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Ballet Talk for Dancers
AmyMary

If your child never places at YAGP

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learningdance

Just want to again agree with VRS.... 

It certainly has been the case with my dd, who is nearly 18 and on the cusp of a career.  

She has been rejected from SIs and not gotten scholarships and then gotten scholarships. As she has auditioned the rejections from SIs have helped her see where she is not a match to a particular company. 

And the scholarships have suggested where she was a company match. 

But at 12-- don't count on anything.  It's a long road and talent and facility are really only a small part of the picture. You're only half way there at 12.  It takes 10 years to prepare a professional ballet dancer.  That's timing of most of the major syllabi-10 years. 

You really have to work hard and ignore distractions (injuries, casting disappointments, rejection, drama, lack of confidence at particular times) 

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AmyMary

This is reassuring. Honestly I make a bigger deal out of setbacks than she does. A lot of it is the financial investment. Sometimes I question all the sacrifice, time, and money which could very well be spent elsewhere preparing her for other vocations in life...but this kid doesn't want to do anything but ballet, all the time.

I think we will just dust off our pointe shoes from YAGP and move forward, lesson learned, focusing on auditions instead next year.

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nothingbutballet

"As she has auditioned the rejections from SIs have helped her see where she is not a match to a particular company.  And the scholarships have suggested where she was a company match."

Is it true that SI scholarships are a good indicator of a company match?  (And rejections are vice versa?) Just wondering what kind of influence school personnel have over company hiring decisions (separate artistic staff, vision, goals, agenda, budget etc.)

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vrsfanatic

I have had students be accepted into very prestigious summer courses, given invitations to year round training and never get beyond that within the organization. 

Also I have had students be rejected from prestigious SIs and year round programs and still obtain company contracts from those prestigious organizations.

I have had students be accept to prestigious SIs, attend year round and receive company contracts.

I have had a student accept a SI scholarship, turn down 2nd company contract in her senior year of high school. Return to her "home" training situation. Receive a phone call mid -year from the same organization saying basically, we need you now. It is now or never.

There is no guessing how it all works, however professional teachers and schools will be honest with a student and the family regarding the professional possibilities that exist for a student. We do not have a crystal ball however we do know when a student has what it takes physically, emotionally and artistically to have a career in the ballet world.

Each organization's works differently. Some directors have an interest to draw from their school. But a school has to produce a quality product. 

Artistic staff often guest teach during company layoffs and find promising young people for 1st and 2nd company positions.

The moral of the story is a student must receive top quality instruction in order to compete on an international level. There are so many qualified students and dancers. Education is paramount.

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nothingbutballet

Thank you for your insight vrsfanatic.  We appreciate your expertise!

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nynydancer

I know the consensus is it that it doesn't matter, but... here is my experience.  I have told this story before:

I have a friend whose DD did not make top 24 the one year she was allowed by her school to do it.  She had an amazing attitude and was like whatever.  That summer she was offered a year round spot in a major 3 letter professional program (she was not offered scholarship and her placement at the summer intensive was lower than her friend's placement).  Everyone was shocked but it was like a cinderella story!  

This girl is in the exact same situation as one of her former peers: who was in top 3 regionally YAGP,  Larissa did the whole I-love-you thing and she did the trip to NYC etc.  Because of YAGP, that girl was given admission to several top programs too, and she picked one and is there now.

Both are thriving in their top tier programs.   In the two minute evaluation on stage, the girl who went the YAGP route had everything that ticked the boxes: training, artistry, and probably more importantly, CRAZY feet, amazing physique, flexibility, perfect height, etc.  The other girl, who was ignored by YAGP, had the training, okay ish feet, a normal physique, but incredible intelligence and grit that it took more than 2 minutes on stage to discover,  but her current program loved her at the SI and asked her to stay.  Honestly, I would put my money on this girl's success. 

When I watch these regionals, there are some performances that are really really good or just a pleasure to watch that get no reward (and no these aren't winners from prior sites).  In my heart, especially this year, I wished them to know how good they were and how they shouldn't give up.  In these cases, I pray the YAGP results do not impact their outlook on themselves.  This is like the middle of pack group of kids.

And then there are the dancers who I pray their parents sit up and take note and DO something: these are the dancers who come very unprepared, do not know how to bow or walk on stage, and who at times look flat out like they are going to hurt themselves because they are doing variations they are not ready for.  There are times when I think there are some unscrupulous teachers out there who put kids onstage who clearly are not ready and are at risk to hurt themselves.  Often doing Esmerelda or Grand Pas Classique.  These are the ones my heart breaks for because honestly, sometimes finding good training is just LUCK.   And I see these schools come over and over.  Sorry if that is offensive, but it makes me angry because I KNOW how hard and expensive this all is.

I think as a parent, if your kid did a nice performance at YAGP that was classy and they knew how to walk on and off correctly, then my goodness who cares about YAGP.  Keep on trucking and focus on getting GOOD training.   Use SI auditions instead as your true barometer.  However, if your kid looks really unprepared and very wobbly then yes DO care about what you saw and your results and start thinking.  

Also scores mean nothing -- I went to the table and saw a big sign for the judges that said "DO NOT SCORE BELOW 85".  The most valuable are the notes on the judges scoresheets from the judges themselves.

