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ggsmith

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We seem to be still searching for a dance home for dd.  It seems nearly all the studios in our area, from the ballet studios to the recreational dance program at the Y, participate in competition to some degree. It occurred to me that one way to evaluate a school in terms of "serious" training would be to look at the competitions they enter.  NYCDA and WAGP are two that I would think of as more serious competitions, but this isn't really my area and I'm wondering what others think.  We aren't actually looking for a competition studio, as at this point I can't imagine a scenario where we could afford the training dd wants and competition as well.  

DD's ideal studio would have strong classical ballet (at least four 90 minute classes a week plus pointe) and access to good hiphop, acro, jazz, and tap (in that order of importance.)  Currently she's at a ballet studio M/W/F and sometimes Saturday and a comp studio (where she doesn't compete) T/TH/Sat.  I've given up on ideal at this point, now we are looking for a comp studio with decent ballet (two 90 minute classes week) plus the "extras" and the flexibility to supplement with ballet a couple times a week elsewhere.  She's also considering dropping everything to focus on ballet, but long run I don't think she'll be happy with just ballet.
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Psmom

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Reply with quote  #2 
I can't see this approach being helpful at all. The only thing I know of that will give you the information you need is to visit the studios you're considering.
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tendumom

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Reply with quote  #3 
You would have loved dd's former studio. It was really a ballet school, but had excellent jazz, tap and hip hop. Good modern/contemporary as well, A strong ballet school will have more than just ballet. Today's ballet dancer needs more than just ballet. They have to learn to move in different ways to meet the demands of contemporary choreographers. 

I do make some general judgement of studios based on the competitions they attend. I was unaware when dd was at a comp school when she was young of the wide, wide range of competitions. Dd's school sent younger dancers to comps like Jump, Starpower (I think that was one of them)m etc. Older dancers also went to a few more including NYCDA. The stronger ballet dancers went to YAGP. We live in a region where there are comps all over the place. A friend's dd also competed but for a much smaller school. They went to much smaller competitions mainly held at local hotels where the dancers performed on the ballroom floor instead of stages. Some of the comps dd went to had multiple stages (blanking on names now) and all were in what seemed to me to be a more professional environment. When we went to see this friend's daughter perform, it was also clear that the level of technique overall was no where near the same as what we were generally used to seeing at dd's studio and at the comps they went to. 

That said, I think some of the most serious schools do not compete at all or very little.Schools that don't separate rehearsal time from technique classes are obviously not as serious. We looked at some schools that had jazz class once a week and all they did was warm up and work on the dance. 

How old is your dd? Dropping everything for ballet temporarily might not be a bad idea. She could really work on her te Ichnique and that will transfer back to most other genres. I remember when dd's jazz teacher told me I should take dd to a ballet school. She assured me that if dd ever wanted to go back ti competition, she's come back a much stronger dancer as a result of the strong ballet technique. Dd never went back to competition and her former ballet school did have a weekly jazz class for each level. Still, at the end of a jazz class that she took for the first time in NYC, she was approached with an offer to perform with professionals... so what dd's competition jazz teacher said was definitely true. 
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heidi459

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I tihnk there is some value in what you're suggesting just because I do think that which comps a studio chooses to attend does say a little about their philosophy.  Problem though is that those comps that are known for attracting the highest level of talent in one area may be very different from one in another area.  Just because not all comps hit all areas.

That said, I'm not exactly sure what you're asking.  In the first paragraph you mention that you aren't looking for a comp studio but then in the second you say you are.  Maybe you misspoke?  Or maybe I just missed something in there?  Or maybe that just speaks to where you are at in your decision making. Does your dd want to compete or are you just thinking you could get a sense of what kind of training is offered by looking at the list of comps they attend?   You say she spends more time at a ballet studio now and is thinking about dropping everything else for ballet... does she have long term goals?  Why is it that you don't think she'd be happy with just ballet?  And are you afraid to let her try because you think she might regret it mid-year, and then she'd be stuck?  How old is your dd, if you don't mind me asking?  Just trying to get a better feel for the situation. 

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Mom2Girls

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Quote:
Originally Posted by tendumom
You would have loved dd's former studio. It was really a ballet school, but had excellent jazz, tap and hip hop. Good modern/contemporary as well, A strong ballet school will have more than just ballet. Today's ballet dancer needs more than just ballet. They have to learn to move in different ways to meet the demands of contemporary choreographers. 

