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Dance Magazine: CPYB methods

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This is enlightening to me. I've always thought my daughter's school has a more intensive schedule at every age than do most pre-pros but it doesn't compare, at the earlier levels, to CPYB's. From what I know, it's about the same by the time a dancer's around 13.


I don't know what I think about CPYB's schedule. I DO know how hard my daughter's schedule has been ever since she was about 7 when she was taking a couple classes a week plus rehearsals two nights a week.


If CPYB offered a flexible academic program as well, then it wouldn't seem like such an overload. I wonder how many of those dancers who've gone on to professional careers were homeschooled as children or who had other creative academic programs?


As a mother, my solace, when I'd fret about my daughter's spending so much time in the dance studio as a young child, was that she was in a flexible (Montessori) academic program that allowed her plenty of movement and outdoor freedom throughout the day. I couldn't imagine a program like CPYB's for very young kids without some academic flexibility.


I won't quarrel about its turning out many fine professional dancers but I do wonder about the lives of all those who didn't make it. Regrets? Burnout?

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That last sentence is what I meant about burnout. How many kids burn out at 12 from this kind of schedule?


One also has to consider that Carlisle, PA is an Army community. So is the town in which I live. Parents in Army life tend to see commitments to activities as sort of duty assignments, and pass this attitude on to their children. "Dad, I'm not going to ballet today." "No kid of mine is going to miss formation! Get ready!" It helps with attendance, but I've often noted the difference between the students in Army communities and those whose values are more based on civilian pursuits.

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I, too, am very curious about the answers to all the questions posed by Balletbooster.


As a mother, it has been tough for me to determine what constitutes the best dance education for my child, as it may not be the same thing as an "optimal" dance education for a professional dancer.


I have to consider the development of her in general, as well as her development as a dancer.


As an aside, I think ballet schools should offer some kind of orientation for parents. When my daughter started (at age 7), I had no idea of what was required to train as a dancer.

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Fendrock - excellent point - a realistic overview for parents! I wonder how many would head for the door? ;)


I can guess that there are many who might, but the ones whose offspring fall in love with ballet tend to fall in love with it too, don't you think? Nevertheless, I do think that at a certain age or, rather, level in ballet that parents and students should have an understanding of what it takes to become a "contender".


Speaking for myself, I really only began to learn by educating myself and part of that education was gained right here on Ballet Talk (thanks to vagansmom for directing me here) and by buying and reading quite a number of books on the subject of the training involved.

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Guest Drivingmom

I will try to answer some of these questions, but I am not an expert...... these are only my observations or opionions.


There are a good many of the CPYB students that are home schooled. If they attend the local high school they are released early. They are given gym and humanities credit for their ballet study at CPYB. There are other kids not in the Carlisle high school district, so they have a regular school schedule. I know from personal experience that the public school students outside the Carlisle school district become quite good at getting homework done in the car and taking advantage of any free time at school, such as before school and lunch break, to any research for papers and projects. One of my personal requirements is that the grades come first, then the dance. But it does amaze me that she can dance 30+ hours a week, have a full day at high school and carry a 3.85 GPA.


Regarding the early age of going on pointe and injuries. Kids are put on pointe based on the level of dance that they have acheived not their age. Therefore, sometimes there can be 9 - 14 year olds going on pointe at the same time if they are the same level. I will tell you I also have concerns of going on pointe so early and how it will effect the kids in the long run. I don't have the answer to that question. I will tell you I am quite surprised at the low occurance of injuries throughout the year. I could probably count on one hand how many kids out of 300 were injured and couldn't dance. And out of the low number of injuries, the injured were normally kids that came to CPYB later (in the 13 - 15 years old range).


Regarding burnout, I don't see a whole lot of that either. Surprisingly.......


Regarding the military community, there are not many kids that go to CPYB that the families are in the military. I have seen some in the preschool or 6 year old range that are there for a 1 year or two then leave, but I personally don't know of any older kids whose families are in the military. There could be a few that I am unaware.


To add to Leigh's list of professional dancers.... these a couple that are 19 into the 20's that are currently dancing: Carrie Imbler - Principal @ PNB; Vannessa Zahorian, Kristin Long, & Tina LeBlanc - Principals @ SFB; Zach Hench and Sherri LeBlanc - Soloist @ SFB: Tara Hench - Soloist ( I think) @ Boston Ballet; Abi Stafford - soloist @NCYB; Jonathan Stafford, Ashley Bouder, Adam Hendrickson - @ NCYB. There are many more, but I can't remember them all and where they are currently.


hope some of this helps...:) Have a great day.....:)

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It appears to me that the academics vs dance argument resolves itself pretty well if the child really loves to dance. My daughter's age group 9-11 year olds dance 5 days a week in class, plus rehearsals. My son's group, 14-16 year olds are there 6 days plus rehearsals. If the kids know they are dancing this much, homework goes to the studio with them,they actually work on it, and their teachers are understanding if they have to occaissionaly miss dance because of something like science fair,etc. I truly believe that the discipline from dance carries over to the rest of the things the kids are involved in. Our family has a gymnast,2 dancers and a rower on a crew team. All these activities require alot of time and all the kids find a way of fitting in social activities and very good schoolwork. If the kids want to excel, we provide the means and they find a way to make it work.

