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Astrid

Any advice for a newbie?

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Hello everyone! *waves*

 

About 6 months ago my DD got a book out the library about the royal ballet and subsequently discovered a load of videos on youtube about the school and their schemes.  She has now become set on auditioning for the junior associates.  She watches the video all the time and says ‘I love everything about it’.

 

I don’t really know much about ballet, and had never heard of this JA programme, so googled it and found this forum!  Having discovered how competitive it is (gulp) I was wondering if anyone could help a newbie with some advice!

 

I don’t know how much potential she has but she dances everywhere (round the house, to school, in the garden…) and seems very graceful.  She has been going to lessons since she was 3 (has recently turned 7), and is currently in Y2.  Should I talk to her ballet teacher (I don’t want to come across as being a pushy mum)?  I’m a bit scared to if I am honest!

 

We kind of live out in the sticks so it isn’t something that really happens here, although a read of her dance schools website has shown past pupils have done associate schemes – I’m not sure when though, certainly not since she has been at the school.

 

She talks every day about how much she wants to go and try out for it, she has even made a little goal chart on her wall.  Its all so lovely really I haven’t got the heart to say anything other than anything is possible? 

 

Are there any schemes in the east of England that she could also try for? Or is it pretty much London based stuff for us?  If I took her to an insight day would that be a mistake? I’m a bit worried in case she is way out of her depth! She is so passionate about it all, I feel like I want to support her as much as I can whilst trying to keep a sense of realism around it all?

 

Her school is an ISTD school which doesn’t enter festivals or comps or anything,  but it is quite a ballet focused school from what I can see.  She also does gymnastics so is fairly flexible although not one of those mega bendy types!

 

The thought of going to any of these things makes me wobble a bit!  I am a bit nervous to even post this but after reading a few of the JA topics I got into a bit of a panic about what to do (if we are not good enough to even think about it)?

 

Any advice? Sorry for the waffle! :)  Thanks so much! x

 

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Hello Astrid and welcome to the Forum!

 

I am sure our Dancing Parents will be able to give you all sorts of information.

 

I think the audition rounds for this year are over but it is never to early to think ahead and prepare for the next round of auditions.

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I would say to speak to her teacher - she will know what potential your dd has and can point you in the right direction of what is best for her. Also, there is no harm in going to an insight day, it's a chance for you and your dd to find out if she really does want to audition as well as just a great experience.

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Hello and welcome to the forum. Two of my children were RBS JAs but it was a very long time ago so I'll leave the newer parents to tell you all about it. You've obviously already read quite a bit on here. Keep reading - we all have to learn as we go along.

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Hello Astrid! *waves back*.

 

I guess most of us on here felt like clueless newbies once, and I know from experience that it’s harder when you’re out in the sticks and your local dance school is maybe just a room in the village hall with a handful of children and a lovely well-intentioned teacher who is perhaps not up to date with all of the opportunities out there. I wish I’d known about this forum 6 years ago when we started on our journey - you have stumbled into the right virtual place to ask a million questions of very knowledgable and helpful old hands! 

 

I would say it’s always worth auditioning - you don’t know if you’re what they are looking for until you try. But you have to prepare your child for potential disappointment. Even the very best young dancers get their fair share of nos. The trick is to enjoy the experience and learn from it, then (if necessary) come back stronger next year. Going through the process, whether successful or not this time, is very valuable.

 

*Controversial viewpoint alert!* Personally I think children are over-protected from failure in most primary schools - no winners or losers at sports day, that sort of thing - but that doesn’t really prepare them for the reality of life. The dance world, on the other hand, is harsh (sometimes even brutal), but most of them seem to adapt to it and I think that will ultimately add something to their character (resilience, perseverance, work-ethic ….. ) that is just as important as whatever success it brings them dance-wise. It’s usually us parents that take the nos harder than they do! 

 

Anyway, I’m waffling. And there are far more knowledgable people on here than me, so I’ll hand over the baton. 

 

Good luck! 

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45 minutes ago, BlueLou said:

Hello Astrid! *waves back*.

 

I guess most of us on here felt like clueless newbies once, and I know from experience that it’s harder when you’re out in the sticks and your local dance school is maybe just a room in the village hall with a handful of children and a lovely well-intentioned teacher who is perhaps not up to date with all of the opportunities out there. I wish I’d known about this forum 6 years ago when we started on our journey - you have stumbled into the right virtual place to ask a million questions of very knowledgable and helpful old hands! 

