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Lemongirl

Dd at a crossroads - advice please

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Hello, I haven't posted here for a while.

 

My oldest dd is 18 and at a crossroads.  Brief background - she started ballet at 3 and picked up modern, tap, jazz and a bit of contemporary over the years.  Dance has always been part of her life and it's extremely important to her.  She did consider taking it further a while back but she didn't think she was good enough and lacked in confidence.

 

She was at Abbots Bromley for Sixth Form which she loved.  She got her BTEC with top grades along with A Level English and secured a place at Birmingham to do English, having decided not to pursue a professional dance career.

 

The Birmingham place is deferred to this coming September when she is due to start.  She is now having a gap year and has started classes at a local dance school where my youngest dd goes.  This school has an attached full time college where dd is taking some classes and the teaching staff there seem to really like her.

 

She is now having second thoughts about university and thinks perhaps she should pursue full time dance training.  But it would be difficult to turn down a place at a great university and she doesn't know if she would be able to reapply as she missed her offer but was lucky enough they they accepted her anyway this time.

 

She and I are both worried about competing in a crowded industry where there is no guarantee of success.

 

I don't even know if it's too late to apply to dance colleges for this September, or which ones she should apply to or how competitive it is.  

 

What do dancers do if they complete a college course but then don't make it as dancer?  I don't think she would want to teach.

 

Does anyone have any advice please?  This wasn't on the cards at all, it looked like she was doing English at Birmingham but this doubt has come in now and I don't feel very well informed.

 

Thank you for reading.

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I can’t help you very much on a practical level but I wanted to say that one of my daughters, now in 3rd year at Edinburgh university, very much regrets not at least trying out for a dance training route. She loves her course at university and is doing extremely well but she still mentions dance to me with a very wistful expression. She was a promising contemporary dancer and has a fabulous voice but decided to go down the academic route. Although she dances at a great dance center in Edinburgh some nights, it seems that desire has never left her and possibly never will. It’s made worse by the youngest pursuing a dance career. 

If your Dd is interested in contemporary then I know Rambert prefer a more mature student 18+ and possibly Laban  and London Contemporary. Age is a plus for contemporary based schools.

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50 minutes ago, Lemongirl said:

Hello, I haven't posted here for a while.

 

My oldest dd is 18 and at a crossroads.  Brief background - she started ballet at 3 and picked up modern, tap, jazz and a bit of contemporary over the years.  Dance has always been part of her life and it's extremely important to her.  She did consider taking it further a while back but she didn't think she was good enough and lacked in confidence.

 

She was at Abbots Bromley for Sixth Form which she loved.  She got her BTEC with top grades along with A Level English and secured a place at Birmingham to do English, having decided not to pursue a professional dance career.

 

The Birmingham place is deferred to this coming September when she is due to start.  She is now having a gap year and has started classes at a local dance school where my youngest dd goes.  This school has an attached full time college where dd is taking some classes and the teaching staff there seem to really like her.

 

She is now having second thoughts about university and thinks perhaps she should pursue full time dance training.  But it would be difficult to turn down a place at a great university and she doesn't know if she would be able to reapply as she missed her offer but was lucky enough they they accepted her anyway this time.

 

She and I are both worried about competing in a crowded industry where there is no guarantee of success.

 

I don't even know if it's too late to apply to dance colleges for this September, or which ones she should apply to or how competitive it is.  

 

What do dancers do if they complete a college course but then don't make it as dancer?  I don't think she would want to teach.

 

Does anyone have any advice please?  This wasn't on the cards at all, it looked like she was doing English at Birmingham but this doubt has come in now and I don't feel very well informed.

 

Thank you for reading.

First of all Congratulations to your daughter securing a place at uni. Luck has nothing to do with it. She’s obviously worked very hard and has been recognised for her efforts. 

