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GingerMama

Value of SI for younger dancers?

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lacetree

Parent of 21-year-old professional ballet dancer here - my daughter hadn’t even started ballet at newly 8, so you have lots of time ahead of you for things to change.
Bearing in mind that we are not in the States and do not have the very long summer vacation, my daughter did three SIs in her training life, all in her early-mid teens. All were a week long - which is typical where I am. By this time, she realised more and more that her home studio (not attached to a company) provided top-notch training, even just attending after school in the evenings. SIs helped her judge that she was on the right pathway for her - and this was their greatest benefit. She enjoyed the SIs, and they were fun, but they didn’t have any long-term value, in our circumstances. 

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AmyMary

Thank you to the veteran mom's sharing their insight. The field can be so overwhelming for me. Although my DD is young (will be 13 this month) she is determined to be a professional dancer for a long time now.

So my other question is this. I have put a lot of emphasis on SI training (did our first last year) simply because we live in a small town at a small studio with little community support. Sure, we have some famous retired principals who live nearby and do occasional master classes but not nearly the resources a metropolitan area has.

Sooo, I am wondering if you might place more importance on SI for a younger student in such circumstances who wants a chance to make it professionally.

Honestly I would be elated if the answer is no because it is so expensive for our family but I am given the impression it is in her best interest to make connections and be in a larger more professional setting. Also, we are interested in scholarship opportunities because of our lack of financial means.

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Noodles

AmyMary, we are getting off topic here and perhaps this should be it's own thread. You can search 'benefits of summer intensives' and go through the threads that are likely to come up to find more information as well.

SI's certainly have a lot of benefit; training, exposure to new teachers/information, developing independence, challenging oneself, and making connections with other programs.  At some point your dancer may need to move away to train if the training where you are does not meet her needs. It may though, and you can do some research here about what solid training at her age should look like. 

We live in a city that is not exactly known for ballet and yet there are plenty of low quality studios, well that is harsh...there are lots of recreational studios that provide what most are looking for, a recreational experience. My dancer goes to a small school that has excellent training so she has not had to move away to train at an early age. One of the big benefits for her about summers away is that she had been able to experience some different programs to help her understand what she is looking for in a company/school. 

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Amie

Another verteran mom chiming in...13 is around the time I would say you could start looking at attending an SI, especially if your local area is lacking resources.  I would say 10 and younger is when it is really not worth the expense, it's just something to keep kids busy and have fun during the summer.  For me, 11/12 is that grey area and might depend on each kid's personal situation.  Even at 13-15 I think it is not necessary if your getting great training at home. 

DD attended her first SI at 13.  The first few programs helped her see where she fit in compared to other dancers her age.  The teachers at the SIs also gave her new ways of looking at and approaching solutions for her own problems and challenges with dance.  Additionally, they gave her new experiences which added to her dance tool belt and inspired her in future months.  She didn't start making real connections with other dancers, post-grad training, and/or future employers until maybe 16 or 17.  Though if you are looking at future residency programs for high school, those connections might be made earlier??? 

I have no answer to the scholarship question, but you might want to do a search and read other threads that discuss that topic.

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AmyMary

Those responses are very helpful. Thank you. The high school residency option isin the back of my mind too.

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GingerMama

Thank you so much veteran dance moms! Thank you Motherhem for giving me more details on everything! It’s so hard to understand everything! It does make more sense to me that she keeps up with it weekly so she doesn’t lose any skills over the summer. Now if only I knew what level she would be placed in at the end of the year so I could know what she could take at her studio over the summer. That’s my big unknown to figure out how to best get in her required hours. I’d still rather go elsewhere if it’s going to be an expensive play option instead of actual dancing but I really appreciate knowing that the SI thing is really entirely optional! Now I can just figure out hours and cost once I have more information. 

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Monet

Good luck to all moms of younger dancers.  At 8, 9, 10, 11, and even 12 choose what works best for your family, time wise, financially, location, and what fits best for what you are hoping for your child to get out of their summer.  Whatever you choose for them at this young age will probably have no bearing on their future dance career, and that's ok!  I promise you it's not what they are doing at 9 and 10 that matters it's what they are doing at 17 and 18.  At 7, my DD did musical theater in the summer, zero ballet.  At 8 she did a mini ballerina camp at a studio in our neighborhood.  At 9 she did another ballet camp type program near our home.  At 10 she did a jr. half day ballet program that was at the ballet school/company also in our local area (it was 2 weeks for 2 and 1/2 a day I believe). At 11 we were out of state staying with family and they happened to live 10 minutes from a ballet company that had a summer intensive.  They let my DD drop in and take classes when she wanted to.  So you can see from 7 to 11 she had very limited summer intensive dance hours clocked.  She also LOVED ballet and would have done way way more if we let her, but she is 1 of 3 children in our family and we never saw fit to revolve everything around just 1 of our kids, it just wasn't possible.  Her not attending summer intensives had no bearing on how much she loved ballet or how hard she worked.  She took weekly ballet classes during all of these years, she was fortunate enough to have some good training.  At 12 she auditioned for her first big "away from home" intensives.  She received a full scholarship to one of them.  We had family near the intensive so she and I stayed with our family and she attended.  She did go to intensives from 13 to 17 on full scholarship away from  home.  She graduated from high school at 17 and got a company contract.  She is still dancing with that company.  I hope you are encouraged by her story that it is not about how much they do but choosing the best options.  So to wrap things up I feel the value of a summer intensive or camp or whatever you may be looking into is what you, your child and dancer make of it.  The value will not equate to a career or a leg up, but that doesn't mean it won't have value.  Enjoy the moments, they go by so quickly. 

