Jump to content
TKT

Ballet Associate Programmes UK

Recommended Posts

Hi, I’m new to here & also new to the world of dance so any help you’re able to offer me & my daughter would be hugely appreciated... My daughter was a late starter to dance but since starting a year ago she has quickly excelled & has an absolute passion for ballet. She is 10 & dances 6 days a week across all genres, including performance groups (this is by invitation & of course my daughters enthusiasm)! Anyway, she would love to concentrate more on her ballet & is continuously asking me to practice more. My question is, how difficult is it to get into an associate programme to support her current ballet classes?  I’m aware the RBS & Elmhurst are perhaps too ambitious for us at this stage but what about other associate programmes such as Tring, The London Ballet Co & Ballet Cymru? Does anyone have experience with these? Are these programmes equally as hard to gain entry into? We’d be prepared to travel so recommendations would also be appreciated. Thanks.

Edited by TKT

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi and welcome. Just a suggestion, you don't necessarily have to rely on the well known providers of associate schemes. Some of the lesser known schemes and ballet schools provide excellent training and often successfully prepare children for full time vocational school. Depending on where you live I would recommend Nicholsons School of ballet (Annette Nicholson)  in Birmingham and Warwickshire school of dance (Dr Emily Twittchet)Emily is a member of this forum.  Both offer excellent top class teaching in ballet and I believe both have an associates scheme. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for your reply joyofdance. I hadn’t realised there were such schemes available other than the well known associate schemes I’d mentioned. My daughters current dance school will not allow her to take ballet classes elsewhere (understandably so) unless it was an associate programme. It’s certainly something I will look into also. Thank you again. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello TKT and welcome to the forum. ☺️ I’ll add the tag “Associates” to your thread title; if you click on it then you’ll bring up a list of the (many!) other threads which discuss Associates.

 

From my personal experience I can recommend Central School of Ballet Preps/Pre-Seniors for when your daughter is 11/in Year 7 and Tring Park School’s Classical Ballet Academy, albeit that my daughter finished the former in 2015 and the latter in 2017.  

 

There are lots of Associate schemes around the country; the only advice I would offer if I were looking now would be to check the Teachers’ qualifications carefully if the scheme is not part of a big/very well established school. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My DS was a Royal Ballet School junior associate last year and while  it is hard to get in they are looking for "facility" ( flexibility and turnout) rather than polished technique I think. You don't have to prepare a dance just join in with the class and flexibility exercises at the audition. He also auditioned for ballet boost associates which could be another good option as they are in a few different centres in the country.  Some of the teachers there also teach the RBS JA s and it was very friendly. Tring audition was the same, a ballet class and and also very friendly. Their classical ballet academy is on a couple of Sunday's a month. Very best of luck to your DD!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One thing I would add is that is she already does dancing 6 days a week then she probably does need time on the weekend to do homework and just time to relax a bit. It's important for growing bodies to have a break and not train 7 days a week. Maybe if you did an associates class then you could cut back or rearrange in other areas?

I assume she is in year 6 currently? I'd have thought most auditions coming up soon will be for a Sept start. Keep in mind that once children start secondary school it's a steep learning curve, they get really tired and there is a lot of homework to fit in. Our DD saves most of her homework up for the weekend as she dances or does music most weeknights. She had at least 6-8 hours a week of homework in year 7, sometimes more.

Also, I'd consider distance - opinions may differ, but driving halfway across the country for an associate class is bonkers IMO. I recall meeting parents at associates who did this for their children, and they and the child looked quite exhausted. Two hours drive there for a 2.5 hour class then another 2 hour drive back makes for a long day on a weekend on a regular basis. Quite a lot of girls at our associates who travelled long distances quit or rarely turned up in the end. I'd see what is within say a 40 minute radius of where you live as a starting point.

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You don't want to kill enthusiasm with tiredness and the risk of injury will increase . And the 40 minute radius is probably good advice too not just for her but you too. Patience . Use holiday intensives, maybe, for extra input and fun.  Work smart not hard.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you all for your replies. Apologies for not making myself clear in the beginning, my daughters classes are only 30-45 mins & they aren’t all dance, she does a Stretch & Acro class with the school but I understand she will need to drop certain classes next year if she’s lucky enough to join an associate class. My question was more the difficulty in entering an associate programme if she’s only been dancing a year? Her flexibility is fantastic, average height / slightly tall for 10 with long legs & arms. I’m not too sure what the body proportions should be, can anyone help me with these? Apologies for so many questions x

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My daughter had only been dancing for 6 months when she successfully auditioned for JA's - so don't let that put you off.  However if she is currently year 6 she would have to audition for MA's as JA's is for year 4, 5 and 6.  My daughter has been an associate with a few different places and honestly the range of body shapes is quite wide.  Best advice is to audition for those that are doable, enjoy them and then see what is offered, then a decision can be made.  My only other word of advice would be to remember that some associate class's are ultimately business - so try to be objective about whether it is worth it.  It is very exciting to be offered a place but look at who will be teaching the class and if it is of benefit or if the money would be better spent on private's, intensives etc.  good luck.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The thing with associates is that they all differ re what they are looking for re body, musicality and flexibility. Also I suspect a few dance schools have jumped on the associate bandwagon as allnewtome mentioned, so those may have far better odds of a place, but may be not much better than just normal ballet classes.