You have managed to ask one of those incredibly difficult questions which most of us can’t answer. How to pursue a career in dance? 
I doubt there are any stats done on % of graduates securing dance work within the industry. 
You maybe too late to seek an audition for this Septembers intake at the independent schools & colleges. NBS are advertising their audition dates but unsure on availability. 
Have you considered researching availability of dance at the Birmingham Uni but not as degree? I’ve known of a few girls that have pursued their Degree courses at uni in an unrelated subject and joined the dance Club/Societies. Taking part in many competitions representing their Unis. To an incredibly high standard. Which obviously maintains their technique/fitness & stamina. 
 

There is no requirement for dancer to even hold a dip/degree in dance to attend some ‘open’ auditions. ie cruise ships. Applicants need to know how to present a professional looking CV with headshots then obviously nail the audition. Pupils at dance schools obviously have the support of their schools  everything is possible with a little bit of research and knowledge 😉.
A friend has just completed 8yrs performing with a reputable Cruise Liner as a performer (working up through the ranks to a soloist) having never attended a dance college! Offered a contract through an open audition. That example is probably an exception but that’s what the life is like. There’s always an exception to any rule.
Just as much as dancers who graduate specialist providers but that much wanted contract eludes them. 
Don’t let Uni be the end of a chance for a potential dance career just a different pathway.
I would just like to conclude that my post is related to Jazz Focus. Which encompasses tap, modern, contemporary with a minor in Ballet. The skills you mention in your post.  
☺️
 

Edited by balletbean
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My youngest dd still regrets not being able to do the dance route. She’s almost thirty. I regret it for her and for myself. We both enjoyed our degrees but I think if dance is in the blood, it’s there for life. I don’t know how to advise you, @Lemongirl. It’s a very difficult choice. I would just like to wish you and your dd the very best of luck. x

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May I suggest if she is going to be in Birmingham, she can have both. 
 

Going to dance classes with great teachers is doable, whilst she studies 

 

If her ability is there, she will be able to decide whether to go to auditions for paid dance work once she has a degree under her belt

 

theres plenty of dancers out there working full time jobs and keeping up with their dance classes in the hope of getting paid work as a dancer and those with work have months inbetween contracts, they have to attend classes so they are available normally more in the big cities 

 

she could probably get an audition for an animation team this summer if she hurrys 

 

maybe if she contacts a few 21 / 22 year old dancers doing the circuit again this year and asks them,  I think they would say do the academic degree, go to dance classes as much as you can afford and decide later 

 

if Birmingham doesn’t already have an established dance team she could start one. If she Google’s Cambridge Dance Team and has a look it may help her realise that very talented dancers go to University 

 

best of luck, it’s so hard when all you want is for them to be happy x

 

if you do decide to look at upper schools in this country ask people to pm you their experiences 

 

 

Edited by Canary
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Probably not a popular opinion but academics can be done at any age whereas dance has a shelf life. My nearly 16 yr old is going to dance college rather than doing her A levels. If she decides to continue the dance route at 18 I will support her. I was in my mid twenties when I did my academic degree and for me it was the right thing to do and I have had a good career since. Everyone is different but my feeling is that life is too short to have regrets. 😁

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Although I’m sure it’s possible for a few, from my daughters experience it’s not at all easy to keep up the high standard necessary to compete for jobs against those who have just left full time training. She works long hours in a  bar to supplement her student loan and then her university work too which by 3rd year is a lot. I think it’s different for those who have already had a part career in dance and are combining other things whilst something else ‘comes up’ because they have experience and contacts - 2 important aspects to success, as well as talent and hard graft. 

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3 hours ago, Lemongirl said:

She and I are both worried about competing in a crowded industry where there is no guarantee of success.

 

Would it be feasible to do some industry auditions now, for her to see how she compares? Things like cruise ships, adverts, theme parks etc.

