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Is it really still potential? (Royal Ballet School 2021 intake)


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Wow - I'm so glad insta wasn't a thing when my dd was a child.

 

The thought of complete strangers being able to follow my child's progress sounds quite scary to me.

 

And I'm not surprised your dc's feel intimated by these glossy profiles - but please remind them that what people put on social media isn't necessarily a true representation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 minutes ago, BalletBoysDad said:

Absolutely!  Social media has been a great way to learn about some of the paths towards an education in dance.   I wouldn't have known about half of these schools ands schemes if it wasn't for social media and websites such as this forum. I've just been mindful not to let myself think that anything shown or discussed is the ONLY path towards dance.  Its good to see what children are good at on social media, my son enjoys looking too.  But people are often not sharing what they struggle at, and that might be the area that another child really shows potential with at audition etc.

 

 Oh same here! We do love a good browse through posts.  I think they can be equal parts inspiring and worrying.  Social media has been brilliant for us though because it has showed us lots of other opportunities we would not have easily found if it were not for Instagram!  Lots to even maybe put at the back of our minds for after a few years.

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2 hours ago, Dizzyballetmum said:

“ Guessing who gets in “ gosh that feels like a bit of a blood sport especially with children so young . I’m glad that once these children are in vocational training their posts are monitored ,would leave them very vulnerable otherwise . When my DD was in year six and preparing for vocational auditions she trained two hours a week plus her junior associate classes . Nearer the time of auditions she increased the ballet slightly and put a hold on the tap and modern just so she didn’t burn out . She was lucky to get a place at WL and in her class there was a real mix of levels of training . However they did all have the necessary ingredients.As a ballet teacher and a ballet mum I would always say it’s a marathon not a sprint . With natural potential taking a student much further than hours of coaching . I’ve never believed in having extra coaching whilst in vocational school other than Easter / summer schools . Young bodies need to rest and grow . Of course everyone takes their own path and decides how best to achieve their goals this is just the recipe I believe has worked for my daughter. She’s now in her final year at the lower school . Good luck next year to your DC, take the pressure of comparison away and try and enjoy the process it’s not for the faint hearted 😂 but it’s a journey we would both take again . Xx 

Sorry, this is my fault for maybe using the wrong phrase, I didn't mean to make it sound sinister.  I do apologise.  In reality it was more like a casual conversation that was along the lines of "oh, I think so and so will get in to X school, also so and so..."  It is true though that it is quite worrying how some kids are very active on social media at such a young age although I suspect for some of them, the posters are the parent/s.  The flipside to this is that I find it very freaky when a parent posts on a child's account but uses the first person voice, like they are the child actually writing the caption or comment.

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24 minutes ago, Momapalooza said:

 Oh same here! We do love a good browse through posts.  I think they can be equal parts inspiring and worrying.  Social media has been brilliant for us though because it has showed us lots of other opportunities we would not have easily found if it were not for Instagram!  Lots to even maybe put at the back of our minds for after a few years.

I do always try and bare in mind, whether in a viewing class or if looking at social media, its very hard to pinpoint an age or 'moment' in someone's development, so I remind myself not to make any hasty comparison.   I remember seeing a boy on one of my son's tutors Instagram post doing all sorts of impressive things.  I asked the tutor if they were the same age as I though 'wow, is this the competition?', and was told they were the same age.  But I later found out the boy is a year and a half older.  My son is in Y5 and that boy will shortly be starting Y7 vocational school.  That was my first positive experience of learning not to make comparisons.

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It is an interesting topic. I've got two main thoughts though. You only see what people choose to share and you can't change what you can't change....

Social media, and even forums like this can be very misleading because they only show a snippet of what's really going on. I don't doubt that there are youngsters and schools with a very active social media presence who have been successful gaining places. But by definition we don't see those who are not in the same mould. The quiet kid from the modest local dance school that doesn't have an Instagram page but who gets multiple offers won't be noticed by the outside world, simply because they don't publicise themselves. So it becomes easy to believe that it is only the social media savvy dancers and schools that have sucess. I really don't think that's the case.

And whilst it is human nature to try to analyse admissions and try to figure out what panels are looking for, in reality nobody ever really knows and overthinking things only causes more stress and anxiety. A huge amount of things are beyond our control, and ultimately all anyone can do is turn up and try their best. I know that sounds a bit fatalistic but from sometimes bitter experience I have come to the conclusion that the best approach is simply to be yourself, try your best and hope for the best. 

