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GingerMama

Value of SI for younger dancers?

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GingerMama

My DD is really thriving this year and loving her extra classes and hours. Even my husband has commented on how much more graceful she seems dancing around the house. She really does look noticeably improved already. Her studio has SIs but they are mostly for the next level up which I’m not sure she will reach or not at the end of the year. She’s on the studio’s comp team so she’s required to dance a certain number of hours over the summer. We did that requirement this past summer with a combination of their summer classes and workshops. If she is not grouped into the higher level she would be in the workshop level that includes younger more inexperienced dancers. All of this is very new to me and I’m just trying to keep up with DD and this passion of hers. She comes out of all her classes so happy and excited which is a joy to watch. Another team mom was telling about a SI in a nearby city that she thinks is excellent. At DD’s level there is no audition required but they do require for kids a couple of years older. DD would just meet their age minimum to attend at newly 8 by then. How valuable would an SI be for a young dancer? The session is 1-2 weeks full or half days. Or at her age would it be better to have a weekly summer class instead? Her studio summer session is usually 6-8 weeks so there’d only be about a week at the beginning and end of summer off before classes would resume again. That SI is already registering but the mom wasn’t sure how fast it fills up so I’m not sure how long we have to decide.  

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ballet1310

Just my opinion but I  think 8 is very young.  Let her enjoy dance all year but it’s really important that kids have time to develop other interests, skills it just chill out in the summer ... ballet becomes all encompassing ... I wouldn’t start that early 

 

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dancingjet

I agree that 8 is very, very young to be considering outside SIs. Let her dance at her home studio over the summer but keep precious time available for swimming, hiking, picnics, reading, pretending, daydreaming...

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dancemaven

Totally agree. Let her explore other activities.  There is plenty of time later for focusing down to one all-encompassing activity. 

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Ballerinamom2girls

Save your money and go on a vacation 😁.  In hindsight that's the advice I would give myself.  You'll be sad when she's 12, 13+ and you loose her for 5 weeks every summer :(

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Eligus

not a parent of an under 13 DD anymore, but looking back on my own journey with a DD, I agree with all the other parents here. 

Enjoy the summer at home and savor her youth, exuberance and the special family time you have now - because, especially if she stays committed to ballet, the free summer time will end quickly. 

If you feel like you need to do more than "just" the home studio classes to support her passion, take the time to do day trips to expose her to more art, plays, symphonies, professional ballets, travel, and cultural experiences -- mental stimulation can be as exciting as the physical dance class, and can add to joyful family memories as well... Just be sure to give her body time to grow, sleep and rest - it's important.

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GingerMama

Thank you so much everyone! What age would you recommend for an outside SI that’s commutable? That way I don’t get drawn in when people are talking them up next time. 

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workmail

Isn't a "summer intensive" at age 8 another name for "summer camp"? I know an actual away intensive is age 11-21 but at 8 they usually have a half day dance camp or something like that. 

The should have dance/music camps for age 8 that would be fun and beneficial. If it's a 12 week summer vacation, some time spent dancing is great and she can keep up her exercise and lessons at a time when there is no school. 

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AnastasiaBeav

Since my husband and I both work we do need to fill the summer with camps and activities because DD10 needs supervision. Here is her schedule when she was 8:

Week 1: Gymnastics and Activities Day Camp

Week 2: Gymnastics and Activities Day Camp

Week 3: Dance Overnight Camp (not an intensive)

Week 4: Science Day Camp

Week 5: Bike Day Camp

Week 6: Ballet Intensive 1/2 Day

Week 7: Ballet Intensive 1/2 Day

Week 8: Theater Day Camp

Week 9: Rustic Overnight Camp

Week 10: Rock Climbing Day Camp

Week 11: Required dance /choreography "camp" from studio

DD's comp studio did not have ballet summer intensives at the time but I found a ballet academy that did include younger dancers. Since she needed to go to a camp either way it was a great option. But dance was, and still is, a small part of a larger, more well-rounded summer experience. 

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Amie

Gingermama, I agree with Workmail that what you originally described (1-2 weeks at 1/2 or full day) sounds more like a junior intensive or a dance camp.  They (especially the full day ones) usually involve more than just dance.  Kids do arts and crafts, watch dance videos, have lunch and snack breaks, etc.  I would also agree that most are similar in intensity to other day camps in theater, science, art, sports, etc.  These are fine to do at a younger age if your DD is looking for something fun and/or you need to keep her busy during the day, but they aren't necessary.  Kids this age don't have the stamina or focus to handle the same schedule that the older students have in a real SI, so they won't make the same kind of progress the older dancers make.  Also, younger dancers will most likely not have the same motivations that make SIs important for older dancers (networking, scholarships, jobs, specific training, etc.).   But if you are looking for something fun to do in the summer and if there is a junior intensive/dance camp that is close by AND your DD is interested AND it won't break the bank, I think it is fine to at least investigate it.  She might not do it this coming summer, but maybe it will be on the radar for the future.  It is also fine to just do the summer classes at your home studio.  As long as the teaching is good, the consistency of these classes will help her continue to progress throughout the summer.

