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Anyone looking at vocational courses for 2013?


smallbythesea
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Smallbythesea, there has been a proposal on this site to start a new topic on the subject of vocational schools so this could be it!

 

Perhaps someone would get the ball rolling by listing the schools and giving an overview eg age range; numbers taken; nature of dance programme(s) offered etc.

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Yes! i would love some more information.

 

for example,whats your childs normal programme for the day and how many lessons and in what styles?Do they get to perform in Ballets or shows from year 7 and up?Is there much competition between the kids?For musical Theatre do they get to audition for child roles in West end shows?my dd plays the violin and the piano,what are the music teachers like?And the big one,any advice on auditions?

I know some poeple dont want to name schools but if you want to, say which school you like the best and why.

 

Thank you xxx

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I'll start the ball rolling....

Royal Ballet Lower School (White Lodge):

Auditions held on a few dates annually for entry into year 7 and above (see the school website for details of audition dates and how to apply). The majority of the children who get places in year 7 are already RBS Junior Associates, but not all. I’ll leave someone else to give details of day-to-day hours of dancing etc as my son was there over 5 years ago and things may have changed. Children have the chance to perform each summer at the open day/summer fair (most do something – dancing is done on the lawn – now on proper flooring!) and in the end of year performances at The Linbury. The younger ones tend to do mostly character/national type dances with only a few chosen to dance anything classical so be prepared to not see your child do any ballet for a long time! The main stage performance at the Royal Opera House is mostly Upper School students but they usually put in a couple of items from the Lower School and at the end all the children dance, fleetingly, in the Grand Defile culminating in a spine-tingling moment when they all appear on stage together. Some children are also chosen to dance with the Royal Ballet in productions like the Nutcracker (most of years 7, 8 and 9 take part when that’s on) – other productions might just need a few students. Other performances at charity events occasionally crop up. There’s also an annual choreography competition and parents do get to watch class occasionally.

The school is lovely in lots of ways – it’s situation in Richmond Park, the historic buildings now with new studios and boarding houses, the staff (especially the pastoral, but also academic and dance). The children exude a confidence that comes from the fact they’ve got into the Royal Ballet School, but that carries its stresses – some feel a lot of pressure, especially around appraisal time, and disappointment when the usual “favourite” students get picked for things regularly. Appraisals happen every January/February – and you hear in Feb half-term whether they’re offering you another year’s training (or two years’ at the end of year 9).

 

Elmhurst Lower School:

Auditions held on a few dates annually for entry into year 7 and above (see the school website for details of audition dates and how to apply). The school is in purpose built premises in Edgbaston, Birmingham so the building/studios etc are lovely. It’s a very welcoming school. The students have a formal uniform, but day-to-day wear school tracksuits. Again, I’ll leave someone else to fill you in on time spent dancing as things have changed since my son went into sixth form. The end of year performances are held in the school theatre (I hope that eventually they’ll get a “gala” in a proper theatre) – all children are involved, but the younger ones don’t do much in it as the Upper School are also in the same school (they do more). Students are also chosen to dance in productions with BRB and some charity type events crop up occasionally. But again, be prepared not to see your child dance very often! Parents are invited into watch class 2 or 3 times a year and there’s an annual choreography competition. BRB dancers often come into the school to work with students.

We’ve loved our time at the school – the staff are lovely, the facilities are great, the physio and healthcare is outstanding. Assessments are held every year but children are only asked to leave at the end of year 9.

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Tring

Beautiful location,main house is Rothchild's Mansion house where the majority of female pupils board. Had extensive state of the art studios build too. Auditions begin early, usually November right through to Feb. Format ballet class modern class and solo( this was case 4 yrs ago) students encouraged to audition at same time for theatre course but my daughters were adamant they did not want to.

Selected students invited for March funding audition(MDS). After ballet class a few selected for physio screening based on classical physique. Parents allowed in with physio!

Successful candidates receive a call usually same day.

Lower school pupils have 3 hours of dance classes daily usually 1 hr of ballet!

Parents can only watch class once a yr and watch junior dance show and performances on Founders Day . RAD on Saturday. Children chosen by ENB and other companies to perform.