It's far easier said than done of course - we all want to support our children's dreams however we can - but it's easy to get sucked into this crazy competitive world and become over invested. It's always been that way to a degree, but social media makes it much much worse. I suspect that a lot of what we see isn't "real" and is best ignored really. 

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Thanks for posting this. You said exactly what I was thinking. My DD was at the white lodge final, she has not been an associate of any company just regular training at her dance school. It was quite clear from when you see coaches on Instagram posting of the success of getting several through that my daughter never really stood a chance, she’s not a ‘finished product’ so to speak. Although she still made that place in the final despite not being a JA or intense associate training and it was a great experience, going off our experience this time I would say they are looking for a more polished dancer and I would be aware of this when applying. That being said it has all been a great experience non the less and I would still give it a go. But that raw talent of an unpolished mouldable child like for example the  Billy Elliot style story just doesn’t seem true to life unfortunately. In our case and our experience anyway. But obviously this is just my opinion from a newbie to it all here 

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1 hour ago, Momapalooza said:

Sorry, this is my fault for maybe using the wrong phrase, I didn't mean to make it sound sinister.  I do apologise.  In reality it was more like a casual conversation that was along the lines of "oh, I think so and so will get in to X school, also so and so..."  It is true though that it is quite worrying how some kids are very active on social media at such a young age although I suspect for some of them, the posters are the parent/s.  The flipside to this is that I find it very freaky when a parent posts on a child's account but uses the first person voice, like they are the child actually writing the caption or comment.

Apologies I think what I was trying to say came out wrong too ! Of course it’s hard not to compare and second guess when presented with photos . Even now all these years on it’s hard not to do that . I think posting the journey on social media can add extra pressure for children but then there’s the flip side where it can help stay connected and of course it’s always nice to both share and read about good news. Best of luck for next year , what’s meant to be will be xx

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16 minutes ago, Weloveballet said:

Thanks for posting this. You said exactly what I was thinking. My DD was at the white lodge final, she has not been an associate of any company just regular training at her dance school. It was quite clear from when you see coaches on Instagram posting of the success of getting several through that my daughter never really stood a chance, she’s not a ‘finished product’ so to speak. Although she still made that place in the final despite not being a JA or intense associate training and it was a great experience, going off our experience this time I would say they are looking for a more polished dancer and I would be aware of this when applying. That being said it has all been a great experience non the less and I would still give it a go. But that raw talent of an unpolished mouldable child like for example the  Billy Elliot style story just doesn’t seem true to life unfortunately. In our case and our experience anyway. But obviously this is just my opinion from a newbie to it all here 

I am so pleased your DD still had a great experience and at the end of the day, that's what counts.  I think I would let DC audition, but emphasise it is for experience and to have a fun day.  I am also aware though that this is so easy to say, but the truth is, a no is a no and a child will take it as just that.  That moment they get a no email/letter, no matter how we and themselves talk them into it being just an experience, be realistic, it's only a no for now, it's good for you it will teach you resilience/grit/determination - bottom line is it is a no and I doubt a 10/11 year old at that very moment can think of beyond that time.  As a parent, I know this is good for them, life lessons and all that but I know for sure that my heart will break a little for that DC especially when I know I am unable to provide the same level of training etc most others have.

 

I also agree with you about what you saw on Instagram.  I am aware that people of course post the good things, but going on this there would have been way less kids who got in who were not visible and whose training may not have been as intense.  Off the top of my head, we have seen at least 10 of those offered on various forms of social media, and from multiple sources.  When I say 10, I mean just one of the genders (not both).  I think I read on another thread that this school intended to offer maybe just a dozen places.  

 

Your DD has done so well Weloveballet!  very well done to you and her especially when you mentioned her training and not being an associate of any company.  I do think associates schemes vary.  For some, I think it doesn't matter even if it was attached to a school.  For some, the stats suggest that overwhelmingly their intakes are from their own associates scheme.  I do wonder if this deters those who aren't their associates from trying.  As an adult with questionable grit and determination, I think it does me.  But I am old and not really resilient enough. Kids would probably gladly try anyway, even year after year.  I think I am too realistic and look too much at the cold hard numbers.

