Jump to content
joyofdance

Do you think "good dancers" are often priced out of becoming "exceptional dancers"? Thoughts please.

Recommended Posts

Lisa, its great to go in to your bank account and find a windfall. My eldest gets a grant to top up the loan because of our income. Its a real help. 

 

Muddledmamma, funnily enough my daughter is very flexible and is put under pressure to overstretch and learn tricks. I used to encourage it because I thought it was the right thing to do but through this forum and other conversations with people I have learnt that it isnt. I have been talking to her about this and showing her articles (drdance put a really good one on her fb page the other day) She is now feeling confident enough to not be put under pressure and understands how important it is to practice safely. She is 12 though so at an age where she is interested in things and open to looking at research. 

 

Some of you have hit the nail on the head re costs, its the travelling. time off of work, etc that also adds to the cost. Its really expensive for us to get to London so that is out of the question. Some of my daughters friends go to Pineapple regularly but we cant manage that. I know private lessons are sensible but she enjoys the group things, making friends etc so we cant have regular privates and classes.

 

Its good to hear that I am not the only one with these problems...Damn I forgot to buy a lottery ticket...again.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Muddled mama what type of dance is your daughter interested in. In ballet there are no tricks and a good dance school would only teach good, clean, strong technique. Would your daughter like to Persue a career in dance. Another point to consider, for a high percentage of students no matter how much extra coaching opportunities they will still not be better than the student who has that X factor, this is why at age 11 vocational schools look at pure potential.

She does a bit of everything and seems to love all styles but she hates ballet, well that is what she has been saying for the past couple of years but now I know what was going on I feel that is based on how she was emotionally and physically abused by her ballet teacher as well as staying in a lower grade for a long time (I think she found it way too easy and so lost interest) she does love her inter foundation classes at her new school so I don't know how serious she is when she says she hates ballet. 
 
We've talked about it a lot and the only answer she can give me really is she wants to perform whether that's acting, singing or dancing (but dance is her favourite) she just loves all of it. Her old dance school was so focused on competitions and tricks/flexibility and they made it clear to her she would never be a great dancer because she couldn't do any of the tricks/flexibility and that has stuck with her. So I'm torn between keeping her focused on good technique but also trying to build her confidence back up and unfortunately mentally she still thinks she's no good because she can't do the splits or any of the tricks that in her words "everyone can do"
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wouldn't worry about not having privates , sometimes you can gain just as much from a group class where you can compare yourself to others .

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's a shame Muddled mama when dancing and gymnastics get confused - hopefully she will rediscover her love of dance...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's a shame Muddled mama when dancing and gymnastics get confused - hopefully she will rediscover her love of dance...

Agreed Sarah but I really understand the pressure that Muddlemums daughter is under. It seems that some dance schools think that doing an ariel is the be all and end all of dance. The kids often rate themselves and each other on the ability to do tricks. Frankly I get very bored of dances that are full of tricks. They are often souless.

  • Like 7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Agreed Sarah but I really understand the pressure that Muddlemums daughter is under. It seems that some dance schools think that doing an ariel is the be all and end all of dance. The kids often rate themselves and each other on the ability to do tricks. Frankly I get very bored of dances that are full of tricks. They are often souless.

I couldn't agree more.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And when even vocational schools are using these tricks in choreography it's disheartening.

 

Dd has the same issue. She can't even cartwheel (because no one has ever taught her) & she feels she will be at a disadvantage for musical theatre/general dance.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Summer schools are fun but they are not the be all and end all. Far more can be gained from using that money on one to one tuition. It's the same with expensive ballet exams, they won't get you into a vocational school or a dance company. My daughter did all exams up to advanced 2 in ballet tap and modern. Now many years on they are hidden away in a file. I shudder to think how much was spent on dance exams. If I knew what I know now she would definitely not have done them.

Small class sizes with an excellent teacher is the best thing for the young dancer. My daughter attended RBS associates and went to vocational schools, summer schools etc. But she learned far more from the tiny Russian ballet school in Bristol.

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You are right joyofdance. I have a dancer and a gymnast - I love gym but agree that it ruins dances and reduces the artistry. We have been lucky at our dance school but the trend at festivals is marked.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Joyofdance, I'm glad you started this thread So much has been highlighted. For me the summer schools 2016 feedback thread has been quite an intimidating read, although dd did do 1 SS. How can one possibly keep up? Financially, practically, designer T shirt in situ?

 

However, I still consider dd to be lucky to have had lots of great dancing opportunities, probably a world away from some people's expectations for their children.

