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Advice about associate programs


Twinkletoes22
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Can I please have your advice.  My dd loves to dance and when we lived abroad her dance studio had a yearly performance and she also did some festivals. We have now moved back and her current dance school (I think it’s quite old fashioned) don’t do any festivals (which kind of suits me as I find them quite stressful) but also don’t do any yearly performances so we never get to see her dance unless it’s at home. I’ve asked the teacher whether she can recommend some associate programs that we can join with a view to meeting other kids and maybe those people might do a yearly performance. The teacher has said that anything outside of the school is a conflict of interest and the only one they’d recommend is the Royal Ballet in London’s Junior Associate program (which I believe is highly competitive). Being new to this country and having zero dance experience, what would you suggest I do, if we want to do some performances (not competitions) and meet some other kids? 

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Parents may be able to pm you with contacts etc if you could give us a bit more information like whereabouts in the country you are and your child’s age and what syllabus they follow at the moment. Most parents know about their local schools and programmes. 

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Our dance school does a show every other year, but apart from a 'watching class' i'm not aware of any associates that do a 'performance' per se.

 

I would maybe look at the English Youth Ballet, as they put on ballets around the country, with the majority of the cast being young dancers. 

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1 hour ago, Jewel said:

Honestly? No performances at all, I’d find another school. 

 

I was just thinking that, Jewel.  Dd’s old local school did a show at the local theatre every other year and it was always such a joy for parents and students alike.  They also had “watching week” at the end of term too.  Neither of her Associates (Central and Tring CBA) did a show as such but they too invited parents to watch class at the end of each term (and at Central, the Pre-Senior Ladies performed a Character Dance at one of the Upper School’s shows).  

 

I’m also surprised that the school in question only sees RBS JAs as an acceptable Associate Scheme and that attending another scheme is a “conflict of interest” when there are other excellent schemes affiliated with good, long-established full-time vocational schools.  Then you also have CAT schemes, ENB YouthCo and so on.  I would be looking around for other local dance schools who not only encourage their students to apply for good Associate schemes but who have a good record of getting students onto these schemes (and into full time lower and upper schools if that might be your dd’s eventual aim).

 

And definitely look at performance opportunities like London Children’s Ballet, English Youth Ballet and so on.

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It is some years since my dd was at this stage, so my experience is a bit dated, but I do think that performance experience is important for an aspiring dancer.

 

My dd's local school did a major performance once every two years, and every year there were performance opportunities in the form of a choreography competition.

We also did some external competitions but that wasn't a big thing for my dd.

 

The associate schemes that my dd went to did not offer performance opportunities, but she did take part in Yorkshire Youth Ballet (a very short lived venture but fun while it lasted!) which gave her performance experience with students from other schools, and her local teacher encouraged her to take part in other schemes and projects which would give her performance experience.

 

Without performance, dance is a sport.  There is nothing wrong with that if that is what you want out of it, but as you gain technique by practicing in class, so you gain skills as a performer by performing.

 

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, Twinkletoes22 said:

Being new to this country and having zero dance experience, what would you suggest I do, if we want to do some performances (not competitions) and meet some other kids? 

 

I agree wholeheartedly with others here that ballet is a performing art.  I know some people disdain competitions.  In my experience, they are a key way to access performance opportunities.  I have seen my DD develop her performance skills over many years of attendance at Eisteddfods/ Comps (same diff) in Australia.  Of course she enjoys placing but over the years has also learnt to roll with the punches.  Some adjudicators like her - some don't.  This experience has also helped her deal with the variation in responses she gets in auditions and RAD/Cecchetti exams.

 

We both treasure the memories we have from her years of comps.  The costumes, the funny disasters, the achievements and the friendships.

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Another voice suggesting looking for another school. What is the point of learning to dance if you never perform. If its just about gaining grades it becomes an academic pursuit or a form of exercise. Of course dance is those things as well, but its heart is performance - self expression and bringing pleasure to an audience are key elements in my humble opinion.

Also, whilst I do have some sympathy with teachers not wanting their pupils going here there and everywhere, and wanting to be sure that they are getting a good standard of tuition, to suggest that RBS Associates is the only acceptable option is ridiculous. It is true that there's been an explosion in schemes in recent years and you do need to be a bit careful, but there are lots of very good schemes around.

For performance experience though, probably what you really want is not so much an Associate scheme but a Youth Ballet, of which there are a number depending on where you are in the country.

But seriously the lack of any performance opportunities and seeking to restrict pupils'  other activities to that degree are big red flags to me, and I would be looking for a new school in the first instance. Don't pay good money for something that does not meet your needs.

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4 hours ago, Anna C said:

 

I was just thinking that, Jewel.  Dd’s old local school did a show at the local theatre every other year and it was always such a joy for parents and students alike.  They also had “watching week” at the end of term too.  Neither of her Associates (Central and Tring CBA) did a show as such but they too invited parents to watch class at the end of each term (and at Central, the Pre-Senior Ladies performed a Character Dance at one of the Upper School’s shows).  

