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Hello, I am very sorry if this topic has been discussed a lot, but I am at a loss.

 

I think since I have joined this forum I have been talking about local dance schools, but I am very conflicted at the moment!

 

I have had 4 teachers now tell me I have potential, but need to get more training. I do 3 ballet hours locally per week + Associates. One of my favourite teachers and friends and dancers contacted me recently to offer me private classes, as she had said that really I ought to be doing 15 hours per week. Unfortunately, the classes would be far too far away - a 2 hour journey, and another 2 hours back. So I have been deeply researching local schools, and have found 3 possibles within a 30 minute radius - all of which are led by examiners, one BBO, one ISTD and one RAD, and all have vocational school success. All of them would offer more hours than my current dance school.

 

However, I have been win my dance school for 3 years. We all feel a close tie with them - I have danced solos in shows, won festivals, I got into associates thanks to them. My teacher has been a close friend throughout many tough times. I am also training in my private lesson for my  IDTA Intermediate exam to sit it early next year. But, for quite a while I have been feeling unchallenged in my normal classes, like we are just learning exercises and doing them. I am told I am 'the best' when I know I need to improve. Some teachers, including mum Associate teachers, have picked up on some basic technical issues, which my main teacher has said is not a problem. One of my teachers I am not sure is qualified, and my teacher has put all of a certain grade en Pointe - one of whom cannot get over her box of her pointe shoes or indeed go onto relevé in flat shoes. Nobody else wants to become a ballet dancer. But that said, I adore my teacher!

 

So I really don't know what to do... I more than anything want to become a ballerina, I will do anything! But I doubt it would be possible to dance at more than one school. Aghhh I don't know! Help! I have also got to take into account finances and academics too, but I need ballet!

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Arucaria, if you look through the threads in Doing Dance you'll find several which deal with splitting between two schools.  They may be of help.

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I think you'll find that most dance schools will want to be your sole teacher. It prevents any conflict if one teacher has a different style or emphasis from another. It's also better for you.

Seems to me that you are perhaps ready to move away from a normal dance school to a Centre of Excellence. Unless you are very fortunate, most of the best places are not local. So my advice is to ask yourself - are you ready to give up your present high status in your current school? Is the new school absolutely the best place for you? Do you have the support to travel? If you can answer yes to those questions, then you should really go.

My DD moved to a new school this year, and has never looked back. 

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Would you be thinking of moving completely, or staying where you are and doing to-up classes at one of these other schools?

 

Perhaps you could have a trial lesson at each of the schools you've found and see how you get on and whether you like it there. You might find that you really 'click' with a teacher there, or that actually, there's not a lot of difference. One thing you could bear in mind would be that perhaps there might be a conflict of interest if any of them do festivals, and also if they teach using the same syllabus/examining body.

 

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We have stayed with the same school for 9 years but this year several classmates moved school after our best-known teacher left the country. I just want to say that I think every teacher understands (even if they don't like it) that kids will move for various reasons, including moving away from the area, following friends, finding a school where the schedule suits them better etc etc. I don't think loyalty or affection for a teacher is enough of a reason to stay if your heart is set on a ballet career and your needs aren't being met. You will have to be ruthless at times, and single-minded about choosing what is best for you and your training. Good luck though, I know it's not easy!

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I totally understand your frustration but you are also at an important stage of your academic school is a change in schools going to have an affect on that ? Also remember you can’t take any of your Festival dances with you if they have been choreographed by your current teachers. Try and look at the whole package rather than your Ballet. I know that’s hard and we all know how badly you want to dance full time but don’t rush this. 

Having said all that DD including all her dance at her academic was doing over 15 hrs a week in yrs 10&11 BUT it was hard work and she was physically and mentally exhausted once she had finished her GCSEs. I know she wouldn’t have got through it all with out the support we as a family gave her. Please make sure you talk all of this through with your parents. DD also moved dance schools in yr 9, and it was the best thing she ever did especially as it meant she in creased her hours steadily. 

