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prancer

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So I have been struggling lately as a dance parent.  My dd is 14.  She is a good dancer, but not a great dancer (e.g. wins standout awards at NUVO but not breakout dancer; she has a lovely body but not great feet).  She works hard and enjoys dance.  She likes her studio.  She is getting good training and attention.  I believe she will continue to improve there.  She likes competition dance for fun, but she enjoys performing more.  She likes contemporary best.  She likes ballet class (but not pointe).  

I guess I'm feeling like what she wants either doesn't exist or I don't know where to find it. As for what she wants -  I can tell you she does not want to be a professional ballerina or care about being a competition winner.  She might want to take dance in college or try to work in a contemporary group for a while.  Assuming those are her dance goals...

How do kids find their way to contemporary or modern dance at college or for work?  Should she do ballet summer intensives? Does she need to take more pointe? Should she audition for performance or modeling opportunities that aren't particularly dance heavy? Should she double down on competition dance? Should she go to more conventions?  Will the lack of beautiful feet squash any chance?  ...   I would love advice in general or answers to any of my questions.  I guess I feel like competition dance doesn't matter to us any more, but I don't know what to replace it with, because it will not be classical ballet en pointe.  Ideas?



  
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Noel

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Reply with quote  #2 
My dancer is much younger, so I will only offer what I feel is good advice no matter the situation. Pointe work will not help your dancer if she never aspires to dance en pointe and the risk is quite high. I would avoid pointe work. Ballet class, however, will strengthen her muscles, improve her lines, and continue to advance her knowledge of how she moves her body to produce the desired visual. Yes, continue ballet always. For the most part, any class that she is challenged in and she enjoys is going to help her on her path (a path I'm sure others further along will help with)... but from a physical standpoint, energy should be directed into making her a wise, well conditioned, strong athlete for a foundation for a long healthy career.
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dave9988

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Definitely continue to pursue ballet! 

My gut suggests at least some pointe as well.  Contemporary companies do include works on pointe. 

And IMO, the lack of "great feet" as viewed through a classical ballet perspective is not necessarily a deal-breaker, assuming she otherwise  has solid technique and other ballet fundamentals, and can clearly differentiate between a flex and a point.

I believe that some of the most recent success stories from our studio do involve dancers who took more of a contemporary/modern path.  For reference, most people would consider the studio to be a ballet school, though jazz and modern are also required so as to create a well-rounded dancer.

Does her current studio offer modern?
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608Mom

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Reply with quote  #4 
I so could have written this...right down to the Nuvo example and "not great feet"!  My daughter is 12, wants to dance professionally, but doesn't know in what capacity.  Definitely not a ballerina.  While I can't answer all of your questions, I can give you my opinion on a few things.  First, we've WAY increased the amount of ballet and pointe work she's doing this year, and it actually seems to be making a difference in her feet!  Finally!  We also go to a lot of conventions, and her studio teachers tell me that she is skilled at taking classes from anyone and approaches every single class like an audition.  I guess I think that's important - no matter what dance job she wants, it will all start with an audition.  We plan to add voice lessons soon to open up opportunities in the future in the musical theater/cruise industries.  Thank you for asking this question!  I hope I helped a little.  I'm very curious to read what others have to say.
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heidi459

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Quote:
Originally Posted by dave9988
Definitely continue to pursue ballet! 

My gut suggests at least some pointe as well.  Contemporary companies do include works on pointe. 



I'm thinking when the OP says contemporary that she's not talking contemporary ballet.  So while I agree that ballet is key, pointe proficiency probably doesn't need to be part of the equation.  I'm all for encouraging dancers to save those poor feet if possible :-) 

eta:  and for whatever it's worth... I have yet to read of a contemporary ballet company that doesn't state that they are looking for a very strong classical background first and foremost.  In other words... the training necessary to find work in a highly regarded contemporary ballet company is essentially the same as that for a classical company.
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dancemonkey

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Please take what I say with a grain of salt. At 14 you need to follow your child’s lead. I have two girls who both danced from age 3. One is now a senior in high school the other one is a sophomore in college. One is currently studying musical theater in college the other will minor in dance and will study science. Neither of my daughters went away for ballet intensives. They could have but chose not to. Unless you want to be a professional ballerina it’s probably not necessary unless you just want her to experience it. My kids went to conventions a couple of years and then they decided they didn’t like them. My kids like to perform. Try to figure out what your kid wants to do then run with it. Also many colleges focus on modern so you child should be good to go if she has a strong technical background
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prancer

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Reply with quote  #7 
Thanks for all the comments you have posted already. 

In response to Dave - the studio has "contemporary" classes - I suppose this is like most SYTYCD choreo. They do not have a "modern" class.  I would greatly appreciate a user friendly differentiation between contemporary and modern.  She did an invited showcase that I would say was "modern" - looks like what college dancers do - and didn't have any trouble with the choreo and received good placements from this new choreographer.   

