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MNDanceDad

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Reply with quote  #1 
OK...Here's my situation (boring...I know)

My son is in his 5th year of dance.  He just turned 11.  From the beginning we have been at a small local studio owned and operated by one woman.  She is an amazing teacher and dancer (in her 50s) and virtually everyone there loves her.  She connects with kids and fosters their love of dance while keeping it fun for everyone. 

Here is where the challenge begins...
Without sounding "braggy", my son is what most people refer to as a "natural".  In his years there, he has flown past every group he's been in, and now he basically dances with the high school aged girls but he's too small to do any actual partnering at this point.  He's a big fish in a little pond.  I know he can be challenged more, and the owner has told me she will train him to be a professional dancer. 

The studio does not compete.  She isn't a believer in competitions.  She feels they sacrifice technique in favor of showmanship.  For the past couple years, I bought in to her perspective.  I wanted to trust that she would do the things necessary to push him and help him grow. 

Their bond is strong!  She is like a mother to him, and he, like a son to her.

Early this past Fall, we visited the Larkin Dance Studio open house (Eva Igo from World of Dance & Taylor Sieve from SYTYCD).  By chance, we met with Michelle Larkin herself, who asked him to grab his shoe bag and do a quick audition for her.  Afterward, she told us she agreed...he's a natural...and she wants him competing on her team ASAP.  Needless to say, we thought that was awesome!

He was already signed up for a full slate of classes at current studio and he immediately told her that he was not going to be leaving.  So, we agreed to compromise.  Instead of jumping in with both feet, he's wading into that pool.  He's taking 1 hip-hop and 1 ballet class there, while maintaining his regular load at the small studio.

We've tried to set the expectation that he should plan to switch FULL time by next year.  It's been a challenge because:
A)  He loves where he is at & he loves his teacher.
B)  He wants to experience the growth and challenges that competition can bring.
C)  He's getting some passive/aggressive comments from people at his current studio about his affiliation with Larkin.

I was open and honest with his current teacher, and she was very upset to hear that we enrolled him at the new place (sad...not mad).  She has subsequently been dangling carrots in front of him too, making it that much harder when the time comes.

Anyway...long story longer...As a parent, I want to help foster my son's desire to make a living as a dancer.  Am I helping or hurting by encouraging him on to the brighter lights and the bigger stage?

By the way...to those of you who actually make it through this entire post:  THANK YOU, and I applaud your patience!!!  [crazy]





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MNDanceDad

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Reply with quote  #2 
It just occurred to me, am I not supposed to mention studios by name?  I noticed I don't see them named anywhere on here.  If not, please let me know so I can edit my post.
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tendumom

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Reply with quote  #3 

Some of us don't mention studios by name in order to stay anonymous. There have been repercussions to some. You just never know who is hear reading and how identifiable you might be.  It's up to you. I do know the second studio you mention and my dd knows a dancer who came from that program originally. 

Boys are, as you know, a rare gem in dance. A talented boy is worth his weight in gold. [smile] In my area, where there are many choices of places to train, boys can get hefty scholarships, especially to the ballet schools. The three closet ballet schools all offer some degree of scholarship, most full tuition. 

It's very difficult to make that move. I have seen it many times over the years. Sometimes the original studio owner gets very angry and takes it out on the student. Sometimes, like this, they are just sad. And sometimes, they don't really care. Obviously they have a close relationship. You've already seen what can happen with the attitudes of other students. DD saw that when she left her first studio for a ballet school. The girls who were her friends (or seemed to be) were now giving her attitude. 

As you have a son, you need to consider some other factors in his training as he gets older. It is important, as he moves into those teen years that he has other males to dance with, especially older ones who can give him someone to look up to and emulate. It's also important that he have teachers, ideally men, who know how to teach boys.  Coming from a small studio, dancers often will not get a variety of instructors like they may get a larger studio. While mentors are a great thing to have and relationships like you describe are invaluable, having other voices and eyes is also important in the training of a professional dancer. 

Is this the time to start making the move? Maybe. Or perhaps it can wait. 

While competition brings more performance opportunities and challenges, please know that it is not at all necessary to make in any part of this industry as a professional.  It's the training that is the most important. The second studio you mention (in case you change your post) is known to provide strong training and happens to also be a competition studio. If this is what he really wants and what he continues to want, keep your eye on the training. Hefty doses of ballet and technique classes (non-rehearsal classes) outweigh competition any day. 

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tappinmom

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Reply with quote  #4 
Tagging on to what tendumom has said at this age for your DS you need to start thinking as well about partnering.  If he has maxed out his abilities at the current studio and is dancing with seniors he will not learn to partner and if he wants to go pro that is a skill that is required.  Larkin is very highly regarded. 

