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Dance Magazine: CPYB methods

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Dear ShesnoFonteynsMom - it looks as though it's an awfully big stain to me - unless it's just seeped through so much that we can't tell anymore. ;)

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Guest Scarlett2263

I think for me this will never be a dead horse as long as my child is involved. I realize this is a subject you have all discussed over and over as well it should be, but I find it interesting.


In response to your question BW, I don't think it is unsafe for 11 and 12 year olds to be in the advanced levels, my question is have they have jumped past too much needed basic training and how will it benefit them in the long run? Even though they are all very talented, I just wonder if it is the best place for them. But Marcia has been doing this for 45+ years and you have to respect that.


I don't think anyone coming into the program at 11 or 12 will have to worry because it is very unlikely that the dancer would be placed in the highest level at that age walking in off the street. It just isn't done that way here. The current young advanced dancers are a group of kids who have moved through the ranks with Marcia, most of them from the time they were very little. The school has grown so quickly that I think in an effort to accomodate the dancers from the outside, the "hometown" group has been moved up quickly. It's all very confusing to us as parents. You must be willing to put up with the levels situation if you want to come here though. That I will say. Because it is not an audition based school, you have to work through the ranks, unless you are exceptional which does happen on rare occassion. Marcia feels very strongly about making sure everyone learns the same basic technique before they are moved up. It isn't for everyone.

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I'm not trying to cut off discussion, but this quote by Scarlett seems as good a place to end this thread as any:


It (CPYB) isn't for everyone.


That's a sentiment on which I think we can all agree.

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As an end note or post mortem or whatever, I find it intriguing that SAB, the Big Kahuna for many young dancers (and parents)

has not engendered such a spirited discussion...


...excuse me I have to go find the carpet steamer.

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LOL! ShesnoFonteynsMom - very good!:) One thing is for sure, there are quite a few witty posters on here.

However, SAB the NYC Kahuna has engendered much spirited discussion - just not on this thread because they weren't part of the Choreoplan article. ;)


Please, feel free to start a new thread anytime, after you've finished steaming!:cool:

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Just in case anyone is still reading this thread, I thought I would give some info from the CPYB course material that I picked up last winter when my daughter went on the weekends. Since there was no audition for the SI in the summer, I wanted her to learn what the summer might be like.


The primary division contains Level 1 and 2. The preprofessional divisions starts at level 3 and goes to 8 - by invitation.


Although the recommended mininum per week for the levels are:


1a 2 hours

1b 4 hours

2a 7 hours

2b 10 hours

3 18 hours

4 19.5 hrs

5-9 21.5 hrs


The serious students take much more. For example, a level 2B student can take 5.5 hours on Sat alone and on Sunday they can go and take an additional 4-8 hours which are not even listed on the schedule since they are given in Harrisburg. Tues-Thurs 2.5 hrs each night just of ballet technique (no pointe or other like modern) is offered and on Monday 4 hrs is offered. Pointe is started in level 3. Level 3 and above has even more.


Marcia showed me a group of her 11 yr olds that were level 6 or 7 (I forget exactly now) but I do remember just how accomplished they were.


To get more info just call them, 717- 245-1190.


My daughter improved - noticeably to her home teachers- each weekend she went there. And the summer SI was amazing.




When I checked my posting I saw it "went" to the wrong area - sorry. It was meant to the responses to CPYB article in Dance Magazine.

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Guest Scarlett2263

I had an informative and interesting conversation today with Marcia, the Artistic Director of CPYB. I asked her specifically about the "required" number of classes a student must take. Her response was that all students should take the minimum recommended hours of classes if they wanted to progress with the program and that taking any more than that should be based upon the ability desire and needs of each child. She sited examples of both dancers who take every available class and show no physical distress as well as dancers who take only the minimum number of classes and improve quite well and are cast just as frequently. It all depends upon the student, their natural facility for ballet, their drive to succeed, and their work ethic in class. She also said, much to her credit, that she doesn't want the younger students to worry so much about what parts they will get and whether or not the amount of classes they take has a huge bearing on casting, she wants them to concentrate on the training, that the parts will come to them as they are ready. Unfortuantly what happens here as well as in other schools we have attended is the students and especially the parents worry too much about what parts the dancers will get and place unreal expectations on themselves. But, when you get a group of mostly gifted, hardworking, determined kids all in one place, there is bound to be competition among them. This is not unusual for CPYB or any career where only the most talented and determined will succeed in the long run. What can make this school frustrating is the continued casting of the same two or three kids over and over. As an audience member, I would love to see a little more variety in the lead rolls. As I said, there are a lot of very talented kids here who never really get the chance to perform lead rolls when the time does come. But isn't it that way in most schools?


