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Etiquette on changing studios


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My DD had a fabulous summer away and is starting to grasp the limitations of her home studio, particularly with respect to hours of available ballet (she can basically get in 5 1.5-hour classes a week, two of which are back-to-back, plus Nutcracker rehearsals). She was offered a year-round position, which she turned down because of loyalty to the current studio and because of her academic plans for this year, and she is starting to regret it a bit. I don't want her to go away, at least not in an ideal world, and there are other studio choices within a half hour to 45 minutes from us, but I don't have any idea how to explore the possibility of a transition. Can anyone give me any advice? Is there a way to visit and assess what other local studios are like?

Is it considered very inappropriate to change halfway through the year? Would it be rude beyond belief to write to the year-round program and ask whether they would consider taking her halfway through the year?  Again, I don't really want to do it, as it would mean sacrificing her part-time community college classes, so I'm fine if that would be something I should not even consider.  However, they really did seem to like her at the program, and she loved them. 

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cclw, my dancer had a similar experience when she went away to her first SI. She came home and said that the training at her home studio was not going to cut it and she needed to move. It was hard but doors unexpectedly opened and the move was made a year later.

In that final year at her old studio, we went to a few other studios and took a trial class. This gave my dancer a feel for the teaching and the vibe of the school. 

I think calling a few area schools and arranging for a trial class would be helpful. Research their class offerings and make sure that aligns with your dancer's goals. Go see a production if possible, probably most will do a Nut in Dec. that will give you and your dancer some insight. If you don't want to wait that long, if the move is eminent, ask each school where their upper level dancers are transitioning to; College? Trainee positions? Other well known year round training programs? Second companies? Etc.  What about summer programs? Where did their dancers go...big name programs or mostly small regional programs? Take notes and compare.

Regarding the year round offer, is that local or would she be moving away from home? That is a whole different conversation!

The logistical part is easy enough, the actual transition can be hard. My daughter lost a pool of friends that she had had for many many years. That part was tough.

Good luck on your journey and keep us posted.

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Noodles has excellent advice.  I would only add that "loyalty" is a double-edged sword in ballet.  You must make the decision that is best for YOUR child, and any obligations or loyalty to the local studio or school or trainee program or company are only a small part of that balancing act. 

Yes, you can leave/come mid-year.  No... it is not "rude beyond belief" to ask.... it's smart and savvy.  It's part of analyzing a decision when new factors come into play.  You thought one way, then circumstances or your perspective changed, now you're thinking about things differently.  I would consider that smart and adaptive.


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It always surprises me how muddled my posts are. I only grasp the ambiguities when I start to see responses.

The year-round position she was offered was away. I have very mixed feelings about it, because I love how they seemed to value my daughter, but I am not wildly enthusiastic about having her do nothing but online school, which is what would happen in that program. We have arranged for a mix of live and online school for this fall, and I'm pretty pleased with her academic arrangements.

I want her to at least look at other ballet programs in the area, of which there are many. She is less than enthusiastic. She loves the people at her current school, loves the AD, loves her friends. They are a very warm and supportive environment, and she is very afraid of ending up in a less supportive place.  She is pretty sure that the away program would be supportive of her, having been there over the summer. And she is impressed by the quality of the dancers she saw who trained year-round at the away program.  

So if I want her to at least try out these local studios, what I do is call the them and ask if she can take a trial class?  Do we let her current school know this is going on?  

Finally, is switching mid-year considered extremely rude? I guess that ought to be our first question, because if it is, we don't have to do anything, really, until next spring. 




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ah... okay.

So now my question is...

it's only YOU who wants her to try other local studios?  Because you want to see if a different local studio would be more attractive than the "going away" option AND more attractive than the local studio she's happy in (but not "as happy" as she'd be in the going away option)? 


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Eligus, yes, that's kind of it. She is torn. She is sure the current studio is not going to cut it forever, but she wishes it would. She also sees advantages and disadvantages to the away option. Right now, she is willing to explore local alternatives (on my urging) but worried about a different, less supportive atmosphere. I'm trying to figure out what her options really are so she (and we) can make the best decision possible.

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I just wanted to add that not all schools accept students mid-year, so if you are hoping to have her stay local for another year you may want to check with the local schools before their classes begin. 

