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Dance East Academy Ipswich


Clara
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Does anyone living in the East of England have any experience of the Dance East Academy? I'm debating letting my dd audition this year, but I think I have always been influenced in the past and swayed by those who were anti the ballet scholarship scheme being abolished in favour of the academy. I was a ballet scholar when I was younger and thought the scheme was a successful and invaluable source of training for aspiring dancers......and although I still think there is a place for such a scheme....I'm wondering if I have been misjudging the academy which could actually be a fantastic stepping stone in other areas of dance?!

Does anyone know when classes are for younger students if they are successful at audition level?

Thank you in advance for your help and any info you can offer! :)

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Currently Level 1 is on Saturday; Levels 2-5 are on Sunday

 

Level 1 is all I really know about - they get 1.5 hrs Ballet (not Grade work, a sort of general class), 1.5hrs Contemporary (with a drummer) & 1hr Creative generally, but often have different classes (Capoieria, Jazz etc) - some health & diet awareness, lots of theatre trips.  They did 3 shows last year & are probably doing 3 shows this year (the other levels do different shows) & the choreographers they can have in are amazing.

 

The Cafe is nice, the Theatre is great, the Teachers know thier stuff and the support team is lovely.

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Hello Clara

DD attends DanceEast and the opportunities she's had since starting in September 2011 have been fantastic- working with choreographers, theatre trips, (she's seeing BalletBoyz at this very moment), workshops, dance groups etc... even a trip to Circus Space, (fortunately a circus performer's life is not for her!) They have some great teachers too. Nearly all of it she's loved, save for the hip-hop sessions this term, very difficult when ballet is your thing first and foremost. Also, Dance Health has been invaluable as it's beginning to teach her about a Dancer's Health and her own body, (with regards to being a young dance student). 

 

My dd has aspirations of being a Contemporary/Ballet dancer and Choreographer. She's even thought that Dance Science maybe an option for her (as a plan B). So DanceEast is great for that as there's Creative sessions, with a fair bit of students working out their own choreography plus the Dance Health as mentioned. There is a very holistic and realistic approach to the teaching which as a parent I like. 

 

However, the ballet is not levelled but mixed (the emphasis is on Contemporary) so she does attend an associate scheme. DD believes, and I think she's right, that strong Contemporary technique needs a strong foundation of Ballet so it is something she is constantly striving to improve. This Easter and Summer she will attend Ballet Intensives away (unrelated to DanceEast) for this reason. Fortunately DanceEast is on a Sunday which leaves Saturday free for associates, but it is a hard work weekend, with homework squeezed in, (something may have to go next year, though at present she is keeping on top of the academic side of life) That said, the DanceEast Easter & Summer intensives are brilliant and the end of year Academy show was very, very strong, and original! I was amazed by the Level 5's. They're pretty tough!

 

Classes within the Academy are Ballet, Creative, Contemporary & Dance Health... I think all levels do this. And as mentioned all levels participate in trips, performances etc. Each student has an Individual Training Plan tailored to their needs.

 

I hope this all makes sense!

 

There are others on this forum who have had a few more years experience of DanceEast and can probably shed more light on the whole process but please pm me if you want more info.

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Have no idea what a smiley face is doing with sunglasses on? I pressed the letter B! Should read plan b... dd may go down the dance science route, she likes the idea of a phD in Dance and becoming a doctor in it :) (smiley intentional!)

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Thank you both for the great and detailed replies! Very much appreciated. I take it the levels are based on age? In which case my dd would be auditioning for level 1? If this is a Saturday I think it would be a no go for us for the time being as she already attends ballet, modern and a local theatre group throughout the day on a Saturday. :mellow: That's a shame as I think she would really benefit from the training the academy offers (providing she was successful in the audition process!) I was hoping it would be a Sunday as this is the one day she currently has completely free apart from December when the theatre group she is with kicks into show season!

I'm an assistant dance teacher at a ballet school and also run my own local amateur performance group (Non-audition standard!) But there are 2 brilliant dancers from the ballet school, one who also attends my group also who have both been with the academy for several years and have had some amazing experiences. (They are year 10 and 11 so I assume probably level 4 or 5 perhaps?) As you have mentioned contemporary does seem to be the really strong element of the academy. My dd has had no contemporary experience although like I say she does do both ballet and modern.

If only your dd certainly seems to have a good career plan worked out! My dd only knows that she wants to dance but hasn't yet decided on a route! She completely loves musical theatre but her strength is with her dancing not her singing hence my reason for enquiring about the academy! I'm thinking of sending her to the open day in April but I don't know whether this is worth while if classes for her age group are only run on a Saturday. What do you think?

