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Boydancermom

Two performances in one season?

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Boydancermom

I'm hoping that this won't become a big issue but just thought I'd ask for perhaps those of you who have faced this possible dilemma.

 

Our 14 year old son is one of the only classical ballet boys in our smallish city. He has been cast in his studio's Christmas show in 3 roles. It's not the Nutcracker - it is an original production but sadly, isn't well attended (last year, half the theater was empty).

 

A professional ballet company headed by two well-respected directors in the ballet world were asked by our city to produce the Nutcracker this year in our city's beautiful, brand new large performing arts center. This was met with animosity by the local dance studios. They do not have access to the arts center this year (two just started dance companies and hope to gain access in the future).

 

The professional ballet company directors attempted to reach out to the local dance studios in May in the hope that they could calm down any ruffled feathers. The arts center also tried to get everyone on the same page with a meeting a year ago, the director of the professional company director also visited the studios to watch classes and sent out audition notices to all the studios. It turns out that none of the studios passed them onto their dancers except one (whose owner will be running the rehearsals). I knew that the new Arts Center was planning it so I found out about it on their website.

 

My son's dance mentors outside of our city told us that despite the politic environment that our son should still audition - if not for a part, but to make a valued connection with the respected company director. I let our son's studio owner know that he was auditioning and asked him if he could leave 30 minutes early from rehearsal and they refused - so he went a bit late.

 

As it turns out, the company director remembered our son from watching him in class and said that he is talented and a hard worker (the hard worker part was music to my ears.....). He also told me that despite what I was told by another respected ballet instructor that it wasn't "now or never" for him to go away this year (whew!). At any rate, I didn't think there were many roles to be given since the professional company members will be doing all the solos - but our son was given the role of Fritz. I thought he would be too tall but I guess not. I asked a former NYCB dancer/mentor to our son who has seen this company's version of the Nutcracker and he says that in their version, Fritz has a good dancing and theatrical role - definitely something he should do.

 

We are hopeful that the two rehearsal schedules won't conflict - and it looks like there is fair to good chance that they won't - but I'm worried about the politics of it all, and also - if there are a few conflicts - how do we deal with that? This is likely our son's last year in our city and he certainly doesn't want to burn any bridges but he sees the benefit in having connections with the director of this company (he liked him a lot in the audition) and the performance opportunity with a professional company. It's late and he is still up worrying about it.

 

The AD of the outside company said that it's unfortunate about the politics and that the local studios aren't putting the dancer's best interests first.

 

I know this is likely a unique situation - but just wanted any advice on how to navigate what could be potentially be a tricky situation.

 

 

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Momof3darlings

How to navigate? With tenacity and with caution. Anytime, the political environment in an arts community becomes problematic there is usually a very sound reason. Since you can't change and are not participating in that (the political part) by crossing the lines that it appears have been drawn (you have crossed them right or wrong), then you simply have to do the best you can. Our local arts scene has a few of these problems also and they are tricky at best.

 

A couple of things:

 

The AD of the outside company said that it's unfortunate about the politics and that the local studios aren't putting the dancer's best interests first.

Possibly there has been enough damage done along the way that the local studios are putting their dancer's best interests first in the manner they believe is best for them. There is no way to know unless you know the history, the issues that have arisen, and any resolution of those issues.

 

We are hopeful that the two rehearsal schedules won't conflict - and it looks like there is fair to good chance that they won't - but I'm worried about the politics of it all, and also - if there are a few conflicts - how do we deal with that?

 

 

Let's think about this for a minute. There are two productions surrounding the same time frame, he has auditioned for both and you're "hopeful" they won't conflict? I would think knowing whether or not they would conflict would be a huge piece of information to know before allowing him to audition for both or before accepting both positions. If they work out then he has the best worlds. But if they do not, you have put him in a situation in which he may have to make a choice or one may be made for him. The show must go on and if either feels the conflicts are problematic then it is in their best interest to do what is best for the production. I would suggest as soon as you have both schedules you discuss any conflicts quickly with both parties. It is important for you to remember that in areas where there are not alot of classical young men to fill the role of Fritz that female students have performed that role dressed as males so knowing the answer ahead of time in regards to navigation is important.

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Boydancermom

Hi Momof3Darlings

 

Great points! I think I understand the issues (outside company is hired to come into the plumb new Arts Center in the first year because of all the in fighting between studios in town and the fact that none of them can fill seats on their own unless they work together which hasn't happened. Lots of egos and old bad blood. Their revenue stream and egos are being threatened by a professional company being brought in. From what I have heard and seen, the outside company director did everything he could to work with the studios, they all had a meeting and he visited their studios individually.

