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lesdeux

Need advice for possible school change

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lesdeux

Our 12 year old daughter is a ballet-o-mane (as I am sure many on here can relate to).  She is passionate about the art form, her training, the history of ballet and even finds ways to write about it in school whenever the chance arises to spread her love for it--very devoted to the art form. 

Over the last year at her dance school (where she has trained for the last 5 years), she has become disappointed in the makeup of the class. It is a small dance studio and for example there are nine students in her level. That level is comprised of part - time students and recreational dancers, and one or two who are somewhat serious about making dance part of their career. My daughter is quite serious about ballet and would love to make it something she aspires to in her career and college studies. The problem being that she finds that she can not relate to the other girls in her class and yearns for an environment of peers who share her similar passion as she sees when she goes away to summer intensives.

 While we have loved her teachers, there is a social dynamic that is creating tension for her .  In fact, her teacher has interpreted that tension as an over-manifestation of her zeal for ballet. I think it is truly tension from not loving who is in her class and her readiness to find peers who share her passion.  Teacher thinks she may need to not train in summer or perhaps try new interests so she isn't so focused on dance and will perhaps become a re-charged dancer from the " less is more " perspective I suppose. Not sure her personality wants to give up her passion for dance in summer altogether. She usually trains for around 4 weeks and loves that part of her summer.

My gut says that it may be time to find another school to give training elsewhere a chance.  Any words of wisdom welcome!

Thanks in advance.

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Fouronlychildren

Is the quality and quantity of the training she is getting very good, notwithstanding the lack of serious peers? Are there other ballet schools in your area where she could receive better training and be surrounded by like-minded peers? If the answers are no and yes, respectively, I would definitely look into a school change.

I really don’t understand the teacher’s suggestion to take the summer off; is the thinking that if she cares a little less about ballet, then she won’t be as bothered by her fellow dancers who are less passionate? Seems like flawed logic at best.

My DD moved to a new school at 13 for similar reasons. It was an excellent decision in our case.

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lesdeux

I think the idea of training less for her in summer was a reaction to other students who are coming back very accelerated compared to their peers and getting offers to join the schools where they train in summer—- I think there is the fear of losing the student or conversely that the student will burn out or surpass the level of her peers who are not training in summer and not interested in further training. We live in an area with other good training options and also near a metropolitan area with some of the best training in the country but I hesitate to disrupt the life of my other child to pursue that option until she is further down the road. I think investigating other good local options with perhaps a few more serious peers might be our best bet. Thank you for your insights- I really appreciate it!

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nynydancer

Mine left at 13 and poof all of the tensions disappeared because she is now with like minded peers. Also, summers away with similarly motivated students was wonderful for her. Seems like it might be time to venture forth. 

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lesdeux

Thank you for sharing your experience. I appreciate it.

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5678StarMom

If she is at the top of her studio at 12, you need to find somewhere else for her to go if at all possible. She shouldn't be at the top until she's at an age where she is close to auditioning for companies (at the lowest level), finishing programs, or college. In my opinion, going away for the summer to a reputable program is a good gauge of if she is at the same level as other kids her age if you aren't sure. It actually reassured us at age 13 when my oldest went to a SI. It is suspect to me that the studio isn't encouraging her to go away, unless they have a reason such as not confusing technique or not wanting her to develop at that age under different instruction. Do the older kids go away? And what age is typical? A good pre-pro will have quite a few students seeking SI training every year. 

DD16 is at the tip top of both of her schools and no longer has any peers at either with professional aspirations. There are a couple of girls who want to go to college for dance but none that want to try and make it professionally. The classes are still appropriate for her level but I don't think they will increase in difficulty any longer and she won't get pushed to the level she needs to be at in order to audition. We plan to send her to a full time school next year due to these factors. We have decided every training situation year to year, based on what we can do to promote her growth as a dancer, and we've exhausted our small town resources at this point.

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DancerCat

I could have written this post myself!! My DD is 12 and we are at the same crossroads. While she is not the best in the school, she is the best in her level and the teachers let he know it. Her peers are more recreational and are chatty and get upset by correction; this frustrates my DD because she thrives on correction. 

What we are doing this summer is she is going to a SI program about an hour away at a Pre-Professional school. If we feel that can be a better fit she will most likely move there. Especially as our family is planning to move this summer closer to that direction anyway. In our area, we are extremely limited on good training schools. The one we are going to for the SI is pretty much our only other option. 

When it comes to the teachers, our director pulled us aside (barely) and had words with both of us in the middle of the studio about how we were hiding the fact that she was auditioning elsewhere for an SI rather than attending her schools SI and how it was unprofessional on our part. Thankfully the majority of my communication is through email where I did say DD was missing class due to am audition. The director also told us "Shes the best in her level and should be here for the summer" She then told us the SI we are attending is going to force her turn out, blah blah blah. I actually got the feeling she wants our money as she said an away SI at her age is a waste of money. (The current dance schools SI costs the same as the one my DD is attending) Thankfully I was able to voice my concerns at this point about how much my daughter is not very happy there right now due to her mentality and goals compared to her peers which is why she is going elsewhere for the summer. 