 

I would say it’s always worth auditioning - you don’t know if you’re what they are looking for until you try. But you have to prepare your child for potential disappointment. Even the very best young dancers get their fair share of nos. The trick is to enjoy the experience and learn from it, then (if necessary) come back stronger next year. Going through the process, whether successful or not this time, is very valuable.

 

*Controversial viewpoint alert!* Personally I think children are over-protected from failure in most primary schools - no winners or losers at sports day, that sort of thing - but that doesn’t really prepare them for the reality of life. The dance world, on the other hand, is harsh (sometimes even brutal), but most of them seem to adapt to it and I think that will ultimately add something to their character (resilience, perseverance, work-ethic ….. ) that is just as important as whatever success it brings them dance-wise. It’s usually us parents that take the nos harder than they do! 

 

Anyway, I’m waffling. And there are far more knowledgable people on here than me, so I’ll hand over the baton. 

 

Good luck! 

 

Yes BlueLou exactly this - I feel like she has never really had to deal with any sort of failure before and that this seems very brutal compared to anything she has done before.  I think its probably me panicking more than her because I have seen what this actually entails!  I already feel much better that there is a whole forum of people going through the same thing because when I first looked at it I thought 'OH BLIMEY'.

 

Anyway, I guess I do need to pull up my big girl pants and talk to her teacher, and if anything I think it looks like quite  nice chance just to go and have a lovely class with a pianist which she would only usually get in exams.  Thank you for your reply it is good advice! x

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Most of the children seem to love the audition class and come out smiling and excited so a lovely experience if you just treat it as a fun day out. As to whether or not a place will be offered, it is difficult to guess but as others have said a no is really a not yet and try not to be put off if it is what you dream of. 

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I would say at this st(age) go with the flow and try everything on offer. They are still so young and won't really know what is their true passion so all you can do is try to keep as many doors open as is feasible (practically, financially and as far as your parental mental health will allow hehe!). 

 

Do ask the teacher BUT my caveat would be don't take their opinion as gospel unless you are certain of their credentials (for sending kids to higher level ballet training - if that is what she wants) and even then it may still be worth a go. Likewise don't see JAs as the final yes/no- if I had taken JA as the arbiter of talent spotting DS would never have got to where he is now...

 

We were total newbies too - never a dancer on either side of the family before. We learned as DS learned and its been a real blast, with the highest of highs and lowest of lows (pretty much like parenting in general really). And this forum has been a lifeline so you are in the right place :) 

 

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I would just add, it's definitely worth auditioning for all the resilience reasons BlueLou says, but also to benchmark whether or not the dream is realistic or whether it is helpful and healthy to redefine success more broadly.

 

My DS loves dancing, but just isn't really very good at it and no amount of 'follow your dreams and they will come true' hocus pocus is going to make dance a realistic ambition. (I keep meaning to start a 'DC who love dance but arent particularly good' thread to celebrate the small triumphs of the recreational dancer). But because he has ventured out from our teeny weeny dance school into the bigger world and seen this for himself he knows this to be the case and views dance as something he really enjoys and wants to improve at in order to support other aspects of performing arts. And so the dream evolves into something that better fits the child...

 

I'm not suggesting you give up at the first 'no' or even the second or third if it feels like you are in the right ballpark, and I'm not suggesting anything at all about your DD and her dancing. I'm just saying keep realistic as well as optimistic. And as CeliB says look at offering lots of different opportunities. It can be really easy to assume when you read this forum that chances of success are relatively high. They aren't. And the only way you will know is by having a go. And there are lots of fun times to be had on the way, and whatever the ultimate destination the journey is never wasted and you will be wiser more experienced travellers wherever you end up.

 

Good luck!

 

 

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18 hours ago, Jan McNulty said:

I think the audition rounds for this year are over but it is never to early to think ahead and prepare for the next round of auditions.

