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Value for money - thoughts after CBA audition


new123
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Hi, we just came back from my dd's Tring CBA audition. When we were in the waiting room with lots of other children a few of them were doing stretches etc. and it was very obvious that one particular group of kids from the same dance school were of a higher level than most. It made me wonder how different children around the same age can have such different levels of dance. Clearly it must depend on the school they attend? I guess I'm wondering about how you know that you're paying for a good solid training for your child (on a 'hobby' level for starters as it seems they can't get in to somewhere like RBS or Tring unless they have been taught well in the first place)... My dd said the CBA auditions was the best ballet class she's ever had but noted that quite a few things they were asked to do she's never been taught before, surely it can't be that her school is teaching her very well? She's 9 btw and have been doing ballet for 2-3 years.

We're not 'new' to the performing industry as she's not long finished a year in a popular West End show but dance is not her strongest so we're trying to work out how to help her progress best.

I would love it if schools like Tring published a list of dance schools from which children successfully get into associate programs or maybe there is such a list? Any thoughts/help would be very much appreciated.

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I think that CBA looks at potential, as do all the associate schemes. My daughter was selected from a small ballet school (RAD syllabus) . Extreme stretching features at all auditions but is no indicator of success. Don't worry your daughter will be assessed on her audition regardless of those around her. Good luck.

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My DD (9) was also at the CBA auditions today and there were some things she was asked to do that she hadn't done before. She has also auditioned this time round for RBS and Elmhurst - where this wasn't the case.

 

CBA did the groupings based on age and experience rather than just on age so I am wondering whether they deliberately asked the children to do things that they know they haven't done before to see how they cope? My DD is taking Grade 3 (RAD) in a couple of weeks so is confident with the syllabus (or at least I hope she is!) so I think it was genuinely things she hasn't got to yet.

 

Hope that helps!!

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There's no doubt that all local dance schools are not equal. I regularly thank my lucky stars that the random stab I took at the Yellow Pages when my DD was pestering for ballet lessons as a preschooler took us where it did. Knowing what I do now,had I picked some of the other local schools things could have been very different indeed. Knowing whether a school is "good" is really hard for parents though I think. Exam results may tell you something, but not everything as some schools focus on exams to the detriment of all else,and others won't enter children that they don't expect to gain high marks. Likewise student destinations may give you a clue but that's not the whole story either. Then the waters are further muddied by the fact that what is good for one child may not suit another, and a students needs may be different at different stages. A teacher who enthuses small children and teaches them good basic technique at an early age will be worth his/her weight in gold, but s/he may or may not be the best person to deal with moody teenagers with aspirations to take their dance further. It can be something of a minefield and I think sometimes you just have to trust your gut feeling - but be prepared to change your mind if things don't seem to be working out at any particular school.

I do think though that at the younger associate and admission to lower school level though it's all about potential, not current level of attainment. So don't worry if others seem more advanced. (They may not be anyway, and extreme stretching isn't a good indication of anything really.)

It's worth talking to other parents in your area about their experiences different schools but I wouldn't assume the "super stretchy" school is necessarily superior.

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One way to check if your daughter is getting good training is to check marks on exams within the school. My daughters original first ballet school exam marks were prodominantly very high marks, even in vocational exams. I don't know how you would find this information out, but as I said this could be one indicator of good taught technique and training.

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My dd is at the Cba already in group 3 aged 10, when we auditioned when she was 8, she never had done that much dancing, could not do the splits and was not in a excellent school, it is all on potential, 2 years on my dd done all the auditions this year and is on reserve list for elmhurst and Tring, and got a mds for hammond, so I really don't think it's done on how much training you are having and if it's a better school x hope that helps, good luck, the Cba classes are excellent and we are very sad to be leaving this year x

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It turned out that DD did not receive great training at her first dance school. It took me a while to "get it" I naively thought that it wouldn't matter as I wouldn't choose dancing as a career for my DD anyway. DD was 10 by the time it was apparent that my feelings didn't come into it DD was passionate and wanted better training. We have been at new dance school for almost 18months and DD has never looked back.