I have not seen the director since (part of the problem about the vibe of the current school as that interaction was over a month ago). But the more I think about what my daughter wants compared to what she is getting I feel it might be time to move on, however I also know at her age it becomes a turning point in continuing full steam or deciding to go more recreational so I don't want to jump ship before we are definite in our decision. 

I wish you luck in your decision and wish I could give advise other than just be able to relate to what you are going through! 

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Ballerinamom2girls

If there are other pre-pro options in your area, try a class.  Most schools let you do a placement class for free.  This does not mean you have to commit.

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lesdeux

Thank you all for offering your insights--sounds like our predicament is common, particularly at this age.  I have seen a few flags over the last couple of years--less encouragement from the studio to send students to SI's, very few upper level students attending SI's...and a trickle of students each year who I consider more serious/top students leaving to train elsewhere. I think we have had some great experiences thus far but the social dynamic is becoming tricky as my serious dancer craves some like-minded peers and more committed peers who like full-week training . I think it is challenging for my dancer to train with peers who are there only one or two days per week . I have to wonder if training for those there full time is being somewhat diluted to keep the part-timers somewhat up to speed.  Perhaps the dynamic of the school is shifting to accommodate those who simply want recreational opportunities-where ballet plays equal role to other sports and interests, and requires less commitment. I think that is wonderful but perhaps not the best fit for us.

As far as SI's,  we are going to plug ahead with what we know to be great training. I could see a school director advising a child to draw back  in summers if they were the type of child who felt going to ballet class was a chore or they felt intimidated by SI's...but I have the opposite problem where my dancer absolutely  loves summer programs (that offer good training and are well run) and for the most part has had some extremely wonderful training experiences in summer. My gut also tells my that doing zero training in summer when you are new to pointe in last 1.5 years could be extremely detrimental unless you are injured or have some physical reason not to be training in summer at age 12. In fact, our studio had made it clear a few years ago that once you start pointe it was necessary to keep up some training in summer to stay conditioned. The mixed message of not encouraging and supporting summer training is troubling to me.  I am going to investigate other pre-pro schools in the area and have her try classes. 

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DanceMumNYC

This is a very sticky situation to be in. I understand both sides (yours & the school's). I see what the teachers are saying about your DD's overly enthusiasm for ballet & allowing her time to try other activities while she is still young enough to do so. I've learned from parents of older dancers that it's good to have ideas of other interests because ballet will eventually take up all of your time, or it can abruptly end (whether from a loss of interest/burnout, injury, or just the fact that a rare few become professionals), so it's good to have something else to fall back on. Yet, I disagree with the teachers saying that your DD shouldn't train in the summer.  It does seem as if they're partially trying to hold her back to remain at the level of the other girls.

Is she receiving quality training & does she dance the recommended 4 times/week? Although the kids in her class are recreational dancers, can you see that they are all being well trained or is your DD the best in the class? How does she compare to the other kids from other schools at auditions & SIs? These are some questions to ask yourself. I would definitely recommend looking elsewhere (through attending nearby SIs & trial classes) if your DD is the best in her class/school & has met the maximum quality/quantity of training for her age. 

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DanceMumNYC

I submitted my last comment as yours was coming in. I would definitely be alarmed if the older kids are also discouraged from attending SIs & the more serious dancers are leaving. That says a lot right there...

 

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lesdeux

I was wondering about  her ballet training vs the national norm. She does 3 days of ballet training and 45 minutes of pointe per week at age 12 (plus a modern class but thinking that should not count towards ballet training).  I know the school has wonderful intentions of the slow boil method ---and additionally we spend our summers exploring musical theater, creative writing--her other interests...but her drive to dance fuels her existence. I do not  want to look back and say that we did not offer her enough training just in case she ends up wanting to do something dance related.  I know that dancers can crash and burn. I am prepared for that and she is so driven ultimately I think ballet somehow will define who she is  no matter what she ends up doing. But I also understand that when you are passionate in life about anything, you need to be surrounded by mentors and others who share your passion and encourage it. In my belief, you should nourish a passion in healthy ways,  not starve it.

 

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DancerCat

My DD trains 3 days a week ballet for 1.5 hours and does an additional 1 hr of enpointe. She is just turning 12 this month. Next year she will be expected to be there 4 days a week for 1.5 hours ballet and 1.5 hours enpointe as well. 

She also does modern, tap and jazz

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DanceMumNYC

I absolutely agree with you! I do think it's time for your DD to try another school. You said that there are several nearby, so I would suggest having your DD take a few trial classes & attending their SIs to determine which is the best fit for right now.

Here are the suggested age-appropriate training guidelines: https://dancers.invisionzone.com/topic/54926-general-age-appropriate-training-guidelines/

 

Edited by dancemaven
Removed full quote of linked Pinned post.

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lesdeux

Thank you all and DanceMum NYC for reminding us of this training guideline. It is very helpful, as are everyone's thoughts in regards to appropriate amounts of training for the different age levels.

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