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Everything posted by Pups_mum

  1. Sorry, I also read age 8 to 11, not year 8 to 11, which obviously changes things a bit. That said there are Disney sings that would still be appropriate. My DD did a lyrical solo to "I'll Try" from Return to Neverland when she was in her early teens which seemed quite appropriate as it's kind of about growing up. I've not seen the new Mulan movue - ids there anything nice in that. On the musical front,the big thing at the moment seems to be Everyone's Talking About Jamie but I've not seen it so don't know what the songs or like and I guess the theme might be a bit controversial for some, but it's certainly very popular at the moment.
  2. I'm a bit out of touch with what kids are into now, but my DD is a dance teacher and I know she uses songs from popular films and musicals quite a lot as she's concerned that the lyrics of lots of pop songs are unsuitable. Some of the Disney films have lovely soundtracks which are age appropriate.
  3. I agree @cotes du rhone ! I think the schools actually shoot themselves in the foot by not promoting what their pupils actually achieve. At present it seems like all students and parents are, initially at least, allowed to believe that they're going to be professional dancers. The relatively few who achieve that are feted by the schools and everyone else slips away quietly. It's almost like the schools consider that they themselves are failures if they don't produce 100% professional ballet dancers, and that people won't send their children there if they are honest about the outcomes. But it's just the way things are - the world doesn't need that many ballet dancers and job opportunities are scarce. Personally I would have a lot of respect for any school which gave realistic information about the probability of a classical career and which was able to "sell" to me the benefits of an education there inspite of that. I would like to hear that attendance at School X optimises the slim chances of a classical career but that the school also produces happy, well rounded graduates who are successful in a wide range of other careers, and every student is equally valued. Dance has so many transferable skills and is worthwhile in it's own right, not just as a paid career. I think that this tendency to define success only as a classical performing career actually devalues a dance education and indeed dance itself, which is terriblysad really.
  4. I think it's very difficult Glowlight. This is always this risk when demand massively outstrips supply. Sports, exclusive academic schools, prestigous University courses,top jobs.....anywhere it could be said that "you're lucky to be here " or that " we could replace you tomorrow " there is great pressure not to speak up about anything negative. A of fear of losing something you've worked hard for and guilt at seeming to lack gratitude make a very potent combination that often ensures silence from both students and parents. There isn't an easy answer. Those who have been brave enough to speak out are deserving of all our support and I think the fact that more people are doing so is a very big step in the right direction. Something that I think the whole of the dance world needs is more honesty and transparency. It is very difficult as nobody wants to stamp on a child's dream but more information about the reality of the profession is needed, and not just about the chances of getting into a vocational school, but what happens when you get out. What is the reality of grad destinations? How many of the apprenticeships and pre professional years with companies actually result in paid contracts? "Past students have performed with......." often sounds impressive but what does it really mean? How many past pupils, for how long and it what capacity. What is the outcome for the majority, not just the top few students in each year? I'd like to see more transparency around physical requirements. I know it is an incredibly sensitive issue but the reality is that, like some sports and other pursuits, there are specific physical requirements and sometimes "no" does mean ""no, rather than "not yet" .Often people just want to be kind, but I wish I had had more objective information when my DD was young. On the other hand, I think another thing we parents can do is to share positive messages about our children's lives post dance school. There is a tendency to view a career with a classical company as the only successful outcome and if that doesn't happen we often slink away, feeling slightly embarrassed, ashamed even, because news of our DCs doesn't seem "worthy". It is though, and other parents need to hear it so they can make properly informed decisions. It also potentially helps empower students. We need our young peopke to know that there is more than one valid outcome, and that it isn't only the future principal dancers who matter and are worthy of decent treatment. My DD is a teacher now by the way. She's completed her RAD teacher training, has recently opened her own school and loves working with young childre. I am very, very proud of her. There are some things I would do differently if I had my time again, but overall positives outweigh the negatives and I don't see this as failure. We need to make sure that young dancers know that they all matter and are not powerless - then those who may wish to control or abuse them will not have the power to do so.