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1 hour ago, Momapalooza said:

Sorry, this is my fault for maybe using the wrong phrase, I didn't mean to make it sound sinister.  I do apologise.  In reality it was more like a casual conversation that was along the lines of "oh, I think so and so will get in to X school, also so and so..."  It is true though that it is quite worrying how some kids are very active on social media at such a young age although I suspect for some of them, the posters are the parent/s.  The flipside to this is that I find it very freaky when a parent posts on a child's account but uses the first person voice, like they are the child actually writing the caption or comment.


speaking in the first person on a child’s account from the parent is fairly common and I think for a good reason. If a child wants a public blog/ journey Instagram (which a lot do nowadays) it is much safer for the parent to run the account.  Speaking as though your the child is just re instating that the account is the child’s journey not theirs. Also if Instagram suspects a child is speaking they will delete. Again for good reason. It is nice to document the journey 

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1 minute ago, Momapalooza said:

I am so pleased your DD still had a great experience and at the end of the day, that's what counts.  I think I would let DC audition, but emphasise it is for experience and to have a fun day.  I am also aware though that this is so easy to say, but the truth is, a no is a no and a child will take it as just that.  That moment they get a no email/letter, no matter how we and themselves talk them into it being just an experience, be realistic, it's only a no for now, it's good for you it will teach you resilience/grit/determination - bottom line is it is a no and I doubt a 10/11 year old at that very moment can think of beyond that time.  As a parent, I know this is good for them, life lessons and all that but I know for sure that my heart will break a little for that DC especially when I know I am unable to provide the same level of training etc most others have.

 

I also agree with you about what you saw on Instagram.  I am aware that people of course post the good things, but going on this there would have been way less kids who got in who were not visible and whose training may not have been as intense.  Off the top of my head, we have seen at least 10 of those offered on various forms of social media, and from multiple sources.  When I say 10, I mean just one of the genders (not both).  I think I read on another thread that this school intended to offer maybe just a dozen places.  

 

Your DD has done so well Weloveballet!  very well done to you and her especially when you mentioned her training and not being an associate of any company.  I do think associates schemes vary.  For some, I think it doesn't matter even if it was attached to a school.  For some, the stats suggest that overwhelmingly their intakes are from their own associates scheme.  I do wonder if this deters those who aren't their associates from trying.  As an adult with questionable grit and determination, I think it does me.  But I am old and not really resilient enough. Kids would probably gladly try anyway, even year after year.  I think I am too realistic and look too much at the cold hard numbers.


thank you so much, it really was a great experience and we would do it all again! It’s a lovely place to dance and it’s an amazing audition to work towards. We met lovely mums and my DD met lovely kids there at the audition. Overall it was a really positive experience but as you say a no is still a no and is still upsetting to read despite going in with low expectations. I would 110 percent go for it and wish your DC lots of luck and all the best with it. People will have different experiences in each year I’m sure. You can only do your best and you never know if you don’t try 😀

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You’re right of course that a “no” is sad and disappointing for children, especially the first one.  Some children will take it much harder than others too.  A lot depends upon personality, a lot depends upon how we as parents (and teachers) react.  It’s vital to acknowledge that the child’s feelings of sadness and disappointment are valid, but it’s also important that they (a) know that there is no shame in a “No thank you”/“Not just yet”, and (b) it isn’t personal; there are just too many talented children and only a very few spaces.   It’s very easy for us to invest so much time, money and energy into our child’s ballet journey that this can inadvertently put pressure on them, when actually what they need to know is that it’s ok to “fail” and that the feelings of sadness will pass and the sun will shine again.

 

Yes, it’s very hard to see your child feeling sad, but the hard facts are that if they want to have a chance of becoming a professional dancer (or musician, or footballer), this is a process that they’re going to have to go through again and again, so in a way, the earlier they get used to auditions, the better.  

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The other thing to be wary of is conflating correlation with causation. The fact that the majority accepted into WL are JAs and/or belong to multiple associate schemes doex not necessarily mean that they get into WL because they are associates. Rather it's likely that the associates and full time school are looking for the same things, so if a child has the characteristics that associates are looking for then s/he likely also has the characteristics that the full time school want. 

