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dancingymnast

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DD12 is currently at a non-competing studio, but wants to compete next year. I contacted one of the studios in the area, and she is trying out a class tonight. I'm still new to this, so what should I be looking out for? What questions should I ask?

What's important for me at this point is that she likes the studio, feels comfortable there, feels welcomed by teachers and kids. But I have no idea what to look for in terms of technique, quality of dance, etc. Any suggestions?
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cynmckee

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Do they place highly consistently?  That doesn't mean everything but it will be a starting point.  I would ask about fees for competing.  This can vary wildly from studio to studio and I guarantee you will get sticker shock.  Ask if they bring in big name choreographers because those fees, if there are a lot of them, can price you out of this activity.  Ask if they practice dances during the week or are the classes strictly technique classes.  This is important.  Do the rec kids have access to the same classes as the non-rec kids.  This is important too because it means that the studio cares about all dancers and their dance life after competition.
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momcrew

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Do they require all comp students to take ballet and if so, how much? I wouldn't take a second look at any studio who doesn't require ballet. 
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dancer1234

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What is the Requirements of parent of Competition dancers?   Some may require fundraising, Prop transporting, etc..
I second momcrew on the ballet question

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dave9988

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As Momcrew says, I'd look at their ballet requirements. 

Just out of practicality, I'd want to know what their comp schedule looks like.  How many conventions/comps, how many mandatory, and where are they located.  You don't want to sign up and find you can't manage the travel and/or fees (costumes, choreo, competition, convention).

Depending on your daughter's ambitions, what have their alums gone on to do, and where do their current dancers attend Summer Intensives.
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dancingymnast

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Thank you guys! All great questions! From what I've gathered so far from their website, ballet is required (don't know how much), they do 4-5 competitions a year, most local. I checked out one recent competition results, looked to me like they did fine, but I don't really understand much there. Lol The class she is attending tonight is a "Company" ballet class, so I assume their "rec" and "team" classes are separate. Not sure if it's a good or bad thing. [smile]
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cynmckee

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Quote:
Originally Posted by momcrew
Do they require all comp students to take ballet and if so, how much? I wouldn't take a second look at any studio who doesn't require ballet. 


Good question.  I just can't wrap my mind around a studio that doesn't require a minimum of 4.5 hours in ballet for anyone wanting to be on a comp team.  I wouldn't have even thought to ask.
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ballerinamom13

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My first question would be how much ballet and the qualifications of the ballet teacher(s).  My second would be are there separate rehearsals for learning competition dances. You do not want to be at a studio that teaches kids dances versus HOW TO dance.  Using class time to learn competition dances is a huge red flag (in my book).  
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momcrew

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Quote:
Originally Posted by cynmckee


Good question.  I just can't wrap my mind around a studio that doesn't require a minimum of 4.5 hours in ballet for anyone wanting to be on a comp team.  I wouldn't have even thought to ask.


We're window shopping and one studio I thought would be great doesn't require anyone to take ballet. They were immediately taken off the list. 
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momcrew

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ballerinamom13
My first question would be how much ballet and the qualifications of the ballet teacher(s).  My second would be are there separate rehearsals for learning competition dances. You do not want to be at a studio that teaches kids dances versus HOW TO dance.  Using class time to learn competition dances is a huge red flag (in my book).  


Absolutely. Tech classes should be just that, a class where you learn and drill in proper technique. Rehearsals should be completely separate. 
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prancer

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Dancinggymnast -

I would ask about cost (even coming from heavy gymnastics, competitive dance is surprisingly expensive).

As far as doing well at competitions, I would want to know at what level?  Dance competitions usually have three tiers - the wording can be confusing, but something like novice, intermediate or advanced.  If you wanted to post or PM me about a set of results I could help you interpret.  I would want a comp studio that had success at the top levels.

Ask about ballet and separate technique classes in the styles of dance she likes (as posters above noted, you want separate rehearsals).

Ask about how you get selected for levels of training and how you get selected for comp dances.

Especially because your dd is 12, I would ask how many dancers her age and older are on the team. Having relatively few older dancers is a red flag for me.

In my experience former artistic gymnasts (assuming she wasn't a rhythmic gymnast) tend to transition better to dance genres with sharper lines including jazz, pom, some harder hitting contemporary - so you might want to see if the school values these styles (as opposed to only valuing the softer shapes and flow of ballet and lyrical).


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dancingymnast

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Quote:
Originally Posted by prancer
Dancinggymnast -

I would ask about cost (even coming from heavy gymnastics, competitive dance is surprisingly expensive).

As far as doing well at competitions, I would want to know at what level?  Dance competitions usually have three tiers - the wording can be confusing, but something like novice, intermediate or advanced.  If you wanted to post or PM me about a set of results I could help you interpret.  I would want a comp studio that had success at the top levels.