I do make some general judgement of studios based on the competitions they attend. I was unaware when dd was at a comp school when she was young of the wide, wide range of competitions. Dd's school sent younger dancers to comps like Jump, Starpower (I think that was one of them)m etc. Older dancers also went to a few more including NYCDA. The stronger ballet dancers went to YAGP. We live in a region where there are comps all over the place. A friend's dd also competed but for a much smaller school. They went to much smaller competitions mainly held at local hotels where the dancers performed on the ballroom floor instead of stages. Some of the comps dd went to had multiple stages (blanking on names now) and all were in what seemed to me to be a more professional environment. When we went to see this friend's daughter perform, it was also clear that the level of technique overall was no where near the same as what we were generally used to seeing at dd's studio and at the comps they went to. 

That said, I think some of the most serious schools do not compete at all or very little.Schools that don't separate rehearsal time from technique classes are obviously not as serious. We looked at some schools that had jazz class once a week and all they did was warm up and work on the dance. 

How old is your dd? Dropping everything for ballet temporarily might not be a bad idea. She could really work on her te Ichnique and that will transfer back to most other genres. I remember when dd's jazz teacher told me I should take dd to a ballet school. She assured me that if dd ever wanted to go back ti competition, she's come back a much stronger dancer as a result of the strong ballet technique. Dd never went back to competition and her former ballet school did have a weekly jazz class for each level. Still, at the end of a jazz class that she took for the first time in NYC, she was approached with an offer to perform with professionals... so what dd's competition jazz teacher said was definitely true. 


[like]I agree with everything Tendumom said.



I think instead of looking at the competitions--though that could give you some insight--I would look at the breakdown of class/rehearsal time. Rehearsals should not be during tech time. The quality of the ballet would be my biggest concern…from there a lot will naturally fall into place. You can't always judge the quality by number of hours, though, so that's something to keep in mind. There are some comp. studios that will have it all right on paper but if you compare one of their ballet classes to a high-quality ballet studio, you'll see it isn't at all on the same level. There are also comp studios that will get much closer to (or attain) that quality. If you know what a good ballet class really looks like, or if your dancer is old enough to judge that quality, you are already a step ahead of the game and one or both of you needs to view/take a class.
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gandalf

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Reply with quote  #6 
If you have the time, there might be some value in attending a competition that they compete at. You will not only see how they perform, but how the dancers behave, how the parents behave, etc.  I don't think it would hurt to call the studio up and tell them you are looking for a dance studio and you are interested in attending one of their comps.
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cynmckee

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Reply with quote  #7 
I would never use this as a criteria for picking a studio.  I also wouldn't use performance alone at a competition to make a decision either.  Some studios spend their week cleaning comp pieces over and over again so they look very polished at competition but they ultimately have no tech classes.  You should aim for a studio that concentrates on tech classes during the week (so comp and no comp kids get the same training) and works on their pieces later.  If the kids are getting good training they will perform as well in the comp routines as those kids that do nothing but the few pieces they took to comp.
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ggsmith

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Reply with quote  #8 
I'm really only aware of 1 studio within an hour or so of where we live that doesn't compete at all.  They have a musical theater focus and do things like cruises and theme park performances instead of competition.  My thought was even though DD would probably not be part of a competition team, they all seem to be competing to some degree, and the types of competitions they choose to enter might be an indication of how serious they are in terms of technical training.  I've been looking at dance studios in an ever-widening circle around our home for the past 3 years or so.  I've recently started looking at a few places that just 6 months ago seemed too far for daily travel.  I've started to notice that those places where reputation, teacher bios, class schedules, pictures/videos online, etc. were attractive enough to make me want to schedule a visit were also likely to be attending certain local competitions.  I wondered about the experience of the dance families on this site.  I hadn't really considered that a "serious" competition for one region might attract more recreational dancers in another.

DD is 11 and would like to compete.  She did a little at her former rec studio and enjoyed it.  It seems though that the studios where tuition is low enough that we could afford both tuition and competition costs are not offering good training.  These are the studios where ballet is an hour once a week, rehearsals run during class time, etc.  Given our financial situation it seems to be either competition or good training.  My girl has consistently said she'd like to dance professionally, so I feel that we need to find her good training so that is a possibility if she still wants to pursue this as she gets older.