We've done YAGP four years now and I really pray it is the last year.  My kids are in YAGP purgatory of usually in top 3 regionally but ignored in NYC (if we go) and never made a fuss of or gottten any cool scholarships.  They are filler in NYC, or the "extras" and we are good with that.  Does their regional success mean something? er yes I guess it does in the moment I guess, but it also really means their school knows how to prepare them for YAGP.   Also, they are aware there were often "better" performances that were not rewarded at all.  In the worst case, placing gives a false sense of security.

So even with YAGP "success" we do feel the SI scholarships and admissions mean SO MUCH MORE and DO give more of a sense of where they will fit and be happy and who likes them.  

For my DKs, they know all too well the DKs who never place at YAGP will be just as hungry and most probably as well trained as they are when it comes times to look for jobs.

 

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AmyMary

Great perspectives, thanks for sharing. The first year we went we had just left years at a dolly dinkle and DD was not en pointe for long. We watched First Position and were all in lol. We were woefully prepared and in hindsight she should have done her variation in flats.

Several years later she was very prepared and executed her piece beautifully with grace and poise. She slipped ever so slightly on the ending after a series of fast turns but so did the other girls doing the same variation that placed...so I don't feel at all we could have done anything better this time. No crazy advanced variation.

It is so funny to hear the "yagp purgatory" reference. Please remind those girls that gratitude is everything. Our dancers joke that they would be thrilled just to get top 25. DD told me she complimented a dancer backstage after her piece who then stormed off crying when she did an amazing job. I guess there is just incredible pressure on some of these big city girls to compete well....and still not be satisfied with placing.I just watched one of our senior girls with puffy eyes after crying all night long from executing her variation perfectly (not all of our girls did) and still getting zero acknowledgement.

I just think it is bad for their self esteem in general to keep going. Sure, rejection is part of the journey but when an organization refuses to give you the time of day over and over it is time to take your time and money elsewhere.

I have truly enjoyed your responses!

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learningdance

Here's a little more perspective.  DD did YAGP, stopped doing it and just received an apprentice contract for  a major international company (pay, health, shoes). And this company had NO interest in her when she was at YAGP the last time she was there.  It's only an apprenticeship but it's a foot in the door. 

YAGP is really not the only road to Rome.  If a school, organization, or competition is not benefitting your dancer LEAVE. If what you want from YAGP is a chance to do a solo variation on stage and get feedback, then do it.  But know that Larissa has no silver ball either. 

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dancerdancer

I agree, AmyMary, because I think the competitions have a way of twisting the whole point of ballet. Ballet, at its heart, is an art form, not a competition. Gymnastics is a competition. Football is a competition. Ballet is an art form, and it can't really be reduced in any truly "accurate" way to scores. Yes, some dancers are very accomplished and breathtaking. I suppose competitions evolved as a way to try to recognize that. But at its heart, ballet is an art form that expresses feelings and ideas and entertains audiences through movement. Every dancer can participate in that expression. Competitions try to address that component by having a score for artistry, but how can you really put a score on artistry? How would you score a Van Gogh or a Picasso? How would those scores compare to a Warhol? How would those scores compare to a heartfelt work of art by a local high schooler - a piece that made you feel something and understand his perspective, even if that student never pursues art in any professional sense? In ballet we get caught up in this idea that unless you are deemed near-perfect by someone in a position of authority your art isn't worth doing.  I know this comes from the ballet industry being so competitive, but if ballet is to live up to its potential to impact the larger community, I think it is important to remember to view it as an art form, rather than just a sport.

Furthermore, ballet is, to a large extent, a form of cooperative expression. It's about something bigger than yourself. It's about working with others to create an intricate, but temporary, work of art. Performing solos at a competition is such a limited part of ballet. I think we lose something when we give it more weight than it deserves.

I'm not saying competitions are bad, or that you can't have valuable experiences competing. My DD's enjoyed their one year doing YAGP. I just don't think we need to lose perspective about it. And we need to guard against getting too caught up in the idea that ballet is only worth doing when it can get a high score.

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vrsfanatic

Congratulations to your DD learningdance. And true, no one has that crystal ball.

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learningdance

Thanks. . . . and you never stop holding your breath! If you are in ballet long enough, you know that there are no "guarantees."  Just walk through a door that opens and work hard. 

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labrador

Congratulations Learningdance!

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Phx115

nynydancer - well said and very inspiring.

I must admit the comment about "Larissa did the whole I-love-you thing" appears to skim the surface of what goes on behind the scenes, especially for those of us whose children do not go on to Finals. I really wish someone in the know (I'm not saying nynydancer is one of those people) would step up and share what really goes on behind the scenes. 

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learningdance

So I would add this.  What you get from YAGP is what you appear to get (and perhaps some level of promotion, notice, etc if Larissa likes you). You get

-the experience of putting a piece on stage

-the opportunity to face the nerves and stage fright and pull it off

-great practice dealing with the pressures of stage performing

-powering through when/if you slip or fall

-the opportunity to handle wardrobe malfunctions and keep dancing.

-facing judges (auditioners) and performing'

- the ELATION of coming off stage feeling "I did it and I had SO MUCH FUN!"

-the joy of meeting other serious dancers

-the thrill of recognition if you are recognized

-the validation when a fellow performer says, "You did really well." 

-the satisfaction of getting HONEST, clear appraisals of your dance

-the experience of taking master classes

-practice dealing with a stressful registration process (it usually is), open stage, dressing room

-practice handling a nervous coach or mother.

YAGP provides performing experiences that mirror the real world and those experiences are the value because they will build your skills in handling those same things in a pro career.  

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picardythird

Learning Dance, Congratulations to your daughter and you! That is so exciting!

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