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Dancerfun

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As this year's dance season comes to an end, I have to say I now truly realize what you have all been saying is absolutely true. Technique, particularly ballet technique, is critical. Last September my daughter was lucky to join a pre-professional ballet program for 12 hours of instruction a week. I didn't fully understand how ballet impacts everything dance wise, but somehow it does! My daughter has had amazing growth this year. I'm honestly blown away. She would frequently get the highest adjudication with her solo at local competitions, but never place. This year she is regularly placing in the top 3 and is regularly receiving free conventions and special judges awards. And she is now receiving the highest adjudication in the big city competitions as well! It's crazy. And this year we attended 3 competitions with conventions and she was a runner up at two of the break out auditions and a winner at one. It has been surreal. The only difference this year in her training is that she has had quality ballet training! And a lot of it! I had mom's from other studios come up to me and say they were blown away by her growth this this year. She always stood out a bit with her performance and flexibility... but now she is bringing the technique. And what a difference!

If any newer mom's take away anything from a random post on this forum, I honestly cannot stress enough the importance of quality ballet instruction. It really does make a difference!!! I don't how but it does. My daughter has not only improved with her lyrical solo, her jazz is also much stronger. Ballet truly is the key! [smile] My DD is 11, for those wondering.

Anyways, just had to share. We are on a half day schedule at school and then attend the ballet program and then competition dance. And as this year wraps up, I can honestly say it was all worth it. I have a happy child who also grew tremendously and has been lucky enough to receive the recognition of her growth.
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heidi459

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Reply with quote  #2 
It really does make all the difference in the world, doesn't it?  The unfortunate thing though is that it can be very hard to know where to find that kind of quality ballet training.  It's not as simple as the number of ballet classes per week.  Or the credentials of the teachers.  Or finding a studio that labels itself a "ballet school" or even the fancy sounding "pre-pro".  It's not as simple as older dancers who "look" beautiful to our untrained eye. And it's certainly not as simple as finding a studio owner who says it's so.   I've always encouraged dance moms/dancers to educate themselves so that they don't have to trust blindly.  Been there, done that.  Glad to hear that you took the step and are seeing the results you'd hoped to see.
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JustAnotherDanceMom7

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Reply with quote  #3 
That is absolutely wonderful! And I can totally relate, as my DD started private ballet instruction last summer and we have seen her grow tremendously.  She has had a somewhat similar experience, going from sometimes getting the top adjudication last year and placing near the bottom of the top 10 or not at all, to consistently placing in the top 5 and receiving the top adjudication.  And the only difference in her training has been the hour of private ballet instruction each week.  I would love to see what she could do with 12! LOL!  Anyway, I completely agree - ballet is the key and is absolutely worth investing in.  Congrats to your DD and her Cinderella season.  Wishing her continued growth, recognition and happiness!
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prettyprissy15

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Reply with quote  #4 
Wow! How in the world did you get in 12 hours of ballet a week, other dance classes, and school? We struggle gettng in 5 hours of dance, and one hour of tumble! My daughter is only 7 though, so maybe we will increase as she gets older, because I want her to get more ballet technique, too.
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Dancerfun

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Quote:
Originally Posted by prettyprissy15
Wow! How in the world did you get in 12 hours of ballet a week, other dance classes, and school? We struggle gettng in 5 hours of dance, and one hour of tumble! My daughter is only 7 though, so maybe we will increase as she gets older, because I want her to get more ballet technique, too.


The program is meant for homeschoolers. We are very lucky though because our school has worked with us and my daughter was able to get most of her academics in the morning at school and leaves at lunch. She has a bit more homework but not bad at all and has remained a top student! We are very lucky it worked out so well. So she is done with her ballet program by 3:15 pm and then has competition dance two nights a week. It's worked out wonderfully for us. And to clarify, the 12 hours isn't pure technique. It's about 6 hours for her age of actual technique a week and the other 6 hours includes, modern, variations, partnering and an education component on injury prevention and anatomy of the body. It's been a wonderful experience. I feel very blessed she was able to have this opportunity.
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dave9988

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Quote:
Originally Posted by prettyprissy15
Wow! How in the world did you get in 12 hours of ballet a week, other dance classes, and school? We struggle gettng in 5 hours of dance, and one hour of tumble! My daughter is only 7 though, so maybe we will increase as she gets older, because I want her to get more ballet technique, too.