 

Regarding the schedules - I told the new outside company that there might be conflicts and they said "audition anyway". His home studio only schedules rehearsals a week in advance so that is problematic. The company website says that their rehearsals are on Saturday/Sundays - Sundays won't be a problem. His home company rehearsals (IF he has to be there - they are currently also rehearsing a Fall show which he isn't cast in ) are on Saturdays between noon and 3pm. I am praying that the company rehearsals are outside the noon to 3pm timeframe. I should find out in the next week. If not, as you say, choices will need to be made.

 

Thanks for your advice.

 

 

 

 

 

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vagansmom

This is the sentence that stands out to me: "This is likely our son's last year in our city and he certainly doesn't want to burn any bridges but he sees the benefit in having connections with the director of this company (he liked him a lot in the audition) and the performance opportunity with a professional company."

 

As Mo3D says, proceed with caution. However, I think your situation is a bit different from the usual "My child has been invited to perform in two Nutcrackers" by virtue of it being a visiting professional company that I believe from your post your son aspires to dance with some day.

 

My husband and I own a dance studio, Irish, not ballet. Ours is a small school in a rural area. From time to time, we lose dancers, long-loved, to another studio. Yes, it hurts. We had plans for them dance-wise. We'd been mapping out the schedule of advancing their technique. Some go and return, while others leave for good. It's the nature of the profession. And yes, it hurts our finances too. These local companies are probably reeling from the pro company's replacing their holiday performances, a very important source of revenue for the locals. But they can't stop the floodwaters after the dam has burst. They will have to adjust and frankly, it's horrible for them. In fact, I remember when it happened to Boston Ballet several years ago. They were pushed out of their regular performance theater, the Wang, by, of all groups, the Rockettes. I would HATE it if something like that happened to my studio.

 

But I do believe that a dance director must view the situation from the student's perspective, especially when we're talking about important networking for a future job. This is a chance for the professional company directors to really SEE your son. It's a golden opportunity and all too many students don't ever get that kind of chance. My daughter's professional career happened as a direct result of an AD who set a ballet on her class at her home studio when she was 14. He never forgot her. She still had to audition at age 18, but he already knew a lot about her work ethic, her dancing, her temperament, and her team spirit. That really helped her land that job.

 

So it's really an awful situation for the dance director of the local school. I know I would be heartbroken out of fear that I may lose this dancer, but I'd have to swallow it and be willing to share him for the performances. As an aside, I think that if this were a female dancer, the circumstances would be different and she'd lose the chance to dance in future performances with the local company. You're lucky it involves your son, not a daughter.

 

Also, it's a feather in the cap of the local company's teachers who have raised this fine, young dancer. So be very appreciative,very diplomatic, but also know there is no way you won't be hurting feelings AND decreasing income for your son's ballet school. But that's their business. Hehe, the capitalist society adjusts. Yours is to do what's best for your son.

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dinkalina

DS had a similar situation in that he had a home studio, took partnering at another studio and helped with their recital, danced with 2 youth dance companies, and helped out with one performance with the local professional company. Sometimes he was working with 2-3 different places at the same time. We never had a problem with the different groups not being supportive because it came down to needing to share. If they weren't supportive, he didn't work with them. We were lucky in that everyone he worked with seemed to understand they needed to be respectful of the other's schedules and I made it very clear that nothing would conflict with his home studio training. Were he a girl, they definitely would not have been as accommodating but clearly they all needed him to be healthy, happy, and whole. Did they always like having to respect each other? Definitely not, but if they didn't play nice, they lost out. In the end, everyone in our "dance village" gets credit for their part in helping raise DS to be the dancer he is today. It's good for networking relationships, advertising, and business to be accommodating.

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Momof3darlings

 

I think I understand the issues

Actually, in this particular case, I don't think you totally do understand the issues. And frankly for the best interest of you and your son, it's important to just take care of him and his journey and not try to fully understand or question different parties to try and figure it out. In this particular case it is not as simple as it sounds. So I would not jump to sour grapes on the part of the schools or even the pleading of the 5th on the part of the professional company.

 

For the purposes of this thread, I'm going to suggest that we keep to the issue that you and your son face regarding his possible double performance/rehearsal issues and off guesses about any of the parties involved in local politics or why.

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love to see you dance

Vagansmom, I really appreciate your post, it helps to walk a mile in someone else shoes and get a better understanding of where someone may be coming from. DD danced for several studios while in high school, she on occasion she did have conflicts in rehearsal schedules but was upfront about what she could and couldn't do. Although it was clear that her first studio was not happy about her taking additional classes at other studios, they could not meet her needs and we needed to keep her best interest at the forefront. For the most part the different studios were willing to work with her. It is important to maintain a respectful and professional relationship, DD was willing to let the different parties know what she had already committed to and if possible some of them were willing to work around the schedule, if she was willing to give a little too.

