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To audition or not?


dancingmuppet
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Having had the application form for secondary schools come home from school with my daughter the other day, we started talking about which ones she might like to have a look at. Her answer was she'd like to look at vocational schools.

She's always enjoyed her dancing, particularly ballet, and been keen to audition for associate schemes but has never been sure if she wants to pursue it as a career. Although this has begun to change since towards the end of last term, also helped by the fact she got in off the waiting list for RBS ja's. She has been so keen to get to all her classes so far this term and keeps asking to do more, even to the point of asking to do festivals as she wants to perform on stage (her words), unfortunately he dancing school doesn't do competitions.

But do we take the plunge and let her audtion for schools? Dh is really not keen, partly I think because it seems to be a new idea and he's not convinced that that it will last, also he doesn't want her boarding. Think he's also worried, as am I, that if we let her audition and she does get a place how do you not let her go as I 'm sure she would want to? (although if she didn't get an award, we wouldn't be able to afford it).

 

Not sure what I'm asking really, but is it a good idea to let them audition just to see what happens or is it better not to?

 

Thanks for reading if you managed to get all the way through!

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Difficult one, perhaps it might all depend on how you think your dd would cope with possible rejection if she were to audition and be unsuccessful. Although, having said that, there is always the thought that you have to be in it to win it, and she could be offered a place!

 

What does her teacher say?

 

Have you thought about dance days and workshops as well? They are usually quite reasonably priced, and are good for helping students pick up new stuff quickly (a useful skill in auditions).

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Well, the first thing you need to do is to go to look at all the secondary schools in your area, and apply for the ones you like the most, because as you know, vocational school places are sadly very limited. Even if you let her audition, funded places are so rare so you need a Plan B.

 

I would suggest going to as many open days at Voc. schools as you can, having explained to your dd first that this doesn't constitute a promise to let her audition. If you all like the schools (and take your dh along too!), then you can have a talk about which school(s) you might apply to.

 

Also, what does your dd's teacher think? Does she think she would be suited to vocational training? Would she support the applications and be happy to write reports if necessary?

 

If after all this you are happy to let your dd audition, I would let her under the proviso that to accept a place, it would have to be funded. She may agree to this quickly, but the reality of having to turn down an unfunded place can be very very difficult in practice.

 

How do you think she would handle rejection, if the worst came to the worst? Would it eventually spur her on to try again, or would it make her want to stop dancing?

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I would definitely support Spanner's approach to the whole experience, believe me, I know, because our family have been through all of the above!!

Choose your secondary school - THIS IS PART OF YOUR PLAN B

Visit open days - preferably with your DH as well so that he can get a feel for what she's aiming for.

Get your teacher's support and take their advice - this is always advised because you need to know what your chances are and get help with any solos, photographs and dance teachers comments for the audition forms.

Stick to the proviso with your DD of only accepting if she gets the funding - although there may be other options offered depending on the school, its best to set a boundary for your DD so she understands if there is any disappointment.

Handling rejection - ALWAYS HAVE A PLAN B (as above) plus looking at other local schools, forms of dance, dance days and workshops that she can enjoy throughout the year so that the rejection comes easier and you can all move on.

 

Of course she could get that infamous MDS and if she really wants to go for it after all of the above then consider that if you turn it down because you don't want her to go, you and she, may regret it later in life. So go for it......!!!!!!!

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All good advice above - so I'll just add a couple of things.

 

We knew nothing about the dance world and my dh was particularly reluctant at first, but we decided to try for WL (for my ds who got in, and later my dd who didn't) thinking that - well, if he were good enough to get into the Royal Ballet School then he must have something going for him (if I had my time again I'd try Elmhurst as well now). So my first piece of advice would be to say to choose carefully which schools you'd be happy for her to go to if she did get a funded place and not necessarily audition everywhere just to see if she can get in to one of them. (If he hadn't got into WL or Elmhurst, we wouldn't have tried anywhere else - we'd've kept up with local training, associates, NYB etc etc - there's such a lot available now - depending where you live of course!)