Also, what associates programmes is your dd with? I only really knew of the old ballet scholarship scheme within this area and I don't really know what avenue of further training to send my dd in!

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At DanceEast open day today they reported 100% success rate getting participants to further training of choice. My dd wants to go into classical ballet but i think high standard weekly ballet lessons coupled with the creative , contemporary and performance in danceeast would be a strong combination and DD will be auditioning... If doesn't get RBS SA .

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I think the levelling at DanceEast is a bit of an enigma! There's a real mix of ages within groups & varying year groups in all levels. So there's every possibility it could be a Sunday. Definitely go along to the Open day and find out more, the Academy team are very approachable. 

 

Yes, East Anglia certainly needs an Associate Ballet scheme. My daughter attended the Ballet Enrichment classes at DanceEast, (I think these evolved from the Ballet Scholars) and when these finished she began at London Junior and Senior Ballet. Unfortunately these have moved to a Sunday, for Summer term only, (I hope- not sure about Autumn). Of course, if they stay on a Sunday it might be something worth considering? It's an excellent scheme offering pilates, contemporary and pointe on top of the regular ballet so she's going to be a bit lost without it as it has really helped her improve her ballet technique. For a year she attended Tring's CBA, held on Sundays, (she actually turned down the final audition at DanceEast to do this as she felt her ballet needed the extra) however Tring, although wonderful, was a real hike for us and she auditioned, successfully, for DanceEast the following year. 

 

But definitely go along for the Open Day, even if just for a nice day out and an enjoyable coffee in the lovely DancEats cafe!

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Oh brilliant, thank you if only. I will definitely see if I can book her in on the open day then if age and classes don't always correspond! It will be nice for her to just see what it's all about at least even if it doesn't go any further than that.

Yes you're right, I believe the ballet enrichment classes did evolve from the ballet scholarship scheme. In fact I know my old ballet teacher and another of my scholars teachers taught on the programme (Janet Kinson and Linda Shipton) I was surprised it seemed to fizzle out. It's a real shame as they were two of the best ballet teachers in the county responsible for some truly amazing dancers!

So were you commuting weekly for the London Junior & Senior associates?

Do parents stay at the open day? I am familiar with the cafe as I used to take my youngest to the tots dance class......she decided she was more interested in the chocolate cake than dancing so I'm not entirely convinced she has inherited the ballet genes! Although she will be starting at the ballet school I help at after Easter!

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My DD is in her second year at Dance East Academy and loves it. She has met many lovely friends and tutors.

Parents do stay at the open day - there is a talk, then the youngsters have a session with the tutors while the parents remain and any questions can be asked. After refreshments, everyone meets up. It was my DD's first audition experience and she enjoyed every moment of both auditions, fun and relaxed for everyone, a great experience - in fact she had decided to audition again if she didn't get in because she enjoyed it so much. She is strong in ballet and had never tried contemporary before but loves that too now.

One of the best thing is working with different tutors and so many guest choreographers, which all bring different aspects of dance to the students, as well as learning to pick things up quickly and think for themselves. They experience tastes of many styles of dance and even had a trip to Circus Space in London, plus theatre trips and performance opportunities. DD also does ballet lessons during the week with a brilliant RAD  teacher - just can't do too much ballet !

hope you enjoy the open day and experience as we did.

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Thanks Jazzpaws! All of the feedback so far seems really positive and there do seem to be some amazing opportunities on offer! I think we will definitely attend the open day based on what everyone has said so far. Did your dd audition at age10? If so does she attend on a Saturday or Sunday?

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Yes, Janet Kinson taught dd, an excellent teacher. Full of encouragement and enthusiasm, recommended dd try for NYB. (Janet Kinson very involved with NYB but I can't remember in what capacity, I think teacher/choreographer? etc)

 

And we get up early every Saturday to go into London and back. It's become part of our routine and we don't mind it at all. In fact we're going to possibly experience withdrawal symptoms next term! It takes a lot of discipline to wake up at 4ish every Saturday but one does get use to it! My husband and I alternate so it's never too hard and I've spent many happy Saturdays revisiting places/museums/art galleries I visited in my student years and carefree 20s, (bc... that is before children!) We get our train tickets way in advance so they're pretty cheap, so it's worked out well.

 

Must say I'm with your youngest on the chocolate cake, I'd far rather partake in serious chocolate cake eating than a dance class! 

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DD just back from BalletBoyz, (very enthusiastic review. Apparently best ever piece of Contemporary dance, all very fluid... I'm sure she knows what she means!) DD has read thru' this DanceEast thread and (although doesn't like my over use of smileys :wacko:... not cool) says I must mention more of the amazing opportunities to perform.

