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Upper school 16+ auditions


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My dd is currently in Year 10 and is thinking of auditioning for full time training at 16.  I am a bit clueless about the various schools and the process and hope to get some advice on here from you knowledgeable people!

 

Ok so firstly when should she start looking at schools and when are the auditions?  Do the schools have open days?  She has done ballet since the age of 3 but has also added in modern, tap and jazz in recent years and enjoys these as much so she would like a school which teaches dance other than ballet.  She is thinking of Ballet Theatre UK and Northern Ballet but I have no idea about these schools and what they offer.  Where else should she look?

 

Do schools offer A levels alongside dance training?  What is the quality of education like?  She's a bright girl currently in at an academic school and I would like her to get some A levels too.

 

How competitive is the process at this stage and is there anything special she should be doing now to prepare?

 

And finally if it doesn't work out and she doesn't get in anywhere, are there opportunities for full time training post 18?  And would Dance A Level be useful?

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I would advise you to look at the school's websites, as there; lot of information there about the school, funding etc. Also talk to your daughter' dance teacher as she may have ideas about where she'd fit best. May be a good idea to think about a summer school this year as there is still time to apply for some.

Why not try for as many auditions as you can possibly get to, after all there's nothing like doing the audition to get a proper feel of the place.

Hate to say, but there are always lots of very talented applicants so always a good idea to have Plan B, there are opportunities at age 18, Central does take 18 year olds, plus there are the contemporary dance schools, musical theatre schools, dance courses and London Studio Centre (who I believe look favourably on a Dance A level), plus lots more options

Good luck x

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Hi Lemongirl, Northern Ballet School doesn't offer A levels. My DD did her A levels at the 6th form of her high school then applied to vocational schools at 18. There was a good mix of 16 & 18 yr old when she started first year, halfway through 2nd year now and she will be 20 next week!! ????

Depending on the type of dance your DD has in mind I'd consider Hammond too. They do offer A levels but as my DD already had hers, she is doing pilates & zumba instead.

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Now is about the right time to start investigating. Audition applications will open in September for the following September.

 

I think you probably need to put a spreadsheet together of what the dance schools offer in terms of the following;

 

A'levels

Funding options - if this relevant to you - ie DaDa or degree

Is it a degree course or diploma course

Variety of dance offered and some understanding of graduate destinations

Types of accommodation

Lots of 'dance' schools have age 18 entry such as bird, Laines, urdang, performers, studio centre, millennium, SLP there will also be spaces for 16 yr olds in some of these but funding options will be different.

 

I would class the schools in the following way (just me, others will have other ideas I'm sure and not exhaustive as there are LOADs of schools!!!)

 

Ballet,

Royal - diploma

Elmhurst - A'levels and diploma

English National ballet school - diploma

Moorlands - A'levels (teaching quals, don't know about diplomas)

Ballet west - degree from 16 but take older

 

Ballet and contemporary,

Central - degree, from 16 but take older too

Rambert - degree, from 16 but take older too

Royal conservatoire of Scotland - degree, from 16

 

General dance with strong classical emphasis,

Tring - A'levels and diploma

Ballet Theatre Uk - unsure of qualifications

Northern ballet school - unsure of qualifications

Hammond - think degree now (maybe more musical theatre at 16+)

 

Musical theatre

Tring - as above - but many on this course go onto the other big schools after 2 years

Birds - diploma from 16, degree from 18

Laines - diploma from 16

Performers - diploma from 16 but mostly 18

Urdang - degree from 18, not sure about diploma from 16

London Studio centre - degree from 18

Millennium - diploma from 16 I think

 

Just what I consider to be the better schools off the top of my head. And to be sure, they are all extremely competitive and hard to get into.

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Anyone within striking distance of Leeds - take a look at Renaissance Arts .

It's only 5 years old , but with great grad success .

Martin Howland ( ex Royal Ballet ) is amazing for ballet - although this is not a school to train classical Dancers .

There is the opportunity to study jazz , tap , drama , vocals , ballet , commercial , contemporary . All with great teachers . Many guest teachers come in from West End to do workshops .

Fees are reasonable too .

My DS started there 2 years ago , never having danced .

He is now emerging as the proverbial triple threat , and procured an 8 week professional contract dancing (!) in pantomime .

Their show is on 9th/ 10 th July .

PM me if you want any details .

I have now sent several students there , to their associates and their full time course .

Tutugirl x

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Just to clarify from above list. Hammond offer diploma diploma in professional dance and diploma in musical theatre. First year is common to both courses but they are two separate courses and qualifications. Two a levels can be taken alongside. In addition their new course is a degree in musical theatre for 18+ years, completely separate entry auditions and requirements. So three different courses and the different qualifications

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Lemongirl, I'm sure you've already done so but do have a read through this thread: http://www.balletcoforum.com/index.php?/topic/5000-questions-about-upper-school-auditions/

 

Also if you click on any of the "tags" below the thread title, you will see all threads pertaining to that particular school or subject. Searching the Doing Dance forum for "A Levels" will bring up previous discussions, of which there have been several if memory serves.

