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Why do we need associate programs


Curious
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Just wondering my daughter who is 11 as never been on an associate program and has gone on to gain distinctions in all her ballet exams last one being grade 5 also a few more in her class too have achieved this and I wonder what benefits other than costs would she benefit from if having been on one. I no friends children who also have not been on these programs and gone on to have a successful careers in ballet. Is this not another money spinner and business idea to keep these vocational schools going and keep us parents questioning if our children are ever going to be good enough.

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My dd has been an RBS associate for the last 8 years and I've noticed that there are more and more associate programmes on offer compared to when she started.

From my dds experience she had the opportunity to dance in beautiful studios compared to the converted room in a house. She learnt her way around London using the trains and underground. She has had the input from numerous teachers. It gives them an insight into another world. It increases their confidence so that my dd can travel to London on her own at 15 and in 3 months time she will be moving to and living in London independently at 16!  :(

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DD's ballet teacher says she doesn't have enough pupil at DD's level. She feels DD needs to be at a class with lots of contemporaries so she doesn't become complacent.

 

Also she beleives that children benefit from lots of teachers & encourages her pupils to attand any workshops/classes available.

 

The travelling aspect has been important for us too - if DD goes to college I know she can get there safely & come home by train. Navigate the tube even if there are engineering works & safely get a taxi.

 

Within 2 weeks of her new associate class months of work all slotted into place for her - which sadly brings up the fact that her first associate class didn't teach in a way that she could learn. So don't be afraid to give up if the associate programme isn't working for you. I had misgivings a year a ago Christmas & worked with the teachers to see if we could work it out; it was only a year later DD gave up - I think with hindsight we should have thrown in the towel in July. I guess all that means choose carefully and you can always change your mind

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For some children, associate classes are the only chance to do free work. They also get the chance to dance with children at the same level as them and with the same aspirations. Another teacher's perspective is also good and getting through the audition is a boost for confidence.

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My dd does partner work, repertoire and masterclasses through her associate scheme that she wouldn't have the opportunity to do unless at vocational school (she's 15). However, there are vocational students at her associate class too which helps my dd know what she needs to work on and the standard she needs to be working towards in readiness for auditions.

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Another real bonus was the friends that were made along the way for my dcs and for me. Many were the same children they would be auditioning with for vocational places and that made the auditions considerably less daunting... And they are still close to the friends they made on those schemes.

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Another real bonus was the friends that were made along the way for my dcs and for me. Many were the same children they would be auditioning with for vocational places and that made the auditions considerably less daunting... And they are still close to the friends they made on those schemes.

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I think its particularly good for boys who are often the only ones in their class or even school !

It provides them a chance to learn and dance with other boys at their level .

Added to that the chance to meet different teachers and take part in performances in the ROH and get a sense of the history of ballet and see the workings of a vocational school .

My son found it very inspiring.

At 10 he is now confident on trains and busses around London and feels connected with other young male dancers!

The body conditioning is different to what is taught in the grade systems so I feel if complements his regular ballet classes .The improvement in his progress in his regular classes and in his physique is very noticeable .

He is now going to start vocational school in September, which we would not have considered before the Associate experience.

For us it was expensive but well worth it!

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I was just talking to someone about this the other day. We feel it gives our children the chance to go back to basics and work at quite a slow rate concentrating on every little detail. Something which isn't possible at their usual school simply because most of the children aren't serious about dance and would become bored far too quickly.

 

Associate classes also allow the children to work with others at a similar level to them. In a lot of cases a child will be the best in their class at their normal school, working with others at the same level helps drive them forward.

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Guest Autumn days

I agree that there are so many associate classes now and believe that some are genuinely good and others are probably money spinners that take students of varying ability which can give a false sense of security about the future. A reputable scheme can really help broden a dancer's experience base and give a chance to dance with children of a similar level.

 

Going back to one of the OPs original comments, I don't think that there is a strong relationship between exam results and overall potential for a professional career - although obviously a child who regularly gains a very low mark might want to reconsider their options!