  5. I'm sorry to hear that you and your child have had such a difficult start to Year 7 NotadanceMa. My dancing child didn't go to a lower school so I have no direct experience but I think the best piece of advice I have ever read on the topic wason this forum and it is simply that we should not accept from a vocational school anything that we would not tolerate in a regular academic school. Now that can be easier said than done for a whole host of reasons, but I think it is very sound advice. It is true that the school cannot divulge information about the perpetrators to you, but what they can and should do is tell you what they are doing for your child. One of my (non dancing) children was bullied in year 7 and I had multiple conversations with school staff on the subject. Never once was the bully mentioned but I was told things like "X has been allocated a student mentor" "X may spend breaks in the Student Support Centre and can bring a friend for company if they wish" and "We are putting a member of staff on the bus to monitor behaviour and ensure X feels safe to and from school". I had to take it on trust that appropriate measures were taken for the other child involved but that wasn't my business or my concern really, but the support being provided for my child most definitely was. "It's sorted" isn't an acceptable answer in my opinion. You can't be there for your child so you need reassurance that the school is providing necessary care. I would try to have a video call or at least a phone call with the member of staff responsible for pastoral care if I were you. I hope things get resolved quickly - nothing is more important than your chiid's well being.
  6. I think this is a really important point. Those who appear unscathed are, in a way, perhaps the most damaged, as they have accepted toxic behaviour as normal, and may well go on to perpetuate it. I've no dance experience, but I can see parallels with my experiences as a medical student in the 80s - obviously not as bad as we were at least adults and could escape as not boarders, but there were definite similarities. Ritual humiliation was a recognised teaching method, sexism and racism commonplace and nobody dared speak up because the potential damage to career progression was significant. And you could see young doctors behaving just like their seniors. Of course they did - they knew no different and as far as they were concerned such methods were "necessary" to prepare us for the profession. Plus in any hierarchy it's unfortunately human nature that people who are being treated badly from above will vent their frustration on those below them once they get the chance. The good news is that it has changed. I'm sure there's still room for improvement but generally speaking students dont get treated in the way that we did. Fear and humiliation aren't widely seen as effective teaching techniques any more. I'm not sure exactly how it happened but I guess people started to stand up and say "this isn't ok", and tutors actually started to be taught to teach. "Because it's always been like this" ceased to be acceptable and the assumption that because someone has a skill themselves they can automatically teach it is dying. To be honest, some of the best doctors I have ever met were truly terrible teachers - I don't doubt that applies to dancers too. There is hope. Professions with long held traditions are slow to change but will do eventually. Hopefully at least some of today's dance students are going to be tomorrow's dance teachers who will go on to say "I'm not going to do it that way" instead of "We've always done it that way" and eventually the toxic cycle wil break.
  7. I was about to say the same thing. My DD always used suede tips and would brush them with a wire brush after every wear. That stopped them becoming slippery and she'd generally worn the shoes out before the patches were beyond revival.
  8. I think the overall numbers are valuable to know, because it helps a child/parent realise that the vast majority of applicants are actually unsuccessful. It's very easy to feel that you/your child are the only one to get a "no", because human nature being what it is, people tend to share news of success much more freely. Seeing it in black and white that something like 9 out of 10 children will not be chosen can help with expectation management beforehand and disappointment afterwards. But detailed analysis of the odds of success for any particular centre/year group/sex is probably just tying yourself in knots for no real benefit. As with all these things, population statistics do what they say on the tin - describe a population. But what they can't do is predict outcome for individuals. I know it is lots easier to say than it is to actually do, but over thinking things and worrying about stuff that you have no influence over does tend to make all these things even more stressful than they need to be. Not specifically dance related, but I have learned in recent years that energy expended on things that are outside of your control is very seldom positive. My advice these days is very much focus on what you do have influence over, don't stress over what you don't and enjoy the ride as best you can.
  9. Have you looked at Preston College? It may not be a "big name" but I know of several people who have gone there and speak very highly of their experience there. I think they have a number of course options but unless things have changed very recently you can definitely do teaching qualifications alongside their other courses. The facilities look lovely and Preston isn't a bad place to live, with very good transport links.
