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  1. Ballet West School

    With regard to the previous comments relating to Ballet West's remote setting, we try to look upon this generally as a positive thing, rather than something negative. We live overseas, a long way from Scotland, but still much closer than several other students at Ballet West. We are usually unable to accompany our DD when travelling to and from the school, so she travels alone and this is providing her with invaluable experience which she would not get if she studied closer to home. She sometimes travels part of the way with her friends, which is far more fun than being with her parents! Now she is in her second year, she is becoming more confident and starting to explore the area more. She is also making the most of opportunities to travel with her friends during their brief holidays to visit other places/cities and is thoroughly enjoying her growing independence. Being responsible for organising your life, including your own travel arrangements, is probably not very common for most 16 year olds nowadays, so I'm really pleased that she is doing so well and managing to find time to enjoy herself with her friends along the way.
  2. Questions about Upper School auditions

    Last year we found that the academic school DD attended was very accommodating and kept our request for a reference completely confidential, sending it directly to the person who had requested it. It was a similar experience with the reference we requested from the dance school. However, we found that as soon as school and/or dance lessons were missed (a necessary part of auditioning from where we live) the other students soon began to talk! It's just part of spending so much time together for so many years. I think it would be impossible not to tell your friends what you were doing if they ask you. On the whole, people are genuinely interested in what others are doing and want them to succeed, and they are understanding and sympathetic if things do not work out as you had hoped. I think the whole auditioning process is extremely useful in helping our DC to grow up and become more independent, hopefully before they leave home to start training vocationally.
  3. Anyone get No for JA's but make Elmhurst or WL

    It's worth remembering that not every talented young dancer is able to apply to be a JA. There are a variety of reasons why it is not an option available to everyone. They can still apply for full-time training if they wish to do so. And it's also probably worth mentioning that there will be 'inspiring stories' from many dancers who did not train at either WL or Elmhurst. You only have to read the threads on the Forum, to see that the training offered at both of these places does not suit every young person.
  4. Stepping off the rollercoaster for a while

    Just referring to the A'Levels for the moment, it's worth remembering that schools will often suggest that 4/5 hours of independent study is undertaken each week per subject studied. Our two non-DDs both studied at least this much, in some cases a fair bit more, and were both keen not to take any unnecessary time off school for fear of missing important information that could be difficult to cover later. Obviously when approaching mock exams/real exams, considerably more time will probably be given to revising too. Just worth bearing in mind when planning dance lessons, as school days can be long and hard when studying A'Levels. If you need to get specific grades to enable more future career choices, then this can be extra pressure to deal with, but probably looking forward to dance lessons in the evenings/weekends, would help them deal with it.
  5. RBS Summer School a ticket to profession?

    In view of the fact that there must be quite a few overseas Forum members reading this thread, it is worth mentioning that attendance at the more well known Summer Schools is just a way for some of our DC to see where others are fortunate to be training and to experience the teaching and surroundings. They know they can never study there. It is worth remembering that some of us will get no help with funding for our DC, even if they are lucky enough to be offered a full-time place. Our local government will not help out with grants until our DC are 18 years old. Prior to this age, they are expected to do a 2 year Performing Arts BTECH. I'm not convinced this is the best way to prepare for auditions on a classical ballet course ….. So there will be some attendees at Summer Schools who will never train vocationally, or who can only audition after they are 18, which may well rule out most classical ballet courses.
  6. Thoroughly, utterly, disastrous day.

    I encourage our three daughters to research thoroughly all the travel options available to them (split train tickets are our new favourite) and screen shot all relevant web pages on their mobile phones, in case they are unable to access the internet while travelling. Ideally, they also travel during daylight hours - not so easy when living in Scotland! I try to print out a map from the internet showing the city centre they will be visiting, making sure any train stations, etc are on there too. Any information about where buses/taxis depart from at airports/harbours is also useful to make a note of. Our daughters had very little experience of travelling before starting at university and dance school recently, but they now all enjoy flying to England/Scotland, being independent and meeting new people. It's great for their self-confidence too. Good luck to Sean in whatever he does in the future.
  7. Elmhurst summer school application