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Hours of training is not really the crucial thing, but good solid technique is essential.  There are a lot of associate schemes out there and not all are fantastic but if your associate scheme is highly respected and the teachers are of a high calibre (not that they were professional dancers, but that they are outstanding teachers) then you should listen to them about the level of proficiency required. 

 

If you are serious about going to vocational dance school at 16 then these years are essential in gaining the strongest technique you can. 15 hours a week on top of school with travel and other family commitments is not necessary, you are in danger of burnout and injury.  However, every hour you do spend dancing has to be developing you in strength, technique and artistry.  3 hours a week, sub standard teaching (if that’s what it is) will not cut it I’m afraid. 

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Thank you everyone for your replies.

 

I think that it would have to be a complete change, as most of the times clash and quite a few state that you are only allowed to dance at their school. Does anybody know of any 'Centres for Excellence'?

 

I will get in touch with the schools and ask about timetable and trial lessons etc!

 

Would it be possible/appropriate to carry on with private lessons with the teacher as I am preparing for an upcoming exam? Or not? 

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Hi

I am local to you and if you want to PM will probably be able to comment on the schools 

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Are you able to top up your hours at your ballet school with privates?  That may help? Or have a private where you have your Associate class?  If you want to move think of yourself first, as you don’t want to look back and have regrets.  Also, consider you may have to give a terms notice, we had to do this with my daughters School this may help any transition ie if you have an upcoming exam scheduled.

 

My dd moved dance school as her local dance school only offered a purely recreational syllabus, no festivals, only 1 grade class, 1 vocational grade class a week with 10 minute of Pointe work at the end from year 7 upwards for an hour and a half and 1 very very basic huge non syllabus class for ages of all abilities from complete beginner to my dd who was the most advanced being a Royal Ballet Associate, which dd was incredibly frustrated in!!  Though it was a lovely place to dance with a wonderful teacher.

 

We didn’t realise any schools offered more until she met other associates.  We were told it at her old school it doesn’t matter how much you do training wise as to be successful in an audition they only look at physique and at potential at 11 and 16, so it’s better just to do very little.  While this maybe true, my dd loves also challenging herself and wanted to excel and feel she was furfilling her true potential.  Also have fun with her dance journey ie do festivals, try contemporary and therefore so is far far happier at her new school.  She also is now with other more seriously minded dance students like herself and the has most amazing teachers, she has come on leaps and bounds and is having the time of her life! 

 

Would your mum and Dad be able to drive you somewhere further away? Or could you get a train? Don’t give up hope, where there is a will there is a way I am sure!  but, you do need your parents help... Xxx

 

 

Edited by Snowflake
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3 hours ago, Snowflake said:

We were told it at her old school it doesn’t matter how much you do training wise as to be successful in an audition they only look at physique and at potential at 11 and 16, so it’s better just to do very little.  While this maybe true...

 

Well, it may be true to a large extent at 11+, it certainly isn't for 16+ audition entry - they have way too many candidates to choose from.

 

It is probably different for boys who often take up ballet later though.

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21 minutes ago, taxi4ballet said:

 

It is probably different for boys who often take up ballet later though.

I really don’t think that’s the case anymore.  It used to be true but so many talented boys now. 

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27 minutes ago, Harwel said:

I really don’t think that’s the case anymore.  It used to be true but so many talented boys now. 

 

Previous topics where this has come up have back and forth  on it , and  the view was  ; the quality line is set  equally  high , the main difference is that  the 'surplus' of  dancers above the quality line  but  not able to find a suitable place may on occasion approach zero for the chaps ....  there is also recognition that depends on the teacher and the  'local'  school  the 10 year old can be anywhere from a somewhat held back g2  to  g4 or 5 and  chomping at the bit  to be  doing  vocationals when strong enough and ossified enough to cope with the  work   

 Certainly  the  ease of physical assessment in terms of likely outcomes at 18  is going to be harder for  boys as  T  hasn't kicked in as hard as E has kicked in for the girls at 11/12  and  T's effects on  young chap's  puberty  do seem to be continue to develop for longer and more noticably than the effects of E on a typical female puberty. 