It all comes down to priorities.  Many on this board have dancers at the studio 18 or more hours per week (that doesn't include warm ups), which can get you to 12 hours of ballet technique.  It's rough when in public middle/high schools, especially if you lack study halls (due to music or other electives).  It makes for some very late nights doing homework.  I do wish NYS was more flexible with PE class ... dumping that in favor of a study hall, maybe requiring a paper and/or documentation regarding the athletic/conditioning side of dance ... well, that would be priceless. 

For now we're managing, but I would not be shocked if home schooling is in our future.
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ballerinamom13

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Reply with quote  #7 
Glad to hear my preaching for the 9 years I've been on this board can be confirmed by someone else.  Good for your dd!!
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MagnoliaDanceMom

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Reply with quote  #8 
I couldn't agree more. My daughter is a 10 years old dancer who just finished her second year dancing. After experiencing a frustrating year of rarely placing,  we increased the ballet instruction by adding two additional ballet privates (on top of her 1 hour of weekly ballet instruction). I started with 30 min twice a week (all I could afford) but increased it to a full hour twice a week in May. Today I was watching her through the studio monitors and was impressed on how much she has grown in such little time. I will keep the additional ballet instruction for a few more months. i am excited to see what this will do for her competitive dances. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It was truly inspiring....at the time I needed it the most. I would love to hear from anyone else with a similar story. I will definitely keep you all appraised of how this next year goes.
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Rushhourmom

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Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by heidi459
It really does make all the difference in the world, doesn't it?  The unfortunate thing though is that it can be very hard to know where to find that kind of quality ballet training.  It's not as simple as the number of ballet classes per week.  Or the credentials of the teachers.  Or finding a studio that labels itself a "ballet school" or even the fancy sounding "pre-pro".  It's not as simple as older dancers who "look" beautiful to our untrained eye. And it's certainly not as simple as finding a studio owner who says it's so.   I've always encouraged dance moms/dancers to educate themselves so that they don't have to trust blindly.  Been there, done that.  Glad to hear that you took the step and are seeing the results you'd hoped to see.


This is what holds me back. I know all the ways it's challenging to find a solid program but no clue how to actually find that program. I don't have a solid eye for ballet technique. I can't trust the opinions of other dance families since everyone says their school is top notch of course. How do you tell the solid from the not?
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ballerinamom13

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Reply with quote  #10 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rushhourmom
This is what holds me back. I know all the ways it's challenging to find a solid program but no clue how to actually find that program. I don't have a solid eye for ballet technique. I can't trust the opinions of other dance families since everyone says their school is top notch of course. How do you tell the solid from the not?


Look at the schools's website and see if you can find how many professional dancers they have produced.  They might have a list of what summer intensives their students have been accepted to and attend and then you can research those very easily.  Find out how many hours each level takes per week.  Go to a performance - Nutcracker or Spring - almost every ballet school does at least two.  Ask to observe a class - if they say no, run.  If the school competes, which definitely is not necessary, but if they do, it will probably be on the website.  Find the results and see how their kids do.  

Go to Ballet Talk for Dancers and read.   You can learn so much about ballet there.  You don't have to register to just inform yourself.  If you want to participate in certain forums, you do have to register. If you really want your child to have the best instruction, it's work.  You don't get to just sit back and let it happen - it won't.  Not saying you are doing that - "You" in general.   Call the school and ask these questions if you can't find the info on line. If they don't have answers for you, cross them off the list.   
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heidi459

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Reply with quote  #11 

Ballerinamom makes some great suggestions... & I think it's a formula that is solid  That if you can find a fairly local studio that has a history of producing professional dancers, has dancers that regularly go to highly selective SIs & do well at the likes of YAGP (if they go), you can be assured that that is a studio that offers high quality ballet training. The only problem is that in many areas you're going to have a hard time finding that... & yet it's not necessarily going to be because high quality training doesn't exist. Unfortunately, the country is not chock full of SABs & JKOs & Ellisons... programs w/nationally recognized reputations on every corner (don't we wish!).  Sometimes the stereotypical perfect pre-pro ballet school is not an option available to us.  Not to mention, sometimes even if you do have such a program local to you, they aren't always going to be the best fit for your child/family. For example, the Boston Ballet School is highly regarded by most, pretty much seems to fit the standard formula in most people's eyes, but it wouldn't have been the right fit for my dd.  In fact, I can almost guarantee you that she would've been pushed into the background if we'd enrolled her there insuring that she would never have reached her true potential.  For us the smaller school... the hidden gem... was the ticket.  

