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Do you think not going to a vocational school holds a child back


Luckyshoes
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Hi all, would be interested in opinions please, my DD is 12 years old and in her first year at senior school..where she is very happy and doing very well...and says she would not like to leave and is more than happy to try and get into a 6th form dance academy when she is older..she is such a home girl and the thought of her boarding somwhere at a vocational school fills her with dread....do you think this will effect her chances of becoming a professional dancer later in life...she lives and breathes ballet..attends alot of classes..EYB , RAD associates etc...she also continues with her modern and tap for variety.....but im concerned i may be giving her false hope by saying ..not going to vocational ballet school wont effect you're chances...what does everyone think ?

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My dd did not go to vocational school until she was 16 and she is now working as a dancer, albeit not in ballet.

 

My personal impression is that those who go to vocational school at 11 are possibly more likely to have a career in ballet, but not all are successful, and I certainly know of some girls (and perhaps even more boys) who have trained locally and gone on to have successful careers in ballet. And even more who have gone on to have successful careers in other forms of dance.

 

If your dd is home bird it is possible that she may not thrive at vocational school in any case.

 

I would say though that you need to make the most of associate schemes and summer courses to complement other training she is getting locally.

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I think going to a vocational school also has its drawbacks ...

 

My DS certainly had less performance opportunities

There may be less of an idea of everyone getting (approximately) equal exposure

There may be issues with the quality of education offered at some vocational schools

If you don't "click" with a teacher it can have huge implications and its not that easy to change or sort the problem

You have less control over the range and styles of dancing

It may be that money does not stretch to summer schools

Unhappy dancers find it harder to shine.

 

But other than that!

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meadowblythe, I thought that a child would have more performing opportunities at a vocational school rather than fewer. Don't the schools stage ballets, put on shows etc? Surely performances provide the opportunity for the students to put into practice what they have learned in all those hours of dance lessons. I've always found it strange (and rather annoying, actually) that students at vocational schools get places in EYB, London Children's Ballet etc as I had always thought that those schemes were really intended for students who were not in full-time training.

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Depends on the school, RBS if Royal are doing Nutcracker they get lots of performance opportunities in year 7, 8 and 9. They also do Richmond fair in years 7 - 9 followed by the summer fayre and end of year perfomances. Once in upper school they can get the opportunity to perform with RB.

 

At Elmhurst they get very few perfomance opportunities that I've seen. Only a select few from lower school in BRB's Nutcracker. No Summer fayre or local fetes etc. And not always much of a part in the Summer show... maybe just one dance even in 6th form.

 

Not all schools will let their pupils take part in EYB, LCB etc and if they do you have to get permission for them to take part.

Edited by KathyG
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Tring students perform in ENB's Nutcracker, or at least they have done so since Wayne Eagling re-choreographed it in 2010 AND the child Clara and the child Freddie were played by Tring students (two of whom were I think the children of a member of this forum). Over the last few weeks ENBS has been touring a production of Sleeping Beauty aimed at young children. I don't know whether this type of thing is going to be a regular event.

 

Some associates have opportunities to perform with professional ballet companies. A girl at my DD's (local) school who is a RBS associate performed with the Bolshoi when they came to London a couple of years ago.

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Even though my daughter is at vocational school I do not believe that she had a better chance of getting into a 6th form more than non vocational children who had recieved equally good training from their local dance school. Look at all the audition successes on the forums and you will see that some non vocational children have done exceptionaly well. One of the main aspects of vocational training is that the day is balanced out. Half day good quality accademics at Tring, the other half of the day dancing. Our children start school at 8.30 am and finish at 8.30 pm (senior children). All home work and course work is done within this time.

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At Tring only certain children are allowed to audition for these roles with ENB. I know several children from there who auditioned for the SAB summer school (very elite) and were not allow to fulfill their offered places. Tring do however have a show at the end of the year and all have a part in it. Some have more parts than others. They also get to perform at the speech day. Hammond do fabulous shows where several years ago every child did a dance in every genre of dance, ballet, tap, moder/contemp. Hammond also put on musical performances where all children are included if they so wish. Things may have changed now but Hammond shows used to be outstanding.

Sorry back to the original question, no I dont believe that a child needs to attend a vocational school in order to be sucessful later on. I would say though that the local dance school needs to offer very good classes, your dd needs to be doing several ballet classes a week and its a good idea to attend summer courses to give your dd an idea of where she fits ability wise with children of her own age. RBS do very good masterclasses from time to time which they advertise on their website.

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I can never understand this business of students not being allowed to audition for productions, workshops etc. Surely it's up to the companies or whoever to decide who they want. As far as summer schools are concerned, why is it the vocational schools' business what their students do during the school holidays?

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All children develop at different paces; my dd certainly wasn't ready for a Year 7 place on a Dance course. She's only now coming into herself as a dancer and gradually gaining confidence, and she's 13. She wants to apply at 16 so as well as juggling homework, she dances 4 evenings a week and has Associates on a Saturday. She doesn't get performance opportunities except for a show every other year, so we make sure she gets to do EYB when they come near enough, and Easter and Summer courses. Hopefully we can keep her training up to a level where she has a good chance of getting a place at 16, but she's very academic too so hopefully will also get a good number of GCSEs.

