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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Training help


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My DD, 13, is a serious ballet student with aspirations of dancing professionally (don't they all!).  She loves dancing, has the facility for ballet and I am told all of the time by those who watch her dance how great she is and that they can see her as a professional dancer one day.

It seems we are at a tough crossroads in terms of her training, and I've been losing sleep trying to figure out what to do.  She has danced at the same studio since she was 3 years old.  This particular studio has been what is considered the best in town with a former principal dancer (many, many years ago) as the head of the studio and her daughter as the assistant (she danced professionally as well), but neither of them actually do much of the teaching at all. 

Here is our issue.  The class sizes are very large (22-30 students in each class) and the individual students do not get very much attention as there are just too many of them.  It is evident that there are "favorite" students by various teachers and while my daughter has been favorited by a few of them, others seem to completely ignore her.  I have told her that this is common and actually sets her up for the real world as you can't always be a favorite.  The class lengths are not up to the standards listed here for training guidelines.  The classes at her level are generally 1 hour in length and have 45 minutes of pointe 2-3 times per week.  By taking multiple class levels, she has been able to piece together a schedule that works for her.   The levels are really pointless here as every student is moved up to the next level every year regardless, so I don't really even see the point of the levels to begin with.  This studio has many performance opportunities including Nutcracker through a local company as well as a Spring show (this year Giselle) and then a recital in the Spring as well. 

Over the summer, we were made aware of another studio that has recently opened (been open for 1 year) and is run by a Joffrey trained former dancer as well.  DD has attended some classes there and has really blossomed and grown in the month that she has been taking classes there.  The class sizes are small (about 6 students) and they get so many more corrections and attention that she just feels so much more confident and positive when she leaves a class (whereas at the other studio she often leaves feeling negative and defeated and over the years has lost much of her confidence).  This studio does not have recital or any performance opportunities at this time.

  Here is my issue--in my heart I feel that she is getting better training at the smaller studio as they are better able to focus on each individual dancer and correct issues right away.  The teacher here has told me that he is going to do whatever he can for my daughter to make her succeed and that she has the facility for ballet, etc. but if we leave the other studio or even cut back she will effectively ruin her chances at being cast in good roles for shows.  At the moment, I have her registered to attend classes at both studios this fall, but the bulk of the hours come from the larger studio. 

So, is the quality of the training more important or is it more important that she have those performance opportunities available to her?  She feels that if she cuts back hours at the larger studio to take at the other that her casting will be negatively impacted, yet she is much happier at the smaller studio! 


Here is her schedule for the fall (those in italics are at the smaller studio):

Monday: Ballet 1 hour, Contemp/jazz 45 min

Tuesday: Tap 45 min, Ballet 1 hr plus 45 minutes of pointe, Mixed Rep 45 min (this varies weekly and includes variations, pas, etc.)

Wed: Ballet 2 hrs (1.5 ballet and .5 pointe), Ballet 1 hour plus 45 min pointe

Thurs: Ballet 1 hour, Pointe 1 hr, 45 min jazz

Friday: Ballet 1.5 hours, Pilates 1 hr, Pas de Deux 2 hrs

Saturday: Ballet 1.5 hrs, Stretch and Strengthen 1 hr, Pas de Deux 2 hrs

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Hi 3 orincesses3frogs !

i just have a thought about the performance part - for what it's worth -

i always went by the idea that yes, performance is important and if she can get some of that, that's great but more important is the correct training - I've seen parents put the decision to push for roles and stay at places where their children will get a role ahead of real , correct training - if her goal is to be a professional , training is paramount because to me , doing a role but dancing incorrectly doesn't help them ... So as long as she gets to do a little performing ,I would  stick with the more personalized  school. Hope this helps ! 

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I am sure that you will get excellent opinions from the experts on this board however as a parent (which means take my opinion for what it is worth), I cant imagine that any casting or role at your daughter's age has anywhere near the value of proper training. My now 18yo DS doesnt really even recall his performances from that age. Those performances are wonderful and exciting but are temporary pleasures/challenging experiences in my opinion. It is the hard work and the training that goes on for the rest of the year that matters. I will now wait to be corrected :P by those who know more.

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Can you get enough training hours at ONLY the smaller studio?  

In my opinion, I would take quality training any day over taking class in a studio that makes her feel negative and frustrated.  Teenage years are hard enough... and for dancers, they can be especially difficult.  Go for the studio where the vibe is positive and encouraging. You may find that you are not the only ones to switch. 

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I would have to agree here, I believe that quality training trumps performance opportunities in the short term. Especially when your DD has a good bit of performance experiences under her belt, which it sounds like she does.


I think the important question is will she get enough hours at the new studio?



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Go with the smaller studio for all of the reasons you already listed and create your own performance opportunities. If the new teacher says he will do whatever it takes to help your daughter make it, he will help you with this. Often there are open auditions for nutcrackers with traveling companies, there is always YAGP, local festivals, and studio showcases. After all, performance is part of ballet training, and if you trust this new teacher it makes sense that he will help with this aspect as well.

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