 

Eg, small child, low income family (judging by the trolley of food) in the supermarket queue yesterday, singing along so beautifully IMHO to One Direction. I wanted to say, I hope you're in your school choir with that voice, wasn't my place to though. Potential yes, means to develop, possibly not...

 

All a bit random I know, but I sometimes wonder how on earth would a ballet school in for eg Gaza Strip or Allepo keep running? I suppose we're quite lucky, relatively speaking!

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think good dancers are at a disadvantage if the family cannot support financially but I wouldn't say completely priced out.

 

Equally I would say that money doesn't necessarily buy you a dance career in terms of just buying a vocational place

 

I think the CAT schemes with MDS places are good opportunities for contemporary and ballet but there doesn't seem to be much funding at all for good all rounders

 

For us, we offered DD a budget for Tring summer school last year as a massive treat and part birthday pressie but she immediately just wanted to use the money for pay as you go classes at Pineapple instead throughout the holidays. In hindsight this was a good call I think. Not taking anything away from the week long residential summer schools, I'm sure they are great, but for her, it was a good fit. (She's a fussy eater and can have sleep problems too).

 

She could pick precisely the classes she wanted to do, and she had days in between classes where she could practice and reflect properly on what she had learned. I honestly think this suited her better.

 

We are lucky that by changing dance schools we have saved money so it's that difference that is paying for one class a week at pineapple during term time.

 

The thing I struggle with is finding stretch classes as she definitely does better in a class than just at home. I wish more low cost classes were available.

 

flexibility and tricks are two different things. I think it's ok to work on just flexibility without tricks. But as for tricks I think it's probably a bit easier to get a few whilst young as will struggle when older as they develop more fear. But if I had a limited budget to chose just between technique or flexibility and tricks, the technique wins every time.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thinking about this a little more, I agree that private lessons are a good idea - before vocational school, extra lessons was where the money went. (And I include the extra costs such as travel, food etc). But better value than summer school.

 

And yes, that did mean coping with different teachers, different styles. And it was all about technique. No splits at 11 years old for example, but at 16... Splits like there is no tomorrow!

 

To be perfectly frank, if private lessons are needed whilst at vocational school... Change the school!

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Joyofdance, I'm glad you started this thread So much has been highlighted. For me the summer schools 2016 feedback thread has been quite an intimidating read, although dd did do 1 SS. How can one possibly keep up? Financially, practically, designer T shirt in situ?

 

However, I still consider dd to be lucky to have had lots of great dancing opportunities, probably a world away from some people's expectations for their children.

 

Eg, small child, low income family (judging by the trolley of food) in the supermarket queue yesterday, singing along so beautifully IMHO to One Direction. I wanted to say, I hope you're in your school choir with that voice, wasn't my place to though. Potential yes, means to develop, possibly not...

 

All a bit random I know, but I sometimes wonder how on earth would a ballet school in for eg Gaza Strip or Allepo keep running? I suppose we're quite lucky, relatively speaking!

You could say that people in some parts of the world have more immediate priorities, like how to stay alive, how to feed their children. You could also consider the example of Cuba, where the government actively sponsors ballet and subsidises performance. The national ballet school actively tour the island looking for talented children to train. You could also consider the example of the Olympics and the dazzling performance of so many of our athletes. Its amazing how many outstanding sportspeople we now have since national lottery money starting funding training. So in addition to buying lottery tickets maybe we should ask for some more of the proceeds to be put into performing arts training?
  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Even at vocational school, they don't get that one to one coaching. I know children from Royal, Elmhurst and Tring and Rambert who went to visit the teacher that my daughter went to for private lessons. This teacher was fantastic. Once my daughter went to Central she stopped private lessons as she no longer needed them. I also know of top vocational student visiting another teacher in Bristol for private lessons.

sometimes it's difficult to leave a vocational school once a student has entered GCSE years. As I said one to one coaching corrects, and fine tunes a student. Classes at vocational schools can still be fairly large and you can still get some lazy teachers. It all cost an absolute arm and a leg, sometimes it seems that all you ever seem to do is put you hand in your purse.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for creating this thread for quite a while now I share similar sentiments. Increasingly yes I am sadly inclined to agree that ballet has become an elitist art form the preserve now of the few and not the many.

 

The extra tuition required to attain a suitable level to join a company - also factoring in with whatever arbitrary body requirements are en vogue, whatever tricks are in fashion etc - is an astronomical cost in my opinion.

 

I remember watching a documentary about Elmhurst a few years back where a young child whose father was a lorry driver was asked to leave the school as his parents could no longer afford the school fees. I was wondering to myself in spite of all the token outreach programmes how many young dancers of real talent are lost because the fees are out of reach to most families.