 

Astrid's daughter is currently in Year 2 so is too young anyway and will be the right age to audition next year :)

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There's no harm in trying. If she doesn't get in, you are still in the same position as if you hadn't tried, and you never know, she may be successful. The only caveat is that you need to be realistic and prepare her for the possibility that she may be disappointed. The Royal Ballet School Annual Report gives the actual number of applications each year, but as a general rule there's something like 10 applicants for every place. So the vast majority of children don't gain a place. I think it's really important to be up front about this with your daughter, stressing the small chance of getting a place and that not being chosen doesn't mean that she is a bad dancer. It is difficult. None of us wants to expose our children to something that might potentially hurt them I'm sure, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. I have always had the attitude that the best thing to do is to treat auditions as an experience in their own right and encourage my DD to see them that way and to get what she can from that experience. Plus we usually have a nice lunch or do some shopping too! If nothing more comes of it, you've had a nice day, and anything more is a bonus.

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Totally agree with pups_mum.  I still remember the RBS audition invite letter, It said something like: 'We love watching all the children dance, and we ask a few of them to join our classes'. It helps to explain that only a few children will be chosen, and to be honest, its as much about a particular body type that they are looking for as for dance ability. We were fortunate in that dd's teacher was very experienced in sending children to JA auditions (I was totally gobsmacked when she accosted me outside the dance class to say she was putting dd forward). There were 3 of them sent to audition, only one of them got in (not my dd) yet all 3 are now in full time vocational training. There are also a lot of other quality schemes available to audition for. Depending on your circumstances (such as how much of your weekend you are willing and able to spend in a car or on a train) its worth starting to do some research and also if your dd's school have sent other students to associate schemes they will have recommendations. Always, always discuss with your dd's current teacher (in some schools it is in the t&cs that you need their permission to do any other dance related activity). Good Luck

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Do make it clear that the odds of getting in are small - if nothing else, there's a lot of equally good people going for it and there are only so many places. It's down to luck for the people who are in the "maybe" group, which is probably most of them. 

 

Children can suprise you. Our eldest son - now ten - is emotionally soft in a lot of ways but has a core of steel when it comes to audition rejections. He'll get a refusal letter and he's all "Right, try again next year."

 

Anyway, if she wants to be part of the dance world learning to deal with rejection is a core skill!

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JA odds can be long but you need to also consider she may get in. Not to sound too negative but you also need to consider the costs and commitment involved. Ballet can quickly go from a cheap amount each week to very expensive. It can be amazing but I am constantly skint, especially now I have 2 who want to do summer schools and associates😿 Our whole week revolves around it.

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21 hours ago, CeliB said:

I would say at this st(age) go with the flow and try everything on offer. They are still so young and won't really know what is their true passion so all you can do is try to keep as many doors open as is feasible (practically, financially and as far as your parental mental health will allow hehe!). 

 

Do ask the teacher BUT my caveat would be don't take their opinion as gospel unless you are certain of their credentials (for sending kids to higher level ballet training - if that is what she wants) and even then it may still be worth a go. Likewise don't see JAs as the final yes/no- if I had taken JA as the arbiter of talent spotting DS would never have got to where he is now...

 

We were total newbies too - never a dancer on either side of the family before. We learned as DS learned and its been a real blast, with the highest of highs and lowest of lows (pretty much like parenting in general really). And this forum has been a lifeline so you are in the right place :) 

 

Thank you CeliB. I must admit I have found reading some of the past posts fascinating - gosh what a journey these children go on (and their parents too)!   Good luck on your own adventure! x

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12 hours ago, YorkshirePudding said:

I would just add, it's definitely worth auditioning for all the resilience reasons BlueLou says, but also to benchmark whether or not the dream is realistic or whether it is helpful and healthy to redefine success more broadly.

 

My DS loves dancing, but just isn't really very good at it and no amount of 'follow your dreams and they will come true' hocus pocus is going to make dance a realistic ambition. (I keep meaning to start a 'DC who love dance but arent particularly good' thread to celebrate the small triumphs of the recreational dancer). But because he has ventured out from our teeny weeny dance school into the bigger world and seen this for himself he knows this to be the case and views dance as something he really enjoys and wants to improve at in order to support other aspects of performing arts. And so the dream evolves into something that better fits the child...

 

I'm not suggesting you give up at the first 'no' or even the second or third if it feels like you are in the right ballpark, and I'm not suggesting anything at all about your DD and her dancing. I'm just saying keep realistic as well as optimistic. And as CeliB says look at offering lots of different opportunities. It can be really easy to assume when you read this forum that chances of success are relatively high. They aren't. And the only way you will know is by having a go. And there are lots of fun times to be had on the way, and whatever the ultimate destination the journey is never wasted and you will be wiser more experienced travellers wherever you end up.