 

Also, you do have to consider whether you would actually let her go if she did get a funded place. If you truly believe you would not want her to go off to boarding school and take up a place, then it's not fair to let her audition to see what happens. That's a more tricky decision as you might start out feeling unsure, but then once it actually happens you decide that you would let her go. Only you can decide that.

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Your dd being a yr 6 rbs ja must have received a invitation to attend an audition workshop at the end of oct, this should give lots of info about auditions, funding etc. My dd is also keen to audition for w/lodge, mids, but have told her she can only accept a place if there is funding available!

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Thanks everyone. Yes we did recieve an invitation for the audition workshop, we're away on holiday then but it might be worth trying to persuade dh to let her go to it because in reality we're not that far from London where we are staying! Also if I can get him to attend the parents disscusion at the end of it, it might help him to understand a bit more.

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I think you've had some great advice. Having a plan B is definitely important but I think you also need to be really clear in your own minds whether vocational school really is plan A before you start. Obviously statistically speaking "no" letters are much commoner than "yes" ones but the yesses do exist! I know of a couple of people who have let their children audition "just for the experience" with no real expectation of getting in, who then have done. This situation can be as difficult to deal with as comforting a heartbroken child who has not been accepted - probably more so in fact. If your husband is not keen on the idea I think you need to have some really honest discussions with him about it all before you start the process. To be left with a letter saying yes and a husband saying no would be a situation I really wouldn'y want to be in!

Good luck with the decision and with choosing "normal" schools too - that's stressful enough in itself.

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maybe Plan A should be thought of as your local school, plus dance classes and summers schools and so on. Then do the open days, auditions and such like and if they work out with a funded place, then that's excellent and Plan A can be shelved. But if lots of hope is put on vocational school and it doesn't work out for whatever reason, there will always be that negative thought in the back of your minds.

 

so go to the open days and take a look - lots of good advice above. Make it clear to your daughter that without an award, it isn't possible, which is why THIS is plan B, not plan A.

 

And chat to parents of current boarders. You will always get different takes on the experience (our DS loved every minute of it, but it is still a wrench dropping him off - we take comfort in the fact that he is having a great time), but if the boarding at vocational school does come about, there is lots of advice on here! there are some very experienced parents who have had children go all the way through the system and have good advice.

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One thing that struck a chord with me with your original post is applying " as she wants to perform on stage." Depending on the vocational school you choose, the luck of the draw, and a million other factors please be aware that many vocational school children only perform for a couple of minutes in the end of year show, and that may not even be ballet! Summer schools, EYB, NYB et al may offer far greater opportunities for performance.

 

I thoroughly endorse Stirrups comments above - great advice. My personal follow up would be to go with an open mind. We let head rule heart, and chose the most prestigious place offered, thinking we could "easily" change if it didn't work out, even though my gut feel was we were possibly making a mistake. (We were!)

 

Good luck on your journey

Meadowblythe

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One thing that struck a chord with me with your original post is applying " as she wants to perform on stage." Depending on the vocational school you choose, the luck of the draw, and a million other factors please be aware that many vocational school children only perform for a couple of minutes in the end of year show, and that may not even be ballet! Summer schools, EYB, NYB et al may offer far greater opportunities for performance.

 

Excellent point - we've barely seen my ds perform on stage through his 8 years at WL and Elmhurst!

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It's such a tricky thing to weigh up isn't it? I remember being in your shoes a few years ago. Be aware that EVEN if your DD is offered an MDS, make sure you have done your sums well beforehand and know just how much your contribution will be. It can still be hugely expensive especially if you have other children, mortgage etc. Add in travel and it could make life very hard for the rest of the family even with the grant. We did not calculate our contribution properly and ended up turning down a place at Elmhurst as we were unsure about coping with the financial pressure. (My DS eventually took up his place but it has been tough to find the money!). Good luck making the decision.

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We also went down the try it and see approach. This seemed to lead us unstoppably down the path from a "have-a-go" audition for an associate place, to a "just for the experience" audition for a Y7 entry... to two years at vocational school. A bit like Meadowblythe, though I would say in our case maybe heart ruled head!

 

I think overall we would still all say that we had no regrets, even though ultimately we came to recognise that it was not the right place for our daughter. We are all faced with the thought of the road not taken. Our view was that it was better to try, than regret having turned down an opportunity.