Of course there are children who never applied for associates and others who have changed considerably since a JA "no" and then get a WL "yes" but statistically both those things are relatively unlikely. Surely most children who are keen to apply to a specialist school when they are 10 have been pretty committed to dancing for a number of years and have applied for associatesand other schemes already. The "Billy Elliot" scenario is rare because children in that situation are rare - but it's not impossible and does occasionally happen. 

I don't believe any vocational school takes youngsters to finals to make up the numbers so all those who were invited clearly have potential. 

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6 hours ago, BattementBatty said:

This year seems particularly intense with the riseof online super teachers (ex company dancers/ highly sought after ballet school teachers) being able to offer private zooms easily from their homes. Also how much in person prep would have varied hugely this year as some schools were continuing ‘elite’ associate programmes during lockdown and others not. Some teachers doing live audition prep as per the rules and others not.   I expect this will continue.
 

However, I don’t think it is just a new thing this year,  my dd got to WL finals last year and seemed to be one of the few who hadn’t been having almost daily private lessons and hadn’t applied to all the ballet schools. She had just started as a JA in year 6 and we hadn’t even considered ballet school until we realised to apply to MAs you it’s the same audition process as WL. With hindsight, I think on less than 2 hours ballet a week and alternate weeks as a JA from Sept - Jan, she did amazingly well to get to WL finals and get an MA place. If we”d gone all out maybe she would have got in somewhere but would it have crushed her love of dance?  I don’t know but I do think that realistically there is very little chance for those children (especially girls) who are auctioning based on potential with just a limited amount of hours of ballet in the week. 

This was my son, who joined JAs Y6, from a Saturday morning RAD class, and made the WL final, but we wanted an MA place and he got one. That was 2 yrs ago and he’s been on quite a ballet journey since, but has never had privates or extra classes. He started with his current ballet school last September, which is non-residential vocational training and that is 5 times a week plus his MAs.

He was offered an immediate start place at Elmhurst from their Prelims last January. He went for the audition experience, not for the place, and has recently been successful for a Y9 place at Tring.

All this occurred with regular ballet classes and his Associates. Oh and an annual Intensive and performing with EYB or BRB.

He’s had a great time over the last few years, really enjoyed what’s been on offer. Our funds are extremely limited so we have had to look where funding is available. Hard but doable.

What I’m saying is absolutely let your children try, anything is possible, it really is.

Your post does highlight what we see all the time on our travels, children doing 3/4 associates, training everyday plus privates, Pilates, body conditioning and so on. 
I don’t believe though that this makes for well rounded dancers at their age, I imagine they must be very worn out. I know my son has been very tired since starting vocational training plus travelling and school. 
 

If your children love dancing that’s all that matters, and you can afford the audition fees, then you have nothing to loose. The experiences are really lovely ones even for the parents. I love waiting for my son whilst he is in MA class at Covent Garden. 
 

FWIW my son is 13 next week and is not allowed on social media and does not have internet access unless it is on our main computer. He has Instagram that’s private and managed by me. We joined to find classes through lockdown and it was a great way to access classes that he would never have been able to do. Keeping his social media closely monitored really helps because he’s not exposed to what’s out there, he isn’t really aware of it in one sense. He knows his worth as a dancer amongst his peers and that is way more important than how many classes he has fitted in. 

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Just had a look through this new and interesting thread. @Momapaloozaand others on this forum, don't be disheartened and think that it's not worth trying for anything if your DC really wants to take dance seriously but you can't afford expensive private teachers. We saved hard and/or got scholarships to give our DS the opportunities he has been lucky enough to have, and because he wanted to do them. He did his audition video in a local community centre, he still uses a dining chair as a barre and his 'rehearsal' for the auditions involved doing his usual zoom lessons, plus finding free video classes online to do, or just putting some music on and dancing round the room. And we're not from the South! Our DS has had recent success in spite of all these (apparent) disadvantages, so our conclusion is that 'potential' is still a thing, as he certainly isn't the finished product (his lockdown haircut for the audition is proof of that 😂).

As for the North/ South divide, in his audition group for WL, every child had travelled hundreds of miles, none were from London or the South East - and that was a quarter of the finalists for DSs this year.

I joined this forum in order to get support and help during this trickiest of audition years as a relative novice to the whole dance scene, and it's been great how supportive people have been. Hope this post provides support and hope too! 