My girls loved the school and majority of staff but where disappointed with lack of classical training and have moved on to more classical schools

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I think there's another thread on the "assessing out" business but I'll have to look for it later. But the answer is that it varies! My son was assessed out of WL, auditioned for Elmhurst and got in. Others from WL have gone to Elmhurst, Tring or Hammond, some go home and carry on dancing with a view to auditioning again for upper schools, or just recreationally, and some give up dancing altogether. Depends on the reasons why you were assessed out (which neither school are particularly good at explaining if I'm honest - but I'd rather we avoid moving the discussion that way on this thread as it's been talked about a lot recently and I'd like to keep this one to discuss the original point)

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I forgot to mention numbers of students:

 

RBS - on average 12 boys and 12 girls are taken in each year - but it does vary a bit

Elmhurst - numbers flucuate a lot but I think the school can take up to 30 in total (boys and girls) in any one year

 

Funding:

RBS - all students are on MDS places (well, as far as I know, but I have heard about the odd one in the past who wasn't).

Elmhurst - most students are on MDS places and there are also scholarships and bursaries available, but I don't know how they decide on those, or how much they are. Some students are offered places without funding, so pay full fees.

I presume International students at both schools pay full fees, but I wonder if they can get a scholarship of some sort - best to contact the school and ask.

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My dd is keen to audition for year 10 entry next year (she's on an associate programme but hasn't yet auditioned anywhere for full-time).

 

Since she will be starting GCSE's that year, we would hope to find somewhere with a broad range of subjects, but the vocational schools I have looked at don't seem to offer anything like the variety on offer at her secondary school.

 

So, we don't know whether to audition for Year 10 or to wait and audition at 16 after GCSE's,

 

I would be interested to find out more about the academic side of vocational schools and would love to hear of other people's experiences.

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Taxi4ballet and Everhopeful -

 

Most auditions for entry into Yr 10 have finished now, and as places for Yr 11 are generally not available (no one wants to disrupt GCSEs), you should be thinking of 6th form entry in September 2014. Perhaps a separate thread for post GCSE courses would be useful?

 

As above - I actually think all the places will now be closed for those going into year 10 in September, so you'll need to be planning ahead for post-16.

 

I realised I didn't answer all of Tomuchtallent's questions -

 

Music teaching at both WL and Elmhurst is excellent in my opinion, especially with the relatively new teacher at Elmhurst - he's really enthusiastic and has brought life (and more students) back into the choir. In our day all the children in WL (perhaps just in 7,8 & 9) were in the choir. The MDS award at Elmhurst also paid for one lot of peripatetic music lessons (hopefully it still does) - and the last couple of carol services made you feel like you were at a music school rather than a dance school. Many of the children at both school are very musical - and that is nurtured.

 

Other styles of dancing - again, may have changed over the last few years, so hopefully some current lower school parents will chip in, but at Elmhurst they do some Irish, Flamenco, jazz, tap - not sure which years they start what - we came in year 10. But the emphasis is on ballet!

 

I think advice on auditions should wait until after the summer ;)

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Can anyone give an overview of Northern Ballet School and the school attached to Northern Ballet? I understand that there are two different institutions which, confusingly, have similar names. I'm just wanting to give a complete picture to anyone visiting this topic.

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Northern Ballet Academy is based at Northern Ballet's headquarters at Quarry Hill in Leeds. They have an associate scheme for 10-16 year olds and are also the only ballet CAT in the country.

Northern Ballet School is based in Manchester and is a post 16 full time vocational dance college offering dance degrees/ diplomas. In the first year all students study a variety of dance styles then in year 2 they separate choosing either a purely classical strand or musical theatre.

This is my understanding and experience but I'm sure I'll be corrected if I'm wrong :D

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Taxi4ballet and Everhopeful -

 

 

 

As above - I actually think all the places will now be closed for those going into year 10 in September, so you'll need to be planning ahead for post-16.

 

I realised I didn't answer all of Tomuchtallent's questions -

 

Music teaching at both WL and Elmhurst is excellent in my opinion, especially with the relatively new teacher at Elmhurst - he's really enthusiastic and has brought life (and more students) back into the choir. In our day all the children in WL (perhaps just in 7,8 & 9) were in the choir. The MDS award at Elmhurst also paid for one lot of peripatetic music lessons (hopefully it still does) - and the last couple of carol services made you feel like you were at a music school rather than a dance school. Many of the children at both school are very musical - and that is nurtured.

 

Other styles of dancing - again, may have changed over the last few years, so hopefully some current lower school parents will chip in, but at Elmhurst they do some Irish, Flamenco, jazz, tap - not sure which years they start what - we came in year 10. But the emphasis is on ballet!

