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worsethanclueless

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Ever since my daughter's ballet teacher told me that she's should consider auditioning for the RBS JAs I've been lurking on here trying to work out whether it's a good idea. She wants to do it so we've decided she can go for it, although we/she knows the vast majority of people don't get through. 

However I still feel I'm in a world I know nothing about and trying to make decisions and know how to help her is tough! When I was younger I had no desire to do ballet at all. I loved riding, so I understand what it is to have a real passion for something but not dance. As an adult I love to watch ballet and I'm lucky enough to get lots of free tickets - so I do really appreciate and admire it - but the last few weeks have taught me I know nothing! (Kind of thought I did after watching so much - so wrong there).

I've got a few questions to ask and hoping someone can help. The first 2 are simple I think. The last one's trickier and guessing there's no right answer but interested in the views of people with a lot more knowledge than me.

1. I've been looking at the cost and it's quite pricey! I wouldn't have thought we'd be eligible for help as we're ok but spend a large chunk of our salaries on (low) private school fees so don't have much to spare after that. But I see there are a variable number of lessons priced up. Can you choose how many you do? What are the pros and cons of doing fewer? Obviously we'll save money but would she miss out? Or at 8, would it be better not to do too much to start with anyway  and see how she goes?

2. I think the answer to this isn't what I want to hear! - are the lessons in Richmond Park or Covent Garden? I'm guessing Richmond Park. CG is so near to us - Richmond Park somewhat further!

3. Lastly - and I know all this is very previous, but I like to think things through! - if she got very into ballet and wanted to be a professional dancer, I'd be worried. From an outside perspective it's so tough to get into, a hard life in many ways if you do, low pay and a short career. Am I wrong? I know I don't know much about it and this is an outsiders view. Do I have the wrong perspective? Most importantly is it unfair of me to encourage my daughter now if further down the line, I might be actively discouraging her? What do people who were ballet mad youngsters think?

 

Very grateful for any answers/thoughts.

 

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The lessons are in Covent Garden, in Floral St, so there’s your first bit of good news! I think in CG you can request if you prefer 32 weeks or 26. My DD did 32 weeks at a different centre and loved it. It was a big commitment, time-wise and financially, but was worth it in every way. I think the 26 week class is a completely separate group, so you wouldn’t be missing weeks as such, but I know that my DD progressed massively on 32 weeks, and I wonder if this had been reduced to every other week the benefit may have been less. Hopefully someone from the CG centre will be able to advise if it is possible to move to the more frequent group as your DD gets closer to MA/ full time auditioning in Year 6, in order to give her the best chance... it is, as you say tough competition at that stage. JAs was a fantastic experience for my DD, and she (and I) made friends for life there, as well as finding her path in life. Dance is tough, and ballet maybe even more so, but it is so much a part of her that she wouldn’t have been able to bear NOT to!

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Thank you SissonneDoublee. It's good to hear from someone who's been there and done that. Thanks for clarifying on the number of lessons- that's really helpful. I wondered how that could work but separate groups makes sense. And so does Floral St! Must be a lot easier for most people. That's a relief.

 

Thanks for sharing your experience. It seems like it's hard to put kids off if they have the bug!

 

 

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My 2 DC were JA’s in another Centre with only 24 (if not less) sessions a year and they both got in to a vocational school. It’s just to put your mind at rest that if it’s hard for you financially or time wise to commit to 32 sessions your DD will still benefit from 26. 

As to the other question - life as a dancer is hard, training requires a lot of discipline and sometimes sacrifice, there will be injuries and tears and disappointment but if a child really wants it and loves it I think we need to let them follow their dreams if we can.

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It’s a great starting point for you and your Dd that you have been to ballets and appreciate the sublimeness ( not a proper word, but who cares😂) and exquisiteness of ballet. However, as you don’t have a technical background and from where you are standing right now, at the very beginning,  you probably can’t begin to imagine the hours and hours and years and years  of complete slog and dedication that lie ahead  in trying to achieve the impossible, crazy perfection that one must achieve to become a professional. It is truly admirable that anyone makes it at all!  At the end of the day,  although I can’t speak for everyone,  most dancers ( but certainly not all) feel amazingly privileged to have been part of that unique art even if it did come at a price. I know I certainly do!

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Thanks Happymum and Valentina. Loving sublimeness - it ought to be a word! 