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My DS has a high number of followers on instagram but that is not reflective of his ability to dance, it was gained through another sport, and becoming an ambassador, so never judge a social media account by the followers!

I also strongly monitor who is accepted which I know from sound accounts with thousands how many strange people they have on theirs. We like to keep it real and positive to encourage and support others. My DS was known for the sport he did so very publicly leaving that sport spurred so many questions from strangers about his choice to dance. some supported him some didn't but maintained its him warts and all take it or leave it, he is far from perfect come along for the journey or not lol. 

My DS is brand new to dance, we follow lots of dancers on instagram both boys and girls and did take a guess at who would get places, due to their 'look' but also ability. We have a year to apply for vocational if that is the route to he would like to take, we have to see how he gets on, at the moment he really wants to . 

It is interesting that alot of people have noticed people from the south getting in to the bigger schools, because being from the south, we notice how many dance opportunities are up in the north (Elmhurst, Northern Ballet, Yorkshire, BRB etc) . My DS is part of an dance associates where most boys are all from the midlands up , so we have not met many southern boys!

The posts on here are so interesting , especially this thread, it has opened my eyes to how we view social media posts and how much we read into what is posted. 

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Interestingly I have yet to see or hear of a child from the north of the UK get a place at WL hopefully I am wrong and there is a few out there but from social media this doesn’t appear to be the case. I’m sure it’s just coincidence as I know there was a lot from the north at the finals 

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8 minutes ago, Weloveballet said:

Interestingly I have yet to see or hear of a child from the north of the UK get a place at WL hopefully I am wrong and there is a few out there but from social media this doesn’t appear to be the case. I’m sure it’s just coincidence as I know there was a lot from the north at the finals 

Historically there have been a lot (relatively speaking) from Yorkshire, but I don't know whether this is still the case.  

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11 minutes ago, Weloveballet said:

Interestingly I have yet to see or hear of a child from the north of the UK get a place at WL hopefully I am wrong and there is a few out there but from social media this doesn’t appear to be the case. I’m sure it’s just coincidence as I know there was a lot from the north at the finals 

My DS did!

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1 hour ago, TwirlyWhirly said:

Just had a look through this new and interesting thread. @Momapaloozaand others on this forum, don't be disheartened and think that it's not worth trying for anything if your DC really wants to take dance seriously but you can't afford expensive private teachers. We saved hard and/or got scholarships to give our DS the opportunities he has been lucky enough to have, and because he wanted to do them. He did his audition video in a local community centre, he still uses a dining chair as a barre and his 'rehearsal' for the auditions involved doing his usual zoom lessons, plus finding free video classes online to do, or just putting some music on and dancing round the room. And we're not from the South! Our DS has had recent success in spite of all these (apparent) disadvantages, so our conclusion is that 'potential' is still a thing, as he certainly isn't the finished product (his lockdown haircut for the audition is proof of that 😂).

As for the North/ South divide, in his audition group for WL, every child had travelled hundreds of miles, none were from London or the South East - and that was a quarter of the finalists for DSs this year.

I joined this forum in order to get support and help during this trickiest of audition years as a relative novice to the whole dance scene, and it's been great how supportive people have been. Hope this post provides support and hope too! 

You’ve just triggered a thought.... you mentioned this trickiest of audition years and lockdown haircuts etc. Prior to lockdown, the thought of zoom lessons and virtual intensives didn’t actually exist. We took our children to lessons in a real studio. Lockdown, and the break in ‘really life training’ opened you all sorts of zoom and digital training options, often advertised on Instagram. Private tuition suddenly became possible on zoom, often at a much cheaper rate than ‘real life’ private tuition with the added cost of studio hire. 
 

Maybe lockdown has encouraged people to spend more time on social media and amplified rather quickly its perceived role or influence in children’s training...  or has formed some kind of ‘glossy visual path to success’ that isn’t completely necessary.

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2 hours ago, Dancedreamer said:

 

It is interesting that alot of people have noticed people from the south getting in to the bigger schools, because being from the south, we notice how many dance opportunities are up in the north (Elmhurst, Northern Ballet, Yorkshire, BRB etc) . My DS is part of an dance associates where most boys are all from the midlands up , so we have not met many southern boys! 


