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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Declining/Deferring a Scholarship Offer -- Help?


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My DD (17) recently attended the YAGP Finals in NYC and was offered a year-round spot at a top European company's school. However, her plan has been to graduate early and spend next year training at her home studio in preparation for auditions. For this reason, we did not select the year-round school on the scholarship form and were, frankly, stunned by the offer. Lots of pressure from friends and other parents to simply accept and ship her off. It has been agonizing -- but after much discussion, we all are in agreement (she, us, her teacher) that she is simply not ready for such a move four months from now -- especially given that she will be away at summer intensives for two of those months. Additionally, we live on the west coast and she is a dancer whose potential is rich, but is definitely not yet fully cooked. Our hope is that the school/company's interest in her now will only be heightened with one more year of intensive training (which is stellar at her home studio) under her belt. 

I have reached out to the school and asked if a short term visit and deferral until next year might be possible -- but it's been a few weeks with not much of a response other than an acknowledgment that the request was received.

Has anyone here ever found themselves in a similar predicament? Do schools like this ever defer acceptance? Are we crazy to decline?

Thanks in advance for any words of advice or support.

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I don’t believe you are crazy to decline at all. It is very important to know when your dd is ready and In our experience, those that rush in spend more time struggling

( just an observation , certainly not scientific lol) 

Sounds to me like you are on the right track - she has time !!

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Thank you. I need to stop googling. It seems declining is a real anomaly. I feel like she has time too...I believe they take students at 18...so she's not out of range next year. European schools seem not to be in quite the same hurry? I am also hoping the scholarship offer this year might give her a leg up next year if she auditions for them then. I think the big fear is burning bridges. I'm always worried I've just lit some horrific match.


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If you keep going back to the consensus that she is not ready , then you know it’s the right decision - we have made decisions that we were worried about but knew were right and they turned out to be ... right !!   Each dancer is different so although we all look to each other for opinions etc, it comes down to a very individual approach - 



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I remember Isabella Boylston saying in an interview that she was offered a spot in ABT’s Studio Company (it may have been called the second company at the time) when she was 17, but her parents made her finish high school first. She joined the following year at 18. 

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That's good to know! I am trying to take my cues from her. She's thrilled and honored, of course, but she knows herself well, and I think her gut is saying the same as mine and her dad's are.

It seems there's such a prevailing sense of urgency about grabbing opportunities whenever they arise -- but if this career is meant to be, my hope is this is just the first of many wonderful opportunities.


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ahhh but it can also be about grabbing the right  opportunities at the right time :)

sounds like she is doing just fine !!

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If you don't think she's ready and she doesn't think she's ready, then you are definitely making the right decision.  All you can do is make the best decision you can at the time. Trust your gut. 

My own dd just turned down her first contract offer... and while it was a generous offer, the timing was not right. She already has training plans in place and accepting the offer would have forced her to give those up and any opportunities they may hold. Receiving the offer was extremely validating and encouraging, but it was right that she decline and I think (hope)  that the company respected her reasons for doing so- at least they said they did in their communications and encouraged her to keep them in mind in the future. 




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Mdballetmom, It truly is a wonderful problem to have!! But so good to hear from someone else who has had to make a hard decision. My daughter just been in training mode -- very insular -- for so long now. I guess this is the next step -- eventually! 😉 

ballet1310, YES.

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These things all happen for a reason and I would not send a kid to Europe "unready" . . .I have seen things really play out very badly. (ED, too much pressure, injury, negotiating a different healthcare system, different culture and values). 

You are raising a human---they are training dancers-- Two different jobs.  And most of these schools really don't want to deal with the psychological, educational, etc issues. And yet you can't dance well without that all in place. 

Our DD was offered a spot in a European school at 14 and it was not the place for her--although it was the place for other kids, who went and did very well.  We do not have the income to be connected to a child in Europe. 

I can't imagine declining a contract but it's good to hear of those who have, it may be a story that I will need to hear at some point. 

We like to say, "When a door opens, if it's the one for you, walk through it, if not, close it."  She may be closing this door and that's the right choice.  In my expereince, these schools and companies are very 'of the moment." They want who they want at the time. If you DD continues to be a fit into the future, they will ask again and if not, she wouldn't want to be there anyway. 

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I really applaud you for thinking this through and acknowledging that your DD is not ready for such a move at this time and placing a priority on that. I feel that so often the culture in ballet is to take the first offer that comes, even if it is not the right fit. Sometimes we allow ourselves to get caught up in the hype and the excitement and it is always refreshing to read about someone who is putting raising their child above raising a dancer! This is not a dig at those who dancers have moved away, everyone's path and circumstances are different.

I am hopeful that next year at this time we will be hearing about the wonderful opportunities that are coming your daughter's way and following along on her journey.Thank you for sharing! 

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Noodles, Yes -- I'm an author, and I know in publishing, young writers often leap at the first opportunity presented -- usually in the form of an agent offering representation. But that relationship is so important, and there are no guarantees (regardless of the agent's reputation) that it will be a good fit.

Her teacher put it this way -- it's like a man walking up to a woman on the street and saying, "I like you. Let's get married. People say great things about me." He may very well be a great guy -- but you need to take the time to get to know one another before tying the knot. I really hope we'll be allowed to visit.

learningdance, I think that's my biggest fear --- a permanently closed door. Because this school and company are, indeed, at the top of her list -- just not right this minute. The good news is...the school director and the company director were observing and liked her. So, hopefully they will remember her and be interested next year. Sigh.

So very hard. Thanks for the kind words. I feel less a mess already. 

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Right it might be closed and that's the risk you take but THAT's a wise risk in my opinion if she is not ready.  If she took it unready, her entire career could unravel and be done before it started and there are several kids like that I know-- especially in the YAGP system. Glorious award winning, gala hopper for 2 years and then washed up at 17 due to pressure and burnout. 

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I heard advice early in my career: Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should do it, and what you say no to says a lot.  

Being willing to say no, kindly, nicely, and thoughtfully, has served me well over the years.    

It would be hard for me to believe that if she was selected for such a wonderful opportunity that it was a random fluke not to be repeated.  When you are good, you get noticed.  She will be good next year too.

Cheering you on the for RIGHT yes in the future!

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learningdance, I have heard horror stories too! Slow and steady has been the mantra thus far...with kindness and gratitude as well.

@GratefulMom, Yes! I have been saying the same thing -- and if it was a fluke, then she's chasing the wrong dream 😉 

Thank you XO

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