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Changing dance schools


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#1 Lilac

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 02:24 PM

I know this has come up before, but we're actually at the end of out tether with DD. we live in North Hampshire where she currently attends a local dance school, and Satudays she does associtate classes at Central. We strongly feel that she needs to change to a dance school where there is more focus on getting through the higher ballet grades, which Central expect her to do. At her school people seem to grind to a halt in these higher classes, she should be joing Intermediate having just taken Inter Foundation, but will be the youngest on there by 3 years, she is 13, Year 9 now. Virtually nobody gets beyond Intermediate, whereas Central feel she should do this in about a year! We have found at least one local school where the pupils in Intermediate are about her age, and do take the Vocational grades and get better results. The teacher is also keen to work on wome of dd's weaknesses, which she has spotted at Festivals and CSB have commented on, but current teacher refuses to deal with! The lessons even cost £100 less per term, but dd will not entertain going there and we don't know what to do!

I think it's because over the years pupils have left to go there, and the pupils mad a pact last time that no one else would dessert and go there. We have offered to take all the blame and anything else! I am beside myself that she'll sacrifice better chances in dancing for all this. Schools go back this week so time's running out!

Thanks!

#2 Aurora

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 02:44 PM

Well I would do it one of 2 ways:
1) gently - suggest just having a try there to see what she thinks. If need be see if she can do some classes at each school so she still sees her friends etc.
2) tough love - take to choice away from her and just do it, she'll probably thank you eventually!

Edited by Aurora, 03 September 2012 - 02:46 PM.


#3 Jellybeans

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 03:04 PM

Have you talked to our daughter about why she is reluctant to do something that sounds like she is more likely to progress? Does she want a career s a professional classical dancer? If she doesn't perhaps it may be best to leave her where she is until such time as she starts to work things out for herself!

good luck.
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#4 afab

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 03:36 PM

We had a similar problem with our DDs last year. They needed to change school but didn"t want to and we did more or less what Aurora proposed. We arranged for them to try for a week in the new school even though they said they wouldn't change...
After that week, the eldest (13 then) decided she needed to change, even though she was leaving her friends of 5 years behind, because the new school was so much better than the old one and was giving her a better chance for a future as a professional dancer.
The youngest (9 then) hesitated and decided she wanted to stay in the old school mainly for fear of changes. Because it felt wrong for different reasons to us, we forced her to make the change (and explained why). She's never been as happy dancing as she is in the new school and she's progressed so much! She even thanked me for having forced her (even though I prefer calling it "tough love")!!!

I hope this helps!

Good luck!
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#5 Balletgirlsplease

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 04:07 PM

I feel if it was a good dance school they would've approached you making the suggestion. It was my DD current dance teacher who suggested that she audition for RBS JA's (not our idea) as she felt they could offer something more and is very excited for her that she has been accepted. Surely it is as much of a talent to spot your weaknesses as a teacher as being able to spot (and work at) the child's weaknesses. However, that said, I would also bear in mind that it needs to be the child's decision also. If it back fires or the child's heart really isn't into becoming a dancer then they could end up blaming you. Only being devils advocate here! Good luck with your decision whatever you decide.

#6 spannerandpony

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 04:12 PM

We moved our dd to her current school aged 7 as, had she stayed where she was, she wouldn't even have taken her Grade 4 by now (she's just starting Grade 7). She missed her teacher for a little while, but obviously 13 year-olds know their own minds a LOT and are harder to guide than little ones!

You don't want her to dig her heels in, so could she do parallel classes at both local schools for a while in the hope that she'll see for herself which has the better teaching? And if all else fails, I agree with laying it on the line and asking her if she wants to try for a ballet career?

I wouldn't worry too much about trying to do Intermediate within a year by the way - a year to 18 months is fine, IMO. :-). There's a lot to learn!
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#7 Balletgirlsplease

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 04:49 PM

My DD is 10 and just done her Grade 1 (IDTA). This is her 3rd grade plus rosettes since starting 3 years ago. When she goes to her RBS associates (JA year 6) as far as I understand it she won't be doing any grades there. If the grades are so important to progress through why do the associates not do exams? My DD gets so much more from her dance school than her ballet grades (loves musical theatre and tap and festivals - especially song and dance) and I guess the RBS must be going on her potential. What worries me more in your post is the fact that her current school don't seem to be interesting in your DD reaching her potential and not the speed that they go through the grades. If she wizzes through them too quickly might she not have these little faults corrected properly?
Can your associates teacher write a letter advising your current teacher of what needs working on or advising them that she needs extra tuition from another school? Are the associates teachers not sorting out these faults? Aren't they the experts? I am new to all this associates so excuse my questions!