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There's nothing to stop you auditioning for entry at 17 after AS-levels.

 

For anybody currently in Y10 and starting to think about auditioning, a visit to the MoveIt exhibition at Excel in London in a couple of weeks time might be a good idea. A lot of the vocational schools and colleges have stands there, there are loads of dance workshops to do, and many of the schools/colleges perform on stage as well. You will come away with bags full of leaflets and loads of information :)

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Entry at 17 after AS levels might start getting a bit trickier though with all the changes being made to A levels. Changes are being made over a 3year period - which started last September - and means that A levels will be examined at the end of the 2 year period and an AS will be a separate stand alone subject. Some schools in my area are going to drop AS exams and just concentrate on A levels, meaning that leaving at the end of year 12 would be leaving without any further qualifications.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Thanks for the Move It tip - we went on the Saturday and got a lot of info from schools.

 

I was surprised to find out there are so many opportunities at 18 even if not previously in full time training.  Dd likes the sound of jazz and contemporary alongside ballet but NOT singing or musical theatre  :)

 

Personally I would like her to stay at school to do A Levels and audition at 18, but she'd like to try for 16.  At least have a go.  I haven't even looked at the fees or considered the financial implications yet.

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Depending on the level of pastoral care - assuming the schools you are looking at for year 12 are not within travelling distance - it is always worth considering whether a 16 year-old child is emotionally and physically mature enough to look after him/herself away from home.

 

When we were looking around The Elms at Elmhurst, I was so impresed with the setup which gave the 6.1s some independence but at the same time had (if I remember rightly) live-in house parents. It really was a proper transition between home and independent living and I do think that is vital for some 16 year olds, particularly those who haven't previously boarded.

 

Suddenly dancing full time for 6+ hours a day if you haven't previously been in full time training can be a real shock to the system on its own, without having to look after yourself with no help in terms of shopping, meal planning, laundry, cooking, keeping hydrated, making your own lunch, cleaning, and above all, eating enough of the right food to keep you fuelled for the amount of exercise you're doing. If the school - or student accommodation - has it's own canteen where the 6th formers can have at least one hot meal cooked for them each day then this can make a huge difference in terms of nutrition and making sure the student's weight remains as steady as possible.

 

There are of course many 16 year olds that manage perfectly well, and those who have boarded previously, but others do need someone to keep an eye on them, especially during the first term or two.

 

Student accommodation for 6.1 varies hugely from school to school so depending on the maturity and physique of your daughter it is well worth thoroughly investigating living arrangements, house parents (do they live in? How far away are they if not? How often do they see the students?) nutrition classes, meal arrangements, help with shopping (if any) etc. before deciding on a school, whether a host family might suit better than independent living, or whether going away at 16 or 18 is going to suit your particular child best.

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Ok so firstly when should she start looking at schools and when are the auditions?  Do the schools have open days?  She has done ballet since the age of 3 but has also added in modern, tap and jazz in recent years and enjoys these as much so she would like a school which teaches dance other than ballet.  She is thinking of Ballet Theatre UK and Northern Ballet but I have no idea about these schools and what they offer.  Where else should she look?

 

Before applying to any school, have a look at their graduate destinations and see how they line up with your professional aspirations. Be wary of schools which issue a list of companies former students have joined without mentioning the name of the student of the year of graduation, because some schools don't update their information and the list might be made up of students who graduated 10 years ago or they might only be placing one or two students per year in companies.

 

I think too many people look at which dance styles a course focusses on without investigating whether the graduates of that course have success in that field afterwards.

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Thank you, such helpful advice.

 

Anna - I was (naively) under the impression that sixth form full time training involved a boarding school set up.  Dd has attended residential dance courses and always enjoyed the boarding part but I don't think she will be quite ready for independent living in a year's time!

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Ho Lemongirl -

 

No, unfortunately only very few upper schools are set up as a boarding school type set up. The majority of students live offsite with landladies as the colleges they attend are very much colleges not schools.

 

Elmhurst have boarding accommodation & I believe Tring do to though it's more expensive than living out. Hammonds boarding is only for lower school but landladies are vetted, visited etc & a couple are either parents of students/ex students or the odd teacher.

 

Colleges like Northern etc are very much independent living which will suit some but not others.

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Accommodation does vary considerably from school to school but generally not a boarding school set up as sixth formers are encouraged to have a bit more independence (or a lot more depending on school). Some schools also can offer accommodation whilst others will provide a list for you to find your own. Hammond, for example, give you a list of places they have approved, both student houses and landlady accommodation. They ask for under 18s to live with a landlady who will provide breakfast and evening meal and generally do laundry also. You really just need to research any school and course your DD may be interested in and take it from there.

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