I've just remembered a friend saying that she was still not sure if she had made the right decision to let her son go to WL - at this point he was some years into his professional career as a dancer!

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To audition or not? Gosh it's so hard to know what's best for DD/DS especially when they are so young. Sometimes I feel parents have a little pressure on them at the start of the audition process, especially when your sitting in the waiting rooms at dance class / associates etc and everyone is chitter chattering about which schools their DD/DS will be auditioning for this year and you can't help but listen in:) Then the panic starts oh gosh should we be doing that!! I honestly believe in gut feelings. If you feel like its the right thing to do for your child and they really want to have a go then do it, especially if you have plan A and plan B in action like so many posts have said. It's so easy to get swept away I feel in the months leading up to auditions but at the end of the day it's what's right for your DD and your family.

My DD who is 10 would love to have auditioned this year but we are in Florida hoping that our business will sell and then we can settle back in the UK once again:)))

Lots of luck to all the DD/DS who will be going down this route over the next few months, smile and enjoy:)xxxxxxxxx

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Well said fairytoes - don't feel pressured by the year 6 audition frenzy do what you feel is right for your DD and your family.

 

When our youngest DD was an RBS JA we let her audition for two schools 'just for the experience', this is what felt right for us. They were very memorable and for the most part enjoyable days, but also stressful and expensive and I was glad we didn't try for all four schools.

 

I don't think there is any harm in giving it a go - provided you keep the whole thing fairly low key (easier said than done). If you are offered a place you can always reconsider

 

DD is now at vocational school and for her it has (so far) been a very positive experience.

 

very best wishes in your decision making

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I don't envy you having to make such difficult decisions, though it may well help do discuss with your dd what she actually wants to do. If the competitions and stage work are of most interest then it might be advisable to find a good local dance school who enagages in comps and perhaps performs an annual end of year show, which will give her an insight.

If then she still wants to go to a vocational school afterwards then maybe have a go at auditioning then. It might just appease both dd and dh.

 

I am extremely lucky having a fantastic local dance school which encourages competitions but also having Northern Ballet and York scholars on my doorstep for the more classical training.

 

Whatever you decide I wish you the best of luck!

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We went down the audition road looking at it as days out to enjoy I don't think we thought about what if he was accepted. I didn't know about Ballet.co then, we are talking 8 years ago so no one's previous experiences to read about and help guide us. We didn't know much about funding, even the dance world was all very new to us. He'd led a shelter dancing life until the school changed hands. Due to the commitment involved if DS hadn't been the youngest I don't think we would have entertained the idea at all. We haven't had a family holiday since he went away.

 

I actually asked DS recently knowing what he knows now would he do it all again. His answer was probably not at 11 he'd wait until 16. He has had a tough ride during his time at vocational school which included some serious cases of bullying at both schools he's attended. Some very bad behaviour on his part. Alot of bitchiness as he put it amongst his peers. Despite this he is also one of the happiest young men I have seen and absolutely loves his school.

 

I agree we don't get to see them perform enough, but if you are accepted into W/L and they are doing Nutcracker they won't be home over Christmas much! They also do more in the community Richmond Fair is a lovely day out. BRB don't use Elmhurst students much, though DS is about to do a walk on bit with them in Swan Lake.

 

As others have said it is expensive just auditioning. Audition fees and travelling adds up. The MDS obviously helps but depending on the school what does it cover? It varies a lot. If my DS hadn't been assessed out of W/L I'm not sure we could have afforded the last 2 years. I have in fact just finished paying my last bill and he left there just over 4 years ago. Partly due to them under charging us not by much but over 3 years it added up. They didn't tell us they had changed the way they were working out our fees when I asked for help when my husband was made redundant. If you struggle on MDS be very aware of how much upper schools can cost. For some they may actually pay less but for most it can be a lot more than they were paying on MDS. We would have to be earning about 75,000 a year on MDS to pay what we have paid out in upper school in one year and we earn no where near that amount. Would you be better saving the money for upper schools? Once on this road we tell them you can't go without funding but what do you do after 5 years of vocational training to find you can't afford upper school!