At old school DD got very high distinctions but looking back they studied exclusively for exams for about 9 months and the remainder of the year for the annual show. There was no free work and subsequently DD didn't pick up choreography as well as kids from other schools (we found this out at festival workshop). Our new dance teacher has had to correct a few bad habits but feels that we moved at the right time.

DD's friend from the first dance class had gained an associate place but was assessed out after a year - feedback was that she didn't pick up well and they felt that her teacher wouldn't help her to progress. Perhaps a call to the associate scheme you are interested in would help you find the right teacher.

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We were also in the 'lucky dip' category when it came to picking a local dance school. What I've discovered since is that you can tell a great deal by looking at the published timetable. If there is only one class per week in a given grade that tells you a lot. If the school runs additional 'by invitation classes' and actually mentions free work, improvisation and body conditioning its worth a second look. Personally I would go for a school with several teachers if possible, as different teachers will each bring some slightly different to the equation and its great to get a blend of youthful energy and deep experience. Exam results don't always tell the whole story (and a lot of schools no longer publish them anyway because of data protection concerns). Another valuable source (especially if festivals are your thing) of info is the All England Dance website  - if you look at lists of previous winners it names their dance schools and it doesn't take long to spot a pattern. And finally talk to other parents - word of mouth often best recommendation.

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Bear in mind that if you have a group of children who know each other in a waiting room at an audition they will feel more confident to warm up together and show off their moves. There may have been equally accomplished and well trained children present from other respected and successful schools but perhaps not so quickly identified if these children were sitting waiting?

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There are 13 in group 6 now Taxi, it's far too many as they are 14-18 and are not small.

It means that they often have to do centre work in two groups. Really makes DD and I grateful for the days when there were only 7 of them ???? the girls were spoilt then.

I think group 5 has 15 on the register!

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We also got lucky on selection of our dance school. Now I would look for: more than one class a week in each grade ballet, entries to quality associate schemes (RBS, Elmhurst, BBO Scholars etc), exam marks but only that some high marks are achieved - all should be able to take exams even if their best will only ever be a pass. Additional lessons such as limbering, free work. Amount of pointe work available. Students achieving MDS/DADA. These give indications that your dc will have opportunities. Most importantly I would want to watch a class and see how they deal with the kids.

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Thank you SO much for your invaluable advice, I am taking everything on board. It's all really helpful. Petalviolet - I'm sure there were other let's say better prepared children from different dance schools there, it's just that I only noticed this particular one but sadly couldn't see which school they came from as they didn't have any hoodies. They all had red leotards and funnily enough my dd also mentioned that a girl in her class in a red leotard was very good. I'm just feeling cross at having been with our dance school for a few years now and feeling let down.

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I think your feelings are completely natural New123 but I wonder how many of the other auditionees if they knew, would be very intimidated by your DD's theatrical experience?

 

If I saw a "Matilda/Oliver/Billy Elliot The Musical 2016" cast hoodie for example (do they exist? They must do) I would be extremely slitty-eyed with 'oh great now this ones a triple threat' anxiety!

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There are 13 in group 6 now Taxi, it's far too many as they are 14-18 and are not small.

It means that they often have to do centre work in two groups. Really makes DD and I grateful for the days when there were only 7 of them the girls were spoilt then.

I think group 5 has 15 on the register!

We found that in group 6 there were quite often a few missing due to other things, especially around audition/exam/EYB time but I know what you mean - when they get to that age they need a lot of leg room, especially for travelling combinations on the diagonal towards the corner with the piano in it! ;)

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If I saw a "Matilda/Oliver/Billy Elliot The Musical 2016" cast hoodie for example (do they exist? They must do) I would be extremely slitty-eyed with 'oh great now this ones a triple threat' anxiety!

 

Haha if anything she'd be a 'double threat' who needs to improve her dance..

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Well that's twice as good as a... Single threat?!!

 

I remember sitting in that waiting room at Tring and feeling anxious myself for any number of reasons. One concern was number of glowing children voluntarily eating fruit while DD (gassy and pale from long car ride) was blasting me with her Quaver crisp breathe or liquorice burps- asked her to move over a seat.

