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Is there anywhere or anyone who will provide neutral advice to dance parents? We will be aiming for our DD to audition for vocational school in two years, and our not sure whether our local dance school offers all the best preparation. It is quite small so she only gets 3 - 4 hours a week there, whereas I am concerned that others get a lot more. The focus is very much on festivals and medal winners, whereas I would prefer a few more exams and more pointe work etc. just wondered if I could check this out anywhere as obviously the next 2 years are crucial and a time when we will need lots of help and advice! Thanks

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It's difficult to say, as we can't see your DD dance! But here are some things you could do:

 

* Go to a large reputable studio, maybe not where you are, book a a private lesson with one of their teachers, and an assessment of her strengths and weaknesses (I'm thinking of places such as Pineapple or Danceworks, or their equivalents elsewhere) or even somewhere like the RAD

* Has she had the opportunity to audition for any of the Associates programmes around the country?

* Just audition for the experience for things like the English Youth Ballet, even though logistics might mean your DD can't actually participate.

 

She needs to get out into a wider ballet world, to see how she measure up against others of her age in open classes.

 

Cross-threading a bit here, but I suppose this is one of the reasons for doing exams: you get an outside view on your dancing, and a sense of where you measure up in national terms.

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Was there much feedback from festivals on the feedback forms. I'm thinking if they all say "technique" or "performance" or whatever then that would help with conversations with current teacher or other tutors

 

Can you find out a bit more about where past students have ended up as that can give some clues too

 

But otherwise maybe go on RAD website and search out local ish teachers and book in for assessment. I'd be careful though if they behave like they just want to schmooze you into joining them (sorry to be cynical)

 

Good luck

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Does your current studio know DD's aims? Have you talked to them about your concerns? Would the studio be able to offer private classes to help her?

 

We are in a similar position and have just moved studios, although we wanted more performance experience - I spoke to a parent who's Dd is starting MT course in sept (which is my DDs aim) & got advice on levels required. I had discussion with old studio before exploring options & deciding to move.

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Does she do an associate programme? If so, I'm sure her associate teacher would be able to chat to you about it, and advise on what sort of training would be most helpful at the moment.

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Interesting topic, great question, and some good advice above.  If I were you I'd definintely contact Drdance....

 

I can't speak for all teachers of course, but in my opinion I really don't feel most local dance teachers could give a good, unbiased opinion of a student who they know well.  "Rose tinted spectacles" sometimes, or maybe over-critical, or perhaps in some cases just not knowledgeable enough.  But also remember that if you're just looking for an opinion on "does she have a chance of getting into a school" - that's almost impossible for anyone to say (if there's nothing intrinsically wrong with technique or physique) - you only know by trying.

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Hi Lilac, I'm just a parent with a DD at vocational school so don't give an expert opinion- far from it- but from what I have seen exams are not the be all and end all. Nor is pointe work at lower school level from what I see. I agree with the advice of getting on what is basically the dance circuit and starting to apply for things- associate courses, performances (eg LCB, NYB if you can), autumn, spring and summer schools. attending open classes (eg Danceworks or Pineapple in London). If you have access to London that really helps although not getting through to the hardest associate courses first time eg RBS is not a sign in my humble opinion a child cannot succeed later. 

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dr dance, I tried to message but couldn't get through, something about you not receiving any more. Not sure what that means!

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Lilac,

I am sure you have posted something similar before about the school which would suggest that you have had some niggling doubts about it for some time now.

It is hard to give a firm answer as lots will depend on the quality of teaching as well as the number of hours danced.

When our dcs did JAs together my son was dancing 2-3 hors a week on top of his ja class. That was enough to get him into year 7. Just finishing year 11 he has been dancing at least 4 and a half hours a day plus Saturday class.

Of course people do get into schools who are not from vocational schools but. I would argue the odds are stacked against them unless they are exceptionally gifted or put in lots of hours of training.

I can't honestly see 3 hours a week being enough IMHO and think you perhaps should look at supplementing the hours. Hopefully Drdance can help.

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I think, with local training and two separate Associate Schemes, my dd - same school year as Lilac's - was doing between 12-14 hours of dance a week last year. That was all evenings and weekends as she was at a highly academic state school. There is much to be said for quality vs quantity but I agree that 3-4 hours a week locally would need supplementing with either a very good private lesson or a very good Associate Scheme - or both.

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How old is your daughter Lilac?

