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Diamond Fairy

Programs that offer the “whole package”

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Diamond Fairy

My child (15) is currently in the second year of training with a very well known pre-professional program in the US.  I have been extremely happy with the caliber of technical training that my child has received.  Unfortunately, and especially this year, I have noticed some red flags with the program that just can’t be ignored.  I am wondering, is there is a pre-professional training program that educates and trains the dancer as a whole; physically and mentally?  A program that offers solid technique (with age-appropriate hours of training) along with nutrition counseling, physiology, cross-training, etc.?  Does this even exist? 

 

 

 

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AB'sMom

I don’t know if there exists a program that provides everything that is needed. I will say that my DD’s school has a kind of on-call health team. They come in and speak with the dancers at the start of the school year and often again at the end of the year to give advice to kids going away to summer programs. The team consists of a pediatric & sports medicine doctor, a nutritionist (who is a former dancer) and two physical therapists (also former dancers). The health team also visits the school every other month and students can schedule short appointments so they can get questions answered or referred for further treatment. 

As to cross-training, she only has one strength and conditioning class per week. They do have referrals for multiple Pilates or Gyrotronic trainers for outside of class training. 

The students also have a once per week “elective,” which alternates between Dance history, ballet mime and music. Occasionally they have Historical Dance or Ballroom instead. I think all of these classes are incredibly useful.

What I most appreciate is a couple of the teachers (who have somewhat recently retired from a company) who really seem to understand the kids and what they are going through. They talk to the kids about balancing the hard work with finding the joy in what they are doing. They push the kids hard but really seem to have compassion for how difficult being a teenager can be—especially as a preprofessional ballet student. 

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Temps de cuisse

My opinion that the best place to get 'the whole package' would be in Europe. Many of the larger schools have a 2-3 year comprehensive program for 16-19 yr olds that include technique, dance 'academics', and full access to physio, nutrition, and getting students ready for the next phase in their career.

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Mdballetmom

I think, honestly, you are asking for the impossible. Really, can one program/school be everything to everyone?

And it is a matter of perspective as well. For many students, maybe what is provided at your dancer's school is the "whole package." 
One thing I've learned is that each student (and their parents) brings their own experience and perspective and views their experiences through that unique lens. 
As students grow and develop and advance their training, what they need changes as well. They are all at different places emotionally and developmentally... I have no idea how a program would even attempt to meet 100% of all the needs of each student.  And just because resources are available or provided does not mean that they will be utilized by the student... or that the student is appropriately receptive (or motivated.)   

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Noodles

It would seem to me that as Mdballetmom nothing is ever a one size fits all. What may be perfect for one dancer is lacking for another...just like summer programs. 

Perhaps it is time to make a list of what your dancer wants out of a program (including what she feels is missing in her current program) and start exploring to see if there are programs out there that might be a better fit. 

Tough spot to be in, I hope you find some resolution!

 

 

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Blanche

I agree with previous posters that no program "has it all" all of the time. What jumps out at me in your post, though, is your mention of red flags. That is more concerning. Do you think that your child's safety or well being may be compromised because of a lack of attention to a certain aspect of training, mental or physical health, or development?

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learningdance

In my opinion, the following schools have integrated dance training, boarding, academics, pilates/conditioning, performing experiences, etc. 

SAB- But they don't really have their own "academic" school

UNCSA- Strong academics

Kirov Academy

Rock School- Don't have their own academics but they have a dorm. 

National Ballet School (Canada)-I really wanted my DD to go there but they were not interested.  They have a bricks and mortar school, dance boarding, and many other opps. 

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macameli

You could add Harid to that list, as well. 

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dancemaven

We have a whole forum (Pre-Professional Schools/Residential Programs) that has dedicated threads for all these schools that have been listed—as well as others that have the residential components,  along with some that are well-known/well-respected without the residential component. The posts contained therein are by our members who actually have first-hand experience with the particular school.  

As several have said, one school may be “all things” to one person (or more), but not for someone else.  Another school may be that person’s “all things”, but won’t be for everyone.  And, at any given time, the same school may not be an individual’s “all things” for all time.