 

Audition waiting rooms never make anyone feel confident about anything. Good luck, will keep my fingers crossed xx

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New123 don't worry yet - you may get a yes!! Another comment is that ballet Associates is quite different from the musical theatre side of things in which your dd is expert. So it may be that time is needed to adjust. ...

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There is a huge range of ability in the schools I teach at and exam results reflect this. I have some classes that have lots of talented students who just happen to be working at the same level and other classes full of lovely but technically challenged young people who take weeks to master basic steps.

 

I daresay that I could get together a group of pupils for an audition that generally look amazing and reflect well on my school but that doesn't mean my teaching is any better than another school. I imagine that the group of seemingly well prepared students at the Tring CBA audition also have many peers at their dance school who are less able!

 

I am glad that the audition was enjoyable. Please remember that it is very much on potential and suitability for this particular programme. The " amazing" may not necessarily be deemed teachable! I've had several students on this programme who were only dancing, at best, twice a week at the time of audition.

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Well said Helen. I watched my mums grade 2 class on Saturday (haven't watched that level in a small dance school for many years). In that class the ranges were 8 to 11 years, some grade 1's who also do grade 2 and some that also do grade 4. A couple of children with real potential and the rest (about 12) with no possibility of ever making a professional dancer (or even to major exams) probably wouldn't even want to but all having a wonderful time. You look at some and wouldn't believe they are being taught by the same teacher as some of the others. They are all at differing stages in age, height, interest, development - physical and emotional, some have learning difficulties and some just don't listen! I would say that is probably pretty typical of a normal non professional dance school. My mum has also got a girl just about to take advanced 2 having gained distinction all the way through her exams and this year 2 students going off to full time dance school. Plus various little ones auditioning for associate schemes - some will be successful this year, some won't. Mum has run her dance school for over 45 years and has seen it all before, many many times and I marvel at her patience and love for what she does. It's not always the teachers fault. Some children have it, some don't. And as for seeing who looks wonderful in the changing rooms - it tells you nothing! My mum always told me to look out for the one sitting or standing quietly in the corner - she was always right!!

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Hi new123,

I felt much the same as you when dd auditioned for tring cba, it was her first audition ever and her first foray outside of the little dance school she attended. In the waiting room lots of very confident looking kids doing full on stretching, my dd looked at them, gulped and stared at the floor for rest of the wait. But she got a place there and another associate scheme and through talking to people at the asociates I realised how her dance school really wasn't punching at the right weight for a child who though shy and quiet really wanted to try and go onto vocational school. So we did move school and she has recently done auditions for lower schools and is starting vocational training in September.

She still doesn't like being one of the loud showy people in the waiting room but that's just fine.

I would say though that moving schools was only a good thing.

Good luck with it all!

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One concern was number of glowing children voluntarily eating fruit while DD (gassy and pale from long car ride) was blasting me with her Quaver crisp breathe ..

Haha this could be my dd usually followed by a pepperami .... Lovely!

 

But I also wouldn't worry about the hoodie & overstretching posse :)

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Hi new123, 

 

Just to say, my daughter was at the CBA audition yesterday and was in a red leotard, along with 2 others in group 2! Don't worry, they were only stretching and warming up, as they do for comps (very limited experience!) and as they have been told to do for anything really. Honestly they were just winging it and there had been a few others limbering up as we arrived, so we probably felt a little the same as you! 

 

Please don't let your daughter be put off by them or anyone else (easy to say I know!), they were just doing what they'd also seen others doing. The panel, as I am aware, were looking for potential so it doesn't matter how bendy or whatever, if they haven't got what the panel were looking for it means nothing I guess :)

I just didn't want your little one to fret unnecessarily. I bet she did great!

Did she enjoy the class? My daughter (one of the taller of the red leotards - ha ha - with dark hair, number 4) absolutely loved it and while she would be gutted not to get picked, the reality is that most won't and it's a fantastic experience anyway! 

 

I'm sure your daughter did really well. Just don't be put off by anyone else. That said, i was casting my eye round the room, sussing everyone out, I think we all do!! 

 

Good luck. I feel sick waiting!! We will definitely apply again if she doesn't get in as she loved it so much!

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