Not really the point of the thread but Birmingham isn’t really the north. My dc have gone to vocational schools at 11 because there just wasn’t the amount of local training at the right standard here, for them to be able to ‘compete’ for upper school places at 16, not without spending between six and eight hours in a car both days every weekend! No mid associates for Elmhurst near us, only Royal MAs with very few places. Some areas of the country are much better served by dance organisations than others. 

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54 minutes ago, TwirlyWhirly said:

My DS did!


thats good then! Well done to your DS. Your the first I’ve heard of from the north. As the topic is going off social media impressions it’s just from what I’ve seen on social media and I did expect there would be some 

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If anyone is considering letting their child have a social media account, I’d urge you to watch “The Social Dilemma” on Netflix first.  It’s an absolute eye-opener.  

 

I do understand that during lockdown, virtual classes are often advertised on Instagram but when things are back to (relative) normality and classes start again in the studio, Dancing Times is a good place to find out about those courses which don’t pop up on here.  

 

If your youngster simply must have Instagram before age 13 then it might be better if you make a private account in your name, follow the dancers they’re interested in, then let them use it on your phone/device.  Even then, be aware of what they’re looking at and the effects it might have on them (body image issues suddenly cropping up, or an interest in stretching at home because they’ve seen someone on IG doing oversplits, and so on).  There are excellent, body positive, affirming accounts too, of course - Cloud & Victory is one.  But overall, social media can be a dangerous environment.

 

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At WL there are 3.students in yr 7 from the north....and 3 in yr 8 :) one of the yr 8s used to dance with my dd and the rest from her JA centre.

 

And in dds year at elmhurst there are 6 northerners.......she always gets comments about her Yorkshire accent though I can hear her losing it sadly 😥

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27 minutes ago, Farawaydancer said:


Not really the point of the thread but Birmingham isn’t really the north. 

 

Birmingham is north for us 😂, yes technically Midlands. We are the very south of the country.

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Sorry, I guess my north/south comment might have been misconstrued, I actually was just genuinely wondering why the particular group from this year’s auditionees (and only one gender, not the entirety of the group offered places) seemed to be overwhelmingly from the south. I think at least 9, of a possible 12. 
 

The Instagram security concern I had was a bit of a side issue. I think originally what I just meant was that it sort of displayed to the world just how much training these young children were getting, more so this year. It was almost predictable for some, private on so and so days with certain teacher, class every weekday with usual school, associates 1 and 2 on Saturday, associates 3 on Sunday, associates 4 every other weekend etc.  And yes of course if they have the means to do that much training then good on them as it’s an investment for their future and a means to their goal.   I do think they share this as it’s a shared journey among like minded youngsters and that’s lovely. A way to network and indeed I think that by the time they start, they’ve probably been in contact with each other long before they even auditioned  thanks to social media.
 

Particular only to THIS year’s auditions, this seems to be the norm to get offered a place. I also think there’s a slight difference between boys and girls. Somehow, and I must stress this is a personal opinion and could be totally wrong, it seems to be that boys in general still have a bigger chance of getting a place based on potential alone. 

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I think it’s become obvious in recent years that many, especially the girls have had extensive training and lessons. I think to some extent it’s gone that way whether it’s music, academics, sport etc. There are some exceptional candidates who will get through whatever. There are a lot of talented children with good physique etc and the ones who have had the top class coaching are more likely to get through. It would be nice is everything was just done on potential but I think realistically there are other factors. Some of the associates have bursaries for low income I think and you can work on flexibility, musicality at home

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1 hour ago, Weloveballet said:

Interestingly I have yet to see or hear of a child from the north of the UK get a place at WL hopefully I am wrong and there is a few out there but from social media this doesn’t appear to be the case. I’m sure it’s just coincidence as I know there was a lot from the north at the finals 

 

I know it is some years ago but Matthew Ball, now a principal at the Royal Ballet, went through White Lodge and Upper School and graduated into the company.  He is from Liverpool.

 

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1 hour ago, Pirouette said:

Historically there have been a lot (relatively speaking) from Yorkshire, but I don't know whether this is still the case.  

 

Indeed - and one is now Director of The Royal Ballet, one is Senior Ballet Master at Birmingham Royal Ballet, one is AD at Elmhurst, one is a principal at BRB and one is an upcoming soloist at BRB to mention but a few!!  

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  • Jan McNulty changed the title to Is it really still potential? (Royal Ballet School 2021 intake)

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