  10. As has been discussed quite a lot on here recently, it can be really hard to step away from an opportunity for all kinds of reasons, including fear that it will count against your child in the future or that you are shutting a door that will never reopen, guilt that you are turning down something that many would give their eye teeth for, and sadness at ending a relationship with people or an institution that's been important to you. Those are all normal feelings and totally understandable. It can need real strength to walk away from a scheme - especially a very prestigious one. But the message that the dance journey needs to be enjoyable in its own right is something that can't be stressed too much. It sounds like your child is expressing his feelings about MAs quite clearly and is in alternative training that he enjoys. Not every scheme is right for every dancer. It isn't necessarily a reflection on either the student's or teacher's abilities, just that they don't gel. If that happens it really is best to say goodbye and move on.
  11. I agree with Rowan that 16 hours of training is too much for a 10 year old whatever their hopes are for the future. I coach young people in a sport and the rule of thumb we are taught for school aged children is that even the most enthusiastic and committed young athlete should not be doing more hours per week training than their age in years, including the sport they do in school and any other out of school sports. Obviously not everyone will agree with that and I certainly know of children who do more, but from my observation there is a high risk of those who put in very long hours from a young age becoming "burned out" both physically and mentally. Rest and recovery are a very important part if any athlete's training, especially whilst they are young. The more you tell us the more it sounds like you need to find another school. You've got excessive hours, unsupportive teachers, classmates who are essentially bullying your DD and mothers who are doing the same to you - that sounds like a pretty toxic environment. There must be somewhere better surely? Somewhere more nurturing where both she and you will be treated kindly - I'm sure that would make a world of difference.
  12. This all comes down, I think, to a topic which has been discussed many times on here but is very important and bears repeating. The chances of a successful career as a professional ballet dancer in a classical company are tiny for any child, even those who seem to have all the right attributes at this age. That is why it is absolutely crucial that young dancers enjoy what they are doing in the here and now, rather than being too focused on any particular end point. Personally I don't believe that the vast majority of 10 year olds should be doing anything super intensively .They should be doing things that interest them and bring them joy, regardless of whether they are likely to make a career from their interests. Your DD's happiness is of paramount importance. If the lessons she is currently having are not making her happy, then shop around. She absolutely does not have to give up ballet because she has entered puberty early or because she doesn't have the "perfect ballet body". There is no such thing as a dancer who is "unworthy" of high quality teaching because of their physique. But there is another side to the coin. There are many parents on this forum and others who regret allowing ballet, or other activities such as music or sport become all encompassing for their child. Many say that they wish that they had been more aware of the realities of vocational training and the tiny chances of success - at least as measured by professional contracts. So it's possible that the teachers are, albeit rather clumsily, trying to get that message over. My DD doesn't have the "right" physique and the issue was always skirted around. I was frequently told stories of dancers who had made it despite not having the ideal physique, but the fact is that they are exceptions because they are exceptional, or that things can change with time, ignoring the fact that a quick look around our family strongly suggested otherwise! I would never have stopped her dancing and she may well have followed the same kind of path (she's a dance teacher now and very happy) but I wish we'd not fallen for the "you can be anything if you try hard enough" mantra for as long as we did. I know people were trying to be kind, but more honesty would actually have made things easier I think. I would steer well clear of any teacher who focuses on pushing a small group of pupils towards a professional career and is not interested in the rest, but there may be a different motivation behind the comments. There's a big difference between " your body shape makes you inferior to the other girls and you are not allowed in this class" and some gentle guidance that maybe the vocational path isn't the right way to go and it's hard for us to know what your DD's teachers are actually getting at. But the bottom line remains the same - put your DD's well being first and seek out an environment where she is happy and valued for who she is, not looked down on for who she's not. And if she loves to dance that is the very best reason for her to take dance classes.
  13. Yes, I think it is very important to recognise that not every young dancer has a bad time at vocational school. At any given time there are probably some who are having a wonderful time, others who are miserable and others at all points between - even in the same class. It happens everywhere doesn't it? The same can be said of academic schools, workplaces, sports teams etc. Sometimes it's because particular people are treated more or less favourably of course, but other times it's just because they are different people with different needs and expectations. I had an absolutely wonderful midwife when I have birth to my youngest child so I was disappointed for my friend when she gave birth a few weeks later and told me that her midwife was awful. But as the conversation went on it became apparent that we'd had the same one! And she'd been much the same with both of us, it was just that her way of working fitted with what I wanted but my friend needed something different. I don't think anyone here wants to scare parents, just to raise awareness. It is so easy to get swept along with all this and it can be very hard to step off the conveyor belt once you are on it, whether your DC goes to vocational school at 11 or not. I think the message is really about being alert to possible problems and not being afraid to rock the boat or walk away if it becomes apparent that something isn't working for your DC. And try not to get drawn into an "arms race" - you don't have to do something just because "everyone else" is.