In response to Heidi and Dave - your responses are really helping me figure out where my confusion lies.  I don't know if she wants SYTYCD contemporary or contemporary ballet - I would say she likes both (except the contemporary ballet has to be on flat for her to feel comfortable at this time), so I don't want to shut the door on either.  A number of people (including strangers) have commented she looks very well suited to an Ailey style - and I think that fits her pretty well - long lines, defined muscles, strong arms.  So is that contemporary ballet?  

608Mom - I will watch for more of your posts - we must have some things in common.

Dancemonkey - her greatest strength is academics, so you are seeing a patient mom here following her lead. 

Thanks Noel, pointe has not been painful to her yet, and it does seem to help with her feet, so she will likely do some.  
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cram

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Reply with quote  #8 
I understand you are torn whether to push for more ballet since you are not sure if your DD wants to pursue dance in the first place. If your daughter is a hard worker and has potential and all she thinks about is dance then yes you should look for more classical training. Why? Because I wish I would have done so with my eldest DD after she finally admitted at 16 that she wanted to pursue it but was afraid to admit it. She is very talented but I wish two years ago she would have started with ballet intensives. This would have made a difference at the college scholarship auditions. Even though you think the feet are not there, the technique will still shine through, whether she is doing contemporary ballet or SYTYCD contemp as you call it. The technique and training is evident from the moment they walk on that dance floor.
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heidi459

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Reply with quote  #9 
@ Prancer.... Alvin Ailey is a modern based company.  And contemporary ballet companies do dance on pointe so if she wanted to go in that direction she would definitely need to become most comfortable/proficient on pointe.
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Dancinandlovinit

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Reply with quote  #10 
I could have written this too! We did pursue ballet intensives and pointe for a while as it does greatly improve technique. But she has never been destined to be a ballerina and she knows that. She found her "place" once she joined the song team at her high school. She will pursue dance in college but on a dance team, not majoring in it, although she hasn't ruled out minoring in it or a double major at a school that is more commercially or contemporarily focused, if a dance team is not to be. We are in the college application process now. 

FYI - my daughter stuck with both teams all through high school - she competes for her high school song team in pom and in jazz as well as a full load of dances for her studio. The seasons don't overlap. She loves both!
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prancer

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Reply with quote  #11 
Cram thank you for your comment.  I am don't want to start shutting doors now that she will regret later. You are so right about the technique showing - I can see her ballet training showing in all styles. I am sure it would improve after intensives.

FYI although her home studio ballet does not follow a specific curriculum, it is generally Balanchine.  I thought I should clarify she is receiving good ballet training at her home performing arts studio.
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tendumom

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If she's only had ballet and pointe at her competition school, she may not really have a full picture of what's out there in more advanced ballet (meaning pointe). She may not like pointe because it is not natural for her yet. 

Most dancers at ballet schools do not end up becoming professional ballet dancers. Probably not much different than most dancers at any local dance school of any sort. In the last 8 years from the ballet school dd attended, most of the dancers who continued in dance actually ended up in modern and contemporary. So, between that and reading programs when I've seen performances, I'd say that the ballet school route may be the way to go. 

Sadly, what you are looking for does not exist in many places. Good strong dance schools that do not compete but offer performance opportunities instead. There's much more money to be made to keep these places profitable (or even to just keep them afloat in some cases) by doing competition. 

Look at what's in your area. If you are lucky, you will find a ballet school that also has classes in other genres, especially modern. The answer is definitely not MORE competitions or more conventions. The answer in dance to so many questions is usually just "more ballet." 

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prancer

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Reply with quote  #13 
Thanks Heidi.  I will think of Ailey when I think of modern.  Do you know how that modern style is different from contemporary on flat or barefoot?  
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prancer

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Reply with quote  #14 
Thank you tendumom. You are certainly correct in saying that pointe is not natural for her yet.  But this conversation is clarifying for me that she really needs to put in the time on pointe.

Yes, finding exactly what she wants is hard.  We left her old comp studio when she was 13.  We did not have an interest in another comp focused studio.  Because she was not interested in a ballet school at the time, my daughter moved to a performing arts school. My dd really does have very good ballet instruction now, and she has benefitted greatly.  So while they do compete (competition brings in business), at its heart she is at a performing arts school.

We have a handful of local ballet schools to consider. Her current technique training on flat is as good as most, so I’m not looking elsewhere other than intensives now. We are happy, and I'm hoping she can get where she wants to go if she just adds more pointe to her current load.



Note - I edited out some details for confidentiality. I really do like my anonymity on here. Thanks.
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prancer

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Reply with quote  #15 
And thanks Dancina!dlovinit. I am so glad your dd has loved the high school team. Mine does hers as well, but other than performance opportunities, I don’t think she is as excited about it as she anticipated.
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heidi459

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Reply with quote  #16 

Quote:
Originally Posted by prancer


We have a handful of local ballet schools to consider. I have done significant research into 3 of them.  Her current technique training on flat is as good or better - e.g. we turned down a soloist position in one of their youth ensembles because it was that bad.  The two others are good, but not better.  I have recently learned of a fourth ballet studio that is producing some beautiful dancers, so I will look into them, but their instructor's bios are not better than ours. 