It certainly does seem like it's a world that's harder and more competitive than any other that I can think of. I guess I'm wondering whether it has the potential to narrow down your options in life too soon because it requires such dedication. What do those people do who either don't make it or do make it but then have to find another career afterwards? Are there some good exits all along the route? 

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It’s unlikely that any young person will have only one career in their lifetime these days, most will have at least three I think the research says. Ballet, as a dancer, may be limited but I imagine most professional dancers who want to, stay in the ballet world in some way in a range of different careers. Our dc are going to be working for a very long time. I’m giving mine the chance to do something they adore and are passionate about, for at least part of their life. 

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11 hours ago, worsethanclueless said:

if she got very into ballet and wanted to be a professional dancer, I'd be worried. From an outside perspective it's so tough to get into, a hard life in many ways if you do, low pay and a short career.

 

On this one - ballet isn't the only field which is tough & requires dedication beyond the normal hard work required for a specialised profession. I'm an academic. It's similarly a tough career to get started in, long hours for relatively low pay - particularly compared to others with lesser or equivalent qualifications (eg medical doctors). Most people with a PhD who want to go on to work full time as a university lecturer spend 5 to more years in part-time, or temporary university work, on precarious contracts. There's a huge drop out from those who don't have family support at that point. 

 

There are many more people with university degrees now and that filters through to those doing PhDs - but the squeeze at the end of that training - the academic equivalent to graduating from a senior high school ballet training such as the Royal Ballet School - is extreme. The professional ballet dancer in my family and I have often compared the level of talent, dedication, and luck required in ballet & academia. 

 

I'm sure there are other professions where the requirements go beyond the normal requirements of hard work, dedication & talent, not just ballet. And the skills acquired from aiming for this success are useful in the second or third careers that ballet dancers can have.

Edited by Kate_N

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Thanks Farawaydancer and Kate_N. 

 

I do agree that ballet training gives you a lot of broader skills/qualities around hard work, dedication and resilience and these are really the key positives for me and the reason why I feel drawn to encouraging her to pursue things further. If I was an optimist I would just dive in and not worry but I'm more cautious. However, as with most things, I guess we'll just have to take it a step at a time and discover for ourselves! Thanks for advice and experiences. If anyone had experience of ways onwards from the ballet world, at any stage of training/career I'd be keen to hear those too.

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4 hours ago, worsethanclueless said:

Thanks Farawaydancer and Kate_N. 

 

I do agree that ballet training gives you a lot of broader skills/qualities around hard work, dedication and resilience and these are really the key positives for me and the reason why I feel drawn to encouraging her to pursue things further. If I was an optimist I would just dive in and not worry but I'm more cautious. However, as with most things, I guess we'll just have to take it a step at a time and discover for ourselves! Thanks for advice and experiences. If anyone had experience of ways onwards from the ballet world, at any stage of training/career I'd be keen to hear those too.

A dancer friend of mine, who sadly had to quit the ballet world due to injury, retrained as a sports/ dance physio and ended up working with the Olympic team. Many re- train as teachers( wide spectrum from vocational schools to  private coaching to community projects)  or teaching dance at gcse/ A level. Some go into theatre or television work both as performers or behind the scenes. Another dancer friend ended up in the production team at BBC. Some go down the sports psychology route or go to university to re- train completely - expensive but  otherwise relatively easy these days. 

 

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Hi worsethanclueless!

I don't have any of the answers but just wanted to say we are in a similar situation. I also have no prior knowledge of ballet but after recently attending an insight day (which confirmed my utter lack of knowledge 😂), I have concluded that even by attending an audition and failing, she will be learning valuable life lessons.

My husband was an actor and was initially really against her doing anything like this as he knows the potential pitfalls. But since the insight day he feels like for now this is a largely positive thing to do.

I think all these kids are so dedicated and brave and resilient that just being around like minded children is no bad thing. And if by some insane chance she gets in then we will cross that bridge then.. they are very special by being brave enough to apply! Like those above have said I guess we are trying not to see it as a career or starting on a path which leads to dissapointment, but instead looking at the experience she is getting in the short term.

Iknow that hasnt answered the questions you asked but thought I’d let you know you aren’t alone! 

And I am learning a lot from this forum I have to say! Xx

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Hi worsethanclueless and Astrid

Here are my thoughts...

we have now reached Yr12

on this journey.......

If I had sat down and thought about it coldly & logically (from the point of view of finances  long-term career prospects et cetera )at the beginning... Before starting on the JA’s  - well - we would probably never have started down this road. 