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Regarding the military basis of the town's economy, it doesn't take many "Army brats" to make a "core cadre" of motivated, even driven, students. I have had the honor of being an adjunct faculty advisor to extracurricular activities in school systems both within and outside the sphere of influence of the West Point community, and the difference is night and day.


Regarding pointe at 9, that's just too blasted young, and I won't argue that point.:mad:

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To the posters who have or have had children involved with this program on a year round basis, thank you for sharing your information and your insight. It's always good to hear it from someone who has direct knowledge. :)

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Thanks to all who have answered questions regarding CPYB's program!


There is one question I posed that has not been addressed: Can anyone compare the daily schedule for 8-10 year olds at CPYB with other schools, famous for turning out beautiful dancers (SAB, Kirov, Paris Opera, Royal Danish, etc.)?


I am wondering how the CPYB program differs from these other programs for the youngest age group?

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Guest Leigh Witchel

From what I've seen while I was there, the military has little or nothing to do with the discipline of the place. It's Marcia, pure and simple.


There is also an important difference between CPYB and the other places that needs to be factored in, and that is that CPYB has open enrollment. The other schools mentioned take only a few students. This is a good thing (everyone gets a chance) and this can also be a problem (a body not made to do ballet being forced to do ballet has a better chance of getting injured.)

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The community does have the influence of the military base but a lot of the families with students at CPYB are transplants or not actually from the town at all. From what I can see, there are quite a few year round students that commute from quite a distance to attend CPYB. On top of that, there are a handful of out of town older students who are being housed with host families. There are also families who have actually moved to the Carlilse/ Harrisburg area just to be near CPYB.


I get the feeling we will be losing one of our young men to CPYB next year. Their pull is strong.



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Some of the people who've replied have spoken of high schoolers keeping a 30+ hour schedule at CPYB and also being successful at their regular academic school. I think that's true of many kids that age at many of the pre-pros. It makes sense to me because developmentally those are years of great industry directed towards a great passion.


The same can be true of 9-11 year olds. That age also developmentally can be one of great industry and great passion. I love working with kids that age because they're so enthusiastic and such hard workers.


A daily dance schedule that includes class plus rehearsals, however, when combined with a NORMAL academic schedule at an age younger than nine disturbs me. If a child is in a non-traditional schooling environment, I wouldn't feel such concern.


Just because a child seems able to take on such a workload at the time (under 9 years old) isn't enough to convince me that it's appropriate. I have to think about this more but everything I know about kids from, say, 6-8 tells me they shouldn't maintain such a schedule. There are lots of things kids seem to be capable of that aren't good for them, that can have later consequences for many of them.


And then, aside from age appropriate activities, there's the issue of not getting enough sunshine and outdoor air!

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Do all of the kids at CPYB follow this kind of schedule? Or can some follow the more usual route at age 6-8 of one or two classes per week?


I think this thread brings up one of those existential conundrums. The vast majority of kids who dance (or play soccer, basketball, piano, violin, etc.) are not going to have professional careers. Those kids don't need intensive training -- surely not two classes a day by age 10. On the other hand, kids who stick with such an intensive program will almost certainly progress faster, all other things being equal. How is one to make that choice so early in life?


I know, I know, it's not all about becoming a professional. Some kids just want to dance more than anything else. But if they follow a rigorous dance schedule from an early age, how do they know what they are missing? As Vagansmom says, there's an awful lot to be said for fresh air and kicking-around time.


I guess I have one more question. Of all the young kids who start taking lessons at CPYB, how many keep going and how many get scared off relatively quickly? This isn't a question of burning out, but of never getting turned on in the first place.

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The major difference here is that the careers of these athletes (Note: athletes, not artists) need to peak somewhere around 15 years old, and they are over at 20. This is not the case with dancers. Their technical peak is later, and their artistic peak even later still. And their careers can go much longer. I don't feel that the analogy or comparison of training these athletes with the training of young dancer/artists is valid or relevant.


Pete Sampras won the US open and he is over 30, then Martina Navratilova still plays and wins, they were not finished at 20 and I know they trained intensively at a very young age, Also skaters if their olympic carreer is over at 20 ( even though Katarina witt was way over 20 when she competed in her 3rd or 4th olympic) they do go into the professional world and do perform for a long time.

You see a dancer is an artist first, but is also an athlete.

I never said that you should take 3 classes a day and graduate in 3 years, the training of a dancers take 7 to 8 years.

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I Agree with Victoria, six is too young for an intensive training and as Victoria says 8 year old is a more appropriate age, and I still wouldn't go over one ballet class a day.

And still keep it fun for them :)

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