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2 hours ago, Nicola H said:

Certainly  the  ease of physical assessment in terms of likely outcomes at 18  is going to be harder for  boys as  T  hasn't kicked in as hard as E has kicked in for the girls at 11/12  and  T's effects on  young chap's  puberty  do seem to be continue to develop for longer and more noticably than the effects of E on a typical female puberty. 

Yes, you're right, the vocational upper schools are aware of this though, and do take account of it. I seem to remember it being mentioned during an open day/audition talk for potential students at more than one of the schools we visited during the process.

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Yes NicolaH, agree with you on all those points.  That’s why most schools are happy to accept boys up to 18 whereas not so common for the girls. 

 

But the days of boys having done next to no ballet and starting at 13/14 and going on to a professional career are getting fewer and fewer. The standard now is too high to be able to reach the required standard in a few years.  There are always exceptions of course.  

 

My son started vocational training at 14 but had already passed intermediate and all the boys in his class had passed advanced 1 at 15.  Most did not seem as ‘put together’ as the girls at the same age so there was certainly an element of selection on potential but a certain standard was certainly required too.  My ds was 6’2’’ at 15 and has had a real challenge to get his long limbs to do what’s required and we were told he wouldn’t ‘come into his own’ until about 18.  At 17 he’s still getting there.  Potential is essential but so is a technical proficiency. 

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This is a tricky one, Arucaria, not least because assuming you're relying on your parents to drive you around and fund your classes, upping your hours from 3 to 12 or 15 is going to have a huge impact on you all.  Are your parents happy with your plans? 

 

As well as finances and logistics, you have to take into account the toll that could take on your academic work and your body.   If you are injury prone, there's a huge difference between dancing a few hours a week, to dancing most days each week, and then another massive leap to dancing for 6-8 hours every day.  How are you physically after doing a few days at a strenuous summer school?   

 

Like it or not, academic backup is hugely important these days.  There are fewer and fewer ballet jobs, especially in Britain for young women.  The chances of making it through training without serious injury or being assessed out before getting your diploma or degree, then getting a full time contract in a British ballet company are staggeringly small.   So unless you are able to get other work, get your teaching qualifications, or do a Masters in dance or choreo - all of which are great options - you need to think about what you could do if the ballet dream doesn't come to fruition for any reason.   

 

Assuming you've thought all this through, had a good talk with your parents, and can find a school with better quality teaching, then definitely go for a trial class. Have a chat with the teacher afterwards.  When you've found the right dance school, have a chat with your current teacher and explain why you need to move.  She may agree to continue teaching you privately as long as both teachers are happy.    My daughter has one private coach, another class teacher, and her associate teacher, all of whom know of each other.  So it can be done but it should always be with the knowledge and consent of all involved.  :)

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Thank you again :)

 

in total, my dance hours including Associates and other dance is 6-11 hours per week - still not enough ballet though!

 

relating to the boys conversation, would they take into account delayed puberty for a girl? My family has a history of 'late bloomers' - girls only starting to develop and grow at 15 and my brother was 17 when he literally shot up a whole three quarters of a foot! As a result, everybody towers over me (for now)!

 

@Anna C I have had many conversations with my mum, being careful not to get too hysterical or pleading, and she actually agrees with me now - mostly because it was an ex-professional dancer and high calibre teacher that told us! She says that as long as it is no longer than half an hour away and there is a means to get there if she cannot drive me, it is okay (and also that my academic grades stay up). And also that it would be reasonable in price. Would it be standard for a dance school to offer classes at a reduced rate if you took lots/ did something in return?

 

After 2 weeks of summer school dancing everyday for 6.5 hours, I felt fine... On top of the world in fact! My body felt more awake than ever, and very happy! I would always go back to the studio to practise for another half hour, and stretch and strengthen for an hour before classes started. It was the best time of my life :) Yes, I did get a bit achey and knotty, but nothing a foam roller could not solve.