 

That said, there is excellent training available for adults in Birmingham - have a look at the programme for DanceXchange - she could probably do two classes each day of the week there, and a ballet class early Saturday morning at the beautiful studios of Annette Nicholson in the Digbeth cultural quarter. It's one of the (few) things I miss about living in Birmingham. Also have a

 

My knowledge of the Birmingham Students Guild/Union is now a few years old, but my main problem with the student dance society there (and at the university I work at now) is that they tend to have students teaching students. I've seen some awful ballet & people on pointe who really shouldn't be! So a serious dancer would need to find other teachers/studio with serious professional teaching.

 

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You may still have time to consider (via UCAS?) dance degrees....eg. Laban, RCS, Rambert

As most of these are linked to a national awarding university then you could perhaps see if there could be any way of doing a joint award degree to combine English? (I actually think this would be a massively popular degree course option for many of our DC’s...so come on colleges/Unis.... establish this!!) If the dance is a full on full time course then the English may bee to be mostly self study in after dance hours but with support & dedication it could be possible to achieve?

good luck!

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Reading your post, Lemongirl, leaves me wondering whether your DD will end up forever wondering "What if ...?" if she doesn't take the dance thing further.  I am WAY out of date when it comes to university entry now, but I'm thinking that she's got her A-Level/BTEC results and those aren't going to change, so if they're good enough to get her into uni now, won't they be good enough later, too, if she changes her mind?  Even if not, I know that universities (used to?) like maturer students rather than 18-year-olds with little life experience - even to the extent that they might accept lower qualifications than from a school leaver - might be worth checking that with an admissions office somewhere.  But several years out of dance training might, I suspect, leave her unable to compete properly with other dance students.  Or is the concern as much as anything about how potentially to fund both a dance course and a uni one, should it come to that?

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Do check the funding routes/rules too as there are restrictions on how degrees can be started to get student loans 

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It is the funding that came to my mind as well. People who get their degrees when older have either never used a funding entitlement when slightly younger or can afford to fund their own degree somehow down the line. 
There will almost certainly be very strong competition for any commercial work so she will have to keep on top of her game ....which in theory should be possible in Birmingham. 
Not sure if it’s realistically possible to do degree in English and pursue Dance dreams at same time but studying Dance in some way may work but if doesn’t work out need to check funding for any later degree. 
I think a lot of people with Dance degrees do go down the teaching route later though....or a lot of dancers who manage a few years of Dance career go down teaching route later as well. 

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And lots of ex dancers go on to do degrees in all sorts of areas.... back to checking the funding....

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I would suggest she applies to audition for some dance courses for 2020 entry and sees how it goes.  She may not be offered a place, or may hate the audition process - in which case at least she won't always wonder 'what if'.  If she is offered a place - then she will have to make a decision, but having gone through the audition process may make that decision easier.

 

A quick google search found that it's not too late to apply for this year.  I looked at Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Northern Ballet School, Rambert School, and Urdang and all are still accepting applications...I expect others are too.

 

As to what dancers do after... well my dd went to dance college, worked on cruise ships for 5 years.  Now she works in IT and manages a team of web developers.  

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4 hours ago, Peanut68 said:

If the dance is a full on full time course then the English may bee to be mostly self study in after dance hours but with support & dedication it could be possible to achieve?

 

Wouldn't get through any quality assurance I've been involved with at UK universities! I don't think you can combine the high level of intense technical study of dance in the studio with a high level of intense technical study of literature  (an English degree isn't just a matter of reading a couple of novels in your spare time ....)

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Thank you all so much for the really helpful replies.  I will read again and discuss with dd.  Lots of food for thought!

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1 hour ago, Kate_N said:

 

Wouldn't get through any quality assurance I've been involved with at UK universities! I don't think you can combine the high level of intense technical study of dance in the studio with a high level of intense technical study of literature  (an English degree isn't just a matter of reading a couple of novels in your spare time ....)