 

Plan A of good schooling locally fell through for us when despite being a sibling he didn't get into the local school of our choice and he was allocated one of the lowest performing schools in Surrey and as he isn't the best academic in the world that was a blow for us. He could get good dance training at home though they weren't used to having boys then. Going away meant he got a better education than he would have got at home. He still didn't do brilliantly but he did at least get some GCSE's.

 

Finally there is so much to consider which we probably didn't all those years ago. Looking back he has been happier and done much better at his second school than his first. So be careful the one considered the best may not be the best for your child.

 

Good luck and I hope hubbies behave as they can also be a challenge when going down this road!

 

Sorry long post!...

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Because my son was a later starter in the ballet world,he didn't get into WL until year 8.He spent a year at the local comprehensive school which is a good school attended successfully by his 4 siblings.I recently asked him if he would have been happy to have stayed there and auditioned for 6th form instead.I was quite shocked when he told me that he had been desperately unhappy in year 7 due to bullying and also because all he wanted was to be with like-minded children.He is now in 6.2 and is the happiest and most disciplined and determined of all my children.Vocational school is not easy but he has loved the journey.

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Thanks so much for posting all these open and honest personal experiences. They are so interesting to read and will be very helpful I'm sure.

 

Vocational School has never been on the agenda for us although DD is a keen dancer and enjoyed summer school. At her state grammar school speech day yesterday I noticed one of the 6th form leavers was off to LSC for a professional theatre dance course after taking A levels - keeping up her local training and getting an A* for her dance A level (plus other A levels, one an A). It did make me think that it isn't the end of the road not to go to vocational school or even away at 16 so remember there are many roads. I do understand that a for a classical ballet career WL or Elmhurst would probably be the dream start but if you don't audition/get in then it is not the end of the road..and a few exams in the bag first might be helpful later. I did see this young lady dance and she was very good and obviously had worked hard at her local lessons so I thought I would share that.

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Hi

 

We are in the same position. We were discussing secondary schools in March when dd said she wanted to go to vocational school. We hadn't realised how serious she was!!

 

If you look back on my posts you'll probably be able to find it. Dh wasn't too happy at first either but after looking at all the information we have decided to let her audition & we have chosen 2 schools. Since this decision was made shes gone from dancing 2 hours once a week to 5 hours 3 times a week in april at 2 dance schools & as from this month she has transferred to the 2nd dance school & is doing 11 hours per week over 5 days plus associates class.

 

We too have said that if she doesn't get in she has a great secondary school to go to, along with a fantastic dance school. I think it helps that the dance school she is now going to offers loads of classes & it is to a really good standard and the school puts posters up about auditions etc which the last dance school never did so she has more opportunities now.We have also discussed what she might do if she doesn't get in e.g auditioning for other associate classes etc & she seems happy that she has other options should it not work out.

 

Off to the garden centre now to buy a money tree - if only!!!

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I think its important to try and not put too much emphasis on secondary schools only bring a back up plan or reserve option, in this way it doesn't seem like such a failure if for whatever reason a vocational place isn't secured or choosen.

 

To get a secondary school of choice is hard enough in some areas! Enjoy your school visits xx

 

 

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We too went down the 'try it and see what happens' route with our dd when she was in year 6 and whilst she was absolutely clear that she wanted to go to vocational school, we explained that we couldn't promise anything even if a place was offered. Dd was offered an mds place for year 7, which we accepted, however, we had to give up that place very late in the day for financial reasons. Breaking the news to her that she couldn't go at the 11th hour was utterly heartbreaking for all of us, but it was the right decision at the time and she did get over it and settle into secondary school. We then decided not to allow her to audition for year 8, which was another blow to her, but for year 9 we relented and she got on the wait list for the same school offered in year 7. For us the process hasn't been straightforward, but I do believe things turn out for a reason and the disappointments have only served to make dd stronger and more determined. She did eventually get and take up her place and is absolutely loving everything that vocational school has to offer and soaking up the opportunity. Good advice above about not getting caught up in all the hype ... it's about what is right for your dc and your family ... as parents you relinquish a lot of involvement and control when your child goes away to school. Going down the vocational route is a huge decision both financially and emotionally. Would we change anything though? ... absolutely not!

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