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dizzyalice
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Hi

I’ve only ever commented on one thread on here so I guess you could say I’m still a newbie. My DD is Year 9 and is looking at possibly auditioning for Upper Schools when the time comes. She was a JA and got to Elmhurst auditions finals but in 2020 so because she had decided she didn’t want to live away from home, we didn’t go to the final audition, just as covid was about to start. My question is, I’m not that much of a ballet mum and other than the 4 main schools, which other options are there at 16 years old? We are looking at classical ballet though she also does contemporary, modern, jazz. I’d love to hear of experiences of upper school particularly from those who joined in year 12 from mainstream schools. Have they found it difficult being up against those who may have gone through lower school training? 

 

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32 minutes ago, dizzyalice said:

Hi

I’ve only ever commented on one thread on here so I guess you could say I’m still a newbie. My DD is Year 9 and is looking at possibly auditioning for Upper Schools when the time comes. She was a JA and got to Elmhurst auditions finals but in 2020 so because she had decided she didn’t want to live away from home, we didn’t go to the final audition, just as covid was about to start. My question is, I’m not that much of a ballet mum and other than the 4 main schools, which other options are there at 16 years old? We are looking at classical ballet though she also does contemporary, modern, jazz. I’d love to hear of experiences of upper school particularly from those who joined in year 12 from mainstream schools. Have they found it difficult being up against those who may have gone through lower school training? 

 

Hi. be prepared, long response coming.
 

I’m going to suggest that you may want to look at the Northern Ballet School (NBS) in Manchester. Not the stereotypical upper school as it doesn’t offer A levels like some of the big names. 
NBS offers a Diploma level 6 in professional dance. All pupils train in all genres for the first yr with the option to select either the classical focus or the jazz focus for their 2nd & 3rd year. When a pupil does select Classical it does not exclude other genres entirely as their timetable is developed around them giving the opportunity to continue broadening their training. And the jazz doesn’t exclude ballet either as that is such a core part of the pupils training. 
First yrs are not all 16yr olds like other upper schools as NBS cater for those intending to pursue the Jazz focus from the outset but everyone has an assessment and interview at the end of their 1st yr to assist them in selecting the correct focus to meet their skills, abilities and of course future employment in the industry. 
What also sets the school apart is the one day only audition process. Dates offered start on Nov early Dec then start up

again late Jan. No recalls, no finals. Letter arrives about a week later. There is the option to be considered for a DaDa for funding and that does require a wait until all auditions are completed. 
Pupils live off site in one of the many Halls offered by Uni providers nearby but don’t worry as the providers do not mix the NBS pupils with Uni students in their flats. There’s also a small proportion of pupils across the year groups that commute in as they live within the Greater Manchester area.  
There was an announcement recently by ICTheatre who is the parent company that owns NBS that they had been confirmed that they can now offer a Degree along with the Diploma. Which would certainly bring the fees down for some in line with other degree courses. Whilst this isn’t probably available for the younger pupil it should mean that there are more DaDa’s available as the older pupils could  select the degree course if the school retain the same amount if DaDa’s. But this is all fairly new so plenty of time to see what happens.

DD graduated July 2021 so we’ve now moved away from school life and now gaining our experience and knowledge of the audition process & working within the industry. Which is another experience entirely. 

Any questions please just ask. 😊  

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Which schools do you mean by the main 4? For year 12 and older there are many different establishments who don't have courses for Yrs 7 - 11.  This means that the majority of candidates at auditions, and those selected, haven't been to vocational school. There are several threads on here from previous years, so it might be doing a search, but things do change so here is a selection and other people can add to the list. RBS, ENBS, Elmhurst, Tring, Central, Rambert, Kings International, Ballet Theatre UK, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow, Edinburgh Festival Ballet School.

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3 hours ago, dizzyalice said:

Hi

I’ve only ever commented on one thread on here so I guess you could say I’m still a newbie. My DD is Year 9 and is looking at possibly auditioning for Upper Schools when the time comes. She was a JA and got to Elmhurst auditions finals but in 2020 so because she had decided she didn’t want to live away from home, we didn’t go to the final audition, just as covid was about to start. My question is, I’m not that much of a ballet mum and other than the 4 main schools, which other options are there at 16 years old? We are looking at classical ballet though she also does contemporary, modern, jazz. I’d love to hear of experiences of upper school particularly from those who joined in year 12 from mainstream schools. Have they found it difficult being up against those who may have gone through lower school training? 

