level is too easy. She wasn't promoted for the fall year round, however, she has still asked us to go. Her current ballet school has great training and a great teacher .... We are just trying to help provide the best opps. at the top dance company in our area! Any advice? She would be giving up story ballets and big recitals for this - and this could turn into an incredible opp for her. Need experienced advice please!

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My son was accepted into a large, company-affiliated ballet school when he was in 2nd grade. He was thrilled to go, and I was thrilled to send him. He attended for 2 years, and he enjoyed it.


The summer between 3rd and 4th grade, he attended a short summer session at a friend's local dance studio, and he fell in love with it. I was very surprised to hear him say that the academy was boring but this studio was fun. He wanted to get on stage more, do more tricks, take mixed-age classes with older kids, be in a junior company, and all those types of things that local studios tend to offer that large academies do not.


So, he left the academy and attended this reputable local ballet school for the next 5 years. Later, when he was 10th grade, he realized it was time to return to the professional academy. He auditioned, and all his old teachers remembered him from when he was there earlier. He was accepted, and he attended all last year and will be there again this year when he's in 11th grade.


So, for my family it worked out okay to go to an pre-professional academy at a young age. For my son, it wasn't nearly as fun or exciting as the local school, but it was a good experience for those couple of years.


Things can change year-to-year, so if you decide on the academy for this year, it doesn't have to be a permanent decision if she ends up not liking it.

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Slhogan thank you so much for sharing your feedback and experience. My daughter will still continue to take a few other dance classes at our local studio, and she will also continue some competitive dance training and experience. At the same time I want to trust the expertise of this organization. While her local studio has an excellent ballet program with several performance opps and a pre prof company, I feel like she's still young enough to go experience other places. However, next year she would be starting pointe, which she definitely wouldn't be starting anytime soon at this company-affiliated school.

Edited by Tinydancer5678
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Tindydancer5678, you might want to check out the Pointe Guidelines written by our esteemed Teacher-Moderators: http://dancers.invisionzone.com/index.php?showtopic=1248


Age 10 is rather young to be put on pointe. Although not unheard of, it generally is not recommended to do so that young. That is why the company-affiliated school is going slower. I am not wishing to start (another) debate, but just wanted to acquaint you with the generally held views. If you do a Search, you will find many threads regarding the issue.


As for your question regarding which school, that really is up to you and your dancer. I would, however, review the Age Appropriate Training Guidelines (our Teacher-Moderators have prepared, locate at the top of this Forum in the Pinned Topics) and see how your current studio measures up and then check out the company-affilitated school and see how it measures up.


Ballet training is a slow-boiled process. At age 9, your DD is just beginning her actual ballet training. It is always better to learn things correctly at the beginning than have to break bad habits or incorrect technique later on. Sometimes doing more earlier creates problems in that regard.


As slhogan illustrated, it is not always necessary to go to a company-affiliated school early on (or ever, for that matter)----as long as the training at whatever school you chose is good training with proper technique and age-appropriate skill training. Finding and recognizing good training sometimes, however, is the trick.

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Dancemaven thanks so much for your feedback. Yes, I did come across that list and was grateful to read it.


I kind of have my hesitations about starting pointe so early, too. However, I was surprised to learn that there are several 10 almost 11 year olds starting pointe at the company-affiliated school. I suppose that's still a little older than 10.


If my daughter was doing all of this for complete rec, then we wouldn't be looking outside our studio. And it does have a great program, however I feel the training for the younger ones doesn't fine tune like I know the training at the company-affiliated school will. The studio does, however, have an excellent more intense program for older kids.


I can only go on what my daughter says and the intensive this summer didn't allow parent observation. I'm concerned it could be a year of unhappiness once it starts because it's not at the level she's used to. And we will be sticking with it for the year because I think it's best to not just quite halfway.


I have some ballet training but was nothing like my daughter. So when I see young children doing things way beyond their years incorrectly I do cringe. I agree that honing things now makes more sense.


I know it's still too early in her life but her dream is to dance professionally. She's very headstrong and mature in her thinking. Even though she was disappointed they didn't promote her, she "gets" what this opportunity means for her future. So I feel compelled to send her to let her see what happens and what she wants to do.