 

I am inclined to believe that it is the structure of current society in Britain that is encouraging this elitist attitude as a good thing and if this continues it will be to the continued detriment of the arts which have already faced all too many cuts.

 

Amazing dancers arrive from all socio-economic backgrounds and ability of parents to pay tuition should not be a factor for consideration in supporting young talent in my opinion.

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But if I had a limited budget to chose just between technique or flexibility and tricks, the technique wins every time.

 
That's where we are at, not so much the actual budget but the value for money, for one trip to pineapple that's 2.5 hours private lessons (or a class for the entire term) but then where she's at mentally I do think she needs those pineapple classes, she can have so much technique training but then if her confidence is still rock bottom because she is still believing what her old dance teachers drilled in to her, I don't know it's just trying to figure out what the best thing to do is. Same with one of the classes she wants to do, there's not a lot in terms of training it's more a performance class and for the same price (it's a 3 hour class so a lot more then the regular classes) we could get private lessons but then will she mentally benefit more from having a class that's just performance / fun based.
 
We had the same do we / don't we over her singing, she was having an hours private singing lesson every week at £25 a lesson, a year later and I just don't see a whole lot of improvement and she herself feels it's not worth the money so that has stopped because it just didn't feel like we were getting value for money.
 
I think what the OP is getting at is if you have an endless supply of money your child could have no end of regular classes, private lessons, workshops, summer schools, associates etc etc and it's not a guarantee but they would be more likely to achieve their goals (whether that's to reach a certain grade, get into a certain school or at a later stage gain employment) compared to say a child from a home with a very limited budget who could afford (or only get to because of other siblings, work etc) 2 classes a week and nothing else.
 
I suppose comparing it to learning to drive, if you only have 1 lesson a week (and use a local library for practising for your theory) it may take you several months / a year to be test ready but if you are having a lesson 5/6 times a week, have the cd-rom on your laptop, have all sorts of theory test apps you will probably be ready sooner and be more confident/better at driving then someone who has had less practice (it's not an exact science but in general the more you practice the better you will be at something).
  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We are lucky though to still have MDS and Da Da awards, but it is still all the hidden costs. We have so many talented dancers from so many financial backgrounds, the most talented will gain these scholarships regardless of income. I just wish that there were awards for our top academic students, our future scientists etc who will have a huge impact in our industry in medicine, computer science, law etc. It's all about finances isn't it and most people a majority of us we only have so much extra available for what initially is a hobby that spirals into something so much more. No matter how much money is poured into a student the gift and talent and work ethic has got to be already there for the student to succeed. Not all successful dancers have had lots of money thrown at them, but cost of petrol/transport, lessons, uniform etc still mounts up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Was funding more generous in the past, or were the fees for lessons, vocational schools etc lower relative to parental incomes? I do know that fee increases for academic independent schools have far out-stripped inflation and average pay rises in the last decade so that education at such schools has become much more expensive. There have always been dancers from modest backgrounds at the RB who have come up through the RBS. How did they manage it? By going to the School at 11 and benefitting from full funding by way of grants plus scholarships from outside foundations and donors?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just to get a little rant in, after all the years of hard, tough work, when a dancer finally secures a contract, very often the pay is so poor that parents need to keep paying a top up towards accommodation etc. Sometimes I wish my daughter had have stuck to academics and gone to uni like her brothers, it definitely would have made life soooooo much easier.

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In old copies of The Dancing Times I have from the 1980's, in the page long ad for The Royal Ballet School it used to say " A lack of parental means is not an obstacle for acceptance to either school".

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

 
That's where we are at, not so much the actual budget but the value for money, for one trip to pineapple that's 2.5 hours private lessons (or a class for the entire term) but then where she's at mentally I do think she needs those pineapple classes, she can have so much technique training but then if her confidence is still rock bottom because she is still believing what her old dance teachers drilled in to her, I don't know it's just trying to figure out what the best thing to do is. Same with one of the classes she wants to do, there's not a lot in terms of training it's more a performance class and for the same price (it's a 3 hour class so a lot more then the regular classes) we could get private lessons but then will she mentally benefit more from having a class that's just performance / fun based.
 
We had the same do we / don't we over her singing, she was having an hours private singing lesson every week at £25 a lesson, a year later and I just don't see a whole lot of improvement and she herself feels it's not worth the money so that has stopped because it just didn't feel like we were getting value for money.
 
I think what the OP is getting at is if you have an endless supply of money your child could have no end of regular classes, private lessons, workshops, summer schools, associates etc etc and it's not a guarantee but they would be more likely to achieve their goals (whether that's to reach a certain grade, get into a certain school or at a later stage gain employment) compared to say a child from a home with a very limited budget who could afford (or only get to because of other siblings, work etc) 2 classes a week and nothing else.
 