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Welcome to the forum, Curious. :-)

 

Associates can be absolutely invaluable, for all the reasons stated above. The benefits that my own dd have received from being an Associate since Year 7 are:

 

Non-syllabus classes

A different teacher - it's always good to get a fresh pair of eyes looking at your child

Dancing with a whole class of girls who are around the same age and level

More training of a very high quality

An introduction to auditioning - not just to get a place initially, but to keep the place every year and progress through the classes.

 

She's made new friends, has really raised her game, her dancing has improved as has her confidence, and she works on feedback given at Associates with her local teacher at private lessons, so that both teachers are singing from the same hymn sheet.

 

It's been a lot of time commitment for us and a huge amount of hard work for dd, but I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.

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Hi I agree with above comments .. My dd started as a elmhurst associate last year and has improved very dramatically . She also does exercise class which they don't do at her home school so is improving in her flexibility and also they are not doing just rad stuff so is enjoying something different

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Not all associate schemes are run in the same way. Some have classes that are divided by age and some more by ability. It also depends on your child's aim and what they hope to achieve from the associate scheme.

 

My dd has done both types and if I'd known back then when she was 8 what I know now she is 12 I would have tried to do two different associate schemes at the same time. The one she is currently in groups the dancers according to ability with a range if ages in each class. This suits my dd better as it pushes and challenges her. However having done one that was very basic for three years, it certainly improved her 'basics'. We have never intended dd to go to vocational school until she is 16 (if she is good enough) so a good associate scheme that's classically focused is vital to her training but there are some very good schemes that are not so purely classically focused.

 

If only there were more hours in a week and more pounds in the bank!

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Welcome to the forum curious

If your dd has good local training and is progressing I wouldn't worry about associate classes. If there on your doorstep that's fine, but if not you have to way up the other aspects involved as its more expense. My dd was lucky her associate class was an hour away and both her and I loved it, i think more so for the social aspect. But as she's got older the opportunities are further afield and I am now weighing up, it's a lot of money, yes they enjoy it but how much will they be earning at the end if it all if they ever get a job. If you can fund your children into adulthood that's fantastic but if you can't, what we pay out now is a serious question and like you I would like to know if I'm getting my money's worth or am I just being sucked in to all the hype ????

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Thank you for all your comments and nice to hear so many of you getting opportunities, learning and confidence building by way of these schemes. For my daughter to attend one of these programs the travel would be at least three hour journey not including the expense involved and like you ballet bun I would need more guarantee at the end of it if it was worth while on the financial side. My daughter is a very confident girl and I have no worries about her finding her feet in life, I think if she is good at sixteen she will gain a place at a school but let's face it all the amount of money in the world if she hasn't the right physique then it's not meant to be.

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One can benefit by having a variety of teachers and also see if perhaps doing more intense training with selected children rather than that  able to be given in many  local Saturday schools would be the right choice if perhaps considering a vocational school for the future - but yes of course they are designed to make money for the vocational schools that run them and give employment to their teachers..is that wrong? Some offer senior associate programmes but if you are of that age you should really be in the full time vocational course if you are looking at dance for a career so perhaps some courses undermine local dancing schools without offering much more in the way of opportunities.

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I have to disagree regarding senior associates restor. The second year RBS Senior Associates, and Central's Pre-Senior Ladies class are both designed for Year 11 students who then hopefully go on to 6th form/Upper School courses. Even London Senior Ballet which goes up to 18 is valuable because there are students who take their A'Levels at school and still get places at Upper Schools or Degree Courses at Central, Rambert etc.

 

It simply isn't the case that by Year 10 you have to already be in full time vocational training to hope for a chance at a ballet or contemporary career.

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All excellent replies - thanks everyone - and welcome Curious.