 

Good luck!

 

 

 

Yes agree with this whole heartedly.  You are right we may as well go I guess and then Im sure we will know one way or another! Im sure we can make it a fun experience for her even if it turns out to be a bit of a pipe dream.  For what its worth, I used to want a part on neighbours when I was 8 :D, and go on tour with New kids on the block, but had to be content with singing into my hairbrush in the bath.. still had a lot of fun though ;) xx

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6 hours ago, Mummy twinkle toes said:

JA odds can be long but you need to also consider she may get in. Not to sound too negative but you also need to consider the costs and commitment involved. Ballet can quickly go from a cheap amount each week to very expensive. It can be amazing but I am constantly skint, especially now I have 2 who want to do summer schools and associates😿 Our whole week revolves around it.

 

Golly yep..I have got two other DCs as well..they haven't even started on their dreams yet :lol:..but seriously that is a consideration, because would have to think about them too! x

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Thank you everyone for your replies, all very useful and thoughtful responses.  A lot to think about.  I will start by speaking to her teacher and go from there.  Feeling pretty glad this forum is here.  My husband thinks Im loopy. He used to be an actor and not getting parts from auditions was part of the course, so his rejection threshold is high!  Good luck to everyone on their own journeys, what a lot of talented children there are out there! X

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My advice would be to try everything and see what she gets. We have had 3 years of no's for royal ja's and summer school!  But she has had a yes for Elmhurst Young dancers associates, Tring Classical Ballet Academy, Hammond associates, YDA associates, 2 years of National Youth ballet summer school and done very well in ballet exams. I am very happy with our little journey so far and made so many friendships along the way. Good luck with your journey xxx

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13 hours ago, YorkshirePudding said:

I would just add, it's definitely worth auditioning for all the resilience reasons BlueLou says, but also to benchmark whether or not the dream is realistic or whether it is helpful and healthy to redefine success more broadly.

 

My DS loves dancing, but just isn't really very good at it and no amount of 'follow your dreams and they will come true' hocus pocus is going to make dance a realistic ambition. (I keep meaning to start a 'DC who love dance but arent particularly good' thread to celebrate the small triumphs of the recreational dancer). But because he has ventured out from our teeny weeny dance school into the bigger world and seen this for himself he knows this to be the case and views dance as something he really enjoys and wants to improve at in order to support other aspects of performing arts. And so the dream evolves into something that better fits the child...

 

I'm not suggesting you give up at the first 'no' or even the second or third if it feels like you are in the right ballpark, and I'm not suggesting anything at all about your DD and her dancing. I'm just saying keep realistic as well as optimistic. And as CeliB says look at offering lots of different opportunities. It can be really easy to assume when you read this forum that chances of success are relatively high. They aren't. And the only way you will know is by having a go. And there are lots of fun times to be had on the way, and whatever the ultimate destination the journey is never wasted and you will be wiser more experienced travellers wherever you end up.

 

Good luck!

 

 

This post is like a breath of fresh air to me, absolutely bang on.

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Yes my DS (now 19) got so used to no’s that the yes’s were even sweeter (3 times No from the JA’s). Royal completely not interested, but DS had a different, amazing training at Tring, and unexpectedly got into RBS Upper School at 16. He now has a full time professional contract with Polish National Ballet in Warsaw, which he is absolutely loving, and already met International choreographers he never thought he would when this whole journey started. I’m always in awe of how dancers are so resilient and have life-skills beyond their years (thanks to years of ballet training?) I would say, whether aiming at a dance career or not, definitely have a go at everything, so long as you’re all as a family enjoying the ride. One of the best things, apart from watching DS on stage, has been the amazing friends he and I have made along the way, sharing the highs and lows. DD by the way, entirely gave up dance and is now very happily a writer! 😂

Edited by IBD23
Edited as left out DD!
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Hi ,

i would agree with everyone who is saying to try it out , if you don’t try you won’t know , and auditions are a great way to gain experience if she is thinking of progressing and auditioning for vocational schools. 

Its a tough one because you want to protect them , but also support their dream . 

I’m sure her ballet teacher could discuss it further with you both and take it from there , they make lots of friends throughout their journey and I’m sure they enjoy it too, even if us parents are left stressed 😩

I wish you both good luck and welcome to the rollercoaster world of dance. 

Enjoy . 

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