I suppose comparing it to learning to drive, if you only have 1 lesson a week (and use a local library for practising for your theory) it may take you several months / a year to be test ready but if you are having a lesson 5/6 times a week, have the cd-rom on your laptop, have all sorts of theory test apps you will probably be ready sooner and be more confident/better at driving then someone who has had less practice (it's not an exact science but in general the more you practice the better you will be at something).

 

That is exactly it MuddledMama. My daughter probably isnt ever going to be an exceptional dancer and she doesnt have the classic ballet attributes (apart from sway backs and long legs) but I dont have the means to give her lots of opportunity's to improve. Having said that she competes at festivals a couple of times a year and often does better than some of her friends that have weekly privates and extra classes. She always gets lovely feedback and we have been told by various teachers and adjudicators that she has a lovely stage presence but she lacks in technique. She has a lovely ballet teacher but I simply cant afford for her to have private lessons. She does a couple of hours ballet a week, a modern and tap class and a ballet associates and tap associates monthly. Sometimes its a struggle to pay for that. Once my older child has finished Uni (1 year to go) finances wont be as tight so hopefully then we can invest more in to her dancing. I do consider myself to be fortunate (I know it doesnt sound like it) and this is very much a first world issue I just started the post because I wondered if others felt the same. Tulip, I am not sure if " the most talented will gain these scholarships regardless of income" I know quite a few children and young people who have gained scholarships but they have all been advantaged by being able to have more classes than others, private lessons, summer schools etc. I am sure there is the odd child with pure raw talent that hasnt had these advantages and has secured scholarships but I dont think they will be in the majority. Like a previous OP said, its the Mathew affect.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just to get a little rant in, after all the years of hard, tough work, when a dancer finally secures a contract, very often the pay is so poor that parents need to keep paying a top up towards accommodation etc. Sometimes I wish my daughter had have stuck to academics and gone to uni like her brothers, it definitely would have made life soooooo much easier.

The problem now Tulip is that Uni is like that these days. We pay for our dd uni accom, the loan covers fees and she works to cover day to day living and she will still come away with thousands of pounds of debt. Its tough in this country for anyone to succeed sadly.

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I also read the reviews about summer schools with interest and I cannot believe how many people whose children are at vocational school, can afford summer schools too, sometimes more than one? DD was lucky enough to go to a national ballet school abroad which was free until 16 but left because they offered no academic qualification post 16 and frankly I did not like their old fashioned views on what was healthy eating for a dancer, but that's another story. However now she is at Ballet West all our funds are used up on keeping her in pointe shoes, leotards and food, paying the top up for student finance and rent etc. She has to be dedicated to stay in shape by herself during the summer months, there isn't spare cash for her to do workshops etc. However, let's put it into perspective, these are first world problems, dancers in the UK have many opportunities which do not exist elsewhere and life is all about being in the right place at the right time, sometimes amazing people don't get opportunities (not just in the arts) just because they just don't happen to be there when the opportunity arises. Let's count our blessings, yes let's strive to make sure our children have the life they want but sometimes it's just not possible for them to have everything, let's face it we never had!

  • Like 11

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well said dramascientist. Our middle child has just graduated from uni and our daughter has secured a contract, me and my husband have just worked out how much financially better off we are going to be over a year. It was always a worry if any of us were made redundant etc whilst our daughter was at vocational school, especially GCSE time, it would have meant her coming home. A lot of parents are constantly under that pressure, your talented child secures a place at a top vocational school, finances are worked out, then bang redundency. Thankfully that never happened to us, but it did sadly happen to some families where a child could no longer continue at that school, very very sad.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well said dramascientist. Our middle child has just graduated from uni and our daughter has secured a contract, me and my husband have just worked out how much financially better off we are going to be over a year. It was always a worry if any of us were made redundant etc whilst our daughter was at vocational school, especially GCSE time, it would have meant her coming home. A lot of parents are constantly under that pressure, your talented child secures a place at a top vocational school, finances are worked out, then bang redundency. Thankfully that never happened to us, but it did sadly happen to some families where a child could no longer continue at that school, very very sad.

That is my fear Tulip. The organisation I work for has just made a lot of people redundant. I am lucky as my skill base is transferable so I would probably find a job fairly quickly if I got made redundant, but its still a worry. You never know when things are going to change. I have had a couple of years of ill health (all sorted now thank goodness) but it put us back quite a lot and we had to make a lot of changes and go without things that we had previously enjoyed. Fortunately my children are healthy and happy and that keeps me smiling and makes all the struggle worth while.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The other thing that springs to me is how we all define success?  Someone on this forum, Harwel I think, said "show me a contract, then I'll be impressed" :)

 

It's comments like that that help me keep it all in perspective. 