  14. I think when we talk about regrets it's worth remembering something which I learned in counselling around an unrelated issue. The only thing you can guarantee would have happened if you'd made different choices is that things would have been different. It sounds obvious really but I'd never consciously thought about it. I had fallen into the common trap of believing that if I'd made a decision the outcome of which was "bad" then if I'd made the opposite choice the outcome would have been "good". Ergo, all bad outcomes were the result of my bad decision making. But it ain't necessarily so. The other choice would have led to another outcome but there is no way of knowing what that would have been. It might have been better, but equally it could have been as bad or worse. All any of us can do is make what we believe are the right decisions with the information we have at the time. Sometimes that won't work out the way we hoped. We need to accept, learn, and move on. Easier said than done if course but I am getting better at not dwelling on the past and "if onlys".
  15. Good question. One I have asked myself many times. Would I do things differently if I had my time again? Yes, definitely. I would without doubt encourage DD to make some different choices. But would I have not done it at all? No, I don't regret letting her follow her passion and the positives by far outweigh the negatives. Much like Anna C has said, I don't want any of my children to look back on life and say "Maybe I could have done X but you stopped me". (Within reason of course - my youngest recently expressed an interest in skeleton luge and I did say no to that!) I wish I'd been less trusting and asked more questions and looked at some different institutions but I don't regret letting DD do what she loves. She's a teacher now, so still doing what she loves even though she never "made it" as a performer, and I can't honestly imagine her doing anything else.
  16. There's often a lot of movement on waiting lists for upper schools as there are so many more of them than lower schools. Quite a lot of people apply to multiple schools and get more than one offer so it takes a while for things to settle down as everyone decides and more offers are made. If you're on a waiting list, don't lose heart at this point. Fingers crossed for good news for you all.
  17. That's good. I found it helpful. Just accepting that it's normal to have these feelings and that you're not actually weird or the only one to feel that way is a good start. It's paradoxically often easier to talk to a stranger than people that are close, so hopefully it will help your DD.
  18. I really feel for your DD @Glissé. Different situation but with some parallels- I've recently had to take early retirement due to ill health, from a role that was a massive part of my entire adult life. I know exactly what she means about not knowing who she is any more as my profession was a huge part of my identity. Obviously my situation is different, but the best advice I can give is to keep looking forward and not dwell on things you can't change. I know this sounds a bit drastic but would she consider seeing a counsellor? Talking to someone neutral can be very helpful. They won't tell her what to do but ot might help her find her own answers.
  19. Well said @Anna C I completely understand the disappointment of not gaining a place. In some ways getting to finals and then getting a no must be tougher than getting a no from prelims. It's also natural to want to dissect the results and try to figure out what's going on - we've all done it. But speculation really doesn't help anyone. I think social media makes us feel that we know people, but for the reasons already discussed on this thread and others, a lot of that isn't completely real. And I've said it before but I'll say it again (in fact I've said it thousands of times in my working days!) Correlation does not necessarily mean causation. Even if people have correctly identified commonalities between a number of successful candidates those things may or may not have been factors in the decision - we simply don't know and probably never will. I also don't believe that the RBS, or any other school for that matter, take dancers to finals who have no prospect of a place. If your child has got that far they clearly have a lot of potential and did very well in the prelims. And please parents, don't blame yourselves - you all sound like lovely supportive parents but so much in this whole ballet world is beyond our control. Try not to think "if only I'd known or done XY or Z". My DD didn't go to a lower school so I don't have first hand experience but many friends whose children did have told me that its very much back to basics at the beginning of year 7. So its very unlikely that parents not being able to afford private lessons with "big names" etc will have much, if any impact. All the finalists have done wonderfully well, whatever their backgrounds. I'm sure that new and exciting opportunities will come the way of all your lovely little dancers if they keep on dancing with joy. Those opportunities might not be right now, and may look quite different to what you imagine now but these experiences are never wasted.