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AmyMary

That is an incredible story and your DD must be very talented. I agree with all of that. It is just super hard when we go to YAGP for example and her peers are doing so much more. Many of those girls got scholarships to SI whereas mine did not. I know she is a good dancer. She is dancing Clara this year and is so excited. I just feel as a parent that when all the other 12 yo are doing so much more I hurt her chances of not making it by not giving her the same opportunities. This is her dream and not about winning trophies so I make whatever sacrifices I can. Ultimately life would be great if I could do away with SI and YAGP altogether lol.

Edited by dancemaven
Removed full quote of immediately preceding post.

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msrift

Monet,

Thank you for sharing your dancer's journey.  I will keep your words about value in mind as we make decisions in these younger years. I particularly appreciate the advice at the end. My oldest (non-dancer) is heading off to college and I'm acutely aware that it really does go by so quickly.

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Monet

Being a mom of a young dancer can be tough.  So much is thrown at them so quickly.  My DD never competed in yagp or any other, so maybe we missed that pressure piece.  I can also say as much as I believe my girl is a talented dancer I believe her success is due to the hard work she puts in.  She was never the favorite!  She however just kept her head down and worked.  Honestly while friends were doing yagp and spending extra time perfecting a variation we spent our dance allocated money on technique privates or master classes.  And this is what I think helped her even at a young age in summer intensive auditions.  She didn't have the highest extensions or crazy trick but she was ridiculously technically strong.  For her I think we just luckily put her eggs in the right basket.  Please feel free to reach out with any questions, I am on a mission to help and support moms of dancers especially young dancers!!  Best wishes all!!

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motherhem

I remember the first time I saw First Position. I felt like there was no way for my daughter to become the professional she wanted to be.  I felt like I had failed her for not providing all the things Mike Fogarty’s mom was providing for her daughter.  I felt like my dad would never ‘’make” it because I could not provide all those things: an extension coach, hours of private’s,  competitions (especially YAGP), and I could not  bear the idea of an away school.  

It was too late. There was nothing i could do. She was already 15 or 16, and, sadly, we are not made of money.  I was devastated but I didn’t tell her. 

Now 3-4 years later I have learned that all of that isn’t required for everyone to ‘make’ it. And ‘making’ it is different for each individual. 

Miko got a job with a well known company out of the US, but she wasn’t happy.  I suspect she was burned out from all those years of being pushed to her limits, but maybe she just fell “out of love” with ballet   I don’t know. 

On the other hand, my daughter had several trainee offers right out of high school.  She received an offer everywhere she auditioned. 

 Rather than choose the large well known company who offered her a position, she chose a company that fit what she envisioned for herself.  A small company, with good technique, whose mission was in line with my daughter’s life mission.

It wasn’t my choice. I would have chosen differently.   And it is a good thing that it wasn’t my choice.

Recently, one of her previous teachers called me. She had just talked to my DD.   My daughter had told her that she “has never been more content in her life” than she is right now. 

To me that is everything.  

So looking back, I’m glad I didn’t know about what everyone else was doing.  I would have tried to get those things for her.  Where would she be if I had?  Still dancing?  I don’t know.   

From my perspective, and based on our experience, all that is needed is good training with good teachers who focus on technique and artistry.  A dancer doesn’t need a “dolly dinkle”, 5 dances in 4 comps a year, and 25 hours a week at age 10.  Good long-term training is more about quality, not quantity.  Although quantity ramps up when they get older.  And SIs ARE important, but like others have said, SIs are important in the teen years not when they are young.  

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GingerMama

Thanks so much Monet! It is so helpful to hear about the experiences of older dancers! It does feel like there is pressure to start young when you hear about what everyone else is doing and people are telling you things so I really cannot say enough how valuable I find it to hear about what worked well for others!

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AmyMary

Motherhem,

Yes, so beautifully said! That movie did inspire us to leave our dolly dinkle school we were at for years to pursue "the real thing" but man, I always feel that pressure too, especially those parents who kept moving for better ballet training. No way we can do that...great to hear your daughter's successes as well!

Edited by dancemaven
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Noodles

Getting waaaaayyyy off topic but AmyMary, be careful of the studio hopping. Those parents who are always  'looking for better training' often times move frequently because their dancer is not getting the constant praise that they think they deserve. Dancers have to learn to have grit and work hard even when they are not being lavished with praise, because that is not real life. Very slippery slope, and not something to aspire to! No offense to those who have moved their dancer, mine has moved once. Even when days are hard we are confident that we have chosen the best training she can get, doesn't mean it is always easy. 

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motherhem

Wise words Noodles. 

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