#8 spannerandpony

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 05:47 PM

Associates are supposed to be complimentary to your local training, and they do free work at an age-appropriate level. It's not that they don't think exams are important, but they teach their own syllabi. I do think it's important that if a student is planning to try for 16+ training, they are working at a certain level (say for instance RAD ADV. 1) and have a corresponding level of vocabulary, but whether you do that via exams or freework is personal preference.

For children going to Vocational School at 11 it's obviously more important to have the appropriate physique, musicality, talent and potential, but even so, Associates should always work alongside local training, not instead of - if that makes sense!
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#9 Ribbons

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 06:16 PM

I would be very concerned about not progressing through the grades in a timely manner. In most UK dance schools they are an indication of current working level and as lilac has already discovered, when you go to associates, you will find most others well progressed and therefore working on more complicated stuff. Whilst this doesn't matter much at age 10/11 when it is all about potential, it starts to count at around age 13/14.

#10 Balletgirlsplease

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 06:18 PM

Thanks for that! I think I see what you mean.
Although from what I saw on our JA for a day class they seemed to go right back to basics including foot exercises and positioning so if there was something that needed correcting, wouldn't it be natural to assume that the associate class would correct it rather than just pointing out the fault?
I do agree that if she wants to be a professional dancer then she should get the best training possible. But sometimes this isn't always possible. My DD got a call back for the CAT scheme but we turned it down as she is happy at her dance school and it was too much too soon. She may have blown her chances of being a professional ballet dancer but got on the RBS instead which I think will suit her (and us better). And I don't feel like I'm pushing her too much in one direction just yet (rightly or wrongly!).
It's a fascinating journey!!! Good luck Lilac with your decision!
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#11 Tulip

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 10:18 PM

The associate teacher may point out a correction but because the student is only going there once a week that correction is much harder to perfect. That is why associate programmes are meant to work alongside your regular ballet classes. You are in a tricky situation Lilac, but top and bottom not only does it appear the other ballet school offers more but it is also cheaper. As Jellybeans has pointed out if ballet is just for fun then perhaps leave your daughter where she is, but if she is going all the way to London to go to Central then she is clearly a more determined dancer. Put your foot down and tell her rail fare has gone up, either quit Central or go to another cheaper ballet school that happens to be £100 cheaper ha ha.
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#12 Balletgirlsplease

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 10:28 PM

But my daughter only does 1/2 ballet class with her home dancing but 2 1/4 hr class with associate so that's why I assumed you would get more correction from associates from a trained ballerina than from her home teacher who, whilst qualified to teach ballet, and very good, trained at performing arts school. I think we are in two different worlds! Lol

#13 BankruptMum

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 10:41 PM

I would suggest you propose to stop the Central classes if your daughter is only dancing for fun. It's a huge time factor plus cost, it may make her think about what it is she wants from her training. Her class teaching should be at least at the same level as the Associates if not a little higher. Good luck. It's not easy to make decisions and stay friends sometimes ;-)
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#14 spannerandpony

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 10:50 PM

But my daughter only does 1/2 ballet class with her home dancing but 2 1/4 hr class with associate so that's why I assumed you would get more correction from associates from a trained ballerina than from her home teacher who, whilst qualified to teach ballet, and very good, trained at performing arts school. I think we are in two different worlds! Lol


As your daughter gets older she will need more local training though, and if her teacher is good - and interested - then she will get to know your daughter's physique but also as a person, which I think is important. My dd's local teacher has not had the performance experience that her Associate Teacher has had, but having taught her for six years, she knows my dd's complexities and strengths, but also her personality.