Wherever you end up make sure he is getting enough good ballet tech classes.
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rdsmom

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Reply with quote  #5 
I'm local to the Twin Cities area, and Larkin is probably one of the 2-4 top studios in the Twin Cities, and they win against nationally known studios. That being said, it's probably important to know what you're getting into.  My dancers do not dance at Larkin, but have friends who do dance there or have danced there in the past. I don't have any direct knowledge or information about the studio, only second-hand info, but it's been said that the time commitment is huge, even at age 11. I'd try to talk to the parent of a Larkin boy, to know what to expect as far as costs and commitment before making the jump next year. Good luck!
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nodrama15

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Reply with quote  #6 
Also have friends at said studio in NJ.....they are highly regarded.  It's the studio for boys to be at for sure.  Where other studios have the rare one or two boys, they have several, so the boys like to go there so they train with other boys.

I also have friends who have children that are former dancers there.....it's one of those studios that you love or you hate.  It's not for everyone.
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MNDanceDad

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Reply with quote  #7 
Thank you for these replies.  I appreciate the feedback!  Probably the two biggest reasons I support the change is to experience competition, and to be connected with other boys who are even better than he is, so that head of his doesn't get any bigger.  At the current studio, he's a "star" and everyone knows him.  At the larger one, he's just another face in the crowd, trying to make his mark.  That's a tough pill for him to swallow, but one that I think will help him ultimately grow more as a dancer.  Everyone struggles to let go of their "nookie blankie".  My gut just tells me it's time.  I pray he comes to that conclusion as well.
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ggsmith

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Reply with quote  #8 
I felt like it was time for my dancer to move on about a year before she did.  What I did was take her to masterclasses, weekend workshops, mini-intensives, and trial classes at other studios.  She eventually came to the conclusion on her own that there were things she wasn't getting in her current situation and was ready to entertain the idea of moving on.  I don't know much about the area where you live, but if there are powerhouse competition studios in the area, there are likely a number of other studios as well.  My suggestion would be to try out as many as possible before changing.  "Big name popular program" obviously works well for many people, but you don't want to uproot your dancer only to find that this program is not the best fit for you and your family at this point in time. 
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Rushhourmom

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Reply with quote  #9 
Have you considered doing some conventions as an independent instead of jumping into the competition circuit? I’ve noticed the comp world tends to be a bit of a small pond as well. With conventions he would have the opportunity to learn from many different styles and types, to see and be seen, to be in more of a realistically big pond so to speak. He would learn real world skills like auditioning in a sort of cattle call environment, learning to stand out and network and meet other strong male dancers that aren’t just from whatever home studio he lands at. It might help get his name out there and be recognized. He could get to know super talented choreographers from all over and, if he competes a solo, get some real feedback instead of the junk you get from local judges at competitions. Just another possible path for him. But the split time this year sounds super smart.
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ballerinamom13

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Reply with quote  #10 
I just responded to you, OP, on the If Your Studio Angers You, Leave thread.  I don't want to copy and paste it here too.
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MNDanceDad

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Reply with quote  #11 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ballerinamom13
I just responded to you, OP, on the If Your Studio Angers You, Leave thread.  I don't want to copy and paste it here too.


Thank you!!!
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2dornot2d

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Reply with quote  #12 
For a boy, there's so many opportunities at a bigger, better studio. At most conventions, boys also get called out and dance the combo during classes. Half of convention teachers are male and they love seeing boys dancing. Once your son starts competing, other studios will notice him, and with his natural talent some studios might actually offer free tuition to have your son. We have a very talented boy (not at our studio) in the area, and I heard every year, his mom gets so many offers from other studios. 

I would move him to Larkin right now. We have competed against them at The Dance Award (Nuvo, Jump, 24/seven's nationals). My DD was 10 at the time so we saw mostly mini/junior groups. They were amazing and technique was also very good. Well rounded dancers.

At this time, I assume their castings are done, costumes are made so he would just be taking classes and go to conventions with them. Like an apprentice company member, just training without competing. I don't know if their company classes are open to anybody, but I would make sure he takes classes with future teammates, especially ballet classes. He is just committing to a half year contract until summer. Your son could still come back to his old studio next year if he doesn't like that environment. 
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birdmom

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Reply with quote  #13 
Where do you live in the Twin Cities? There are options other than Larkin depending on where you live and what you want. Hands down they produce great dancers but the commitment required is huge. Feel free to message me if you don't want to answer on the board. 
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MNDanceDad

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Reply with quote  #14 
Quote:
Originally Posted by birdmom
Where do you live in the Twin Cities? There are options other than Larkin depending on where you live and what you want. Hands down they produce great dancers but the commitment required is huge. Feel free to message me if you don't want to answer on the board. 


I haven't upgraded my membership yet.  I cannot PM.  You can PM me, though, and I would love to hear your thoughts.  I can reply.  I just can't start a PM conversation.
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tendumom

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Reply with quote  #15 
You can actually PM without a premium membership, it's just not as straight foward as clicking on the name. Go to private messages and enter the name of the user you wish to message. It works on the computer. Not sure about on mobile
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