Working with different AD's and meeting many guest instructors has helped her be seen and people have remembered her. so in the end it was worth it. It was also a great lesson in how to stay focused on the goal when people tried to pull her into politics

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Boydancermom

Momof3darlings - thanks so much! Sounds like you have some inside scoop and I appreciate your wise words. I will try and ignore the politics and just focus on our son. It becomes difficult, however, when your dancer gets in the middle of a very heated battle. Emotions and studio battles can get in the way of what is best for the dancer. Sad but true.

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MelissaGA

Looking at the nuts and bolts (pun not intended!), you know that the local studio rehearses noon to 3 on Saturdays. You don't know exactly when the professional company will rehearse. The professional company is aware of his possible situation. Because of these facts, before making any other possible waves (intentional or not), you should ask the professional company if your son's weekly commitment on Saturdays from noon to 3pm will be a conflict or not. They are already aware of a possible conflict. They may or may not work around this more specific information. I have seen it done with a youth company for dancers in key roles with certain rehearsals happening only one one weekend day or after a certain hour because of some other commitment,

 

This is presuming you already know the performance schedules and they do not overlap in any way, If they are only a week or so apart, that would also be problematic as tech and dress rehearsals would prevent him from attending rehearsal at the other at a very critical time.

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Boydancermom

Melissa - I just spoke with the instructor that is going to be running the rehearsals with and I told her about the Sat. 12 to 3pm commitment and she doesn't know yet what times their rehearsals will be but she thought that it could be worked out. I'm hoping so. Thanks for the great advice! The two performances are 10 days apart and the tech rehearsals for the first one will be on days where he will only miss classes, not rehearsals. Hopefully it will work out because I know that our son will have a very hard time choosing between the two. Awww....the life of a male dancer.

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dancemaven

Sounds like you have all the answers you need from us here and have decided how you want to proceed. Now you'll just need to work it out with the actual players involved.

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Boydancermom

Thanks all,

 

Well - the out of town professional company said that they would work around his studio's schedule. So that was great news to hear today. However, his home studio said he can't do both performances - that he has to choose. His home studio instructor also told him that he really enjoys coaching him but that if he does the other performance, then that's the end of it. I was very surprised by this.

 

Well - our son made the very difficult decision to do the performance. He will have to leave his studio. Although it's heartbreaking for him, I can't say that would be entirely a bad thing. The instructor has been emotionally manipulative in the past and our son is afraid of him. I know that a student has to be respectful but to be in fear doesn't seem healthy. I have wanted to intervene in the past but I've bit my tongue since I know that my son's social circle was there.

 

Well, when one door closes, another one opens. His mentor outside of town who helped him with an SI audition video, one of the first African American dancers for NYCB, heard about this, stepped in and spoke with the company director whom he will be performing with and the two of them found him another local studio here to study with. All three ballet friends have studied with Ballanchine - whose choreography my son is in awe of. When I mentioned my gratitude for this, a friend of mine very astutely said: this is what adults do.

 

What I have learned today is that it takes a village to raise a dancer. I am very grateful for our son's village.

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momtoemandel

I feel for your son. Our son is very attached to his friends at his studio, so I know it must be hard on your son. I support the decision of your family. We would have done the same thing.

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daisychain

I'm sorry that your studio was not willing to work things out in the way you hoped.

 

We had a similar situation earlier this year while we were in the middle of a move to a different town. For a period of time, we were going to be living part time in both places and proposed to both studios the idea that DD13 could take a couple of classes at each studio, splitting her time. The new studio was fine with that. The old studio rejected the plan and told us just to leave completely. We were shocked, because DD13 was a favorite there, and our family had been heavily involved. I had volunteered hundreds of hours every year. DD13 was sad to say goodbye to her friends and nervous about starting at the new studio, but I was devastated. I know our AD was extremely upset that we were leaving, and her reaction was personal.

 

It was a hard time, but we moved forward, and DD13 is very happy in her new studio. Hopefully your son will discover that his new studio is a better place for him to be than his old one.

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MelissaGA

is home studio instructor also told him that he really enjoys coaching him but that if he does the other performance, then that's the end of it. I was very surprised by this.

 

 

There are some big personalities in the art world (not just ballet) with large egos to accompany those personalities. I'm sorry you had to experience this sort of ultimatum first hand. As you have begun to experience already, the ballet world is very small, so it is wise to not burn bridges whenever possible. However, it is also important to know when a child is in an unhealthy situation and when it is time to move on. Glad you were able to quickly find another training situation for your son.

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