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Dance Magazine: CPYB methods

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I think the problem with unlimited classes is highlighted in Lilliana's post where she says that a student taking the minimum number of classes would not be considered a serious student and that "more is better."


If this is the mentality of the school's administration, then students who are serious about ballet will push themselves to be there whenever the doors are open. The fear of falling behind those who take more classes, being passed over for prime roles, losing favor with teachers and administration and the ominous undertones of being considered "a less than serious student" can all drive students far past their comfort zones and into dangerous territory.


In an environment where this philosophy is fostered, I don't imagine that a parent's concerns about too many classes and their affect on their child would be received too favorably by the faculty. While no one will force children to take too many classes, they will simply be "written off" by the faculty as recreational students.


I think this is one of those situations where you have to look at the environment and determine if it is a good idea for your child. Regardless of the wonderful success stories a program such as this may be able to tell, every parent has to reconcile the allure of stardom with the stark realities of day to day life in a program such as this. While it may work fine for some, without any serious repercussions and stellar results, it could be life crippling for others. For those considering such a program, the trick is to figure out how it would affect your child and then act accordingly.

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I cannot speak to the year-round program, but our family does have experience with the summer intensive. I imagine the philosophies are not too different.


There is lots of pressure to keep up with the minimum number of classes (3/day). Children are not allowed on the field trips if they miss even a single class and do not make it up. No distinction is made between a child who is blowing off the program -- not that I can imagine such a child easily -- and one who is sick or, yes, stressed. Many kids take the 'optional' evening class as well. My impression is that kids who don't take it regularly ARE considered to be "not serious".

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Another objection, again based upon summer- is the emphasis on thinness. Weight is discussed in class by the director, who boasts of how thin she was when she was danced. Are there any nutritional seminars during the year? There weren't during the summer. In the Dance article, it struck me- as it did the choreographer- of the prepubertal bodies of these dancers. Now, many were probably pre-pubertal, but it reminded me of the current trend in women's gymnastics- girls, with girls bodies, but not women, are what we see.

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I think it would be a good idea for me to state uncategorically that I believe that CPYB does far more good than bad, far more well than ill, far more right than wrong. Their track record seems to indicate that in no uncertain terms. Moreover, I don't expect any program to be entirely bloodless, with a zero failure rate. Nobody in their right mind ignores the bell curve. What I want to do is to challenge teachers, students, and parents to find the right program/student mix to provide the maximum benefit at the highest possible comfort level that will still get the job (quality education) done. CPYB is indeed a worthy program, and is the perfect fit for a good number of students. It's just not the only way of doing things, and parents and students, besides teachers should beware of faddism and the proliferation of the "emulators" of good programs, whose backgrounds and particularly, practices do not match the excellence of those they model. I needed to express those thoughts.

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Guest Leigh Witchel

With which I agree. I think one of the most detrimental things I ever heard as a dance student was a teacher saying, "Only I can make you a dancer." After a few years of intimidation (I really thought I had started so late and with so little raw material she was right), it dawned on me "Wait. Only I can make a dancer out of me."


If a school doesn't work for you or your child, go somewhere else. Try to discuss the problems, keep an open mind about what they say (they may have a point), but go somewhere else. No school is the only school in the universe.

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Guest unsoccer-mom

This thread seems to be winding in many directions. I think there is a big difference between the younger dancer and the teenage pre-professional dancer. My daughter attends Walnut Hill and has a schedule very similar to the one Vagansmom outlined for Nutmeg. I don't think one can acquire the necessary skills without putting in that amount of time during the teen years. Prior to that one has more flexibility to play with the amount of class time. Personally, I have no problem with a school that is offering professional level training requiring a certain number of classes per week of the dancers in that program/level. Recreational dancing is an entirely different thing and it is logistically difficult for a school to do both well. I think it is our job as parents to find the right fit for our children, but to think that a pre-professional school can tailor the program to the individual student would be unrealistic.


On the matter of CPYB, we too have had experience with their training. In my opinion, they make it very clear in all of their communications to the prospective students that this is serious intensive training...not a summer camp. One goes to CPYB expecting this. As far as, the "thiness" issue that exits everywhere in ballet. We have known about 10 dancers that have attended their SI. None, save the one that had an eating disorder when she left for CPYB, came back with an eating disorder. Is it for everyone? Absolutely, not! Will a dancer come back stronger and improved. I think given that CPYB does exactly what they say they will do ie: require siginificant technique class time; it would be hard for a dancer not to improve.