 

And I don't understand this trend for private lessons either? There's been such a boom in our local area with secondary school and primary school age children being taken out of academic school by their parents for anything from one afternoon a week to five afternoons a week and all for private lessons with a local dance school teacher.  So far, I personally haven't seen anything from these students that warrants such an investment. They might get 'ahead' of a grade here or there but assuming they will all end up at the same end point, grade wise, I really don't get it. The only time I can justify this in my mind is if they were auditioning for vocational schools or if they wanted to make the most out of an exam session and try and get a good mark with a little bit of private lessons. As someone else says the Voc schools and associate schemes generally look for potential than the finished articles. 

 

Other than that I really believe there are more benefits to a structured (syllabus or non syllabus) class where children have fun, learn from others around them, get inspiration and motivation by watching others, learn from their corrections as well as their own, and build confidence in a group as long as it's a nurturing environment. 

 

Someone else has mentioned work ethic too and I think this plays an enormous part in anything in life. For dance, I would be watching to see if my dd is practicing and doing things off her own accord (stretching, choreography, practice) because that's a reminder for me of how much she enjoys something and wants something. I might be sounding a bit tough here but I only want to reward and support her financially (over and above my other child who thankfully is low-cost) if I think she really really wants it :) (otherwise I would scale down and not bust a gut to find the extras). 

 

On the Pineapple/PAYG classes versus term fees for a set class, this is a tricky one. It seems on face value to be better value for money to have a termly class ie; 12 hours for the cost of say 2 PAYG classes.  But this isn't like buying shampoo in tescos on a buy-one-get-one-free basis :)  I think it's a really tricky balancing act. On the one hand you could spend £50 on a term fee for not an awful lot but on the other hand the confidence and fun of a Pineapple class that they practice over and over, try really hard to be in a select group at the end etc, would be much better value in the long run :)  I think like anything else in life, they shouldn't take classes for granted and look to see what they can get out of them over and above actually being in the class. 

 

I have no idea where this journey will lead us all but I just intend for DD to try and learn as many life lessons along the way, try her hardest to achieve any personal goal and just have a bit of faith that being true to themselves will pay off one day in some way or another :)

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow Annaliesey, schools in my area would never allow that and would prosecute anyone who would attempt it. I think that is really irresponsible parenting. As much as I would love for my daughter to have more dance in her life I would never prioritise it over her academics. Like you I dont know where the journey will lead, my daughter loves dance but at the moment she doesnt think she wants a career in it. That might change or it might not but like you say its about achieving personal goals and enjoying the process. I love watching her dance and I love the other things that being part of it gives her ie an appreciation of the arts, confidence building, an understanding of the importance of a healthy and active lifestyle and the opportunity to meet people from a variety of backgrounds and area's and have fun. 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When my daughter attended her non vocational school in Swindon (Judith Hockaday), if the dancer did modern classes then the tap classes were free of charge. I am also aware that for talented dancers she would provide private coaching free of charge if families genuinely couldn't afford it. She certainly knew talent when she saw it.

Later on it is true about luck and also net working. As the saying goes it's not what you know but who you know. My daughter was offered a place at one of the world's top ballet ss without having to send any photographs purely based on where she was training. My advise is to do your research and to only pay for what your child really needs to enhance their training. Get wise not all that glitters is gold.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Was funding more generous in the past, or were the fees for lessons, vocational schools etc lower relative to parental incomes? I do know that fee increases for academic independent schools have far out-stripped inflation and average pay rises in the last decade so that education at such schools has become much more expensive. There have always been dancers from modest backgrounds at the RB who have come up through the RBS. How did they manage it? By going to the School at 11 and benefitting from full funding by way of grants plus scholarships from outside foundations and donors?

Behind every successful dancer stands a very hard working and committed parent and its always been like that. Back in the 1970s there was a boy at my grammar school who had got into ballet (!) because his sister did it. His parents used to constantly drive him to Manchester (a long way pre M62) to take classes. I think we were all rather stunned when he got into Upper School at Covent Garden even if most of us weren't really sure what it was. That was nothing to the publicity he got when he came back a few years later and almost killed the local football team with a ballet style work out. Of course he turned out to have exceptional talent for both dance and choreography. But thank goodness he also had committed parents.
  • Like 7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It has long been said in the ballet world that training is like a three legged stool.  You need a student with talent, a good teacher and supportive parents.  Even then there are no guarantees of success, there are many talented dancers training for all too few jobs.

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×