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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Etiquette on changing studios


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Yes, not all company affiliated schools are equal ! I hope you find what you need - you could always ask about the spring ... 

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I agree that you have to do what is best for your child. With one of mine, we switched over the summer. It was a very difficult decision and was a long time coming. It was the right thing for her training but it was extremely hard to make the change. There was a lot of drama at the previous studio and the atmosphere was becoming toxic. It took an outstanding summer intensive to remind her that she could both love dancing AND love going to class. So, within days of returning from the SI, we visited another studio to have her evaluated. It helped that I had done the legwork (haha) in advance and could talk with the director before DD visited. The two directors conferred about her as well, which helped a lot. I don't think things would have gone as positively if she had left in the middle of the year. Good luck!

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Well, I'm not sure I subscribe whole-heartedly to the intention behind this thought, but a former teacher of my DD pointed out to me (when I worried about a potential slack of education) that they can only dance ballet for a relatively short amount of their lives, but their minds and education last forever. 

I was never quite sure how to take that thought.  However, it did help remind me that education really is a life-long journey, while ballet has a time crunch built in.  I still insisted on a HS diploma before my DD left home, but she could do that with sufficient (if not stellar) home training, combined with a relaxation on my part on the demands more rigorous classes (AP and honors).  She wound up condensing her junior and senior years and just taking regular college prep courses.

If your DD has different ballet needs (because of a late start) or the home studio is "inefficiently time intensive" you may need to re-shuffle your priorities temporarily in order to allow her to meet the ballet needs first... but that is a very personal decision.

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On 8/17/2018 at 10:04 AM, cclw said:

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.  🙂 

I don't mean subpar in an overall sense. I mean specifically for where your dancer is in her training needs currently.

My DD had danced at her home studio for 11 years. It was a wonderful place on so many levels, she ( and I)  wished that she could have stayed forever and been a celebrated 'graduating senior' with all of her lifelong friends, danced all the roles in Nut, ended her senior year with the lead role of whatever the spring show happened to be etc.. However, her dream is to dance professionally and she knew that the studio simply could not help her reach that goal. She had taken all that they had to offer and in that last year she felt a serious lack of growth and tremendous frustration.

Again, there were many positive things about this previous studio and it was hard to give up the safe, comfortable, and predictable for the unknown. But as my wise girl has come to learn, growth comes from stepping outside of your comfort zone. She did just that, and has had a tremendous year, but there were costs...friendships have been lost and that is unfortunate. But her goal is to dance and so she was willing to take the risk.

This path that our dancers have chosen is tough, and it is not for the faint of heart. My DD knew at 14 that she needed to leave but it took a year, for various reasons, before she took the plunge and left. Your dancer may not be 100% committed to change yet. Once she is ready emotionally she will take the next steps. In the meantime research, research, research! 

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Thanks, Noodles. It sounds as though you really get it.  

My DD would be crushed if she lost friends from her current studio, but I think the friendships are deep enough that they will survive. That is actually part of DD's ambivalence; the dancers in her current studio, with very few exceptions, are extremely supportive of one another and she is afraid of ending up in a place where they are more competitive and less kind to one another. Frankly, I love that she cares so much about being in an emotionally healthy environment, although I also understand that some of this may be related to a lack of confidence.  

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1 hour ago, cclw said:

a place where they are more competitive and less kind to one another

Cclw - of course I can’t speak to alll schools but dd did not find this to be true for herself and among the many dance friends she has that have ended up in different places ( all top tier schools/companies) this has also not been the case .   If your dd wants to be a pro she may need to be somewhere that is more competitive -ballet is not only technically and physically tough , you need to be mentally strong also ... I’m not trying to sound harsh but it is the truth and preparing for that earlier on is actually a blessing

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4 hours ago, ballet1310 said:

-ballet is not only technically and physically tough , you need to be mentally strong also ... I’m not trying to sound harsh but it is the truth and preparing for that earlier on is actually a blessing

I agree and this has been the hardest thing for me with my kids. One is teflon tough and could care less. The other is more like me-sensitive and gets her heart broken. Although I do believe that the softness of her heart is what separates her dancing from her same age peers.

And for the OP, hopefully the friendships are strong enough to survive. If not, that is another life lesson.

And she is fortunate that she has you to help her through all of this. Change is good!

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6 hours ago, cclw said:

she is afraid of ending up in a place where they are more competitive and less kind to one another.

The tone is set at the top and trickles down.

My DD was on a serious track at a rec school. She moved to a more serious program where she is dancing with aspiring professionals. The directors value these kids for who they are artistically as individuals and they feel that, therefore the dancers are not competitive with each other. They understand that they each have their strengths and their weaknesses and they support each other tremendously. The other school with less (quantity) serious dancers were very competitive with each other, there were always tears over casting...here everyone feels that they have been given what suits them best. 

You are doing all of the right things to help your kiddo find the right place...keep digging. If there is nothing better (for your DD at this stage of her training) with in a reasonable drive (and don't forget to ask if they have any dancers from your area, carpool could save the day!) then you and your dancer can use this year to gear up for away from home training.  Good luck! 

PS; I am sorry to keep dominating this thread, it is just that I can relate so much to what you and your DD are going through! 😉


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58 minutes ago, Noodles said:


PS; I am sorry to keep dominating this thread, it is just that I can relate so much to what you and your DD are going through! 😉


Please don't apologize. I have really, really appreciated everything you have had to say. This bit about finding a supportive and simultaneously rigorous studio has been the very most helpful thing you have said, although I think I kind of knew this was possible, based on DD's summer experience.

This evening, she said she wanted to go away. Period. The current studio isn't enough, and the local alternatives are cutthroat and not places she wants to be. Of course she is a teenager, and they blow hot and cold, and she may give me a different story tomorrow. But tonight she is willing to throw all her academic plans and ambitions down the toilet in exchange for that residential option. 

And this made me realize just how little I want her to move away, and how very much I wish I were convinced that there was an appropriate local alternative. And, honestly, how little faith I have that there will be anything in the area that will give her what she could get at that residential program. She's also stubborn. My guess is that even if there were a great option in the area, she's not going to be able to recognize it, she's so in love with her summer experience.

So my husband and I have to decide whether we're willing to let her sacrifice the second half of the academic year we have planned, and if we are, the residential program has to decide if they'll take her halfway through the year. I guess.

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Just be aware that residentials are not panaceas.  There are still issues with less dedicated, undedicated students, jealousies, drama, drama queens, casting issues, added on to all the regular social issues and the distance from home coupled with the responsibilities for oneself in daily living, decisions, maturity, etc.

DD went to residential when she was just turning 16.  She has told me later that she had to “grow up fast” that year.  She (and I) was very surprised that there were still dancers uncommitted, looking for excuses to ditch class, slow class down, distract the teachers, etc.  The teacher (who had taught all levels everywhere, including college BFAs and was very experiences)  I talked most often with about such issues told me “you will find those dancers at every program, regardless where you go.”

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