So, I guess with that, I haven't really helped, have I?  lol  How do you find the hidden gem?  How can you know their training is excellent if they don't meet the more typically accepted formula? Honestly, I think you just have to take the time and educate yourself first. Understand what strong ballet technique/training really is.  Learn to be able to identify it.  Read, as ballerinamom suggests, the various topics on BTFD.  Go to professional ballet performances, watch videos. And then when it's time to consider different studios, observe classes.  Really pay attention to the way the teachers teach.  How many students are there in a class?  Is there a lot of personal attention... both verbal & physical corrections?  And if so, is that attention delivered to all of the dancers equally or just a choice few?  Are the teachers as invested in the class as the dancers or would you be able to get essentially the same result by throwing in a video & following along? Talk to the teachers... listen to what they say & how they say it. What do they want.. expect... from the dancers? Is it a more relaxed atmosphere or does it feel like serious business?  All of these things will give you a really good idea, I think.  At least that's how I've approached the process over the past few years.... when we first switched from comp to ballet & then further expanded her training w/different programs.  We (more importantly, she) knows our choices were the right ones for her... & the results have been better than we'd ever imagined.

 

            

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Suzit42

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Reply with quote  #12 
If I could go back in time...

How I wish I would have known what I know now. Quality ballet training supersedes almost everything. DD is 18. Her dance journey started late and had lots of speed bumps. She has caught up as best as she could. And I am proud of what she has done. She competes with tap solos. I always watch her competition. It is immediately obvious which tappers have stopped ballet training and which ones have kept up with it. Their carriage, extensions, etc.. This is the message we need to share. Thanks to those who do.
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ggsmith

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Reply with quote  #13 
A lot of great advice in this thread!  It seems like in our area there is some kind of dance school on every corner.  I know that isn't the case for everyone.

We are still trying to decide where DD will go in the fall.  She's all about the ballet at this point (13 years old) which for us means driving.  The nearest ballet focused school (that she has been at for the last 5 years) is about 45 minutes away in daytime traffic.  Other ballet schools are further.

Exposure is the most important thing we've done to educate ourselves.  DD (sometimes with me) watches youtube videos of full length ballets and variations.  We've taken opportunities to see professional and student ballet performances.  She's attended ballet masterclasses, workshops, weekend intensives, and summer intensives.  The up side to the teacher turnover at her school was exposure to a number of teachers with different styles and backgrounds.  At this point, she knows a good teacher in one class.  She is looking for a teacher who corrects every student and gives meaningful group corrections, and she knows good corrections when she hears them at this point.  Its a learning process, and I'm sure it isn't over yet!  Sometimes I am blown away by the photos studios post online and on their websites.  A lot can be "hidden" in the midst of a group moving on stage, but a photo catches a moment in time.  When the photos show older dancers all out of sync, with crooked legs and feet pointing in all directions and "fish" faces, it gives me pause.  If it looks bad to my untrained eye, why would a studio put that out as advertisement of their accomplishments?  And why would I want to pay them?

What has been interesting is how many good ballet instructors she's come across in the area since she started doing trial classes and open classes over the past year.  If she decides she no longer wants to focus so strongly on ballet, I know that there are decent local schools where she can dance for fun and get good training, and schools where she could continue to get good training and move in a more commercial or Broadway direction.

Unfortunately I am looking at logging a lot of miles in the car and time away from home next year.  Best of luck in your search Rushhourmom, and congratulations to your dancer dancerfun!
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nyklane

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Reply with quote  #14 
It's good to hear continued confirmation of a strong ballet foundation.  My DD is 7 and although she's taken pre-ballet and now ballet for several years, at this age it hasn't been really enough or ...lets say, "real" instruction / corrections so far.  Unfortunately it is also not so interesting at this age.  But while at Nuvo we had a session with "Chantel" - can't remember last name - and she was so good with the little kids and made ballet interesting, fun and challenging all in the course of an hour.  Since then we have been looking for an option to supplement.  This summer we are attending a ballet SI for 3 weeks (just 9am-1) so we'll see if we can get some progress, it's right before a national that we are going.. I'm wondering if it will make a difference.. [smile]
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dmjrm4

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Reply with quote  #15 
I live in a large city and was unaware of where the best ballet training was.  I did two things to educate myself.  I went to the YAGP website for my city and looked at what schools the winners came from, there were three. Secondly, we have an amazing pointe shoe fitter in our city, I went to him and his staff and asked them where the strongest training was happening.  They suggested the exact same three schools.  My DD 14 auditioned for those SIs and will be attending for supplemental training beyond her comp studio this summer.
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