 

There are pros and cons to both systems. A child who's been away at school since 11 may burn out, lose their joy in dance, change their mind, get assessed out - OR have a wonderful time and do really well, and love every minute! :-). You just never know so all you can do is follow the path you're taking at the moment.

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My dd did not go vocational school until16 and prior to this was not able to do anywhere near the hours per week she would have done at vocational school however her local teacher concentrated on the technicalities and as well as associates she took part in as many summer schools/dance days etc as we could manage (timewise and financially). The courses where vocational pupils were there was well were always a good indication that she was maintaining a high enough standard. Indeed she probably had more opportunities for certain things than many vocational pupils e.g. performing with a local ballet company she started pas de deux work at the age of 14 partnered by a local teacher whome she trusted completely so that she was far more confident than most other girls her age. At 16 she was offered funded places at 3 of the 5 schools she auditioned for and made finals for another one. The only disadvantage I have found is that it was quite a physical shock to her body when she suddenly started dancing 6+ hours a day 6 days a week and this is perhaps where those already at vocational school might be at an advantage.

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After DS attended his first summer school (age 13) we were told by his teacher that vocational school was imperative if he was to achieve his full potential. His opinion was that DS would always be a dancer but the trade off was good member of corps or perhaps principal in a regional company if he did lessons outside normal school Vs principal of major company guesting all over the world etc etc if he attended vocational school. Whilst we were not starry eyed about where DS will eventually end up, this expressed opinion was I suppose pretty powerful in out decision to allow DS to go to vocational school. But only because he begged us on bended knee to let him go. And we have always said to him if he didn't enjoy it he can come home- we don't really care what he does in life as long as he is happy....

(also DS local dance teacher as well as 3 different international standard dancer/teachers who had taught him had said more or less the same, so it wasn't all down to the one person. However that was the final nail in the coffin of our hope that he would achieve the same level by staying at home....)

But of course how will we ever know if that was correct? You can't do both to find out....

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Good local teaching is vital. At 15, whilst at Kent Youth Ballet my son was told he had a future in ballet but needed to make decisions to do more. The adjudicator at the bursary award who had seen him over the years said his ballet wasn't going forward strongly enough. He was going into year 10. She recommended changing dance teacher and going to london on a Saturday. We had missed RB ass auditions but Central agreed to see him. He went here for a year then became a RB ass in year 11.

TBH before this he probably wasn't thinking of ballet as a career more Jazz, musical theatre. The adjuicator is very well known so her advice meant alot.She said at 15 he had to decide or it would be too late and vocational at 16 vital.

 

He was lucky to find a brilliant teacher. The trouble for many lads is that they are the only one in their class. The teacher he went to did think he hadn't been taught boys stuff well enough which is why a good teacher is so vital. So those 2 years with the teacher were paramount in him going to Elmhurst.

 

When he got there he was behind in some stuff, but not all and his tap and jazz and contemporary were much stronger than most others. He works extraordinarily hard so that is why he has achieved so much.

Going at 16 is hard. The teachers can be less than welcoming to "non vocationals". Sad but true. Some teachers were amazing sadly a couple were absolutely foul. One especially, but he dealt with it and when time came to auditon for comapnies he had considerable success which has continued.

 

So if your local teacher is excellent and is savvy in a professional career going at 16 can really work and it is true that those who do it that way often feel they have had a broader early experience in life. Where it is heartbreaking is those who have been vocational since 11 and at 16-18 it becomes evident that a career will not happen. Sadly that's life and it is very hard at 11 to predict a glittering career for any.

 

The most important thing is very hard work, making the most of any opportunity and being prepared for the ups and downs, highs and lows, beacuse whatever your ability, that will happen.

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We are facing a dilemma too-dd knows if she wants a career in ballet, she really must go to vocational school at 16, this means applying next year and she just can't face leaving home. she has always been a 'home bird' and I don't want to push her away but we will have to make decisions after the summer holidays. She is now talking about doing A levels and applying for Musical Theatre at 18. Gosh it's so hard trying to do the right thing....

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My DD was not ready to go away to vocational school at 11 either, simply because of the boarding aspect. This year she decided she wanted to apply for 6th form at vocational school and part of it was certainly that we struggle to get her enough quality training and she did not know if she would ever be able to compete with other applicants at 18. We live in a very small rural village and DD is not yet 16. She auditioned at 5 schools. Two schools she ruled out for herself as she felt she was not ready for the 'accommodation aspect' and would not therefore get the most from the course. There was only one school where she felt completely at home and she was delighted to be offered a place. After a very very long wait she was finally offered funding and so in September she will be taking up her place. Has not going to vocational school at 11 lessened her chances of becoming a professional dancer? Only time will tell but for now for my DD she is on the journey and living her dream. She was not ready at 11 but she is now ready to make the most of the opportunity she has.