 

I have a back up plan just in case...,go to sixth form, reapply after a levels, but also for university... At the moment I'm thinking ballet teacher, nutritionist or something to do with nature/botany/zoology/marine biology. But none I would love so much as dancing, though maybe when I retire (if I make it 🙏 )

 

i have contacted the the schools about their timetables and my situation and am waiting for replies, and then will enquire about trial lesson. Thank you for all your support, keep it coming!

 

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That's great that you and your Mum are on the same page.  :) I'm positive that she just wants the best for you.  

 

Some ballet schools do offer a discount if you are taking several classes each week at the same school.  It's always worth asking - the worst they can say is "no". 

 

That's a good question regarding late puberty.  Most Upper Schools have an examination by a Physio if you get to Finals.  I would think that any issues would be flagged up there.  

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Is your associates teacher able to advise you re potential new teachers/studios, how many hours a week, in what syllabus (if any in particular) and at what level? The studios attended by your fellow associates might also be worth a look. The teacher who offered you private classes may also be able to assist in recommending someone closer to you?

Wishing you lots of luck! And remember that much as you love and feel loyal towards your current studio, you must do what is best for you to maximise your chances. A good teacher will understand that, even though they won’t be happy. 

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Without being the pessimist in the room can I just make a few statements from a personal level about what I consider important when thinking about moving schools, it’s a very big decision and these are just my opinions but I’d like to share, whether you choose to take them on board is of course up to you lol.....

 

1)Please please please remember that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side! Think very carefully about leaving a school that you are happy at, even if your not 100% happy that your getting everything you want from that one school, sometimes staying putt and trying to top-up or supplement current training is a much better option that uprooting and going to a new school.

2) Just because a teacher is an associate teacher or ex-professional doesn’t mean they know best. Obviously they are very experienced and their advice should be taken onboard and considered but think carefully about how well they actually know you, as a person and as a dancer, because advice isn’t a one glove fits all kind of situation and sometimes their best advice given to someone that they don’t have a good understanding of can actually be very detrimental to a young dancers training!! If you feel a close connection to them and feel that they fully understand you as a person, then by all means listen to them, but if that close personal connection isn’t there then think carefully before acting on their advice!! Especially as most associate teachers see you but once per month...how well do they really know you in comparison to a teacher that works with you on a weekly/daily basis.

3) Think very long and hard about what your gut tells you, if there is any doubt about a school, teacher, advice etc than stop and think about what those uncertainties are and where they are coming from before going full steam into something.

4) Ballet, ballet and more ballet isn’t always the answer.....even for someone who dreams of being a ballerina!! Keep your options open and your styles varied, and always remember that passions can change and life can throw a spanner in the works occasionally, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

6) Similar to point 2 really but don’t assume that the big names or the most well known schools are always best, sometimes they’re not!! Many people fall for the kudos that comes with being a pupil at a certain school or associate programme, but if a school isn’t the right fit for you then it doesn’t matter what name is above the door it will not bring out the best in you, you have to be 100% happy somewhere for it to bring out the best in you.

5) Above all else you are the expert on yourself, you know how you really feel, what you want, how you connect with a person etc so take on board people’s advice but ultimately you need to make a decision that you know in your heart is what’s best for you.

 

Trust your instincts, be happy and love to dance for dancings sake and I’m sure your future will be very bright :)

 

Good luck x

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I would ask the RAD school whether they do free work as well as syllabus especially if you are just doing syllabus in your ITDA classes. Learning free work will help you pick up combos which you will get for upper school auditions. Both dds do Russian and RAD as well as associates. It has provided them with a good mix and helped develop a good brain for new steps. Just doing pure syllabus does not develop these skills. Istd exams are a mix of free and syllabus. RAD has some in the vocational set by the examiner but it is easier to do if you are used to learning unset combos.

Both schools know about and respect each other and because they are teaching different syllabi do not mind.