She says she loves ballet right now but she hasn't wanted to give up hiphop, especially, and other genres.  Acro is new to her and she really enjoys it.  It really seems to me that she enjoys her non-ballet classes more than the ballet, and she is a lot of fun to watch on stage doing jazz or musical theater  She has said maybe ballet only next year, which narrows the possibilities considerable, but I'm not counting on that.  There are 3 possible ballet schools (including the current one if it stays afloat financially) but they aren't close and offer very little outside of classical ballet.  


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heidi459

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Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ggsmith
I'm really only aware of 1 studio within an hour or so of where we live that doesn't compete at all.  They have a musical theater focus and do things like cruises and theme park performances instead of competition.  My thought was even though DD would probably not be part of a competition team, they all seem to be competing to some degree, and the types of competitions they choose to enter might be an indication of how serious they are in terms of technical training.  I've been looking at dance studios in an ever-widening circle around our home for the past 3 years or so.  I've recently started looking at a few places that just 6 months ago seemed too far for daily travel.  I've started to notice that those places where reputation, teacher bios, class schedules, pictures/videos online, etc. were attractive enough to make me want to schedule a visit were also likely to be attending certain local competitions.  I wondered about the experience of the dance families on this site.  I hadn't really considered that a "serious" competition for one region might attract more recreational dancers in another.

DD is 11 and would like to compete.  She did a little at her former rec studio and enjoyed it.  It seems though that the studios where tuition is low enough that we could afford both tuition and competition costs are not offering good training.  These are the studios where ballet is an hour once a week, rehearsals run during class time, etc.  Given our financial situation it seems to be either competition or good training.  My girl has consistently said she'd like to dance professionally, so I feel that we need to find her good training so that is a possibility if she still wants to pursue this as she gets older.

She says she loves ballet right now but she hasn't wanted to give up hiphop, especially, and other genres.  Acro is new to her and she really enjoys it.  It really seems to me that she enjoys her non-ballet classes more than the ballet, and she is a lot of fun to watch on stage doing jazz or musical theater  She has said maybe ballet only next year, which narrows the possibilities considerable, but I'm not counting on that.  There are 3 possible ballet schools (including the current one if it stays afloat financially) but they aren't close and offer very little outside of classical ballet.  




I'm sorry, I wasn't really clear I guess.  Or maybe I just didn't understand the question.  It's not that I think comps that are known to attract high level talent in Massachusetts or California or NY would attract rec dancers in Oklahoma.  It's that I realize that that same comp may not hold a comp in Oklahoma at all.   That Oklahoma might have fewer options.. and therefore the more competitive comp in that area may be something that is not typically as competitive when it comes to MA/CA/NY.  Does that make sense?  (eta:  and to be clear, I don't think you live in Oklahoma... I'm just using that as an example)

That said, I do agree with those who are saying it's probably not the best way to judge. So even though I think it could have some value, I think there are much better/more reliable ways to go about it.


Personally, if it were my child, based on all the info you've presented, I would give the ballet only a try.  Let her figure out if she can live w/o the other styles.  She might be surprised that she can't.  You might be surprised that she can.  And either way it won't hurt her if she really thinks she might want to dance professionally someday.  Ballet is the foundation for everything.
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tendumom

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Reply with quote  #10 

Fun is different in ballet class. It is just not as external as it is in an acro, hip hop or jazz class. It is definitely something that is intrinsic. I think you actually have your answer. She's the one who is willing to consider dropping it all for good ballet. Let her go for it. Get her the best possible training that you can afford in terms of your wallet and your time. She can always go back. I have seen posters here who have had dancers in pre-pro ballet who have switched to competition and been quite successful on many levels. As I mentioned earlier, my own dd was surprised with a an offer to be cast in a show with working Bway dancers just after taking a single open class. As a ballet kid, she certainly has much less jazz experience than your average strong competition kid, but far more ballet training. It didn't matter what her background was. 

