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Am I barking up the wrong tree?


Balletsister
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My nine year old dd is a lovely dancer. I have been told by her teachers that she is 'good'. I have no experience of dance myself apart from being a ballet mummy since dd was about three years old.

She auditioned for Rbs ja's last year and didn't get in. She is due to audition again this year. Her exam marks are always distinctions in all genres. My question is this: am I barking up the wrong tree?

We have just done festivals, ballet solo, where she was the youngest in her age group and she wasn't placed despite respectable marks. I am at a crossroads. Do we just let things take their course or do we look for extra associate classes etc?

I don't want to look back and think she didn't have the opportunity to fulfil her passion for dance but equally where do you stop seeking more and accept she's just very good rather than exceptional?? I don't know at this stage which category she falls into.

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I was told by a friend once who has taught at very high levels such as Aus ballet, bejart that it is not always a good thing at such a young age to be on such programmes. Dd will be monitored closely and if not progressing in a certain way could look bad on her. Yes it has a lot of kudos to be on these programmes and yes dd would get a lot out of it but they can be expensive with all the travelling etc. I say don't worry too much about it as long as her day to day training is at a high standard, not learning bad habits that will be hard to break dd will be fine. Also don't worry about competition results, I read in an article about a recently retired principal from Aus Ballet that she never won a competition. Just be a supportive taxi driver.

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I think I have mentioned this before but my DS auditioned for RBS associates twice (aged 10 and 12) and didn't get a place. At 13 he was offered a 100% scholarship to a top vocational school in the USA. At 15 he was offered a job by one of Balanchine's ex principal dancers. At 16 he has just auditioned for 3 internationally renowned ballet summer schools (2 US, one Europe) and has been offered 100% scholarships to all 3. Just because RBS don't see your DDs potential at 9 doesn't mean they won't see it at an older age, and if they never see it that doesn't mean theirs is the only valid opinion.

DSs first ever ballet teacher when asked if she could spot future dancers at a young age answered ' I can pick out the ones with the potential, after that the ones who make it will be the ones who want it'. At 9 I think DKs should be dancing purely for the enjoyment. If there is no long term future the enjoyment is an end in itself. If there's no enjoyment there's no long term future anyway. As long as she has good quality training and enough hours for a 9 year old (which isn't all that many) I wouldn't worry yet....

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Totally echo the above as a teacher. Perhaps think about it at 11 or 14 but it is not essential now. I never did festivals myself but got very good exam results and always got 'spotted' at dance days with different companies. I didn't get JAs was waiting list SAs and RBS senior SS. I started London Senior ballet as it is now when I was 14 having been unsuccessful at Central and went yo RB Upper school at 16 on a scholarship I still think it is because they didn't know me! Just enjoy take any pressure off and she'll want it more and if it does happen- lovely- if not you haven't lost anything at this stage :)

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Balletsister why not try a summer school or join something like EYB,NYB, LCB or MTB for a year or two?  They offer great performance opportunities and they are with children with similar interests/talents.  Then maybe try out for an associates programme if she still shows potential and most importantly loves to dance.  Children develop at different ages not all are meant for the RBS in fact very few!  I believe 6 children were assessed out his year at WL and those taking their places might have been late starters!?  9 is still very young although it does sometimes feel like a race!

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I think my advice would always be, if they enjoy it, then do it. My own dd (still only 13)has never had any success in the numerous auditions she has done over the years, except for EYB (English Youth Ballet) which she loved. But she still loves her dance and still hopes that her opportunity will come in the future.She says herself that she has loved the many experiences she has had, and that the rejections have made her strong and resilient. Though as a mum at the time it was tough! Like your dd, her exam marks have been consistently high but this seems to have little importance when it comes to auditions. It's all about potential. Now, we try to stay realistic, acknowledge the very many talented young dancers out there, accept that there isn't employment or places for all of them, believe that if it is right for her then it will happen at the right time, and in the meantime take joy from watching someone you love do something they love.

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Dd used to do festivals, was good stage experience. She sometimes placed sometimes didn't, seemed to have little to do with performance standards on the day. Festivals, auditions etc can be great for experience, but as said above don't worry too much at this age as long as shes enjoying it.

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As another poster said, there are quite a few associate programmes out there, and there might be one a lot easier to travel to than the RBS anyway, depending on where you live.

 

Technical ability - measured in the exams - is important, but it is also important for them to develop the performing side of things too. EYB and other youth ballet companies give the youngsters the performance opportunities they don't otherwise get in class or with associates.

 

Great fun too, and they make lots of ballet friends along the way.

 

edited for spelling

Edited by taxi4ballet
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I have no experience with dance festivals but dd used to do drama festivals (we used them as a practice run for lamda exam pieces)

 

One year dh who works/teaches in the industry at various vocational colleges took her.

 

He said the ones who won bore no relation to the ones who had the potential for vocational training & whatever the adjudicators were looking for wasn't necessarily what the industry was looking for

 

However it was good performance experience.

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It seems that talent does not always lead to a place on the RBS associate scheme or on others - perhaps other talented children are thought to be more suited to intensive associate scheme training at this time or are more relaxed in an audition and therefore more able to show themselves off at their best. The performance opportunities which pas de chat suggested at post no. 5 above might assist if this may be the case for your DD. I also second the suggestion of summer schools.

 

Do also bear in mind that the RBS in particular, but also Elmhurst and the other associate schemes linked to the 'big 4' vocational schools are looking not only for talented dancers but those with the 'right' body shape for potential vocational training and employment as a classical ballet dancer. It may be that your DC is not currently considered the 'right' shape but of course even if that is so, body shape can and does change, sometimes quite considerably, especially as puberty hits - and it may change to a more favored shape for a particular school/associate scheme or unfortunately to a less favored shape which could result in a DC being assessed out of a school or scheme, despite being just as talented a dancer as they were previously.

 

There could be less emphasis on the 'right' body shape in associate schemes which are not linked to vocational schools?

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I agree about body shape. A girl from my dd's school was an RBS associate for several years and her mother told me that all the girls were clones of each other. She seemed quite shocked by this. Two other girls applied unsuccessfully a couple of times. Both were very flexible and one in particular had incredible stage presence; in the school show she really stood out among the older girls. One of the girls did a lot of gymnastics and I suspect that, although very lean, she was too muscular for the RBS. It was a bit of a mystery why the other one (the one with the incredible stage presence) was not selected, but she probably did not quite have the 'look' that the RBS wanted.

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Thankyou for all your comments. Very helpful.

I will look into summer school for next year and she has EYB audition lined up. She did a production with them last year and loved it.

Watching her dance is such a delight for me so in whatever capacity that takes, be it an open class at the end of term or a solo, I will continue to enjoy it as much as she does.

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