 

I think advice on auditions should wait until after the summer ;)

 

 

Just a slight amendment JulieW if I may - the MDS at Elmhurst covers lessons for two instruments which involves a 30 min individual lesson per instrument each week (depending on the availability of the external teacher), the standard of music within the school is very good, flute, guitar, singing groups meet weekly in the students own time.

 

Re styles, Flamenco doesn't start until Y10 in years 7-9 the do one class of tap and jazz although its a very mixed ability class as some could be in high grades and other no experience in tap or jazz. They do not take any exams other than RAD ballet which is one 1.5 hour class on a Sat am which is also included in the MDS. Think that's everything!

Edited by BankruptMum
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Just a slight amendment JulieW if I may - the MDS at Elmhurst covers lessons for two instruments which involves a 30 min individual lesson per instrument each week (depending on the availability of the external teacher), the standard of music within the school is very good, flute, guitar, singing groups meet weekly in the students own time.

 

I thought my memory was playing tricks - ds had guitar and singing lessons for a while - I forgot :D

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Hammond:

 

Hammond is in Chester and is a Performing Arts School (A bit like Tring). Thery have an associates ballet/dance programme for local dancers and take vocational students from year 7.

 

Intake is dependant on what the school sees. There are also students who go there purely to Act - the Drama students so year group size is bigger but dance and Drama students only do academic stuff together and these classes are split up into groups A & B when younger and then streaming/sets as they get older.so there are never too many academic students in the class.

 

Acceptance for any of the above is by audition when the students are asked to perform a dance, recite a drama piece (if appropriate) and sing. There are MDS places and also fairly generous burseries on offer at all ages if deemed talented enough.

 

There are usually more girls than boys but they do like parity.

 

Boarding is wonderful! A big old house for the girls in the centre of Chester and they take good care of their children. Not having a boy, cannot say about the boys boarding house but that is in Chester too.

 

There is no 'assessing out' as they reason that if you are not suitable for ballet dance then acting or other dance forms can still be used. Everyone who wants to stay on at 6th form has to re-audition.

 

Exam results are good and ballet classes are taught every day with other dance styles, tap/jazz etc taught on a weekly basis. Also singing is a requirement (but not solo work unless the child wants to do it). There are RAD classes on a Saturday.

 

MDS places are less than Elmhurst or WL but the burseries make up for that. Ballet students have a very high calibre of teaching and usually hold their own against Elmhurst and several successfully audition for 6th fprm places at top ballet schools.

 

End of year shows include all the children although years 10 and 11 get more stage time. There is also a 'showing of work' at feb half term or a musical which involves quite a few of the school children. Also children perform a set ballet/tap/jazz class at their year group parents open evening.

 

hope I haven't missed anything out....

 

T

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All the final auditions have been held for Elmhurst, RBS, Tring and Hammond and I think all the offers have now arrived. You have nothing to loose however by contacting them and explaining your situation (and why you might not have applied in time for this year) and asking whether they would consider seeing your son. It's not meant to happen that way, but it has been know for students to audition in class. It's unlikely, but if you don't ask, you'll never know.

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Hi Dragonlady

At hammond do they do a ballet class in the audition?and are the solo dance and song done privately or in frount of everyone who is auditioning?also you said the boarding house is in town,do they walk to school and how far is it?Also for the musicals do they audition for the parts?If you are on the dance course can you take extra singing lessoons if you want more.What are the music instrument teachers like?Do they let you audition for theatre or tv work?

sorry for all the questions xxxxx

Thank you xxx

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My DS applied late as wanted to move from his vocational school to one with boys only ballet classes (he wanted a classical focus). We applied after Easter when he was in year 7 and managed to get an MDS for Sept Yr8. A girl auditioned at the same time and was similarly successful (from a diffferent original school). If they think your child may have potential, most schools will always consider them, if for some 'good' reason you missed the initial audition dates and have NOT applied before for previous years. We avoided the nightmare wait that way! He auditioned and was told of the outcome on the same day.

 

Never underestimate the rollercoaster ride though. My DS now does not dance at all, he never regrets his decision to start or then to stop, but he decided after a few years the life was not for him. Remember your child may change their mind, despite being ballet mad for years. A shock at the time, but he made the right, and a brave choice - I know that now!

 

Always worth a try is my motto - whatever you want to do.

