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Associate schemes - RBS vs Elmhurst?


elfin
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I know Royal is a far more well known name amongst non dancers and will therefore carry more weight, but for those involved in the dancing world is the RBS JA associate scheme really considered to be "better" or more of an achievement than Elmhurst's? Royal helpfully publish their figures in their annual report so we can see just how small a percentage of applicants actually get places, but does anyone know what the information for Elmhurst is? And if a child were lucky enough to be offered a place on both schemes, but accepting only one was practical, would it be madness to turn down Royal? Sorry for all the questions, but I've been sensing from my child's ballet school recently that Royal achievement is far more worthy of being celebrated, which makes me very sad.

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I think that yes it is more prestigious. In the same way that going to Cambridge is more prestigious than going to another top university. However as an individual you may flourish elsewhere, and ultimately do much better. I presume you are talking about primary school level in which case I think the most important thing is that they are happy/ the teacher is kind/ they like the other children/ they enjoy it etc. There are some excellent teachers not linked to associate programmes and if the child can do the same amount of hours, at this early stage I'm not totally convinced any of the programmes are 'better' than this. A good teacher is the most important thing!

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Well I'm no expert as I have no direct experience of either scheme, but my opinion, for what it's worth, is that different things are "best" for different children/families, for a whole host of reasons. Different teaching styles work better for different children, then there's the practicalities regarding cost, transport,timing and frequency of classes - the "cost" to the whole family if you like.

The RBS scheme is without doubt the best known generally, but it can't possibly be the environment in which every child will flourish, as every individual is different.

There may be more kudos to the RBS, but if you were lucky enough to have the choice then I would try to weigh up the whole package, including the effects on the wider family, before choosing. And you might just get a feeling as to which is the right one. I remember when I was looking at academic schools for my son, I instantly knew we had walked into the right place, even though on paper there were "better" schools in our area.

I suppose another factor might be that if your DD is thinking of applying for full time training, which school she might prefer. If she has a strong preference it might make sense to opt for that school's associate scheme, though I am not sure that in reality it would make a massive difference, as, as far as I know, everyone who applies gets seen and judged on their merits at the auditions. It's true that most children who get selected for RBS lower school have been JAs, but that doesn't necessarily mean that being a JA in itself is an advantage. It could simply be that the same basic criteria are applied during the selection process for both, so that a child who "ticks the boxes" for RBS JAs is also going to be a strong candidate for White Lodge. Who knows?!

Anyway, I am sure both schemes are excellent and to be chosen for either is a wonderful opportunity, and chances are your DD would enjoy and benefit from either. I suspect the seeming preference for the RBS scheme is basically because it is longer established and better known.

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Thanks for all the replies. My DD (you assumed correctly Pups_mum!) is currently a year 5 Elmhurst associate and loving every minute of it, but her teacher is strongly encouraging her to audition again for Royal this year (she was unsuccessful last year.) As doing both probably wouldn't be practical and her teacher is aware of this, DD feels (understandably, but not necessarily correctly) that her Elmhurst achievement somehow isn't enough. I do realise that the chances of us having to make any decision are extremely slim, but how it's making her feel at the moment is very sad. Telling her that maybe her teacher just wants her to audition for the experience isn't cutting it! Oh well, I guess it's another lesson in the hard world of dance ...

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Thanks for all the replies. My DD (you assumed correctly Pups_mum!) is currently a year 5 Elmhurst associate and loving every minute of it, but her teacher is strongly encouraging her to audition again for Royal this year (she was unsuccessful last year.) As doing both probably wouldn't be practical and her teacher is aware of this, DD feels (understandably, but not necessarily correctly) that her Elmhurst achievement somehow isn't enough. I do realise that the chances of us having to make any decision are extremely slim, but how it's making her feel at the moment is very sad. Telling her that maybe her teacher just wants her to audition for the experience isn't cutting it! Oh well, I guess it's another lesson in the hard world of dance ...

 

That's a shame. She should feel proud of being selected for a scheme such as Elmhurst Associates, and one would hope her teacher is also proud of her. Do you think the teacher realises how your DD feels? Could you talk to the teacher about this?

Purely my personal view here, but I am strongly of the opinion that children thrive and learn best where they are happy, and another of my basic philosophies is "If it's not broken, don't fix it". So my tendency would be to stick with the Elmhurst scheme if you know that it suits your DD. But I do know that some teachers (not just ballet ones) can be very persuasive when it comes to what they feel is best for their pupils, and I have a lot of sympathy for your position. I would try to have a chat with the teacher when your DD is not around. Explain the dilemma that this would cause if your DD was accepted for RBS JAs, and how this is making her feel. Also, if you can getter a better idea of why the teacher feels this way, it may help your decision.

Good luck with it all.

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You haven't said how old your DC is? If primary age, do they have a strong desire to attend a vocational school. If not then I think attend the associate programme that fits you, your DC and family best. If they want to audition for a particular school then I think being in the relevant programme is probably an advantage. My DD got into year 7 RBS this year and says other than the foreign children she thinks all the DCs went to RBS JAs other than those who attended RBS and Elmhurst!!!