BUT

I’m so glad that I just took it all one step at a time and didn’t drive myself mad worried over the future! Otherwise I would’ve given up before we started !

I think the deciding factor is the amount of passion your child has for dancing in our case it is the only thing he lives for.

 This means that no matter how tough things get he has always wanted to keep going!

After a drama queen rant and rave yes - but stop dancing ....never ....nothing and nobody will stop him dancing.

 Does he have the perfect physique certainly not! But he can still out jump out spin and outperform  many of those who do have perfect physique yes!

 

 If that is how your child feels or grows to feel and I think you have to let them dance - the rest will sort itself out in some way or another. There are always other branches of dance there always scholarships and bursaries and there are plenty of other second Careers especially if you make sure they have a broad-based education while dancing.

 Many have described the journey as a rollercoaster and I quite agree but  it is one that you can get off if the pain exceeds the passion!  And those years will  definately not have been wasted  as long as the child continues to enjoy the journey then I say let them continue !

 

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My DS auditioned for JA’s last year and didn’t get in. I thought it would put him off dancing and agonised about telling him the “no” letter had arrived. As it happens it’s just made him more determined! He’s more willing to try auditions now as he’s not scared of the “no” anymore.

He now actively hunts out auditions and pesters me to take him, he just keeps saying, “One day Mum, one day” 😊😊😊😊

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Hi worsethanclueless, I agree that it is sensible to go into these things with your eyes open, but at the same time it is sometimes better not to overthink things. The chances of ANY child "making it" in classical ballet is miniscule and if that were the only point in participating nobody sane would ever start. But you could probably say the same about many things - sports, music, drama and lots of more academic career paths too. But the  benefits of all these kinds of things are many. There is intrinsic value in simply doing and enjoying the activity plus lots of transferable skills to learn.

None of us knows what the future holds, and though it is natural for parents to worry about their children, there is a lot to be said for living in the moment  and enjoying any given opportunity for what it is now. 

Your DD is very young. In a few years she may have changed and have a new passion. But if she is enjoying ballet now and you can support that interest without it impacting too greatly on the rest of family life then I can almost guarantee that she will get a lot out if it, even if it isnt a ballet career. 

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3 hours ago, Billyelliott said:

Hi worsethanclueless and Astrid

Here are my thoughts...

we have now reached Yr12

on this journey.......

If I had sat down and thought about it coldly & logically (from the point of view of finances  long-term career prospects et cetera )at the beginning... Before starting on the JA’s  - well - we would probably never have started down this road. 

BUT

I’m so glad that I just took it all one step at a time and didn’t drive myself mad worried over the future! Otherwise I would’ve given up before we started !

I think the deciding factor is the amount of passion your child has for dancing in our case it is the only thing he lives for.

 This means that no matter how tough things get he has always wanted to keep going!

After a drama queen rant and rave yes - but stop dancing ....never ....nothing and nobody will stop him dancing.

 Does he have the perfect physique certainly not! But he can still out jump out spin and outperform  many of those who do have perfect physique yes!

 

 If that is how your child feels or grows to feel and I think you have to let them dance - the rest will sort itself out in some way or another. There are always other branches of dance there always scholarships and bursaries and there are plenty of other second Careers especially if you make sure they have a broad-based education while dancing.

 Many have described the journey as a rollercoaster and I quite agree but  it is one that you can get off if the pain exceeds the passion!  And those years will  definately not have been wasted  as long as the child continues to enjoy the journey then I say let them continue !

 

Great advice Billyelliot and how wonderful that your DCs journey has taken him this far, I wish him all the success as he continues 😊

Who knows where we will be in even a years time, it certainly has been interesting so far, I’m blown away by all the talented little DCs out there! 

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Thanks so much everyone. It's been so useful to hear your experiences. And yes, Pups_Mum, I do overthink things! Valentina - your examples of post ballet careers are very heartening. I didn't think there'd be such a diverse list.

 

I wasn't sure how questions from a complete newbie would be received but I've gathered some great thoughts and insights- thanks all!

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1 hour ago, worsethanclueless said:

Thanks so much everyone. It's been so useful to hear your experiences. And yes, Pups_Mum, I do overthink things! Valentina - your examples of post ballet careers are very heartening. I didn't think there'd be such a diverse list.

 

I wasn't sure how questions from a complete newbie would be received but I've gathered some great thoughts and insights- thanks all!

We were all newbies once !!!

all the best !

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