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AB’sMom, that’s the kind of information I was looking for. Thank you. But how would we assess whether the school was a good fit before their classes start for the year? Don’t they need to see her in a class before they decide whether to accept her?

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I would like to point out, from experience, that it is natural to be hesitant about exploring new schools. And she doesn't 'know' that they will be less supportive until she meets them and samples classes. She may be pleasantly surprised. My dancer was hesitant as well, I just told her that we don't know what is available if we don't explore. I do not think it is wise to inform your current school that you are exploring other schools though, that may get a bit sticky. Many studios in our area are offering open summer classes, perhaps you will find that option in your area. If not a simple phone call or email to explain your situation, that your dancer has come home from an SI realizing that her current training is subpar and you are exploring other options. I would imagine that many schools would welcome you in the first weeks of the fall semester to take a trial class.

I would also caution that while 'going away' to train is on most of our dancer's bucket list, it is not the be all end all and in most cases should not always be considered crucial 'at this moment' meaning when it was an unexpected offer and not something your dancer and your family has planned for. That said, sometimes it is time to jump, I really cant speak to your situation, but my point is that it is a serious decision and one in which all of the pros and cons need to be carefully and honestly explored. 

If we are talking about the type of pre-pro programs which a dancer must audition, then yes it gets harder to find a spot mid year. That doesn't mean it is not possible. If we are talking about high quality recreational programs that have a serious pre-pro track, I think you will have better luck. 

It is important to look at all of the facts, map out the best scenarios and then see how your dancer feels in that particular environment. Should she decide to stay where she is for another year, perhaps planning to make next year the time to take the plunge in moving away from home will put you in the drivers seat (an absolute falsehood in the world of ballet 😂) of planning properly. 

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Again, I agree with everything Noodles has said. 

I also want to add into that analysis, however, that the SI is NOT always a good judge of the year-round.  Take some time to really research the "going away" option AS THEY ARE during the YEAR.  If you can, talk to current parents with dancers in the year round and have your dancer talk with current dancers there.

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Thanks.  That's a very wise and very helpful post. I guess I'll have to call around. There is one school in the area that we know is good, and where a jazz teacher has recruited her to go, but she is sure from having attended a one-week summer intensive once, that they would not be supportive. I don't think I'm going to get beyond that with that one studio, but there are others.

I also hate to tar her current studio with the words "subpar." They have done an amazing amount for her, and brought her incredibly far, as a late starter. I guess I'd prefer to apply the phrase, "insufficiently time-intensive" to the program going forward.  🙂 

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Hi cclw - how old is your dd?  I think that can determines a lot.  The bottom line, if your dd wants to be a professional,  is to find the best training.... - if not than she should stay where she is happy.   There are many dancers that stay at home studios and  realize too that the training was not at a high enough caliber to compete - It sounds like your dd has figure that out, so again, IF she wants to be a professional it may be time to move on.   

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ballet1310, that's the real question. I think she wants to be a professional, but she is afraid that she won't make it, especially given her late start, and she is practical enough to want to have academic achievements that will make Plan B attainable.  That's what makes the away option less desirable, despite its being her first choice as a dancer. 

I've also posted a couple of queries on the boards about local pre-pro schools in the hopes that someone will see one and be able to give a ringing endorsement to one of them. It would be helpful to know that one came with glowing recommendations.

She just turned 16. So this is not a year she can comfortably throw away if she's going to try to become a professional dancer. 




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47 minutes ago, cclw said:

She just turned 16. So this is not a year she can comfortably throw away if she's going to try to become a professional dancer. 

You are right about this .. hard decisions to make - I know you really don’t want her to go away but is the school she was invited to a major ballet school with a reputation for having their dancers move into the professional world? 


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As far as I know, it is.  It is not a company-affiliated school. She did two SIs this summer, one at a company-affiliated school where she thought that the year-round students were not necessarily among the best, and this one, where she felt that the year-round students had really received superb training and were among the best.

She's really academically set for this semester. It would be hard to change her academic plans at this point. But if they would take her in the spring, that might be possible.  The more I write, the more I realize that I wish there were a perfect, appropriate local school.

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