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I think RBS prioritise the "body" far more than Elmhurst. It's very sad that your DD has been made to feel her Elmhurst achievement isn't worthwhile, any achievement in the dancing world is huge, so many children get nos and not right nows right up until upper school where it's all change again.

 

Maybe a nice way for your DD to look at it, is that she's also auditioning them, if she attends RBS audition and is then offered a place she can consider whether she actually enjoyed their class. I personally think children should keep auditioning for places as long as it's fun and their parents can fund it.

 

One little dancer I occasionally teach was offered reserves at RBS and an associate at Elmhurst, personally I don't think she should reaudition for RBS as she was upset when she didn't get in and physically she's been struggling a lot with her joints and mentally the discipline and constant correcting really gets her down at Elmhurst. Another little dancer was offered associates with both royal and Elmhurst and currently attends both on a weekly basis. She absolutely loves it, she thoroughly enjoys the Jazz at Elmhurst but overall her preference is Royal. That's not to say royal is better that's just her preference.

 

The training at Royal seems very intensive and that's not what every child needs!

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Thank you for more wise and reassuring words (this really is such a lovely supportive site ) I think we'll see what a Royal JA experience day brings and decide the next step from there. She loves everything about Elmhurst associates, but that's without knowing much about at all about Royal other than the one audition experience. I know her teacher is very proud of her and they have a lovely relationship, but for some reason - hopefully just an oversight - this particular success hasn't been highlighted publicly.

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Some people just don't rate anywhere other than RBS for ballet. I have been told by a few ballet teachers that it's either RBS or give up, if ballet is the desire. Their view, not mine. We would be missing out on some very fine dancers if that were true.

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Hi Elfin

Whilst there is a certain kudos attached to RBS to gain an associate place at Elmhurst associates is in itself a massive acheivement.

I have actually said to friends that I think it better to be an Elmhurst associate than a Royal associate.

Both my dds have been Royal associates and when both in yr6 only one girl got a coveted place at White Lodge whereas many Elmhurst associates were successful in gaining places at Elmhurst Lower School.

At Elmhurst you have the actual teachers and the AD on site , they have the opportunity to see how the children are progressing , something that cannot be observed from an hours audition. It is often the child's associate teacher taking the audition too and will have coached the children in what they will be doing. Royal only take 12 girls and 12 boys into lower school , Elmhurst have the capacity to take more .

My younger dd was a Royal associate for 3 years and ended up at The Hammond from where it is still possible to gain places at a more Classical Upper School.

Of course you may not be looking that far into the future but take a look at the bigger picture and you might find your dd ends up in a better position even if she never becomes a Royal associate

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Hi Elfin

Whilst there is a certain kudos attached to RBS to gain an associate place at Elmhurst associates is in itself a massive acheivement.

I have actually said to friends that I think it better to be an Elmhurst associate than a Royal associate.

Both my dds have been Royal associates and when both in yr6 only one girl got a coveted place at White Lodge whereas many Elmhurst associates were successful in gaining places at Elmhurst Lower School.

At Elmhurst you have the actual teachers and the AD on site , they have the opportunity to see how the children are progressing , something that cannot be observed from an hours audition. It is often the child's associate teacher taking the audition too and will have coached the children in what they will be doing. Royal only take 12 girls and 12 boys into lower school , Elmhurst have the capacity to take more .

My younger dd was a Royal associate for 3 years and ended up at The Hammond from where it is still possible to gain places at a more Classical Upper School.

Of course you may not be looking that far into the future but take a look at the bigger picture and you might find your dd ends up in a better position even if she never becomes a Royal associate

I think that gaining a place on either scheme is a fantastic achievement. With regard to how each scheme prepares its associates, it can depend on the centre dds attend. Dd was an associate of both schemes last year, she auditioned for both schools also. Her teacher from royal taught during the audition, but not her teacher from elmhurst. Royal has the more well known associate scheme of the two, but I believe it has been running longer, and has more centres across the country compared with elmhurst. I also felt that when dd made finals for both schools, her teacher from royal spent some time in classes preparing her and others specifically for finals, where the elmhurst teacher didn't.

Again though, both schemes are excellent, and I'm only telling you my experiences from my part of the country (north east england)

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Elfin

My DD has been MA and SA at RBS London. She finds the schemes are good and they are prestigious but the truth is they are really only a small complement to whatever other training the child is getting. I appreciate it may be different for JAs in terms of a platform for WL.... 

 

For what it is worth, we've found all the RBS associate teachers are strong but they do also teach elsewhere - so often you could benefit from exactly the same teacher but in a less prestigious place. 

 

If your DD wants to train seriously personally/for what it is worth I would aim for where you want her to apply for the bulk of her training - whether Elmhurst or elsewhere. Depending on where you choose or end up post 11 it may be possible to tack RBS associates onto that. If Elmhurst is top of your list though I can see the value in staying put given that she has a chance of being noticed at Elmhurst with a view to entry to the school  

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