Do keep in mind though that what comes out of a school is often as much related to who goes into it as what goes on there.  For example, selective schools often churn out a large percentage of dancers who go on to professional careers precisely because they only teach the most talented with the most drive and determination.  And those less selective schools?  They can offer the best of the best training but their results will still vary because the student body will be more varied. 

I guess what I'm saying is that great training is great training but even the best of training can only work with what they have.  Something to consider when comparing and contrasting programs perhaps.

 

eta:  and be careful of relying on bios.  BTDT.  A great bio doesn't necessarily mean a great teacher.  And a less than impressive bio doesn't necessarily mean a not so great teacher.

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prancer

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Reply with quote  #17 
Thanks Heidi.

We are happy with our current studio, but I think she needs to add pointe. I figure coming from lower quality ballet at her previous comp focused studio, she is still behind. She meets the BTFD training suggestions for a 13 year old, except she needs another pointe. Perhaps we can add a pointe private to get a second class. Next year we will aim for the 14/15 year old requirements and hopefully be on schedule if she wants to commit.

Thank you all. This thread is really helping me get some clarity.
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Lpr3

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Reply with quote  #18 
Don't have any input to help, but wondering what BTFD is?
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prancer

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Reply with quote  #19 
Ballet Talk for Dancers it’s a ballet focused and more formal forum.
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tendumom

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Reply with quote  #20 

I'll echo the bio discussion. 

My bio would be pretty dang impressive compared to some of the bios I've seen out there. I've studied (in adult classes) with some pretty fabulous retired principal ballet dancers and taken open classes at Steps on Broadway. My adult dance experience would sound just as, if not more impressive than some of the studio faculty bios I've seen out there. Yet, I'm not someone who should be teaching a ballet class to anyone! 

I love to read bios in general. I always read the bios in programs for anything I see live. I also read the bios for dance school faculty. Much to learn from just that. I could write an essay on how to look at those! Dissecting whether it is more likely that teacher once had that famous choreographer at a dance convention, a class at Steps or BDC in NYC or possibly that they actually trained under that choreographer at a school of some sort or danced in a professional company performing their work. Those are such different things. Anyone can sign up for a convention and anyone can walk in and take a class at Steps or Broadway Dance Center. Just food for thought. 

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dancemonkey

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Reply with quote  #21 
I think she would be better doing group pointe classes. I think she’d get more out of it. So let me clarify. You have ballet at your studio but little or no pointe. Is there a local ballet studio where she could supplement with a pointe class?
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nyklane

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Reply with quote  #22 
Still following for a clarification between Modern and Contemporary!  LOL.  

After one year in the dance world I can "see" the difference in a dance and identify it! But I am still curious..  DD was in a contemporary class and a Modern class this year (different schools) the modern class got moved to a night we can't attend so I didn't really get to understand it.   At first I thought it was a Contemporary for "ballet" dancers....

[smile]
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classydance

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Reply with quote  #23 
I don't have a child who is a professional dancer (too young) and I don' t know anymore than the next person.

I would simply suggest that if your DD wants a professional career in dance, she looks to the organizations that pay a living wage for doing the type of dance that she wants to do. In my very limited and humble opinion there are not very many companies that support dancers who do what is called "contemporary" in the competition circuit. (By pay I guess I mean a wage with which a dancer could support rent, utilities, etc.).  

I think that's it is in every dancer's best interests to be skilled in 2-4 genres. And I would say this of ballet dancers as well. For a comp kid it might mean contemporary, tap, and jazz. For a more ballet oriented kid it could mean contemporary, ballet, and modern or jazz. 

In my opinion, the litmus test for great teaching for pre professionals is a long history of many, many dancers in professional jobs. (e.g. CPYB, Denise Wall).  Look at trends across time. And CPYB is not selective.  You just have to show up and do the work to progress. 

If you want to dance professionally and get paid you have to follow the money. 


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dave9988

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Reply with quote  #24 
Ask 10 people, you'll probably get 10 different responses!

I tend to think of modern as having more floor work, the dancers don't appear as light, rules of ballet are regularly broken.  But that doesn't mean it doesn't also occasionally feature some classic ballet moves.

I somewhat agree with some who say "Contemporary" isn't necessarily a style.  Seems to me that "contemporary" companies still feature a lot of classical ballet training & moves ... in general simply dance more recent choreo, which maybe includes a few jazzier and/or modern moments. 

https://urbanitydance.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/contemporary-vs-modern-dance-whats-the-difference/

http://www.dancemagazine.com/modern_vs_contemporary-2306900829.html

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tiptoemom

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Reply with quote  #25 

contemporary can be a blending of different styles. The modern classes that my daughter has taken have generally been Graham or Horton. Most of the college modern dance classes she has been allowed to take or watch have been Graham or Horton. Her friend auditioned at Shenandoah and the modern was Limon. They each do very specific moves. I don't understand the differences but my daughter does. I would highly suggest modern class. If you cannot manage it during the school year, perhaps look for intensives or classes in the summer. 

my daughter transitioned fairly easily to modern and contemporary because she has strong classical training. She still takes about 14 hours a week of classical ballet/pointe. 
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