I have no direct experience or knowledge of any degree courses or of the intensity etc of study required....only making a suggestion of option exploration as I have heard of people combining subjects doing a joint honours degree (might not be correct terminology even - sorry! I only did Uni of Life myself!!) in History/French, Drama/English.....just pitching it out there for duscussion! 

I do agree that full on training for a dance performing career would be very intense & leave little time/energy for academic degree level study alongside but there are some people out there who seem capable of ‘doing it all’!

Edited by Peanut68
Typos.... not English degree educated!!

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I started F/T dance training at 18 and quickly realised how few people actually get jobs in the area. (My friend went to RBS upper and ended up with no work or sporadic work).

I transferred onto a psychology degree, in a better academic university then a nursing masters elsewhere and never looked back. I thoroughly enjoyed dancing in my teens but as I got older and creakier, I realised it was a young persons game. Pleased to say I’ve never been out of work since I left uni, and will always be a dancer/spectator on the weekends!

I have, however, two dancing children! All their own work, and love watching them grow and develop their own styles, it’s obviously a hereditary gene, dancing! 😆😆

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13 hours ago, Peanut68 said:

I have no direct experience or knowledge of any degree courses or of the intensity etc of study required....only making a suggestion of option exploration as I have heard of people combining subjects doing a joint honours degree (might not be correct terminology even - sorry! I only did Uni of Life myself!!) in History/French, Drama/English.....just pitching it out there for duscussion! 

I do agree that full on training for a dance performing career would be very intense & leave little time/energy for academic degree level study alongside but there are some people out there who seem capable of ‘doing it all’!

You are spot on. ‘Joint honours’ is the correct term. 
On a quick google search, Bath Spa , Derby and De Montford are three institutions that offer English Lit & Dance as a Joint Degree. Didn’t look into the content of the degrees as that’s down to personal preferences. 

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7 minutes ago, balletbean said:

You are spot on. ‘Joint honours’ is the correct term. 
On a quick google search, Bath Spa , Derby and De Montford are three institutions that offer English Lit & Dance as a Joint Degree. Didn’t look into the content of the degrees as that’s down to personal preferences. 

 

None of those can be really classed as professional training though.

 

Lots of universities do joint honours.  You basically spend half the amount of time in each subject.  The average contact time for a university is between 8-15 hours per week compared to around 30-35 hours per week on vocational courses. Vocational course are carefully structured in terms of optimum training time and teaching the skills needed for a career.  

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Just now, Picturesinthefirelight said:

 

None of those can be really classed as professional training though.

 

Lots of universities do joint honours.  You basically spend half the amount of time in each subject.  The average contact time for a university is between 8-15 hours per week compared to around 30-35 hours per week on vocational courses. Vocational course are carefully structured in terms of optimum training time and teaching the skills needed for a career.  

I totally understand that there’s no way a University can possibly offer the same level of training in Dance that a specialist school/college can offer. Just that there are options out there. It all depends on the end game for the individual student and where they see their career path leading them. 

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A simple rule of thumb is that if entry to a Dance BA Hons course is by audition - usually highly competitive, then the standard of the dancers and training will be high, no matter what the genre, classical, contemporary, musical theatre etc.  However, if it is by UCAS points then it will be a generally lower practical standard with a lot of theory, so good for certain dance related jobs, but not really for performing ones.  

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I think your DD Lemongirl will have to make a choice if she wants to dance about which area of Dance she wants to be in. 

It says in your OP that you are not sure which colleges to apply for etc. But going to say a college like the Laban Institute would be a very different experience to say attending a College like the Rambert. And either of those two would be very different to say attending Northern  Contemporary School or The Place in London. 

I don't know whether ballet is her thing or what level she last achieved but the standard would be pretty high to get into any more ballet orientated School like for example The London Studio Centre. 

There is a difference in really wanting to actual dance as a career and wanting to study Dance more academically to get a degree.

If she really wants to dance ( before perhaps pursuing another career) then the more practically based the course is the better for her chances of getting a job. 