IIRC for the Royal JA/MA there are almost a thousand girls auditioning for just a hundred or so places all over the country. I'm sure you can google statistics as I think they publish them in their annual report.There are fewer MA places than JA places I believe. Tring CBA similarly has rather fewer places compared with the number of children who apply I believe. Auditions are a good experience in themselves however, but really there's no way of knowing what they are looking for or whether she has what it takes, other than auditioning. In our experience auditions are a normal ballet class that is more or less age appropriate (sight chance of tricky things to see how the children approach a challenge, but also mainly things that they should be comfortable doing that show them at their best) and some additional stretches. There will be a teacher taking the class then a panel or one or two or more dance teachers who are in charge of assessing.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you allnewtome. That was incredibly helpful! I would love for her to dance more ballet with her current school but unfortunately they just don’t have the time unless it’s towards exams & or shows. Yes she would need to apply for MA unless it’s an intake in Jan. That’s exactly what we intend to do, go to the auditions, with the view of ‘it’s an experience’ & see where we are. We’ll certainly do summer school next year & workshops which will all help x

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Paleblueleotard you are wise to advise caution on travel, but remember that not everyone has opportunities close by. My DD was travelling for more than 40 minutes to get to her ordinary ballet class at one stage. My son travels further than that for most of his sports activities. If I set a 40 minute travel limit on any of my children they would do very little. In fact school would be a bit borderline....though they might not mind missing that of course! 🤣

Of course it is sensible to consider the effects on the whole family of regular, long distance activities. Not everything is worth the journey. In fact I have just told my son that we can't take up a particular training activity 2 hours drive away as it is on a school night and we would not be getting home until gone 11pm. The gain doesn't justify the costs. It is a good programme, but not THAT good. If it were at weekends then maybe the cost/benefit analysis would be different.

My advice would always to research thoroughly, weigh up the pros and cons, and personally I never let any of my children try out for anything unless I am sure that we can afford it as a family, in terms of time and well being as well as money. I have seen people go for things "just for the experience" and thinking "s/he will never get in anyway" only to find themselves with a "yes" and then either having a very upset child or putting themselves through the ringer to keep up something that is just too difficult. It can be really tough to decide what exactly the value of any given programme is, and how much pain it is worth of course, but I would also say, don't assume that biggest is always best and don't be afraid to ask questions.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you paleblueleotard! I thought they’d all differ from one to another on what they’d require. The two closet associates to me are branches of RBS & Ballet Boost. As you say MA is incredibly hard to be accepted onto but the others are just too far at 2.5 hours away. Have you any experience with Ballet Boost? That would give us 6 months before auditioning in May so we could attend some workshops during the interim etc x

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A few thoughts...

 

1.  Even if she doesn't get accepted for a programme, audition experience is always valuable.  Good practice for next time.  (My dd got a no from the 1st associated scheme she auditioned for, but got a place in the same scheme the following year)

2.  Even as a late starter, at the age of 10 I would say she stands a chance if she shows potential.

3.  Ask her teacher at her local dance school about how she could increase the amount of ballet she does.   Her teacher may be prepared to let her go to another local school for some top up classes if she has a good relationship with the school.  Or the teacher may let her attend a grade above or a grade below the one she is in for extra practice.  These are things which could start almost straight away rather than having to wait until next September.

4.  Make sure her teacher knows that she has a passion for ballet and might want to pursue dance as a career.

5.  Consider summer and easter courses - a great way to experience a variety of teaching and break up the school holidays.  

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you glowlight! That was such helpful advice. We’re considering attending 2 auditions this year for ‘experience’ as there is an associate scheme audition in May that we feel would suit her very well. Also the advice for dancing up a grade with her current school is brilliant advice & I will ask the question... This would also give her 6 months more practice. I know the school will not want her going elsewhere (understandably) so I do hope, if they’re able, this is an option. We’re looking at the Summer Schools ATM, is there one or two you’d recommend? Thank you again x

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Even a class down a grade might help...extra time in class to perfect technique won't be wasted.

 

I'm afraid my knowledge of summer schools will be very out of date now so I will let others advise on that.  

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for the recommendation @joyofdance! As well as having my own school (Warwick School of Dance) I run MIDAS which, when it began almost 10 years ago, was the only 'independent' associate scheme (an oxymoron, I realise!) ie the only scheme offering additional, supplementary training that was not attached to a school or pre-existing system of training. While the affiliation/connection to a big school was and still is a big draw for many people, what we wanted to deliver was a bit different in it's approach, taking up-to-date research in dance medicine and science into account. Fast forward to today and it does seem like 'associate' schemes are cropping up everywhere! Some do fill a genuine gap in training and are fantastic and others do appear to be 'more of the same' type classes. Therefore my advice to any parent looking at additional training schemes is will my DC get something there that they do not get at their normal dance school. That 'something' might be different for one person to the next. It might be the chance to dance with a live pianist, to do more strength and conditioning if their dance school doesn't offer specialist classes, to do a different dance genre such as jazz or commercial, or to learn a particular schools' system of training in preparation for future audition. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...