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Regarding the CPYB summer program - my daughter was there this summer. She attended only one of the optional evening classes. She said that she was usually exhausted after her three regular classes, and also was coming off of a long term injury and felt that she didn't want to push things. When I told her that I thought that she was wise not to push herself beyond the amount that she was already pushing herself in regular classes, she said that she was relieved to hear me say that, and that a lot of the other dancers were pressured by their parents to attend every possible class. I don't know if their reasons were financial (it is a spendy program) or what, but apparently a lot of the kids felt forced to attend the extra classes. My daughter improved quite a bit, so it was more than worthwhile to send her, but I'm glad that she was old enough (17) to decide what was best for herself and act accordingly.

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Just wanted to add to this post, since my 16 year old daughter was at CPYB this past summer. She said only one teacher made a remark about weight in any of her classes. It happened to be a male teacher who, according to the girls, was not so thin himself! The remark wasn't directed at her, and she pretty much ignored it. As far as the extra classes in the evenings, my daughter went 2 or 3 nights a week. She especially liked the Tuesday night Physics of dance class taught by Ken Laws. When she was too tired, she didn't go. There was no pressure. There were seminars in the evenings too - nutrition, planning for college, etc. These were optional , so not everyone went. Her current teachers see a great improvement in her technique, particularly upper body (this was the area her level worked on). She absolutely loved the program and would go back again in a minute!

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My daughter also learned a great amount. Her teacher noticed a big improvement in her strength and technique.


However, I think Miss' typo is telling:


My son was there 2 tears ago


;) :rolleyes:

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Tree-Frog, Amethyst, K-8: Have you sent in your surveys on CPYB's SI? I see that BW is soliciting CPYB dancers and parents to send in their surveys on the SI Survey thread. Please do so (and anyone else reading this thread whose dancer attended ANY SI this summer), if you have not done so already, as we need everyone to do this, in order to make the survey valid and useful!:D


The "commerical break" is now complete. I'll return you to your regularly scheduled program:


I have to agree with un-soccer mom, it seems this thread is going many different directions. I don't think that the intensity of CPYB's SI is in question here. I think they do an excellent job in their printed materials of making it very clear that it is a no-nonsense, intense experience. For those who have gone, the consensus seems to be that the students get exactly what the materials said that they would and parents usually report that they saw tremendous improvement upon their return to their home studios.


I think the original discussion was the intensity of the year-round program, particularly in light of the fact that they are not a boarding school, offering their own academics. The original thread centered on the age of the young dancers featured in the magazine article and the schedule that they must adhere to, in order to get the great results that were reported. I think most people on this board do understand that a pre-professional program demands a level of intensity that surpasses that expected of the recreational dancer. But, many of us are just trying to figure out how these very young dancers (elementary and early middle school) manage to fit everything into their day and still have the down time needed for emotional/physical renewal. :confused:

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Guest Scarlett2263

My daughter and I came to CPYB almost a year ago to the day. It has been an interesting learning experience for us.


When we arrived we were warned that Marcia always put the kids into levels that were more than likely lower than where the child was dancing at their previous school. I was told by the school and other parents that this was done to address whatever "technique problems" the dancer came in with. I was not overly concerned in my daughter's case as they told me she came in with good training (thank you German Zamuel) and because she was only ten. They also took her off of her pointe shoes for 5 months while she built up the strength she required to dance on pointe in a consistently correct manner. It was upsetting to her but in the long run was an excellent choice. She became very strong. She started with about 10 hours a week, which for her level was the minimum requirement and slowly moved up to more hours as her body adjusted to the schedule. My daughter is one of those extremely focused younger children (the majority of the dancers here are) who is totally consumed with her training, I constantly battle with her over taking time off to recoup. but this is her life as she has chosen to live it for the moment. I have always told her "If you don't love what you are doing, don't do it". I want her to dance for the love of the dance at this age, not for what it holds in her future, because as we all know, bodies change, priorities change, the world changes. She is very dedicated to her art form. Marcia has that same dedication to her teaching and while I don't always agree with the decisions of the school re: class schedules, teachers, and the sort, I have always agreed with the basic ideals and wisdom that Marcia has imparted on her students, not to mention the training.


What I see now, a year later are (not to be unexpected) growing pains. A school that has grown a little to big, a little to fast. The little barn school that produced the majority of professional dancers whose pictures adorn the studio walls, no longer exists. CPYB has attracted many more dancers from the outside (not residents of Carlisle who decided to sign up their child for ballet) who come in with the expectation that the teachers of CPYB will make them great dancers. I suppose I may be included in that category although by far most of the dancers from the "outside" are teenagers who come here to "finish" their training. This makes it difficult on the faculty. They have in many ways had to adjust their teaching to accomodate a much weaker group of dancers while still focusing on the dancers who have trained here exclusively and moved up relatively quickly. And because Marcia holds the philosophy that anyone with a desire to dance should dance....it can make it difficult putting together class levels of equal ability. The sad part of all of this is that Marcia is only one person and while still going strong, she is at the age that many people retire. I pose the question, what happens when she is gone?