 

Good luck to you all.

 

Fx

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Regarding Northern Ballet School in Manchester, my daughter went there from 2006 - 2009 so things may well have changed (and my memory may be a bit hazy) but here goes:-

All students follow the same course in year 1 and then in year 2 they focus on either classical ballet or musical theatre. I think from memory the principal made the final decision as to who did what based on the 1st year assessments. The jazz focus was the more popular so my daughter was lucky as she was in a very small (approx 8 students) group on the classical course. Classical students continued to study tap, jazz, contemporary and singing, but to a lesser degree and jazz students had regular ballet classes.

The ballet classes were taught by several different teachers and were a mixture of free work and syllabus, pas de deux and pointe work. I think from memory, students had to do 1 RAD class per week of whichever grade they were working towards. ISTD ballet classes were an optional extra.

My daughter enjoyed her time at the school and found it to be a very caring environment and as her year group was quite small (approx 30 ish) close friendships were formed. At the graduation ceremony, 1 of the students spoke about how much like a family they'd become and how they'd relied upon each other for support during the 3 years. This brought tears to quite a few eyes in the audience. Attached to the school is the Dancehouse theatre and this was used frequently for classes and show rehearsals. The building itself is old but has some lovely studios.

Each December, the classical students performed a full length classical ballet and depending on the numbers required, some of the jazz students were asked to perform with them.

At Easter it was the turn of the jazz students to perform a MT show and in July there was a showcase with pieces from both shows. The graduation ceremony followed the final show in July and parents were invited to a get together afterwards in one of the studios.

Each show was held over several days which provided valuable performance experience for the students and gave ample opportunity for family and friends to watch.

In the 3rd year, ballet students auditioned for companies, mainly in Europe. The jazz students were more fortunate in that their auditions were mostly in the UK. Agents auditioned at the school and successful students were put on their books. If they find you work though you have to pay commission for the duration of the contract. Cruise ship auditions were also held at the school. The school doesn't have it's own agency but this isn't necessarily a bad thing. The down side is you have to secure your own contracts but the plus side is you won't be paying commission either. My daughter has worked with several people who despite arranging their own contracts had to pay commission to their school's agency for the first year after graduation. As this was 40%, this was a hefty chunk out of their wage.

The school had (certainly during my daughter's time) a very high graduate employment rate although most of the contracts were on cruise ships. There were only a very small number who managed to secure ballet/contemporary contracts and these were in Europe. My daughter although desperate to join a ballet company wasn't one of them!! Although she was adamant initially that she didn't want to go down the cruise ship route, she decided to give it a go and has never looked back. She thoroughly enjoys life at sea and is now in rehearsals preparing for another contract. She earns a good wage and has been around the world several times. I would say that her experience of auditioning in Europe was an eye opener as often, after paying a small fortune for hotels and flights, to places we'd never heard of, the goal posts would change.

Most of the companies pre selected auditionees for the auditions from CVs, which clearly stated height etc, and photos and then at times she was told she was the wrong height or the wrong build. Then there were auditions where they cut people after a couple of bar exercises or others having got all the way to the end to be told, thank you for attending but there are no contracts at the moment. All very frustrating when you've spent a lot of time and money getting there. Not to mention the worry when your youngster is a long way from home, alone and lost and the battery dies on their phone.

I would say that for anyone looking at vocational schools especially for 6th form, check out recent graduate destinations. We were very surprised at the final audition at Tring to be told that after graduating, a lot of the students went on to other dance schools or to university. It wasn't quite what we were expecting.

There is no accommodation at NBS so most rent rooms in student accommodation. Unite have quite a few properties in Manchester, 2 just a few minutes walk away. New Medlock house,albeit expensive, has good security. The building is fenced in, with key fob access to the main gate and the individual blocks of flats. My daughter lived there for the full 3 years and opted to keep the same flat for the duration.

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It might sound like a silly question but it's a real one for me: why would you want to go to yet another school post-19? Isn't it time to audition and dance and learn a lot still through rehearsals?

A 19 one was already a dancer in my time. Have things changed that much in the last 20-30 years?

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I would have thought for Classical Ballet, one would ideally be finishing training by 19 or 20, but for Contemporary, I think schools are more easygoing (and almost like a bit of life experience), hence at schools like Rambert you can apply at 18. Good news for academically minded dancers who may want to stay on at their current school for A'Levels.

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