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14 hours ago, Mummy twinkle toes said:

I would ask the RAD school whether they do free work as well as syllabus especially if you are just doing syllabus in your ITDA classes. Learning free work will help you pick up combos which you will get for upper school auditions. Both dds do Russian and RAD as well as associates. It has provided them with a good mix and helped develop a good brain for new steps. Just doing pure syllabus does not develop these skills. Istd exams are a mix of free and syllabus. RAD has some in the vocational set by the examiner but it is easier to do if you are used to learning unset combos.

Both schools know about and respect each other and because they are teaching different syllabi do not mind.

 

DDs general technique definitely improved when she started classes outwith syllabus work and she is also now able to pick-up new steps and sequences much quicker.  These attributes would hold you in good stead for auditions.  I also agree with other comments about the actual hours of ballet not being as important as well focused teaching and that other dance styles will also help in areas such as musicality and overall fitness.  Good luck in getting something sorted out.

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It's worth bearing in mind that many vocational schools don't do any actual exam work - or very little.  Same at vocational music school.  as Mummy Twinkletoes  suggests, it's this wider vocabulary that can make the difference at an audition.

 

Looking further ahead, as a professional dancer you may well be standing at the side of the stage learning the steps for your next entrance - I know of this experience in both classical and MT.  Being able to process very fast is a really useful skill, very different from months of perfecting an exam piece.

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Pointless , I totally agree with those statements. that you made, we were caught up in that way of thinking we had a great local ballet school which my DD went to, but felt to excel she needed to get in an associate scheme, her teacher did agree to it but did warn us ' it's just another ballet class you know' although she agreed to itcbecause it was RAD.  We travelled quite a distance ,cost more money for trains etc whether it was worth it I don't know , she ended up going to vocational school .

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44 minutes ago, lilacfairy said:

Pointless , I totally agree with those statements. that you made, we were caught up in that way of thinking we had a great local ballet school which my DD went to, but felt to excel she needed to get in an associate scheme, her teacher did agree to it but did warn us ' it's just another ballet class you know' although she agreed to itcbecause it was RAD.  We travelled quite a distance ,cost more money for trains etc whether it was worth it I don't know , she ended up going to vocational school .

That's really made me sit up and think lilacfairy. Not about dancing, but I'm currently turning myself inside out trying to access "better" training for my sporty son. I wonder whether in reality he would progress just as quickly if he spent the hours he currently spends playing on the iPad in the car on more local training instead? It's easy to get sucked in to these things because "everyone" is doing it and we feel we are failing our children if we don't do the same. That said, I think one huge consideration, especially if you live somewhere where the talent pool is relatively small in your chosen field, is the benefit of training with other like minded people. "Good" schools, clubs or schemes tend to attract higher calibre students, and I think that in itself is of great value. Being a big fish in a small pond has its positives, but it can certainly interfere with progress in the long run.

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I think you need to be clear on what you hope to get out of the various workshops, associates schemes etc rather than just going along for the ride. The benefits that we saw included: getting used to working with and taking direction from a variety of teachers who each had a different approach (some had a rather robust approach and that stands you in good stead for full time training); getting used to dancing in many different venues, including dance studios where the actual auditions will take place - less likely to be intimidated if you have visited the place several times and danced there before, getting used to dancing with other like minded students (at least some of them will be auditioning alongside you) and not being a big fish in a small pond all the time. And that's before you even get to the benefits of doing non syllabus work and learning to pick moves up quickly etc. Personally I think it made all the difference in the end for us, mainly because it helped my dd feel more confident in the audition situation and has helped her transition into full time school. More to the point, my dd enjoyed doing some really imaginative workshops that were inspirational for her and reminded her of why she loves to dance.

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My favourite things about Associates are: making lovely friends who understand you and also love dancing and are amazing at it! Exploring new places, having to work your very hardest in each class, new enchainements every week and having to memorise them, training with professionals who give little anecdotes and encouragements, trying different styles such as Lyrical, Repertoire and special conditioning such as yoga, but most of all because it is just so WONDERFUL to dance!

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