I totally hear you on expanding your radius in looking for good programs. When I looked for a pre-school dance based class for dd, I only called studios that I regularly drove by. The one she ended up at ended up being a strong jazz and tap based comp school with good, but not great, ballet. My radius expanded a little further when I looked for a ballet school. And, finally, this year, at 17, our radius expanded greatly! LOL. We looked at ballet programs as far south as Florida, as far west as Los Angeles, and as far east as NYC and Philly. She ended up in NYC which is now an almost 2 hr commute door to door (including driving to the train, the hour train ride and then subway and several block walk). I would have said you were insane if you told me that she would be doing this at 17! It's funny as they get older and even more serious what we will consider doing. 

And as a caveat, if you wait too long for strong ballet training, it does become too late for most.  

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Dancinandlovinit

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Reply with quote  #11 
I fully agree with Tendumom.  We had a discussion over the summer here about the amount of comp kids at ABT, and how they are well able to hold their own and then some at ABT.  One of our comp dancers made the violet group at ABT-CA last summer (Tendumom's daughter probably knows her) and my dd's group had a large amount of comp kids including one from AUDC.  And also a large amount of ballet school kids.  Likely the most talented male dancer there (Lex, and also in violet) is a comp kid.  I agree that ballet dancers need to learn to move in ways more than just ballet, especially if they are planning on dancing as a career, or entering a college with a dance major.  Dancers need to be well-rounded. My dd was telling me that one day in ABT she did a spiral just out of the blue and everyone just freaked out.  But at her comp studio, most of the kids can do that.  My dd is also an advanced tapper and loves jazz, lyrical, and hip hop.  She does want to dance as a career.  Does she want to be a ballerina for a living?  No.  Does she she want to be a ballerina anyway?  Yes, but it's more of a means to help her with her technique.  However, she still LOVES ballet!   

I also live in an area where there are comps everywhere, and it's not just the same comps bringing different types of dancers in different regions of the country, it's different dates.  For example, in So. Cal, it seems that there is a KAR every weekend.  Sometimes multiple KARs in one weekend (one weekend last spring, there were 5 different KARs going on, all within 20 miles or so of each other.  No joke).  So, you can imagine that one KAR was more competitive than another KAR in the next town over.  I say this all the time...it all depends on who shows up, so it might be hard to judge a studio based on the competitions they go to.  There are so many variables beyond that.   

I only know of one ballet studio in my area that doesn't compete at all, not even YAGP.  The rest at least do YAGP and most have small "performance teams" that attend a few competitions, usually in the novice category.  

It's just the nature of the beast, I guess.
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greenhorn

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Reply with quote  #12 
All this being said,  some studios definitely have preferred comps which they tend to be successful at either because of shared dance philosophy or it is mutually beneficial for them to attend or be attended by the studio.  This is something where you would need to just be in the area and experience what goes on.  I don't know if I would include or exclude a studio because of that.  It would be a purely personal decision.
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Dancingemu

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Reply with quote  #13 

Our studio goes to only the "rec" comps that they know the girls can do well at. There are a few conventions that we are able to go to, but the SO won't allow them to compete at because they won't score well. Though that tells me they should be working on these things not just brushing them under the rug. 

My girl would love to be at a studio that has dance everyday of the week. We're already there 3 days. Next year we will be adding tech classes which I wish they would push more. As for just doing one genre, I strongly advise and push her to do a variety until high school. She's not going to have a career dancing, maybe in the field, but she's so behind because of what she's offered in our area that, while I don't have the heart to tell her, she wouldn't stand a chance.

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ggsmith

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Reply with quote  #14 
It seems like many professional dancers, especially women, have been dancing since they were toddlers.  

We recently attended a performance of the Orlando Ballet.  In looking at their dancers' resumes, there is a woman who took her first ballet class at age 18.  I remember reading an article a year or so ago in one of the dance magazines about another dancer who'd started dancing in college and is enjoying a nice professional career.

We know a dancer that lived in a small town and traveled 2 hours away every Saturday and took every class he could get to within an hours drive during the week.  Eventually he was given a scholarship to a residential program as a teenager and is dancing ballet professionally.

When I first started looking for better training for my daughter, I didn't really consider some programs because it seemed impossible to get her to class regularly.  She started with once a week and I found ways to make more days a week happen as her interest grew.  DD is looking to change schools this fall and we've discovered some great teachers hiding in little programs in our area and programs within an hour drive that I really never checked into before that might work for her.

I have no idea where you live DancingEmu, but I don't think you should count your dancer out just yet.  
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