 

At 16 and if you’re looking at the very classical, reputationally ‘well known big’ schools, I would say the main competition would mainly be from those trained overseas. Based purely on what I’ve observed in the last few years, those who manage to get an upper school place in these schools (who do not come from full time vocational schools) are those who have received similar training and perhaps even more hours than those who are from full time schools, and I think the latter are starting to realise this. These non-vocational young dancers who get places in excellent classical ballet upper schools here and overseas are often exquisitely trained by great and often multiple teachers/schools. It’s extremely hard to get these hours if you go to a mainstream schools, so being homeschooled is a serious option. A lot of these teaches who specialise in training for upper school have long waitlists and have availability only within the week, during school time.  The higher up the years they go, the competition becomes much, much tougher. This depends of course, on the schools you are considering.

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3 hours ago, balletbean said:

Hi. be prepared, long response coming.
 

I’m going to suggest that you may want to look at the Northern Ballet School (NBS) in Manchester. Not the stereotypical upper school as it doesn’t offer A levels like some of the big names. 
NBS offers a Diploma level 6 in professional dance. All pupils train in all genres for the first yr with the option to select either the classical focus or the jazz focus for their 2nd & 3rd year. When a pupil does select Classical it does not exclude other genres entirely as their timetable is developed around them giving the opportunity to continue broadening their training. And the jazz doesn’t exclude ballet either as that is such a core part of the pupils training. 
First yrs are not all 16yr olds like other upper schools as NBS cater for those intending to pursue the Jazz focus from the outset but everyone has an assessment and interview at the end of their 1st yr to assist them in selecting the correct focus to meet their skills, abilities and of course future employment in the industry. 
What also sets the school apart is the one day only audition process. Dates offered start on Nov early Dec then start up

again late Jan. No recalls, no finals. Letter arrives about a week later. There is the option to be considered for a DaDa for funding and that does require a wait until all auditions are completed. 
Pupils live off site in one of the many Halls offered by Uni providers nearby but don’t worry as the providers do not mix the NBS pupils with Uni students in their flats. There’s also a small proportion of pupils across the year groups that commute in as they live within the Greater Manchester area.  
There was an announcement recently by ICTheatre who is the parent company that owns NBS that they had been confirmed that they can now offer a Degree along with the Diploma. Which would certainly bring the fees down for some in line with other degree courses. Whilst this isn’t probably available for the younger pupil it should mean that there are more DaDa’s available as the older pupils could  select the degree course if the school retain the same amount if DaDa’s. But this is all fairly new so plenty of time to see what happens.

DD graduated July 2021 so we’ve now moved away from school life and now gaining our experience and knowledge of the audition process & working within the industry. Which is another experience entirely. 

Any questions please just ask. 😊  

 

Balletbean has covered it, I think - and has been very helpful to me in the past too, so do pick their brains about NBS if you're considering it.

 

My daughter is in Yr 2 at NBS and I'd be happy to answer anything too. She joined from mainstream school at Year 12. There's a real mixture of where people have come from.

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1 hour ago, Neverdancedjustamum said:

At 16 and if you’re looking at the very classical, reputationally ‘well known big’ schools, I would say the main competition would mainly be from those trained overseas. Based purely on what I’ve observed in the last few years, those who manage to get an upper school place in these schools (who do not come from full time vocational schools) are those who have received similar training and perhaps even more hours than those who are from full time schools, and I think the latter are starting to realise this. These non-vocational young dancers who get places in excellent classical ballet upper schools here and overseas are often exquisitely trained by great and often multiple teachers/schools. It’s extremely hard to get these hours if you go to a mainstream schools, so being homeschooled is a serious option. A lot of these teaches who specialise in training for upper school have long waitlists and have availability only within the week, during school time.  The higher up the years they go, the competition becomes much, much tougher. This depends of course, on the schools you are considering.

This is very true. Some of them do YAGP which is a good place to go if you want to see the standards internationally - even the European rounds attract dancers from Australia and USA. Ballet is very international, with incredible standards and even those at top British vocational schools will be challenged by it! 