Associate Classes are often bigger and the teachers will expect the students to be doing a fair amount of training locally, and then to come to Associates to be polished and moulded to the school's way of doing things. So as your dd gets older, I would say she needs to add in more classes locally. :-)

Lilac, to get back to your question, it's admirable that your dd wants to stay loyal to her friends and to her dance school, but you may have to point out that IF she wants to try for a career in ballet, then she needs to move to a school that can help her. If however she wants to keep dance as a hobby, then she can stay where she is but you'd have to consider whether you can still afford the cost and time commitment to get to Central each week. It's a hard choice but in economic times like these, very few people can afford to do everything they want and £100 a term is a lot of money to be paying unnecessarily.
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#15 stardancer

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Posted 04 September 2012 - 10:16 AM

Hi i changed schools with my dd as she wanted to do more classes.we did one class in one school two in another.
but in the end my dds teachers did not like each other so my dd left both
This i am told happens alot in the rad. leaving my dd in the middle of there war. when all she wants to do is dance.
The funny thing is both teachers were fantastic.
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#16 spannerandpony

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Posted 04 September 2012 - 11:23 AM

If you are upfront with both teachers and are clear which one will be entering your child for an exam, there shouldn't be a problem. It's courteous to ask your "first" teacher for permission to take classes at another school, but you are the customer and if there is no conflict between teaching styles and no conflict about where the student will take exams, there shouldn't be a problem (in theory!).

The only conflict we ever had was when dd danced locally and with Tring Park Associates - Tring wanted to enter her for RAD exams but she had already done Grades 1-3 locally and the local school wanted to enter her (more quickly than Tring). Eventually a letter from the local school's founder regarding "RAD code of conduct" sorted things out with no real problem. :-)
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#17 BankruptMum

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Posted 04 September 2012 - 02:16 PM

I agree Spannner & Pony, Cymru Assocaiates expect their dancers to be taking at least two additional classes per week as a minimum, its actually written in their Agreement.

Associates shouldn't be classed as the main training source.


As your daughter gets older she will need more local training though, and if her teacher is good - and interested - then she will get to know your daughter's physique but also as a person, which I think is important. My dd's local teacher has not had the performance experience that her Associate Teacher has had, but having taught her for six years, she knows my dd's complexities and strengths, but also her personality.

Associate Classes are often bigger and the teachers will expect the students to be doing a fair amount of training locally, and then to come to Associates to be polished and moulded to the school's way of doing things. So as your dd gets older, I would say she needs to add in more classes locally. :-)

Lilac, to get back to your question, it's admirable that your dd wants to stay loyal to her friends and to her dance school, but you may have to point out that IF she wants to try for a career in ballet, then she needs to move to a school that can help her. If however she wants to keep dance as a hobby, then she can stay where she is but you'd have to consider whether you can still afford the cost and time commitment to get to Central each week. It's a hard choice but in economic times like these, very few people can afford to do everything they want and £100 a term is a lot of money to be paying unnecessarily.


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#18 drdance

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Posted 04 September 2012 - 06:00 PM

But my daughter only does 1/2 ballet class with her home dancing but 2 1/4 hr class with associate so that's why I assumed you would get more correction from associates from a trained ballerina than from her home teacher who, whilst qualified to teach ballet, and very good, trained at performing arts school. I think we are in two different worlds! Lol


I'm sure that the RBS teachers are wonderful - but PLEASE do not assume that 'ballerinas' make better teachers than those who have qualified. Teachers need to know how to see dancers and train them, not to be able to do it.
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#19 Anjuli_Bai

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Posted 04 September 2012 - 06:33 PM

I'm sure that the RBS teachers are wonderful - but PLEASE do not assume that 'ballerinas' make better teachers than those who have qualified. Teachers need to know how to see dancers and train them, not to be able to do it.


....in addition - many dancers who have performed on stage find it difficult to make the transition from performing to teaching. One is almost the opposite of the other. This is not a sweeping statement - but often true.

When I interviewed Susan Jaffe, Prima Ballerina, ABT for many years, she specifically detailed how difficult that transition can be. Over lunch, she said how a performing career is very much about puttting oneself forward while teaching is all about fowarding the needs of one's students. While I had experienced this for myself in a VERY small way, listening to her describe her journey from performing to teaching was fascinating.