 

I’m also surprised that the school in question only sees RBS JAs as an acceptable Associate Scheme and that attending another scheme is a “conflict of interest” when there are other excellent schemes affiliated with good, long-established full-time vocational schools.  Then you also have CAT schemes, ENB YouthCo and so on.  I would be looking around for other local dance schools who not only encourage their students to apply for good Associate schemes but who have a good record of getting students onto these schemes (and into full time lower and upper schools if that might be your dd’s eventual aim).

 

And definitely look at performance opportunities like London Children’s Ballet, English Youth Ballet and so on.

CAT  is an alternative to vocational Lower School  though  so  They might see a local  dance school as a conflict of interest ...  ( also the  only Ballet  foceused CAT is AoNB  - although the  Contemporary  focused CATs often do iffer a decent standard of ballet  as part of their  program )

I can see  some  teachers being  dubious aobut some of the ' Associate'  schemes that  pop up but equally  when you look at the  Quality of some of the teacher  involved with associates not affiliated  with  a  VocationaSchool or Company, they are not to be sniffed  at... 

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7 hours ago, NJH said:

I can see  some  teachers being  dubious aobut some of the ' Associate'  schemes that  pop up but equally  when you look at the  Quality of some of the teacher  involved with associates not affiliated  with  a  VocationaSchool or Company, they are not to be sniffed  at... 

 

I'm only a recent newcomer to all this but entirely agree with the above. My DD is an associate of 3 of the biggest vocational schools (though only starts one in January) but I would say gets the most from a fourth scheme which is unparalleled in terms of personal feedback/corrections etc. In fact I know of lots of other JAs who travel a distance on a Sunday to attend too! 

 

Would also echo others recommending a performance based opportunities - we did Midland Theatre Ballet for a year which was just lovely and turned DD onto to applying for associates. 

 

 

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I am an advocate of training over performance.  Too many schools just do show after show after festival and it's to the detriment of actually developing technique some of the time.  

 

But no performances at all, ever.  My children would have given up long ago.  They also attended multiple schools according to their needs.  One wanted to focus much more on correct ballet technique etc, she attended a well regarded local ballet school for ballet, tap and modern and they did a show every two years.  She also attended musical theatre jazz, singing and drama classes at another school alongside performing in local amateur theatre companies shows and attending various dance and musical theatre related summer schools.  She never did EYB or MTB but that was more to do with logistics, she was already committed to panto and another professional opportunity when audition time came around.

 

My other child loved to perform for fun but didn't have the same application.  They attended another less ballet focused local dance school for singing and jazz dance classes and performed with a local musical theatre youth group and attended workshops and summer schools with them. 

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18 hours ago, Canary said:

Parents may be able to pm you with contacts etc if you could give us a bit more information like whereabouts in the country you are and your child’s age and what syllabus they follow at the moment. Most parents know about their local schools and programmes. 

Thank you for your suggestions. We are based in Kent in Westerham and happy to travel. She’s 9 years old and follows the RAD.  I think the fact that we haven’t performed for 3 years now, she’s kind of developed a bit of ‘fear’ of it. Whenever I ask her if she misses it, she says; ‘I’m not good at that anymore. I don’t do well under pressure.’  

Edited by Twinkletoes22
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10 minutes ago, Twinkletoes22 said:

Thank you for your suggestions. We are based in Kent in Westerham and happy to travel. She’s 9 years old and follows the RAD.  I think the fact that we haven’t performed for 3 years now, she’s kind of developed a bit of ‘fear’ of it. Whenever I ask her if she misses it, she says; ‘I’m not good at that anymore. I don’t do well under pressure.’  

There are loads of excellent associate schemes around the country, RBS is one, however like you say it is highly competitive and they only take around 10% of those who apply. Elmhurst young dancers and ballet boost are also supposed to be good. However if its performance practice you want, I'm not sure associates do a great deal of performing. Maybe worth seeing if another school is more suitable? X 

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Oh dear, that sounds really sad.  Aren't there any opportunities to perform more for the joy of it than under stress?

 

Westerham.  So presumably you have your own transport - can't exactly rely on the 246, can you? :) - and can get to Sevenoaks and fast train services to London and further into Kent/Sussex.  Normally, anyway, under non-Tier 3 conditions :(

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We’re in Sussex and my just turned 9 year old attends the London Junior Ballet Associates every Sunday,

as recommended by our local ballet school. She loves it and has progressed rapidly since September. She has enjoyed performing with the English Youth Ballet - and will be taking part in Swan Lake in Bromley next July (although not sure if they are taking any new dancers as the performance was cancelled this summer). I think EYB may also be auditioning (on video) in May for a performance in Crawley in Nov 2021. There is also Southern Youth Ballet to have a look at locally. 

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