  20. That wasn't quite what I was getting at @Kate_N, maybe I didn't express myself very well. I don't mean opportunities for other dance related work, more like additional opportunities for high quality training and performance outsids of the vocational system. One of my sons plays hockey at county level currently. Technically he is very good but he lacks the physical attributes he needs to follow the pathway designed to develop professional/international standard players. A couple of years ago he was invited to trials for that type of thing but didnt quite make it and the feedback (yes, we got some!) indicated that it was predominantly a physique issue. Hurray! Honesty! We know where we stand. But its not an issue. He still plays for the county, can still go on courses where he us coached by the best of the best - nobody scrutinises his photo first before deciding whether he is worthy of that opportunity. He might not be going to progress up the England Hockey pathway but it the opportunities are not just linear, they spread out too - there will be great opportunities at University, thriving adult and even veteran leagues all over the country and so on. He will be able to continue to play at potentially a pretty high standard for as long as he wants. The vast majority of players are not aiming to win Olympic medals or play in the professional leagues but there are still loads of other options that are not seen as "failure." But dance just doesn't seem to be like that. I know it isn't impossible to access high level teaching with a less "suitable" physique because I've been through that with my DD. But it's hard, and a lot of doors shut because of it. There doesn't seem to be an easily accessible route for able and enthusiastic young dancers to develop beyond their local dance school if they don't have the physique for a professional career. Yes, there's some, like EYB for instance, but even things like that get less from age 18. Again I know there are some adult companies but relatively few, and if you don't go to University and/or live outside a big city they are scarce. The whole system seems to be focused on identifying those who might go on to be professional rather than developing the art more widely. I know so many lovely dancers who have just stopped at 18. Such a shame. And I wonder how many children and families get sucked into the vocational system and potentially difficult experiences when they just started out wanting something extra for a child with talent and a love for dance, but the system inexorably pulls tgem along? Sorry, I've rambled and I'm still not sure that I've explained properly what I mean. But there's just a different "feel" about ballet somehow, and a different perception. It occurred to me as I was typing this that nobody has ever said to me "Why do you bother with all this hockey stuff? He's never going to earn his living at it is he?" But I heard that about my DD and dancing so many times. Other parents don't quiz me about my son's career intentions when he plays well and his team wins, but I was asked that incessantly about DD. Why does ballet have to be leading somewhere when sport can just "be"?
  21. That's a really interesting point @Anna C There is a strange level of expectation in ballet its true. It's there in other things such as sport too, but not quite to the same degree. I will never forget another mother asking me "Well what are you going to do with her now?" when my DD didn't get into RBS JAs. The inference was now that as she, at the ripe old age of 8, had "failed" at ballet I needed to find something else for her to try. My reply was "Nothing. She's the same child as she was before I opened that letter and nothing changes." (Showing my age there - no email then!!) Even the language used is kind of disparaging. How often do we hear words like "just a hobby" and "only a recreational dancer" as though anything other than a professional career is worthless. What nonsense. As long as dance is bringing joy, to the dancer and those who watch, it is very worthwhile. I think part of it is a relative lack of progression opportunities for dancers other than the vocational route. If you play a competitive sport there are often loads of options besides a professional career to continue beyond childhood, even into quite old age in some sports But there's not so much in dance, particularly ballet so I think people sometimes view it as pointless. Maybe there needs to be more development opportunities for dancers who don't aspire to a professional career? The process of selection as a potential professional starts so young, when a child can't possibly understand the implications. Really what is needed are enrichment opportunities- the chance to do more of what they love, without it being a precursor to, well, anything - art for art's sake if you like. I wonder how much heartbreak could be avoided if there was some kind of system whereby children with more enthusiasm and talent than average could be developed and encouraged but without it being seen as a career choice. The exam boards could start by ditching the term "vocational exams" maybe?