The other advice I was given was not to listen to other parents, but to always do what is best for your individual child.

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Scarlett, thank you - the advice you received sounds reasonable.:)


My guess is that, sadly, it is often the parent(s) of the gifted, or not so gifted, dancer who creates the competition. Yes, I know that a certain degree of competition is normal - but when it turns into that unseemly and truly self-destructive kind of competiton, it's not a pretty thing, is it? :)


I appreciate your sharing with us Ms. Weary's input. :)

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Guest Bonnie Manning

I have found the very pointed and revealing discussion over the past several days about the Youth Ballet (CPYB) very interesting. It brought back many memories of the days - 6 years - when our family was experiencing the same as those of Scarlett and other ballet families across the country. Our daughter attended CPYB from age 9 - 15. We, of course, were quite naive to the dance world. It was simply another activity she wanted to do and we were happy to drive her once, maybe twice a week. She had attended a few Dolly Dinkels in other places we had lived and we knew she enjoyed dance, so of course we were willing to add it to her repretoire of things to do. The "smorgasbord" included Girl Scouts, music lessons, gymnastics, tap and playing with friends. By 10 1/2 she was on pointe and taking the recommended number of classes, about 16, with at least 1 day off a week. Before we knew it she was 12 and spent 6 days a week at "The Barn," with little time for anything else. We lived about an hour away and she attended public school during the day. We adjusted our schedule, to make hers possible, because we actually thought it would end soon. She would find other interests as adolescence hit and then our lives would go back to normal. But, this didn't happen. Instead when she entered HS, reality set in and we began bracing ourselves for the time she would be leaving us to complete her training elsewhere. I remember during that time, at CPYB, ages 13-15, during two different Nutcracker seasons, she went 35 and 37 days without a day off. I could never imagine, at that age, being able to do that! She was driven, but not by Marcia. She had told me when she was just 10 that she was so lucky, "because I already know what I want to do with my life and I'm young enough and I can work really hard and get really good at it." When your child couples the concept of hard work with something they enjoy doing you get on board!


However, because we lived so far, she could not get there early for the mid-afternoon classes or even early enough to warm-up before class. We were usually pulling up in the parking lot 10 minutes before class started at 5:30. For those students who were homeschooled we often saw a correlation between their ready availability which was often misconstrued as "more dedicated" in the eyes of Marcia. Was it coincidence that these were the 2 or 3 students who always received the leads? We did our best to suffer through that time. We were more concerned that our daughter's love of dance and musicality would not be overshadowed or "lost" in the Youth Ballet's methodology of technical training she critically needed to receive. We watched her closely through those 6 years and at times thought it too much. But, we always followed her lead, encouraging a day off even if it would lessen her favor with Marcia. Which it usually did. It was a tough to keep going in that kind of atmosphere. but she had the right attitude and was confident her time would come someday. At age 15 she left us to attend SAB and then at 17 she took her first job with a major company in a city across the country. Little did we know that the time we had spent daily together in the car on the way to class or on the way to a performance or an audition was to be remembered as one of our best of times with her!


CPYB is certainly not for everyone as many of you have ascertained through this discussion over the past several weeks. A student on the pre-professional track there, or anywhere, must have strong convictions, exceptional determination, be willing to work hard and have faith in their themselves and their talent. We were surprised however, once we went to SAB, that there were many very talented dancers that came from programs in their hometown communities with lesser schedules required by their dance schools. Their schedules enabled them to be HS students participating in extra-curricular activities while also training to dance. Those training schedules got them to SAB and many of them have gone onto dance professionally with major companies. So perhaps "less is more" could also apply to the world of dance at critical points in training.


Today, we are several years removed from the youth ballet, but keep in touch and are aware of younger students feeling more pressure to do more to keep up. Now there are private lessons throughout the day in addition to the regular schedule of classes. We see this as additional and unnecessary pressure placed on 9 - 13 year olds. Like BW said, CPYB is not without it's warts. But, it does more good than bad.


