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JEO

Full time training or not?

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JEO

Hoping posting this will help clear my thoughts and allow me to hear from someone who has some insight. I never danced, know very little about dance and feel ill-equipped to make some of the decisions I need to make.
My son has just turned 15. Ballet dancer. He got into the top ranking performing arts school in our state . Fairly competitive, 28 kids out of 600-700 are accepted. It’s essentially a typical high school except their electives are primarily dance. He probably does about 12 hours a week (7 hrs ballet) and then another 6 or 7 outside school.

When phoning a very reputable ballet school about  a 1 week holiday school program, the owner (after hearing what school he goes to)  asked me to bring him in so she could take a look at him. Long story short - She says he has a lot of talent, he can have a career as a ballet dancer if he wants,  she wants him to join her full time course (like right now)  and knock over 2 RAD exams a year with the aim of him moving to Europe at about 17. All her kids seem to end up in Europe, she has 4 in the royal, a few at good German schools, etc.

She was very adamant that time is of the essence  that he can’t dilly dally around in part time dance. He can have a career in the ballet if he chooses but decisions must be made.

i feel overwhelmed. Is this true?

Hevis also very very academic (straight As, top 5 of most subjects). I don’t want to risk that as well. 

I don’t think it’s about making money of us paying for a spot. She doesn’t advertise, doesn’t have Facebook/Insta/ barely operational website. She gets her kids via reputation and word of mouth.

I don’t know what I’m asking for.
Words of wisdom?

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Thyme

Ok so I'm not going to weigh in on the question of whether he needs to stop 'dilly dallying' or not. My red flags however go up when someone says my dancer has to hurry up and jump on their wagon. I have never had a good experience with teachers who claim to be 'the one'. This type of behaviour in my experience are the hallmarks of controlling egotistical teachers who have an agenda. You say it doesn't seem to be about the money. That's probably true given your description. The teachers (actually more the studio owners) like this tend to be in small studios running their little fiefdoms.  I think it is about their personality. Look this person could be the best. I would ask around the dance community and see what they are like to work with. As a parent you need to be on the team when conversations turn to your son going to Europe. 17 is very young. You don't turn all the reins over to a studio owner who thinks their way is the only way. Don't be dazzled by her dropping names. She will know what effect that has on parents-particularily those of us who are new to the game. If she is truly 'the one' I would think her studio would be pretty famous by now. 

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Miss Persistent
1 hour ago, Thyme said:

. As a parent you need to be on the team when conversations turn to your son going to Europe. 17 is very young.

In Australia, it is actually very common to be sending kids off to Europe at 17/18yo - this is actually pretty much the norm for those who are in full time training.  To put in in perspective for those who are not Aussies - culturally, it is very different in Australia to Europe and the Americas - most kids DO leave our shores at this age to pursue further training at a company school overseas.  For the past 5 years of my teaching career, the majority of my students have completed year 12 aka High School Diploma (or not to their parents sadness!) and then taken up places at reputable schools in everywhere from the USA, UK, New Zealand, Russia, Belgium, and others.  There is just not the training path or the jobs once you hit that age in Australia, so yes - it is normal.

That said....... In my work as an RAD Examiner, I get to travel Australia a lot and see many different schools.  I have noticed in certain geographic areas there is a propensity to begin high intensity training very young - too young sometimes in my opinion.  This causes utter panic at ages 13+ for anyone who is "talented" as fear and irrationality kicks in.  Jeo, I can't PM you as you are a new member to ask the specific school - but I would likely guess you are in our North Eastern state? Or perhaps it's Southern Neighbour...?

What I would say is this - I have found most of the overseas schools DO want to accept students at 17/18, so if that is what he wants to do then yes, he does need to get to that level around that age (perhaps 19 for males).  This just seems to be what the overseas schools want.  That does NOT mean he needs to sit 2 RAD Exams a year (and that's coming from an RAD Examiner!)  Why? Because exams are just a method of training.  If he undertakes good, quality, developmentally appropriate training for the next few years working towards the goal of getting into an overseas school (if that's what he wants) then a number of schools can provide that.  I love RAD and I think their exams are a great way to help students progress, but no-one ever asked me in my professional career what mark I got in my Advanced Exam.