 

My 10 year old dd is similar in hours she has one grade 4 Ballet class per week during term time only and one tap, plus a her Y6 associate Classes. She has an option of privates in addition which she loves doing plus we are discovering more things she can apply for like the BRB Swan lake workshop on the Balletforum website she will be hopefully be doing.

 

She really wants to audition for Elmhurst and Royal Ballet School this academic year, but now I think realises now they only take a few from unsuccessfully auditioning for The Royal Ballet summer School, so she is happily realistic too and would be just as excited if just any of the JAs she knows at her centre were offered at place.

 

She, herself, I know is she a little intimidated about auditioning on less classes than some of the little local dancers who go to an excellent competitive local dance school who train 10 plus hours per week they have their dancers already ready to go on pointe at 10. She loves Instagram and she loves following all the local competive dance schools on it and she is a little in awe of them, I caught her trying to do what I think is called a tilt the other day....!

 

But we've been told they go on potential for them to train, so more classes wouldn't really make too much difference and for us as parents we believe it better invested time wise in her academics for her 11 plus, as she is taking her entrance exams too this year. We have never yet had any feedback regarding not enough Ballet classes being taken and her elmhurst school report was absolutely outstanding and we so so proud of her, the Royal Ballet don't do a written one.

 

She's saying to me she really wants to do Ballet inter foundation, not sure what this is yet.

 

We've found good to do the associates if you can one I would recommend it, as it gives non dancing parents a guide as to whether or not your child is right for Ballet training and leads you and your child through the whole audition process in a supportive way.

 

Good luck, let us know how she gets on.

Edited by Snowflake

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Hi Lilac,

My comments were based on someone auditioning for UpperSchools. (Assumed it was for daughter who did JAs with my dcs...) The age is significant and my comments not valid for a younger dc.

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Hi Haggis yes it is her! She has a place in Group 6 at Tring CBA so that achieves a few hours of good level ballet 6 times a term, and is embarking on associates with the London Studio Centre in mixed dance for 5 hours on a Saturday. Thinking we have to pick up as much as possible of this nature to give her the best chance, and will look for ad hoc opportunities eg summer schools.

 

Dr Dance, would it be possible for you to check your inbox. I would really value being able to PM you? Thanks.

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This has scared me a little. My ds has just turned 10. He has half an hour private lesson per week and a 45 min Grade 1 ballet class. He does an hour of tap and modern too. He starts associates next Saturday (Elmhurst and RBS) which will pretty much be a full day. He only started dancing in January but would like to audition for the vocational schools. Does he need to be doing more? I am not sure we can fit it in anywhere.....

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I know how you feel jennyboydance...., it's hard to know how much they should really be preparing and it scary when you hear from your own dd complaining how much some dancers are. Comparing it to dds grammer school entrance exam, where the tests are supposedly tutor proof, but everyone knows it's impossible to get a place from a state primary by a kind of unspoken rule unless you have a private tutor, as they don't cover the work for it really in the national curriculum....

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I think for junior school auditions at 11, it's more about potential. There will be a whole range of dance standards and someone in Grade 5 or IF has clearly been dancing a long time, but will not necessarily have more potential than someone in grade 1 who has only just started ballet. First and foremost the schools will be looking for the correct physique. At 11 that has nothing to do with how much ballet they have done.

 

Jennyboydance, clearly your DS has lots of natural potential as he has got into 2 top associate schemes and only been dancing less than a year. His ballet teacher is teaching him from the ground up by starting at grade 1 and also giving a private lesson. I think this is fantastic as he is getting the basic understanding - far better, IMO than putting him straight into grade 3. Hopefully as the year progresses he will improve in understanding and strength and come on quite fast.

 

Senior school auditions is a whole other thing!

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Just to reassure you, my 11 year old dd is starting vocational school this week and prior to auditions she only did 2 hours of ballet per week (Grade 4), 1 hour of a Tap, 1 hour of Moden and a 45 minute private lesson. She has never been a JA or done any associate class as we didn't even know such a thing existed! She auditioned for 3 vocational schools (rather last minute following gentle pressure from her dance teacher) and was offered a place in all 3 schools.

So in my very humble, inexperienced opinion the amount of hours they do at this age is not the most important factor. I know of other girls who also auditioned with my dd and were in higher grades and had been doing ballet longer and they didn't get an offer from any of the schools! It is all about potential at this age so please don't worry.

Edited by Eowyn
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