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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Brick-and-mortar high school options at pre-pro schools--advantages, d

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I would love to hear from parents and dancers about their experiences with any brick-and-mortar high school options that your pre-professional schools allow or recommend. I know that the moderators will want detailed discussions of particular programs redirected to the program threads, but I thought a general discussion of this topic in one thread might be interesting and helpful to some.



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Yes, please do put specific information on the respective school threads. But general conversations about first hand experiences while in a ballet program with a brick and mortar high school is desired. Remember for the purposes of student school related threads, the experiences should be first hand from attending and participating.


But thank you mln for starting a new thread!

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From your comments in the thread from which this one arose....I noticed that you are hesitant to talk with the dance school about academics. I completely understand your hesitancy. When my daughter was a freshman in high school, we chose to keep her at our community "brick and mortar" school because they worked with her ballet schedule. We were very happy about the arrangement. The ballet school (The Rock School) told me that she wasn't serious enough about ballet and needed to be in their academic program. One major reason we began looking for other options was their manner of pressuring us by casting our daughter in solo roles and then pulling her because she had "school." Academics became a thing that we just couldn't discuss with the school. We weren't satisfied with their option and in the end, we chose to leave. We were in the process of putting options together when she was offered the opportunity to train with The Royal Ballet.


The offer was a godsend not only for her ballet training but for an academic solution that we could accept. The contrast in attitude about academics was remarkable. We not only discussed their program and A-level offerings but our wish for our dd to also work on her own time to graduate with an American high school diploma too. She did this, on her own, through on-line courses. The school and the pastoral head even arranged for her to be in quiet rooms and her final year, she had a room in the dorm all to herself because of her need to study at night and on the weekends. Another student was able to schedule piano lessons through the school and she was apparently a skilled pianist. It didn't hurt her at all, she was hired by The Royal Ballet and just a few years later, she is a first soloist!


The difference between the first scenario and the latter was a difference in their business model and their respect for their student's individual interests and needs. The first school charged extra for the academic program, the second did not- academics were part of the whole program. Also, the first school's students received a high school diploma from an on-line high school, the student's at the second school received a Diploma in Dance and Advance academic credits and diplomas for each A-Level course completed. If academics or other pursuits (I think you mentioned piano) are important to your son and part of your family values, it's helpful to know what the ballet school thinks about it. If they don't agree or make you or your ds feel insecure about his interests, I would take that into serious consideration and if it were me, I would mark that on the negative side of the equation for that school.


I also noticed that you seem worried that your son's joining a training program for his senior year might put him at a disadvantage. In both of the schools with which we have first hand knowledge, we saw students join for the final year of the program and they did just fine.

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As my DD finishes up her first year away at a residency with the brick-n-mortar academics, I have to say that it has worked out well. One advantage is that she is not spending time in the car, on the way to school, from school to dance and home. She is a 90 second walk from her dorm to the studio and another 90 seconds to academics. She spends her entire day in leotard, tights and warmups. She is dancing at least 41/2 hours a day (and often more). Also on the upside, teachers are pretty tuned into what is going on in the ballet side of the house.... there are not big papers/projects due during heavy rehearsal periods like Nutcracker tech week etc.


Academics were (and still are) extremely important to us in making this decision for her to go to a residency pre-pro. We knew that a homeschool online option or a something cobbled together would not work (for us.) My own personal questions about academic rigor of some online programs were irrelevant because DD likes school and is a traditional learner in that she likes classes and discussions, etc. She wanted a traditional classroom experience.

On the downside, she has to make time to do her laundry, go to the store (yes, there is are several food options, but she wants to supplement what is offered), etc. Privacy is a bit of an issue, because there are always people around. Roommates, friends, etc.

As you know, nothing is perfect. I miss her and I wish she were closer to home. But she is happy and the training and academics are going really well. We are not married to this decision and will re-evaluate as needed, but for NOW... it is the right place for her.

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Ours is a similar story, Mdballetmom, just a little further along. Our DD has now been at a Residential ballet prepro program with "live" academic teachers for four years. She is a good student, but we thought she needed the classroom experience to learn. At first, we were a little concerned about the quality of the academic program. But the school listened and made academics a priority. Now we are quite pleased with the quality of her education. They have started offering graduate level classes as well.


She did take one on line class one summer (when the there was a time conflict between two classes she wanted to take). It was not a good experience, On line learning in high school is fine for some, but would not have been pleasant for us.


Her SATs show evidence of good learning, but are not the very highest. We asked her to reach to apply to very competitive colleges at the same time she auditioned for dance companies. She was accepted into all the colleges to which she applied. Apparently all that hard work and living away from home is valued by schools! She is able to defer college for a while, so she will wade into the murky pond of dance first.


We are happy that she wanted to graduate from a brick and mortar high school. She turned down two excellent company affiliated opportunities to stay there. She realized when she turned down those spots that it may take a little longer to find the perfect dance job. She does have dance offers, but that strong academic underpinning makes us feel better about her long term options in life.

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This is such great feedback, and it gives me a sense of what to look for!


Swanchat, your first experience does indeed demonstrate why I am hesitant to bring up academics or secondary interests in any initial conversations with pre-pro programs. I am wary of situations in which brick-and-mortar students are treated like second class citizens or in which kids with interests in music or science are viewed as less serious. This really is a lot of silliness! It's not hard to find professional ballet dancers who are musically inclined. Some are even composers! And we've all heard about the ballet dancers who pursue a second career in the medical profession. Surely, these dancers had interests in music and science in high school and found ways to nurture those interests along with their ballet training!


I love the NBS and Royal Ballet support for the whole kid! I'm also glad to hear that I'm not the only parent insisting on face-to-face high school instruction. I realize that some kids really thrive with the flexibility of cyber-schooling, but I don't think my ds would get as much out of it as he gets out of traditional school. It's partly a matter of how he learns.

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It's better to know ahead of time before you commit to a program that doesn't fit your dk. I know it's difficult to ask but it doesn't work well if your goals are not in sync......This is too hard! I wish you the best of luck.

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