There are schools in Australia that do take kids just to "make up the numbers", but there are also schools - small and large, that produce fantastic dancers.  Asses the school from its training, and compare it against where you are now.  Does either school have alumni in companies around the world? What are their success rates in placing dancers in overseas programs? What is the cost, the schedule, the family commitment involved?  Is the school a good fit personality wise for your son? How long will it take him to get there? (There's nothing as bad as a 50 minute commute once you've finished an exhausting day of training...)  What other similar schools are in the area you could also look at?  It is what it is in Australia.  Our paths are limited so just make the best choice you can with the information you have at the time.

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balletfan

I second everything Miss Persistent says - speaking as a mother of a trainee dancer in Australia.

Your situation differs depending on what country you are in.

I could name 2 schools in Australia that sound like the one you describe. (Not having 4 graduates at RBS right now but over recent years). They do not do any social media so not globally 'famous' but I know about them and their successful graduates.

I agree with Thyme that you could ask other parents and see a few other top ballet schools that might suit.  The dance studios are sure to advise your son to leave school but maybe provide more insights as to why.  The Performing Arts School you are looking at could provide examples of people who have taken their pathway successfully. It will not be a long list.  Such a school however may be the best place for your DS. All the best!  

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Noodles

I think it is prudent to do your due diligence and research on this school. I agree with Thyme that it is a red flag with the hurry-up-and-decide attitude. Also proclaiming that a young dancer can 'have a career if he wants it'. That is quite a bold statement...there are many variables that are being being brushed aside in that statement. 

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Thyme

Yes so by way of background, I too raised a DS in Australia and understand the need for Aussie dancers to travel. There are a few home grown alternatives too.  Regardless of that particular situation, you will see on every related thread that as a parent you need to weigh up the advice, the excitable teachers/studio owners, the hype associated with having a talented dancer and other people's agendas. It is alot to get your head around. This board has been exceptionally helpful to me, particularly in the situation you are describing. My bottom line advice is to slow down and breath, dont get caught up in the big promises and talk to as many people as you can. Take him to another studio or two and listen to their advice. It is a steep learning curve but essential to hang in there. One day you will be handing out sage advice too! 😆

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Doubleturn

I agree that usually Classical ballet dancers go to full time Vocational schools at 16/17/18 in Europe.  How did the four students who are at RBS get accepted to thte school, via winning a competition e.g. Prix de Lausanne, YAGP, or via standard audition?  Also, how much of their training was at this school in Australia?  There is throughout the ballet world an unhappy tendency to claim successful pupils as graduates of a particular school, even if they only spent a relatively short time there.  A second opinion on your son's potential from an impartial party would be very helpful.

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JEO

Thank you all for your words of wisdom. I find the ballet school world difficult to navigate. I have spoken to a few schools over the last years at holiday workshops etc, and it always seems to be  a resounding  “bring him here!!” 
I put this down  to male dancers who are ok at dance are rare. Well male dancers are rare full stop. And of course we would be another fee paying student. So I find it difficult to judge how objective anything they say is. 
I will speak  to more people and clarify my thoughts. Thank you!

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balletfan

JEO - I would also suggest you look at doing a video audition for the Australian Ballet School - if full time in Melbourne is an attractive option for you. Queensland Ballet Academy has a fast-growing program and is aligned with a public school.  Their pre-pro program is also attractive and it is focused on students who have finished school.  Nevertheless the dancer is expected to have had many years of high level training.

If you are nervous of the 'bring 'him here now' line then these company schools might be good as they are more open to associate type relationships.  ABS is in the 'no' business rather than 'yes'.  So a reality check.

YAGP will do virtual auditions in late Oct/early Nov so that is also a good way to see the level of competition.

At the end of the day the best place to be is where you have a great teacher who is invested in you and understands the state of play out there.  Most of all a child needs to be in a place where the whole person is supported.  Typically that is 'home'.

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