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1 hour ago, Kerfuffle said:

This is very true. Some of them do YAGP which is a good place to go if you want to see the standards internationally - even the European rounds attract dancers from Australia and USA. Ballet is very international, with incredible standards and even those at top British vocational schools will be challenged by it! 

I recently saw a European one and was stunned at how confident and solid dancers as young as 12 were on pointe (the ones I saw were from the US). The masterclasses were also an eye opener, so many technically advanced dancers from overseas who have brilliant performance quality. It will be very interesting to see if any candidates from the U.K. will win prizes in the YAGP finals or qualify for next year’s Prix de Lausanne. 

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I think those talented young Americans are veteran YAGP competitors, often coming to defend their titles here in Europe. The standard is higher in the semis in Europe I think because it’s more international. The masterclasses show that they aren’t just one hit wonders - their class work is equally impressive. Sadly there are very few U.K. candidates for YAGP or Prix de Lausanne. 

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15 minutes ago, Kerfuffle said:

 

 

I think those talented young Americans are veteran YAGP competitors, often coming to defend their titles here in Europe. The standard is higher in the semis in Europe I think because it’s more international. The masterclasses show that they aren’t just one hit wonders - their class work is equally impressive. Sadly there are very few U.K. candidates for YAGP or Prix de Lausanne. 

Shame as schools seem to recruit heavily from these two competitions, either to their full time programmes or to their summer intensives (eventually offering full time places off these too). 

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1 hour ago, Neverdancedjustamum said:

It will be very interesting to see if any candidates from the U.K. will win prizes in the YAGP finals or qualify for next year’s Prix de Lausanne. 

If by next year's Prix de Lausanne you mean February 2023, the selection has already been published and I am afraid none of the UK candidates were taken.

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25 minutes ago, Neverdancedjustamum said:

Shame as schools seem to recruit heavily from these two competitions, either to their full time programmes or to their summer intensives (eventually offering full time places off these too). 

I guess it’s worth competing in if you have the funds/time/suitable teacher! You have to be in it to win it 😵💫. A lot of the best prizes are at the finals - before that there are scholarships to summer schools given out  but I guess anyone can audition for those - a majority of them go to the juniors or boys. Masterclasses expose you to some very good teachers from the top schools so worth doing to be seen. 

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14 hours ago, Kerfuffle said:

Such a shame! I guess there weren’t very many that applied? Some of the top European schools enter so the competition has to be fierce! 

 

Only 6 candidates registered for PdL from the UK & none were selected

https://www.prixdelausanne.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/number-of-candidates-pdl-2023-1.pdf

 

As I recall, a range of reasons are given, over the years, for low UK registrations (video submissions). e.g. The timing is difficult due to academic exams.  Students at vocational schools are discouraged or not given the support to enter.  Dancers training outside of a vocational school, may not get the hours outside of academics to reach the level of intl students?  Many other countries have Distance Education options that allow for more training hours.

 

Every year I think the number of UK registrations & selections will increase ...but they don't.

Dancers from RBS did get put forward... back in the day.

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3 hours ago, DD Driver said:

 

Only 6 candidates registered for PdL from the UK & none were selected

https://www.prixdelausanne.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/number-of-candidates-pdl-2023-1.pdf

 

As I recall, a range of reasons are given, over the years, for low UK registrations (video submissions). e.g. The timing is difficult due to academic exams.  Students at vocational schools are discouraged or not given the support to enter.  Dancers training outside of a vocational school, may not get the hours outside of academics to reach the level of intl students?  Many other countries have Distance Education options that allow for more training hours.

 

Every year I think the number of UK registrations & selections will increase ...but they don't.

Dancers from RBS did get put forward... back in the day.

I thought the same although I did notice a very slight increase in YAGP candidates from the U.K. recently. PdL I only recall 2 British candidates in the last couple of years or so. Oddly enough even those from vocational schools seem to enter as ‘independent’. Going back to the Upper School question, I was just thinking of a particular school where the most recent entry do not appear to have any students from the U.K. apart from less than a handful from its own lower school. I also noticed more competition winners in two other upper schools although these schools also offered places to a good number of U.K. students, even those who weren’t from vocational lower schools. 