    I received senior summer school results for our DD this morning. They always send them to my e-mail, whereas other places usually send direct to DD.
  8. Recommendations for Tights

    Just be a little careful what you put the shoes next to after you have applied the calamine. Even when they are dry, sometimes a pale pink powder attaches to any clothing/costumes next to them. I try to remember to put my DD's shoes in a plastic bag when carrying them to festivals - pink powder shows up very well on a black velvet costume! It's also very useful to know well in advance of an event that calamine will need to be applied. I have vivid memories of running around local pharmacies looking for the elusive calamine the night before a competition and the frantic rush to put it on the shoes and hope they dried out quickly!
  9. Royal Ballet School SS

    Well it appears that several people have spent a considerable amount of time working out how they think the selection system could be improved for the Summer School. While they are interesting to read, I do hope that all these suggestions have been sent to the Royal Ballet School for their consideration.
  10. Shortlisting Universities

    Our two older DDs were both given advice during their time in 6th form on how to approach choosing an appropriate university. From what I can remember, the choices were strongly related to their predicted grades at A'Level. It was suggested that they choose one university which required grades lower than what they were predicted, one which required grades more or less the same and one which required grades higher. This seemed to me to cover all eventualities! The content of the courses, details of placements, were also studied in detail as they can vary hugely from one university to another. They were also encouraged to research thoroughly previous graduate destinations, students' satisfaction ratings, etc which can be found on numerous websites. One of our DDs was advised not to visit student forums as her teachers thought that the advice on there may not always be coming from current students, but our other DD found the students forums invaluable and enabled her to make contact with others who were also attending interviews for the same courses as she was. As we live overseas, both of them visited around three universities (not always on their open days) as we felt it was very important to find out where they may be studying for three years. Both of our DDs had to attend interviews for their chosen courses, so had the opportunity to explore both the universities and the surrounding areas for a short time. Your musical DD probably already has a good idea of where she would feel most comfortable studying - some students love being in a city, or near to a beach, or just close enough to home to enable regular visits. Our DDs were both offered places at universities and both chose to study in places completely different to where we live and many, many miles away! I do think it is a useful life experience to have the chance to spend three years somewhere very different to where you have grown up. Our DDs know that they won't be visiting home every month - they return at Christmas, Easter and for the summer holidays - but I'm sure they acquire much needed independence from us and I'm most envious of all the opportunities they have available to them. If only they could find more time away from studying to explore the country a little more! I do wish your musical DD success in finding a place at a conservatoire.
  11. Ballet West (Scotland)

    Last year the new students set up their own Facebook group and I believe they may have included a couple of students from the year above to help answer any questions. Some of the parents also set up a Facebook group, which I have found extremely useful over the past year. We even met up recently at the end of the Swan Lake tour.
  12. Cat-alogue

    After reading recent Balletco comments about cat cafes, I decided to see if there was one in Edinburgh as I would be spending a few days there with DD. I was pleased to find "Maison de Moggy' and, after spending far too long looking at cute photos of cats on their website, I made a reservation for us to spend an hour there. DD has been missing our cat hugely, so I thought she would appreciate the chance to spend a bit of time with some cats. Also, the chance for her to take yet more selfies wasn't one to be missed! I was slightly apprehensive as we stood outside the cafe waiting for our turn to be let in, but the whole experience turned out to be very enjoyable and I wouldn't hesitate to book a return visit in the future. There are around 12 cats living in the cafe and, even though they are all in 2 main rooms, they can be surprisingly difficult to find! There are baskets, shelves, boxes, chairs, hidey holes, etc for them to play in, sleep in, or hide in. We were given instructions that the cats were not to be picked up, but there were a few toys we could use to play with the cats, or we could just sit down by them. It was a very, very relaxing way to spend an hour and a lovely way to catch up with DD and see her enjoying herself so much. I was told that all the cats were brought up together as kittens and, if any of them appear to be unhappy living in the cafe at any time, there are homes available where they could move to. They did all seem happy and healthy to us (well they were mainly sleeping, pretty much like our cat spends most of its time doing!) and did not seem bothered by having around 12 strangers moving gently around their home. There was an interesting mix of people there - some were fairly local and visited the cafe regularly, whereas others were from America and just visiting before heading back to the airport. Hopefully the cafe will be there in a year's time, as I would really like to visit again. While I appreciate that not all cat cafes will be such a pleasant place to visit, I was very impressed by this one. If you're thinking of visiting, please pre-book your hour slot on their website, as it is not possible to just walk-in off the street. Finally, many thanks to Balletco members who gave me the idea for this visit. I honestly had no idea that such places existed! I have learnt so much (not just about ballet) from this Forum.
  13. Ballet West (Scotland)