So, as Noodles and others have suggested, about the best anyone can do is to create their own personal list of what “all things” entails and then compare and contrast the various programs to see which ones match up more closely for that person at that time in their training.

Lucky for us there is not a ‘one-size fits all’ mentality to ballet training or a single entity to squeeze into for training.  There are options and choices to help better mix and match our children’s temperament, goals, strengths, weaknesses, needs, and wants.  :)

 

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Mdballetmom

As Blanche said, I'm also interested in hearing the OP elaborate on the "Red flags" s/he has noticed. Diamond Fairy What types of things have you noticed that prompted this post? 

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Noodles

I second Mdballetmom, if Diamond Fairy would kindly elaborate on the red flags, without revealing personal information, it could serve those heading into a similar situation. 

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Diamond Fairy

My main red flag is the lack of educating the overall well-being of the young dancer (educating on basic dance anatomy/physiology, injuries, how to properly cross-train to strengthen weaknesses, eating disorders, proper nutrition, managing stress/anxiety from competing, auditioning for jobs, exams, etc.).  These are things that, as parents, we are to figure out as issues come along.  Wouldn’t it only benefit dancers (who want ballet careers) to know and be properly educated about these things as they are training?  It seems to me, students would be better prepared to cope/deal with issues that affect their bodies and minds as professionals.  

As I mentioned in my OP,  we are very happy with the technical training.  My child has improved every year and thrives off of the challenges and the demands required daily in classes.  But as a parent, I have a concern with the lack of education of what seems to be important elements to training.   I was curious to see if there there was a school that offered all of these things as an integral part of their training.  

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Mdballetmom
1 hour ago, Diamond Fairy said:

(educating on basic dance anatomy/physiology, injuries, how to properly cross-train to strengthen weaknesses, eating disorders, proper nutrition, managing stress/anxiety from competing, auditioning for jobs, exams, etc.).

I have a feeling that you have something specific in mind... 

but some of what you mention, I believe is general education/developmental and the responsibility of the parent... not topics that should be wholly the responsibility of the dance studio.   I don't look to a school to help my dancer with stress management.... that is not a dance- thing. In my view learning to manage stress is a life skill. 

You didn't say if your dancer was in a residential program or not, and that does make a difference. Before my dancer went to a residential program, she was maxed out... between school and dance. School from 8-3 and dance from 4-9, 4-5 days a week and then more on saturday. Occasionally the AD would bring in experts (PT who specialized in dance/sports) to talk about cross-training etc. But there are only so many hours in a day/days in a week.

Residential programs can offer more opportunities - for one reason that they have more time... but there are also limitations. My dancer, in a residential program, does get cross-training classes (pilates- mat and reformer), periodic health screenings (not instructional), rudimentary nutrition, and more. Also, every SI dd has attended has had at least one class on one of the topics you mentioned. I'm not sure what you are looking for here, but it is amazing how much students (who are motivated) can learn on their own -and from older dancers. There is quite a bit of sharing among them.  It is amazing what they learn during class, summer intensives, master classes, auditions and more.

I wouldn't call the lack of any of these things RED FLAGS... but that's just me. 

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Thyme

Yes I think we all can agree that young dancers need the education you have listed.  I think these are often discussed in the studio or the hallway and not listed on a curriculum (particularly things like dealing with stress and injuries). I don't personally think that is adequate and leaves our dancers to make sense of a range of personal experiences and views. Hard to make sense of for young people.

My dancer is just finishing a full time program (not residential) and he has had formal sit down classes on each of these topics. A retired dancer mentors the students on audition skills, applying for jobs - setting goals. They are coached on writing emails etc. I think that this is a topic that has to be taught by dancers- industry specific information. My advice on this kind of thing is often not quite right.

I agree with Mdballetmom that stress management skills need to be taught from infancy but I think that managing stress within the dance world is also something that needs to be taught by an experienced dancer.

So my view is that each of these topics should be formally taught by dancers to dancers. They should be able to build upon the life skills we should have been teaching our children. I think that they need industry specific training which is considered, current and wise.

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learningdance
4 hours ago, macameli said:

You could add Harid to that list, as well. 

Oh yes. . Of course. . great tradition of producing dancers. 

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