Edited by Tinydancer5678
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As dancemaven explained, sometimes "too easy" isn't really too easy at all. It's actually slower for the purpose of finesse. The fact that she was not promoted for the year round may indicate that there is more finessing to do.


Another bit of food for thought is that the big name academy does not always provide the best training for the particular student. When my teen was looking for other training opportunities, we naturally went to our local company school. We watched a performance where the most advanced students and company trainees were heavily featured. That was all we needed to know to eliminate that school from the list. We had looked there first when she was 9 and felt she was better off at a smaller school where she would get more personal, hands-on attention. She was a young dancer who did best with actual hands-on vs class corrections. As an older teen, she was less than impressed with the top levels and company trainees as a group.


One other issue to look at is retention. In the years that I have been following BalletTalk, there has always been discussion about the lack of dancers who trained at a school from the beginning at certain big name "three letter" schools where students are assessed out along the way, Sometimes, people get very excited about their children attending one of these schools at a younger age because of the prestige, etc.

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MelissaGA - yes, this is all very true. There certainly are a LOT more performance opps at her current school. Sure, the older kids at both schools are heavily featured for sure. I appreciate your feedback.

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As it sounds like you can do both this year, I think that is great! In our case, I thought we had a good local studio with performance opportunities. After a summer intensive at a pre-pro program, I realized it was not as good as I thought. In retrospect, I wished we had switched earlier.


One of the things we learned was that our non-prepro taught a lot of "vocabulary" and what seemed to be more advanced work when compared to the pre-pro that has a set curriculum. Part of this, I believe, was teaching to the choreography necessary for the performances regardless of whether all dancers were ready for it.


I do not have a ballet background. So at the beginning of dd's dance life, it was all about the recital and the tutu. ? Advancement was seen in terms of when dd was taught something new. Now, after years of learning and watching ballet, I can understand and appreciate the slow-boil process like dancemaven mentions. I can see the difference it makes when I watch dancers of similar ages at the different studios. Although one group might be doing fouettes, it is hard to watch. It is so much better to see beautiful and consistent single pirouettes of the pre-pro.


Hopefully, there will be opportunities for you to observe your dd's level and the levels above this year to give you an idea of the progression at both locations. Best wishes!

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Harbordance - thanks for your response. I don't know - I think that may be a little much to do both schools in addition to all of the other dance she wants to do plus a few competitive dances she is signed up for. I suppose we could wait a month or so and then assess the situation.

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My misunderstanding! ? Definitely don't overdo it. That has a separate set of concerns. ?

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I also think it should be noted that most prepro schools don't consider the classes to be prepro until a certain level, regardless of the fact that they require auditions at the lower levels.

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AB's Mom - yes I agree - we are going for the training for sure. I just hope the lower level training is as strong as the older dancers. I'm sure it is. Just weighing a lot of factors. Thanks for your feedback.

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I'm pleased to report that my daughter came home from the new school's SI talking about how they are breaking steps down. She said her legs may be sore. I think this school is the right move - to fine tune technique. However, her close friend and another student were asked at role call why they weren't staying and how much she hoped they would come back in the future to train year round. And my DD was told she needed to work harder because she knew she could and gave her two specific areas to work on.


I was thrilled to hear this feedback for her, whereas I think she felt it was negative. I told her she probably knows you're coming year round and is wanting to help you be the best you can be!

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We are making a similar move with our ten year old. It may feel slower for her at first, but I want her to get the basics down well and learn them safely. Some people think putting a kid in a "serious" school at a young age makes you a pushy mom, but I think for us it's the opposite. It won't be a crazy amount of hours and she won't be able to start pointe until at least 11.

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Tinydancer5678, picking a ballet school is like picking or shopping for a diamond. People invariably opt for a bigger diamond of lesser quality, than a smaller diamond of more flawless quality.


Tha being said, dd went to a large prestigious.ballet school for seven years (starting at 6) and probably would have been better leaving around 11-12. It was a great experience, in company attached schools with a pre-pro school, it can be rare air, which has a great deal of other advantages, seeing more performances, seeing professionals work behind the scenes, performing in company productions.


However for each of the benefits I think of there is a tangible downside, which as up lifting as it appear to be for some it can be quite crushing.


Small brilliant is the smarter way to go, but harder to say yes too.

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