    The first 2 years of the course are studying full-time for a HND in Professional Dance Performance. The 3rd year is studying full-time for a BA (Hons) Dance. The two separate qualifications are important from our view point, as our local education authority may help with funding providing our DD is aged 18 or over when she starts studying the degree qualification.
  14. Toe protectors / spacers

    While reading through this thread, it makes me realise how much I appreciate our local dance shop. Yes, I know that items can often be purchased cheaper from other non-dance shops, or even very large dance shops online. However, I really feel strongly that I should continue to support our local shop, as it's existence is increasingly threatened by online shopping amongst other things. I have always sought guidance from the shop owner, right from the early days in 'Help! How do I make a bun?' through to questions about our DD's vocational training, many miles away. My knowledge of ballet has only increased slightly over the years, so I know our local shop will always have my support. It is also nice to keep the owner updated with what our DD is doing in her training. After all, they have watched her progress over 13 years and do take a real interest in what she is doing. While items may be more expensive bought locally, I look upon it as an added opportunity to post them to our DD along with a few other 'goodies' so she has a parcel to look forward to. And, as it happens, my last parcel to her did contain toe pads too!
  15. Dance photographer suggestions

    Hi, When asking photographers for quotes, it would be most helpful if you could supply them with examples of the types of photos that you would like - e.g. do you require a plain white, studio backdrop or would you prefer to use a dance studio and use the barres, mirrors, etc in the photos, either for the dancers to use or maybe out of focus in the background? It may help to ask to see examples of their work taken in similar conditions to what you would require. We have found that as our DD gets taller, it becomes increasingly difficult to photograph her in front of our normal studio backdrop in some poses (arabesque for example). Sometimes it is better to move our equipment to a nearly hall just to give us enough room. To show the dancer's physique off to its very best, the photographer also needs to be a fair way away from them. It does depend on whether you are going to be using the photos to show off costumes, etc or whether you are looking for the very best photos of a dancer to send off for an audition. Some photographic studios may be too small to photograph a dancer in some poses, but the photographer would not be aware of this unless you advise exactly what you are looking for. What can take up a large amount of a photographer's time, is any photoshop work required any completion of the shoot. Getting rid of stray hairs, covering up ladders in tights, holes in leotards, etc etc etc is, unfortunately, part of the job very often. Needless to say a little time spent on the day of the shoot getting everything as perfect as possible on the models, pays rewards after. We do not charge extra for photoshop work, but quite understand photographers who make a charge per photo for this service. It is incredibly time-consuming and an extremely skilled job. We are quite happy to supply photos digitally, in fact most of our commercial work is done on this basis, and I do not think other photographers would have a problem with this. It can be useful for the photographer to liaise with whoever is producing the catalogue/website/booklet in advance of the shoot. It is far better to know in advance whether there is a preference for horizontal or vertical photos, or if space should be left in the photo for text, etc. In a perfect world, someone is present at the shoot to choose the photos as they are taken - downloading them onto a laptop means that only the chosen photos are edited and supplied, saving a lot of time for the photographer. Finally, photographers, much like dancers, do often struggle to make a living doing something that they really love. Our experience and skills take years to achieve too and constant practice and training is required to keep up-to-date with photographic innovations and client requirements. This all costs us time and money, so we do have to charge reasonable costs to ensure we can continue to work in the future (and pay for our DD's training too!) I hope you find someone you are happy working with and who can help you now and in future years.