 

So.. for my daughter's benefit... A couple of years ago Level 3 went to Berlin. Last year a group from all the levels performed at the Royal Opera House, (joined forces with the Place CAT &  Lowry CAT), under the artistic guidance of Gareth Malone and had a couple of residentials in London, with classes at ROH & involvement with some of the RB dancers. Big Dance in London. Olympic celebrations in Christ Church park.  Involvement with Snape. Can't think of any more and she's gone off to bed. She wasn't particularly impressed by my reference to chocolate cake but us poor mums need some reward for all our driving, leotard washing, ribbon sewing, tight buying etc etc we do!

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Morning if only! Yes Janet is still involved with NYB. She has choreographed some beautiful dances for them in the past and seems to be quite actively involved still, although I think NYB may now be the thing she does. When I was with NYB my Dad used to drive me to London every Sunday at the crack of dawn for rehearsals, but the format has changed quite a bit now and the majority of rehearsals take place at a 9 day summer residential summer school in the holidays. This is more aimed at the over 12's though I think with younger members commuting in daily. I was told I could apply for a bed for dd, but seeing as she's only 10 I'm not over optimistic that she'll make it through the finals this time as I'm sure these beds will go the younger dancers who are good enough for the solo roles i.e. associate dancers, but I'm really proud of dd for getting a recall!

Thank your dd for her glowing appraisal of the academy! She obviously loves it and is a great advocate for them! Pass on an overly cheesy grinning smiley on my behalf as a sign of my gratitude!!! :D The opportunities available do appear to be fantastic and unlike any other available within the area. I'm a little sad that the younger ones do seem to have their classes on a Saturday afternoon as I know at this point my dd will not want to give up her other dance commitments as she really loves the theatre group she is with and so do I to be honest.....but I do feel that if she is serious about dancing the academy may benefit her more if she made it through the audition process. I'm still going to send her to the open day so that she can get a feel for it. If she then doesn't want to audition because of the clash of days I won't make her, but I will encourage her to maybe give it ago when she is old enough/or at the required dance level to be considered for a place on a Sunday. Thank you so much for your insight into the academy. (and everyone else on here!) It has been really helpful.

My youngest actually faked being asleep whilst at the tots class (I optimistically carried on skipping around the room until I realised I probably looked a bit silly doing it on my own!) So I scooped her into my arms and headed towards the cafe to wait for the friends we were with. My little pickle then sat bolt upright bright and completely alert and stated that she didn't want to do dancing anymore and that she'd have some chocolate cake instead!! I can cope with that, one daughter who  loves dance and the other who loves chocolate cake......My two biggest loves.....Other than my husband of course!!

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Your little girl sounds an absolute darling!

 

Go and talk to the team, find out about Saturday/Sunday. Even audition & see what happens. The audition process is a good day out, quite long if I remember.Not just a quick hour and a half!

The other thing I've thought about is, when dd decided not to do final audition, to wait a year and work on her ballet she auditioned for the Suffolk Junior Dance Company, (a really good introduction to Contemporary for that age group) and loved it. They had good performance opportunities and the young performers had great fun choreographing etc. It's on a Wednesday. DDd was year 7 when she did it, but a very young yr 7 & held her own (birthday not till Summer holiday, don't know whether your daughter is yr 5/6 but she may be right age?) Dance East has a great atmosphere and dd's early love of Contemporary was definitely nurtured by this class, (Contemporary is quite a hard thing to 'get' your head round at that age)

There's also the Musical Theatre Performance group, non-audition, on Thursdays (5.15-6.15)

 

I know you probably know all this, just trying to actively encourage you. ;) (uncool!) Best thing about the Academy is, (I noticed you've posted "Inferiority Complex") they don't have favourites, everyone is equal regardless of background, all have a passion for dance. In dd's level there's those who ballet is their thing, then there's those who haven't done any ballet before DanceEast but are hip-hop dancers. It's quite liberating in a way, as parents, none of this comparison against others. Dd may feel it's frustrating, she'd like harder ballet! But can she hip hop?!

 

Good luck for NYB, we only did it a couple of years as hugely expensive... but dd did want to carry on doing it. DD had just turned 11 first time and stayed at Tring. There were a few younger also staying, so give it a go. None of my dd's little lot had solo roles or anything, just part of the main gang :D (another uncool smiley!) Ignore the whole dilemma of the bed issue, go and have fun on the audition day, a recall is fantastic and you should be proud. (There's a lovely little quirky cafe called the Chelsea Teapot round the corner, back along Kings Road... great for more cake eating!)