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Rambert School says it trains equally for Classical Ballet and Contemporary. Central, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Ballet West are all degree programmes and accept students at 16, 17 or 18 (or more). Remember, the current funding arrangements end with the September 2012 intake. It may be that there will be fewer Dada places and more degree courses in future i.e. less places at 16 and more at 18. London Studio Centre stopped taking 16 year olds a couple of years ago and now only take at 18. So no one should feel they have missed the boat at 16.

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Northern Ballet School also takes students at 17, 18 and older, and I know of a girl who went to Elmhurst at 17. For contemporary courses the minimum age is often 18.

 

Young people develop and change a lot between 15 and 17 - so what appears insummountably difficult to her now may be much more do-able in a year's time

 

However - I have the impression (and nothing really to back this up) that when ballet companies are looking for apprentices they favour 19/20 year olds.

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The vocational ballet schools do take 17, 18+ etc but that does make them quite "old" when trying for their first comapny. Not impossible of course but there are younger people joining companies than happens with UK students. Some still come out of the old "Eastern Block" quite young.

 

However more and more companies are recognizing that putting someone straight from school into a heavy work load co is a problem that may well lead to many injuries. The Apprentice jobs can be great. In my son's experience he had a year as an apprentice in Vienna. They worked with the company one week, then had lessons the next. This was brilliant as the lessons were so much more than just " company class". They addressed weaknesses. The teacher was outstanding. He performed alot with the company too but not too much.

 

When auditioning one director said to him he could give him a contract but felt his body wasn't yet ready for the work. Indeed my son chose the apprentiship over full company offers.

 

More and more junior companies are opening which is fantastic for recent graduates. A real boon as they form a real link to fulltime company membership and work.

 

Contemporary training does usually start at 18 and some often go on from their vocational ballet to do contemporary training.

 

I really do think though that if someone is considering a classical ballet career largely 16 is the latest. That doesn't mean no-one who is older will succeed but it would be very hard. Obviously if someone has had outstanding teaching locally well maybe butto start a classical training at 18 means finishing at 21.

 

Last point is I think boys do get a little more latitude when audutioning agewise but when in the job market remember the talent europe/worldwide is huge and that latitude goes.People always say boys have it easy but trust me when in the "real ballet world" that isn't true. Its a brutal world with a huge number of seriously talented individuals and some exceptional. The struggle for work is incredible and European companies are made up of every nationality going.

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Julie, I've long wondered how the boys can physically cope with the demands of partnering when they are still in their teens, given the fact that boys can still be growing, certainly in their mid-teens, and can also be very skinny until they fill out in their twenties. I still find it astonishing that Sergei Polunin entered the RB at 17 and, as a principal, was expected to do a substantial amount of partnering work at 19. Vadim Muntagirov at ENB took on the role of Siegfried at just 20. The fact is that the ballerinas are generally getting taller, and therefore heavier, however skinny they are. I simply don't know how these very young men manage. I'm surprised that they don't have back and shoulder injuries all the time.

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I think going to a vocational school also has its drawbacks ...

 

My DS certainly had less performance opportunities

There may be less of an idea of everyone getting (approximately) equal exposure

There may be issues with the quality of education offered at some vocational schools

If you don't "click" with a teacher it can have huge implications and its not that easy to change or sort the problem

You have less control over the range and styles of dancing

It may be that money does not stretch to summer schools

Unhappy dancers find it harder to shine.

 

But other than that!

 

I agree with all of the above - as my daughter has recently left vocational school I am now starting to see the wood for the trees and realising that being at a classical vocational school isnt the be all and end all of a dancing career.

 

It can be an absolute must for some and for others the prestige of it all makes the sacrifices worthwhile but for those with grit, determination and a good teaching faculty at home it is not essential.

 

So many things can happen along the way injury, puberty, focus, desire, to name but a few, who knows what the future holds for any young dancer - even after five years spent away from home could still end up in being told you were not suitable in their opinion for classical dance.

 

My daughter desparately missed performing whilst at her vocational school - it is something she was desparate to get her teeth back into now she is home.

 

It isnt for everyone and to put your daughter in an environment - going with your gut feeling is probably the right direction. You know what is best for your daughter.

Edited by BankruptMum
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From a purely personal perspective I'm convinced my ds would not have done as well as he has without going away to vocational school at 11, but that's mainly because our options for boys' teaching would have been extremely limited at that stage. If I'm completely honest, he wasn't one of the most naturally talented students (although I do have to remind myself that he did go to WL for 3 years, so he's not bad ;) ) so it's taken great training and a lot of hard work for him to achieve as he has.

 

One of his friends who he's graduating with started school with him at 11, but left very soon after, but then joined them again for sixth form and has a great contract, so it's very individual isn't it.

 

As for partnering Aileen, ds did virtually none (especially no lifting) until the end of year 11 and it has been gradually built up through sixth form. Partnering seems to be his forte as he has great upper body strength, but that's because he's had trouble with his lower legs for a couple of years so he's been concentrating on his upper body :)

 

My dd is 17 and she's never had an opportunity to any partnering as they haven't got any boys at her school (she's not going to be a dancer, so that hasn't been an issue).

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