There are many who never set out on this journey and many who attempt it but don't quite get there - the mirror is still too much a part of their lives.

And, of course, other primas make marvelous teachers. I think most often they become wonderful coaches rather than a ballet teacher who is willing and able to patiently teach - see - become a part of - their students.
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#20 Pups_mum

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Posted 04 September 2012 - 07:56 PM

I completely agree with drdance and anjuli. There is a whole lot more to being a good teacher than being an expert in the field yourself. When I was at university one of my tutors was world famous in his field but he couldn't teach for toffee - we learned more from the lab assistants than the eminent professor I think! Teaching is an art in itself and, in my humble opinion, teachers of all kinds are often dreadfully undervalued. A great, or even good, teacher can inspire and change many, many lives,without necessarily having to be "stars" in their field themselves.
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#21 PippinPointe

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Posted 04 September 2012 - 11:14 PM

It was said to me once that "Teachers are born and not made" - I think that there is a lot of truth in this :)
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#22 Lilac

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 08:48 PM

Finally seem to be slowly getting somewhere after 6 months of arguing! Have taken advice from Aurora et al and been tough about the money aspect, and made no attempt to take her to current classes since they resumed. Have finally been able to email current teacher about her going for a trial period to the other school (the compromise!) Normal lessons don't start at other school for a week, so now just have to wait, and really hope that she likes it there! Hopefully should fit in well - no regular Saturday lessons to miss if yoy're an Associate, as they actively encourage that.
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#23 taxi4ballet

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 12:28 PM

We were in much the same situation last year, and dd decided to stay where she was - I don't think she was emotionally ready to give up the security of going to a school she'd been at for 10 years. Then, in about March this year, realisation dawned and she said:

"I'll never get anywhere if I stay where I am, will I?"

The decision was hers, and so she moved to a different dance school, and is thriving there. I don't think it would have worked out if I'd instigated the change - it had to come from her.
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#24 robin64

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 03:26 PM

My DD changed schools after 10 years and it has been hard at times. She did miss her friends and being so familiar with everything. She is now at a very well established and more professional school and I know she is being well taught but it can be quite difficult going from being one of the old hands to a newbie and slightly outside the "circle" (and for the mum too). It has been a year now and DD is feeling a bit more settled in but remember it might take a little time. We have had the odd wobble as I have posted about but DD has come through and is showing good determination. DD knows that she changed for the training and so she could make faster progress. Her old school did seem to take forever to put in for exams. It was small so DD had to wait for younger girls to be ready. Now she has skipped some tap and modern grades and is thriving on the more challenging level of class. Good luck and stick with it for a while to feel the benefit.
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#25 porthesia

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 04:14 PM

Hope it works out for you. Couldn't get DD to move at one time and she wasted 18 months not learning anything. I really wish that there was some sort of Ofstead for ballet schools - and wish I'd found this site at that time as well!
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#26 Huddsballetmum

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 12:38 PM

Lilac - the new ballet school sounds much more proactive in assiting with their students careers. My local dancing school actively encourages associate programmes even to the point of rearanging all my dd's lessons to accommodate her place at York. A good teacher will understand how to get the best out of the individual student (they are all very different) and much like a parent know which buttons to press to get a student to work hard and challenge themselves.

Good luck with your dd - I hope she enjoys the new school, and you enjoy the cost benefit!!
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#27 taxi4ballet

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 05:19 PM

One of the reasons we moved dance school was because her associate class teacher pointed out that corrections she made re dd's technique were not also being consistently corrected by her regular teacher.

She was being allowed to 'get away' with things all the time which made the associate teacher's job much more difficult, and was frustrating for dd, as she made less progress than she should have done.
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#28 Lilac

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 09:17 PM

Thanks everyone for the comments. In the end decided to be tough, and told her we were taking her to the other teacher, and would review matters at half term. In the end this was academic, as she had a coveted place in their amazing under 21 group by then, and had agreed to start festival work! Happily we've already started to see fruits of this move, with a high distintion in her first ballet exam with them, and a really good report from her associate class, where the teacher was delighted with last term's progress. Lovely to have a teacher who cares about the students as individuals, ans sets challenging targets to work on! DD now accepts she is a better teacher, and two friends have even changed to taking a couple of classes there.
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