In regards to the younger dancers who took part in the Choreoplan last year. It was impressive to watch. This school can certainly brag to the professionalism of even its youngest dancers, due mostly to Marcia's insistance that they adhere to the rules and the consistancy of the training. But they are students, with things still to learn. Some will be successful and some will not. That is life. Best not to compare the ability of one ten year old to another, wait until they are done growing, wait until they go out into the world to get a job. That is when the comparisons should be made. CPYB offers many more perfomance opportunities than a lot of schools but make no mistake, with the younger dancers the focus must be on the training, not what part they get. Marcia does her best to hold to this philosophy but she is, alas, only one person in a school filled with children who have come to believe it is about the part when in fact it is really all about the training, is it not? I think what I am trying to say here is that everything is a trade off. If you train for 30 hours a week at 9, 10, 11 years old, you have to expect that you will be forced to make sacrifices in your life somewhere else. I would say the norm at this school is to homeschool because with classes ending at 9 in the evening, it can be too difficult for such young children to keep up with homework, but I also now several kids who don't seem to have any problem getting everything done without being homeschooled. It all depends on the child, one graduated as valedictorian(sp?) from the highschool this year.


Our overall experience here has been very positive. I worry about overtaxing the young bodies but as a parent you have to step in and make the tough decisions sometimes. It can be tough if you are focused on the parts but what I try to drill into my daughter's head is that she is young, she has plenty of time for parts, part of her training has to be to learn how to take care of her body. The school seems to support this, unfortunately it is the dancers themselves as well as some of the parents who create the competitive atmosphere. I don't know how can you justify having 11 year olds in the most advanced levels dancing next to 16 and 17 year olds who actually are advanced. You just shouldn't expect an 11 or even a 12 year old to live up to the emotional and physical standards of an advanced student. But, that is the way it is done here and as a parent we have choices and must stay educated and stand firm to do what is best for our children and their little bodies.

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Guest Scarlett2263

In response to the question re: the summer program at CPYB. It has become big business in many ways, 600+ kids this year. I don't like that the younger children have approx. 10-12 different teachers, albeit very talented and qualified ones. It made it tough on my daughter because she walked away more confused than anything. For the older student, I think it is a different experience. They seem to relish the variety and the opportunity to make contacts with teachers from places they may one day go to audition. I would love to see them cut down on the sheer number of teachers for the youngest students but because you are grouped essentially by ability and not by age, this could be tough to do.


In comparing it to the Kirov's summer program, which we attended the previous year (at 10 yrs old) she came away from that program feeling like she hadn't really worked very hard and didn't like that the last week and 1/2 of the three week program focused mainly on the end of the program performance. But to the credit of the Vaganova training, she learned consistant technique and you only had one teacher per level. CPYB doesn't have a performance so the training is the only focus. She felt she worked harder at CPYB but in reality, I am not sure she actually learned more having been taught so many different styles. She did have a lot of fun and made some good friends, if that is important to anyone. And the program is very well run from what I have seen. They didn't have any real problems handling the number of kids who came here. I would like to see them audition as the other programs do but that would go against the whole philosophy of the school.

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Scarlett, first of all, thank you very much for sharing your experience and insight as a "year round" parent of a young dancer.:)


When you wrote:

I don't know how can you justify having 11 year olds in the most advanced levels dancing next to 16 and 17 year olds who actually are advanced. You just shouldn't expect an 11 or even a 12 year old to live up to the emotional and physical standards of an advanced student. But, that is the way it is done here and as a parent we have choices and must stay educated and stand firm to do what is best for our children and their little bodies.
I wondered if you meant that if one didn't agree with this, one shouldn't send or bring one's dancer to this program, or whether you were implying that if one, as a parent, didn't feel that this was "safe" for one's child, then one could speak up and prevent this from occurring?


I don't mean to belabor this, I just want to be clear: does a parent have a choice? Or is it more an either your on the bus or off the bus with CPYB and its schedule for one's child?


I am assuming it's the latter, as I have to assume it is in any serious program. It seems to me that the "buyer beware" advice in seeking training, in anything, for one's self or one's child is a good one to remember.:rolleyes:


P.S. I found your comments on the summer intensive quite interesting as well. I'd also like to add that one of our main reasons for coming up with our Ballet Alert! Summer Intensive Survey, was to glean this kind of information on a number of well respected SIs, and be able to present it in an orderly fashion in one, easily accessible place - on this board - so that parents, students and teachers might be able to achieve more reliable insight into this world. I encourage everyone who has yet to send in, or request, their surveys to do so. Many thanks, again.

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This thread certainly has been interesting, intense and at times enlightening...


...yet I can't help but feel that we have beaten a dead horse until it is just a small stain in the carpet...

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