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  1. When our DD attended the ISTD Senior Ballet Awards, all the competitors had to wear flat satin shoes with ribbons. DD was already used to wearing them for exams and in our local dance festivals. However, the satin shoes provided were very low on the heel and had a tendency to fall off the foot during exercises. The teacher suggested sewing one piece of elastic on each shoe, roughly where the elastics are usually sewn on. We did this and the problem was solved - no more worrying about shoes falling off during the competition. This evening I've been looking closely at the photos taken during the competition (I know I need to get out more …..) and can honestly say you cannot see the elastic on the shoes. Our DD was definitely not the only one wearing shoes with both elastic and ribbons sewn on, as we know several others who also did the same as us. After this competition, I would always sew a piece of elastic on to any flat satin shoes that were to be used with ribbons. I really don't see any problem with this approach - after all DD's pointe shoes have both elastic and ribbons sewn on to ensure they fit her properly. I know the elastic used is the 'invisible' sort, but I believe many dancers use it on their shoes. Finally, on the few occasions I have sewn ribbons on pointe shoes for DD since she has been studying away, I do not cut the ribbon into 2 pieces before sewing it on each shoe. I leave it in one long piece - she can cut it exactly where she needs to when she tries them on. Some dancers prefer to leave one side shorter than the other, so I'd rather leave it entirely to them to work out how they prefer to deal with it.
  2. Hull

    6th form level dance questions

    I would always suggest that studying A'Levels is a good idea if at all possible. If you need to change your career in the future, they would be very useful in enabling you to pursue an alternative path. Our local school suggested to one of our daughters that Business Studies would be a very useful A'Level subject if she was intending to run her own business at any time. I know that photography is another subject that has been suggested to others who are hoping to run their own dance school. Any knowledge about how to take decent audition photographs for your students, or even record your shows, would be extremely useful skills to have.
  3. Thank you for both of these reviews which I have really enjoyed reading. I know there will be many parents of DC training at Ballet West going to the last performances being held in Edinburgh this weekend. After reading your reviews, I'm really looking forward to seeing both the full-time students and the associates on stage.
  4. Hull

    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.
  5. Hull

    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.
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    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.
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    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.
  8. Hull

    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.
  9. Hull

    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.
  10. Hull

    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.
  11. Hull

    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!
  12. Hull

    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.
  13. Hull

    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.
  14. Hull


    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.
  15. Hull

    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!