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Monet

My DD is a young professional dancer, not under 13,  but I thought a perspective of a mom who's been there may be helpful.  Please delete if needed.

I can with undoubtedly agree with 8 being way too young for a summer intensive.  One of the best ways to keep her engaged and excited about ballet is not letting her overdo it at such a young age.  There is plenty of time for that as she gets older.  I will also point out that so many of the girls my DD danced with between 7 and 11 that piled on the training were the ones that burned out and ended up falling behind or quitting all together.  Ballet is not a sprint, it is more of a marathon.  8 is just too young for one all-encompassing activity, no matter how much she loves it.  I always stood strong on the fact that I was/am trying to raise a well rounded human being and not just a great dancer.  

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Ballet2101

Our DD started Summer Intensives at 9.  That's the age when some of the programs start to accept the young ones.  Almost all of them will allow them by 11/12.  While every child is different, ours had no interest in doing other summer activities and only wanted to attend a Ballet SI.  At 9yo most of the available programs are workshops although a few are full intensives.  If you opt for an SI at 9, your child will be one of many 9 year olds who love Ballet and want to study over the summer.  

I think much of the concern with young children and SI's are the boarding situations.  We are fortunate that during the summer one of us can attend with DD so she can stay off-site and be a day student.  While we are happy for her to train, learn and create lifelong friendships, we aren't ready for her to board for multiple weeks.

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TinydancersNJ

my DD is 11 and has been doing them "summer intensives" at her home studio since she was around 6.  Its just two weeks out of the summer and for the first 4 years she was in the JR intensive which was 8-3 with a long lunch, afternoon fun activities and a variety of dance styles.  At our studio we are also told that the kids that do summer get preferential Nutcracker casting, although I don't know how true it really is but that does factor in our decision to go.  In my opinion it wasn't enough to risk burn out, just breaks up a long summer without dance.  It let her try styles she doesn't normally do (like tap and hip hop, sometimes other cultural & character dances) They usually do some stretching and conditioning, sometimes yoga or pilates.  I found it good for her and if you are doing it at your home studio its not usually as expensive (but cost is a real consideration!) I personally would not be looking into sending my kid to NYC for 4-6 weeks at 8 or 9 years old but a couple of weeks dancing at your home or local studio seems totally appropriate to me.  Of course this is all if your kid really wants to do it.  If they want a break, give it to them!

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ballet1310

just Another thought .... if your dancer is looking st a professional track ( as I see kids are looking st this younger and younger),now is the time for all the activities that she will not have time for later - there are many of us who have been doing this for a looooong time - I understand d the whole “ my dd just wants to dance ! Nothing else”

but please consider the wisdom of those of us who have been through it and are still going through it ... 

 

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Ballet2101

Burnout and lack of interest is a risk in any of the 3 A's (Academics, Athletics or Arts).  Our very reasonable DD didn't understand our initial hesitation to have her attend an SI, when so many of her classmates at school are doing Soccer Camps, Football Camps, Math Camps, Gymnastics Camps, Theater Camps and every other activity camp to get smarter, stronger, faster and work on their technique.  None of her friends have expectations of being a professional (fill in the blank).   They just enjoy their sport, art, academic endeavor.  

Each child has a path in life and sometimes their passion and their future profession intersect on their path.  Or, sometimes passion and future profession diverge wildly, so like many of us adults we end up with passions and interests not related to our actually profession. Anytime a child has a passion at a young age, as a parent you are skeptical.  I remember all of the "passions" I had as a child and all of the projects that went by the wayside.  But ultimately you have choices..feed their passion or attempt to temper it "for their own good".  Each child is different and only you know your kids motivation.  Currently our DD is focused on Ballet as both a passion and future profession. 

We are perfectly fine if our DD walks in one day and decides she doesn't like Ballet any longer.  The worst thing that will happen is that we invested in her passion, she stands straight, has grace and coordination and has demonstrated commitment and drive and discipline.  That's well worth the money for us.  She can take those character traits into any field of endeavor/profession and be successful.

Most importantly, she has found her tribe.  In our experience Ballet kids are "different", just like Theater kids are "different".  We find that the greatest value and benefit is that our kids are able to be part of a circle of similar kids that frankly doesn't happen at school, church or many other activities.  

Anyway, at young ages, most of the SI's are really workshops geared toward Ballet, Jazz, Stretching & Conditioning, Character and some other activities.  My DD came back from her first SI with a new group of close friends, basic knowledge of Russian, an opportunity to learn and participate in Character and Ballet performances and oh yeah...some better technique.  

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