More classes is not as important as what goes on inside those classes. The classes at SAB though fewer in number, were more intense, insightful and strength producing for the "dedicated" older dancer than those classes for the same age student given at the Youth Ballet. I think everyone agrees that the best early training you can achieve is very important But, there is so much more training which goes on after the early training. All serve to make a dancer. CPYB is only the beginning and a very good one at that. It does an incredible job year after year of achieving Marcia's goal to make dance attainable to everyone. She has repeatedly proven that a good dancer can be achieved regardless of their given facility. All you have to do is see a performance of the CPYB to see that achievement in action. But, good dancers are not great dancers, those are rare - even Marcia in her 40+ years teaching ballet has not made one of those yet or does she seem interested in doing so. I am thinking here of that wonderful quote by Danilova:


"Good dancers are made everyday by good teachers, but great dancers are born."


I think Marcia learned that long ago and she, on the other hand, gains her greatest satisfaction continuing to do that which she loves. That is to share her love of ballet with others who have limited access. The problem is that her vision has grown far larger than what she originally conceived. Resulting in the enormity of the program and unexpected attraction of ballet students from all over the country trying to find out, "what's going on in Carlisle?" The Youth Ballet is really about, as I see it, the continuity of the art of classical dance, not the making of great dancer(s), that has really just been a sidebar. Because the lessons learned from mastering art, in any form, serves to benefit us all.

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Hello Bonnie Manning, welcome to the Moms and Dads forum on Ballet Alert! Online :)


Thank you for a most thoughtful post. It had some very interesting observations, but I think the most telling, especially in relation to this thread may be where you said "More classes is not as important as what goes on inside those classes".

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Bonnie Manning,

Thank you so much for your very insightful post. Looking back from the perspective of the parent of a former CPYB student who has gone on to professional success, was extremely enlightening.


I really appreciate your balanced perspective and your willingness to share your insights with us!:)

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I'm adding my thank-you to the chorus. Your post was both thought-provoking and enlightening.

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Dear Bonnie Manning:


Your experience and insights are most needed on this thread. You've told a story of what can happen at CPYB, tempered by the observation that similar results apparently can be achieved elsewhere. Your candor is appreciated.

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I've been reading this post for quite a while now, trying to organize my thoughts and make a statement. Now that my mother (Bonnie) has expressed her feelings on the topic, I think I can go ahead with mine.

I began dancing at smaller studios from age 5-8, taking tap, jazz and ballet. My family moved to Central PA when I was in 4th grade. One of my previous ballet teachers recommended that I try to go to CPYB. So we looked into it, and I remember being blown away. The things that the girls my age could do were astounding. We enrolled, and I began going to CPYB's Harrisburg studio, as Carlisle was 45min from our house. Little did we know at the time that the drive to Carlisle would soon become a daily ritual. The classes at CPYB were very different from what I was used to, slower and more emphasis was put on doing the steps just right. Before CPYB ballet was more about moving to music for me, and now I was standing in a tendu for 5 min straight while Marcia poked, and moved me into the right position. There were so many days that I would cry on the way there because I didn't want Marcia to pick on me. My mother would say "Okay, lets go home". Before she could turn the car around I would be crying because I wanted to go to ballet, not home.

By the time I was 10 I decided that I wanted to be a professional ballet dancer and I knew that CPYB was the school that could get me there. The number of classes grew and grewuntil I was up to 7 days a week, around 15 classes. My life consisted of public school, a hour at home, 45 min in the car where I did my hair, 5:30-9:15 at CPYB, 45 min in the car doing homework, and 1 hour at home before I crashed. I can't believe I was doing all that at my age, but I don't think I would have changed a single thing. I had no social life at school, but that wasn't important to me. I wanted to be a dancer, and I was doing everything I could to achieve that.

I was at CPYB from 8-15, then went to SAB for 1 1/2 years. SAB was like a vacation for me, just 2 classes a day and 1 on saturday. My highschool was completed through correspondance, which was tough, but I did it.

At 17 I got a job with one of the top ballet companies in the world, where I remain to this day. Being a professional dancer is not much different than my life at CPYB. The transition from student to professional was very easy for me, I had been doing this all my life.

I will be turning 21 in a month, and enjoying my career as a ballet dancer to the fullest. Looking back now I realize that going to CPYB was the best thing I could do for my career as a ballet dancer. My technique, and mt technical awareness, I attribute to Marcia and all the other teachers. Though it seemed like alot of classes at the time, I am positive that I would never have gotten as far as I have without them. CPYB is an incredible ballet school, for those who have the drive and the passion to be professional ballet dancers.

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