 

The only thing I would add is that exam results are no guide add to the future career prospects of a student. My 18 year old has always had exam marks in the 90s and a fabulous performer but is in no way destined to be a professional dancer (she was an RBS JA but then grew curves). Associate schemes can help you gauge how "good" you are in the ballet world. But not always - I do know of dancers who have gone on to a professional carer our upper schools without ever being an associate anywhere, but not many.

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Exam results / jobs is another can of worms!   Without full time training it isn't really possible to become a professional ballet dancer today.  Associate schemes can lead into that training and just be fun in their own right.

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I'm no expert, but it seems to me that associate classes become more important if you do not go to vocational school at 11 but are aspiring towards a career in classical ballet. To gain the maximum benefit from an associate class the local teacher must work in tandem with the associate teacher. If the latter identifies areas of weakness which are not worked upon by the former then the student is not going to make much progress. Spanner has alluded to this above. A good associate class will give a student (who is probably a big fish in her local pond) some idea of the competition out there, although it will be a limited picture because there are of course many associate schemes and many talented overseas dancers who only appear at the auditions for the upper schools. I think that many local teachers are not able to train their students to the standard required by the upper schools and so it is essential that their students attend good associate schemes although this may not be enough.

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Yes restor, without full-time Upper School/degree/diploma training from *around* 16-19 (or *around* 18-21 for Contemporary)it's nigh on impossible to have a ballet/contemporary career. But your point here: "Some offer senior associate programmes but if you are of that age you should really be in the full time vocational course if you are looking at dance for a career" implies that you need to be in full-time training by Senior Associates age -i.e. year 10 or 11 - and that is simply not true.

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"Some offer senior associate programmes but if you are of that age you should really be in the full time vocational course if you are looking at dance for a career"

 

 

Sorry but I don't agree restor....Just to throw a spanner in the works ...my daughter was never an associate and she also didn't go to vocational school till 16. She is now a professional ballet dancer. 

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Aileen makes a very good point - that you can be a big fish in a small pond at your local dance school. Without the benefit of a associate programme, it might come as a huge shock to the system (and sometimes to the parents!) to find that there are lots of other dancers out there who are equally as talented.

 

When it comes to exam results, it may only be when students begin to take vocational exams that you find out where their relative strengths and weaknesses lie.

 

Also, I think that associate programmes are good for:

 

Pilates, contemporary, and partner work, and having a real live pianist for the classes, which are often unavailable at a local school

 

Us parents can find out all sorts of information and other opportunities out there, just by chatting with other parents

 

The feedback from associate teachers is invaluable

 

Application forms for full-time training and summer schools usually have a question about associate programmes. I have a feeling that they may well take that into account, when sifting through hundreds of applications for a limited number of places...

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If you have to travel three hrs for any associate scheme then I believe it wouldn't be with it as your child would be tired before they got there. I presume you mean three hours there and three hours back though. If this was the case then a really good private teacher on a one to one could be beneficial to your child and it would probably work out cheaper in the long run.

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People travel from all over the country to good Associate programmes. If you are lucky enough to have a local teacher who can offer enough high quality training, with exercise/pilates classes, live music, non-syllabus classes, repertoire and pas de deux classes, then wonderful. If not, a good associate scheme can be worth its weight in gold. :-)

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daisybell, was your dd's school a very high-powered one with teachers who had close connections with the upper schools and therefore knew exactly what standard their students need to be at in order to get into the schools?

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To be honest no it wasn't aileen! She danced at 2 different local schools that were both run in little village halls plus she did do lots of All England Festivals which her school were pretty successful at. We also tried to let her do as many Easter/ Summer schools as we could afford and we did pay for weekly one to one lessons before she started to audition for 6th form. So no it wasn't anything special. I think her journey has been pretty unusual although we do know of others who have had the same route into a career as a dancer. 

Many road to Rome as they say ;-)

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As is often the case, I don't think you can generalise. The benefits of an associate scheme are bound to depend on the individual student and their aspirations, the quality, variety and amount of training available at their local school, and the quality and type of training available at the associate scheme. For some students it will be hugely beneficial do do participate in one of these schemes, but not for all.

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