  22. It's certainly a double edged sword. Not dance, but I run the social media accounts for a couple of sports organisations and have mixed feelings about it. I think that in this day and age it is more or less impossible not to have a social media presence simply because everyone else does and it tends to be the first place people go for information. In some ways I love it. It makes life so much easier to be able to write "Training cancelled tonight due to bad weather sorry" once and know that the message is out within seconds than to try to call everyone, and during the pandemic it has been a great way to keep in touch with members. But, I am acutely aware of the pitfalls. I don't accept friend requests on my personal accounts from under 18s apart from one or two who really are friends as our families are close. Any pictures I post from training or competitions are very general with no names, or occasionally just first names. I am very careful about what links I share, especially anything related to nutrition and I delete any comments I think could be damaging. I've stuck to Facebook predominantly though we do gave a Twitter account too. I've steered clear of Instagram despite it seemingly being the youngsters' preferred option. I don't really "get" Instagram and it seems the more toxic environment to me - but maybe that's because I'm old and don't really understand it. And to be honest, it's the parents that are my target audience at least as much as the young people and most ofvtgem use FB. I think social media is here to stay whether we like it ir not, so we have to embrace it and try to use it wisely, but it certainly has the potential to cause great harm if we're not very careful.
  23. The other thing to be wary of is conflating correlation with causation. The fact that the majority accepted into WL are JAs and/or belong to multiple associate schemes doex not necessarily mean that they get into WL because they are associates. Rather it's likely that the associates and full time school are looking for the same things, so if a child has the characteristics that associates are looking for then s/he likely also has the characteristics that the full time school want. Of course there are children who never applied for associates and others who have changed considerably since a JA "no" and then get a WL "yes" but statistically both those things are relatively unlikely. Surely most children who are keen to apply to a specialist school when they are 10 have been pretty committed to dancing for a number of years and have applied for associatesand other schemes already. The "Billy Elliot" scenario is rare because children in that situation are rare - but it's not impossible and does occasionally happen. I don't believe any vocational school takes youngsters to finals to make up the numbers so all those who were invited clearly have potential.
  24. It is an interesting topic. I've got two main thoughts though. You only see what people choose to share and you can't change what you can't change.... Social media, and even forums like this can be very misleading because they only show a snippet of what's really going on. I don't doubt that there are youngsters and schools with a very active social media presence who have been successful gaining places. But by definition we don't see those who are not in the same mould. The quiet kid from the modest local dance school that doesn't have an Instagram page but who gets multiple offers won't be noticed by the outside world, simply because they don't publicise themselves. So it becomes easy to believe that it is only the social media savvy dancers and schools that have sucess. I really don't think that's the case. And whilst it is human nature to try to analyse admissions and try to figure out what panels are looking for, in reality nobody ever really knows and overthinking things only causes more stress and anxiety. A huge amount of things are beyond our control, and ultimately all anyone can do is turn up and try their best. I know that sounds a bit fatalistic but from sometimes bitter experience I have come to the conclusion that the best approach is simply to be yourself, try your best and hope for the best. It's far easier said than done of course - we all want to support our children's dreams however we can - but it's easy to get sucked into this crazy competitive world and become over invested. It's always been that way to a degree, but social media makes it much much worse. I suspect that a lot of what we see isn't "real" and is best ignored really.
  25. As is often said on this forum, the destination for any young dancer is far from certain - only a very small number go on to successful classical careers - so it is incredibly important that the journey is enjoyable in its own right. If any particular teacher or scheme is making a young person unhappy then I would seriously doubt the value of continuing, no matter how prestigious it is. Yes, a lot of good teachers really challenge their pupils and can be strict, but there's a big difference between that and creating an atmosphere in which the pupils feel demoralised and unhappy. There have been a lot of threads recently that have discussed teaching practices and their effect on young people and a lot of people have said similar things - that their DCs ended up in environments that weren't right for them but that the dancers and/or their parents were afraid to speak out. When you/your child gains a place at a sought after school or scheme it can be very hard to speak up or walk away but if you read the threads, the vast majority of parents say that they wished they'd listened to that inner voice that was telling them that all was not well. Nobody thrives in an environment where they are unhappy. The wider educational world recognises that fear and humiliation are not useful tools if you want to get the best out of a pupil but some dance teachers seem stuck in these habits, probably because that is how they were taught and sadly they know no dufferent.. I think it's really good that you are questioning the value of this scheme for your DD. If your gut instinct is that it isn't beneficial then I would listen to that - you know her better than anyone.
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