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Perhaps it doesn’t matter as most of the upper schools aren’t giving away scholarships at YAGP - only RBS, ENBS and recently Elmhurst. Everyone who applies to RBS gets an audition anyway, so if you’re good enough you have a chance - they are hugely popular internationally. There is plenty of very high quality training in the USA and Europe so U.K. schools aren’t  the only option for British or international students. The challenge is getting up to the standard - doing competitions are just an option but not the solution. YAGP and Prix de Lausanne can be useful for getting jobs later and getting performance experience as well as getting seen. 

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I wouldn’t worry about vocational schools offering scholarships to summer intensives etc at YAGP to international students as they are just tempting them to accept a paying full time place. I fear that if these schools don’t have an income from paying customers they won’t be around in the future. Times are hard financially for them and there are MDS/DaDas for the U.K. dancers. 

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Certain UK schools do not enter their students for competitions because (horror of horrors) they might not win, and they can't have their international standing besmirched like that, can they? 

 

Anyway, back to your question dizzyalice, a number of the schools and institutions mentioned by others only take students from 16+, and some of those also take older students, who have already done their A-levels.  Since your dd is non-vocational at the moment, she can try for a place at 16, but if she's not ready then there is no harm done as she can apply for places like Central, Northern, Rambert and RCS at 18. It would be beneficial if she can do A-levels first to be honest, I wish that's what my dd had done.

Edited by taxi4ballet
typo
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1 hour ago, cotes du rhone ! said:

I wouldn’t worry about vocational schools offering scholarships to summer intensives etc at YAGP to international students as they are just tempting them to accept a paying full time place. I fear that if these schools don’t have an income from paying customers they won’t be around in the future. Times are hard financially for them and there are MDS/DaDas for the U.K. dancers. 

Which I guess explains the high numbers at the summer schools through photo auditions too? MDS sound good for under 16s but I think from my calculations that we’d get nothing from DaDa at all and we aren’t hugely rich! For Europeans it makes more sense training for free in Europe surely ? 
 

 

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6 minutes ago, Pas de Quatre said:

At RBS I understand that quite often the overseas dancers who don't qualify for DaDa are supported by scholarships and bursaries provided by Patrons or Friends.

Thats correct. The majority of international students in WL are ex YGP/PDL and have been given funding to allow them to be there. The UK numbers for RBS are declining ;-( 

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1 hour ago, Tiaramum said:

Thats correct. The majority of international students in WL are ex YGP/PDL and have been given funding to allow them to be there. The UK numbers for RBS are declining ;-( 

I noticed that too, in particular for Years 10 and 11. I can’t even recall if they accepted any British students last year who aren’t for Year 7 (years 8-11).  I think it was a couple of years ago they last offered places to British students who aren’t year 7 and I can only think of two.  I could be wrong though. 

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3 hours ago, Kerfuffle said:

Which I guess explains the high numbers at the summer schools through photo auditions too? MDS sound good for under 16s but I think from my calculations that we’d get nothing from DaDa at all and we aren’t hugely rich! For Europeans it makes more sense training for free in Europe surely ? 
 

 

When mine were on DaDas if you had a total household income below £90,000 you qualified. The contribution for the DaDa was nearly the same as for the MDS too. 

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1 hour ago, Pas de Quatre said:

For the lurposes of this discussion I don't think it matters which, MDS or Dada, both are UK government funding.

 

It actually makes a huge difference as the income bands for means testing are different & this an MDS will still fund up to a far higher household income & is more generous with I think often additional things like provision of medical insurance/dance kit which Dada may not do….

I might not be up to date but I really do advice everyone to seriously research & ask questions as better to know what you may be in for in advance!

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5 hours ago, Pas de Quatre said:

At RBS I understand that quite often the overseas dancers who don't qualify for DaDa are supported by scholarships and bursaries provided by Patrons or Friends.

Our experience (not at RBS) is that schools can offer bursaries and awards to students in receipt of DaDA funding too if they so wish and these can make a considerable difference. The problem is that it is not very transparent about how and why these are allocated - our income remained the same throughout DD’s 3 years of upper school and yet her additional awards increased each year. We never knew why (and we never asked for fear of them saying ‘oops sorry our mistake!’) Not that helpful if you are trying to forecast and budget but there are definitely pots of money available for U.K./non U.K. DaDA/non/DaDA students so it might be worth enquiring about those. 

Edited by Out-the-other-side
To correct typos
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