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Ah brilliant thank you if only! You really are a fantastic source of useful information.....I am particularly interested in locating the Chelsea Teapot for the consumption of more cake whilst dd is dancing her socks off during audition!! (This is typed whilst demolishing a very tasty Easter egg a whole week before it should have even been unwrapped!!) The audition experience of NYB has been good for her even if she doesn't make the cut. But it's good to hear that younger dancers who have not had solo roles have previously been offered beds. It makes the situation seem a little more obtainable at least! It is definitely very expensive but we are not having a holiday this year, which means we can keep some money aside if she was offered a place. She has said she'd quite like to do the DanceEast summer school if not though.

The Suffolk Junior Dance Company sounds like it may be worth looking into, although dd currently dances with me on a Wednesday and is fiercely loyal when I suggest she may eventually have to give my class up in favour of a class with more credibility when it comes to looking at dance professionally! Dd is year 5, although one of the oldest in the year. Although she would probably say modern/musical theatre is her favourite dance style at the moment, ballet is definitely her strongest point. She is blessed with beautiful feet which is a heriditary thing. (As my head swells ever so slightly!!) My Mum had good feet,  mine were then a little better than hers....and dd has amazing feet better than us both (Not that I let her know they are better than mine just yet.....I have to keep her on her toes so to speak!!) Funny you should mention the hip-hop, dd had a 4 week course at school and I'm sure she likes to think of herself as quite cool (Probably a very uncool word to describe it!!) But I always think her ballet posture looks a bit awkward when she's strutting about the house in her sun glasses and fingerless gloves trying to be street!! It's probably a good thing that they all have their strengths and weaknesses as they can all learn from each other and there's no room for complacency. Maybe I will still let her audition after all then if she enjoys the open day. Do the open days get booked up quite quickly? I'm worried I've left it a bit late as I've only just emailed requesting a place!

Oh and Yes my little one is an absolute darling.....She is currently telling me in a very serious voice 'You're a nightmare aren't you Mum?' I'm not even sure what I have done!! :wacko: Is there a certain age where you're considered too old to use smiley faces then?!

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Parking is free if you are lucky enough to get one of about 25 places 'on the wall'. If not, £3 for the day on a Sunday, more than enough spaces on the doorstep. About 10 mins walk from Ipswich centre if you feel so inclined, but just watch the cobbled street on the way - it is possible to trip and break a foot there.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi all,

 

Just a quick update to let you know dd attended the open morning at Dance East today for the Academy and really enjoyed it, so she is definitely going to apply for an audition place! Thanks to everyone who offered advice and feedback! We were told that about 150 auditioned last year with only 20 places offered so I don't know what her chances are; but she's going to give it a go!

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  • 1 month later...

DD received her letter yesterday inviting her to the second stage of auditions in just over a week's time, so she's feeling very happy! She says she's not at all nervous about the dancing side of the recall......Just the interview! Any feedback from those already in the academy as to the kind of questions they might ask would be greatly appreciated!

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Hi Clara.  My daughter applied last year was on waiting list for Sunday classes.  The interview was in the offices upstairs; two people- I think the Head of the programme plus an external but not sure- there were two sets of interviews going on at once. It was very friendly at not intimidating at all.  They were clearly trying to get an indication of why dd wanted to do danceeast, level of commitment and interest in dance, how much we understoood the commitment needed to the programme, dance and performance experience, other interests, what kinds of dance like.  I think they also asked about whether we think we'd be eligible for funding.  It was about 10 mins I think.

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Hi Clara.  My daughter applied last year was on waiting list for Sunday classes.  The interview was in the offices upstairs; two people- I think the Head of the programme plus an external but not sure- there were two sets of interviews going on at once. It was very friendly at not intimidating at all.  They were clearly trying to get an indication of why dd wanted to do danceeast, level of commitment and interest in dance, how much we understoood the commitment needed to the programme, dance and performance experience, other interests, what kinds of dance like.  I think they also asked about whether we think we'd be eligible for funding.  It was about 10 mins I think.

My DD's interview was just like this the year before - very friendly, nothing to worry about. Good luck !

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Thank you both for the replies! I will try to prepare her for the kind of questions they may ask and reassure her it's nothing to worry about! I hope the passion she puts into her dancing is able to come across in the interview too because she can sometimes be a bit of a 'yes' 'no' answer type child!!! She's desperate to get in but I think she will be determined enough to try again if she doesn't make it this time. She has a friend who has had a recall for the third year running so full credit to her for perseverance!

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