It is a bit of a leap..... but I'm not sure exchanging an English Degree for a Dance degree (especially if not interested in teaching) is the route to go. 

Once you have checked finances/funding etc  and if the Dance didn't work out your DD may still be able to study for another more academic degree like English etc down the line ....I'm never quite sure about the funding of Dance schools.....Then I would look at applying to a School of Dance most related to her preferred styles etc. 

I don't know whether Birmingham would keep her place open for another year to give her more time to see the reality of and take the opportunity of applying to Dance schools etc. They do sometimes as in the case of illness but not sure as a general rule how they would be to delay entry for another year. If your DD is successful in gaining a place in a Dance School then at that point  she can then drop her Uni place. 

Perhaps the teachers of the classes she is currently attending and gets on well with can be of some support in her endeavours? 

 

 

 

 

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8 hours ago, Picturesinthefirelight said:

The average contact time for a university is between 8-15 hours per week compared to around 30-35 hours per week on vocational courses.

 

Spot on, @Picturesinthefirelight

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If your DD is thinking about wanting to have a crack at professional training in dance at degree level, she should do whatever auditions are still available. I agree about trying to banish the "What if ...?" lingering question. And as an academic, I actually think that the brain will wait, but the body doesn't. And I (or my colleagues!) don't want to be teaching undergrads who don't really want to be there. It's hard work, when students behave as though what they're doing is second-best. It's hard work for them as well!

 

And some advice re Birmingham English - it's an in-demand course, and the general rule of thumb in such courses is that if a student doesn't make the offer, but they are admitted anyway (and there could be many reasons for that - they impressed at interview, it's a "contextual" offer, etc etc - not an inevitable "standards lowering" decision) Admissions Tutors can be reluctant to allow a deferral.

 

This is simply because we can usually be pretty sure that in the next year's round, we will have suitably qualified applicants to admit.

 

So if they agreed to your DD's deferral for a year, then they are pretty sure they want her on the course. SO I'd email the Admissions Tutor - or rather have your daughter email - and ask about a further year's deferral. They may say 'No' and so your DD will know where she stands. 

 

But I think the main thing is that she should try to see whether she can cut it in the competition by auditioning for some conservatoire/professional dance degrees. That seems the best way she'll quell the "What if ..." doubts. And if they're before September, she has nothing to lose - as long as she's prepared for not getting offers after auditions. But then she'll know where she stands.

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3 hours ago, LinMM said:

I think your DD Lemongirl will have to make a choice if she wants to dance about which area of Dance she wants to be in. 

It says in your OP that you are not sure which colleges to apply for etc. But going to say a college like the Laban Institute would be a very different experience to say attending a College like the Rambert. And either of those two would be very different to say attending Northern  Contemporary School or The Place in London. 

I don't know whether ballet is her thing or what level she last achieved but the standard would be pretty high to get into any more ballet orientated School like for example The London Studio Centre. 

 

 

 

 

 

The standard of ballet at the school Lemongirls dd attended was very high. I’ve known a few students from there and indeed my dd auditioned but was turned down for dance on the basis of her ballet (although she was offered a musical theatre scholarship) so I can only assume lemons dd is of the right calibre (never any guarantees of course). 

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Great advice by Kate_N.  I agree that your dd should be emailing, Lemongirl, even if you need to help her draft an email.  Uni students are classed as adults and a good amount of what my dd calls “adulting” - i.e. correspondence/admin/communicating with tutors is necessary at uni so best to get into the habit of her doing her own emailing now.  

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Thank you all, really good advice. 
 

Have been mulling it over with dd and come to the conclusion that she should apply to audition to colleges where she is in time and hasn’t missed deadlines. 
 

Her focus is ballet/jazz/contemporary (but not keen on pointe). Some of the schools we’ve looked at require singing too. She’s really not musical theatre. 
 

Any recommendations where she could apply to where singing isn’t a requirement?
 

 

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