Ask about ballet and separate technique classes in the styles of dance she likes (as posters above noted, you want separate rehearsals).

Ask about how you get selected for levels of training and how you get selected for comp dances.

Especially because your dd is 12, I would ask how many dancers her age and older are on the team. Having relatively few older dancers is a red flag for me.

In my experience former artistic gymnasts (assuming she wasn't a rhythmic gymnast) tend to transition better to dance genres with sharper lines including jazz, pom, some harder hitting contemporary - so you might want to see if the school values these styles (as opposed to only valuing the softer shapes and flow of ballet and lyrical).




Thank you so much! Lots of great points! I'll PM you the link, if you don't mind.
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tappinmom

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Reply with quote  #13 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dancingymnast
Thank you guys! All great questions! From what I've gathered so far from their website, ballet is required (don't know how much), they do 4-5 competitions a year, most local. I checked out one recent competition results, looked to me like they did fine, but I don't really understand much there. Lol The class she is attending tonight is a "Company" ballet class, so I assume their "rec" and "team" classes are separate. Not sure if it's a good or bad thing. [smile]


The bolded kind of makes me nervous.  Is it called "company" ballet because it is their choreo class or do they lump all the kids into a technical "company" ballet class.  If the second option is the case that would be a concern for me.

Also ask about costumes and pricing.  Do they use catalogue costumes or custom made.  Do they do a lot of bling and are you required to do the stoning. 
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LilMama

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Reply with quote  #14 
Definitely ask about the cost. Not just the tuition but how much do costumes go for, how much for choreo fees, which convention is mandatory etc it varies and can make a huge difference. Wish I knew all these before entering the comp world.
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prancer

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Dancingymnast - I replied! Good luck with the class!
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dancingymnast

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Quote:
Originally Posted by tappinmom


The bolded kind of makes me nervous.  Is it called "company" ballet because it is their choreo class or do they lump all the kids into a technical "company" ballet class.  If the second option is the case that would be a concern for me.



Well, if I understood it correctly, each group takes a set of classes together, such as ballet, jazz, lyrical, etc., and in each class they learn a dance that they compete. So, a kid who doesn't compete would not be in that class. So, yes, they learn choreo during classes, but I don't think there is any choreo in ballet, ballet is a technical class. At least they didn't do any choreo while DD was there yesterday, just worked on technique. 
1.5 hours of ballet is required, additional 1.5 hour is optional.

In any case, seemed like they have a strong ballet training. The group DD was with yesterday was way too advanced for her. They said she is missing a lot basics (which we knew of course), but she has a lot of potential and if she works hard they would get her there. There is another group that she would fit better with for now, they are a bit older, but less advanced.

I don't know, we are still thinking about it. She felt a little discouraged after that class. I guess she is used to being a big fish in a small pond at her current studio, so it was a bit of a shock for her. [smile] 

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dave9988

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Quote:
Originally Posted by dancingymnast

In any case, seemed like they have a strong ballet training. The group DD was with yesterday was way too advanced for her. They said she is missing a lot basics (which we knew of course), but she has a lot of potential and if she works hard they would get her there. There is another group that she would fit better with for now, they are a bit older, but less advanced.

I don't know, we are still thinking about it. She felt a little discouraged after that class. I guess she is used to being a big fish in a small pond at her current studio, so it was a bit of a shock for her. [smile] 


I've seen kids in similar circumstances that made the move, swallowed some pride, did the work ... and made amazing progress in a year or less.

Good luck, whatever your choice.
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ballerinamom13

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Reply with quote  #18 
we are still thinking about it. She felt a little discouraged after that class. I guess she is used to being a big fish in a small pond at her current studio, so it was a bit of a shock for her. [smile] 


Much better to find out now, than at 15 when it's basically too late (not for everyone, but most).
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prancer

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Sounds like you got some good information yesterday.  Nothing wrong with dancing for fun as a big fish in a little pond.  If decides she wants to compete, it is nice this new studio will work with her to move her forward, and that there is a group of dancers she can blend with today.  

My dd made the move from gym to dance a little earlier (9) but she came in strong, flexible, and able to pick up choreography quickly.  These gym skills make them look good on the surface, but the technical aspects of dance do not come naturally to most gymnasts.  Being able to "do" a move as an athlete (which is usually what kids are interested in), is not the same as being able to truly "execute" a move as a dancer.

If your daughter decides to up her involvement in dance (and your spending on dance) I would strongly encourage her to take a lot of ballet - this is where the technical aspects of dance are learned.  Ballet will help her improve in the basics.  If you choose the studio you discussed above, definitely take both the required and optional ballet.  I would also have her add a ballet class or two below her level to help address the basics.  

My dd (a comp dancer) made the move to a new studio this year (13), and she is taking four ballet classes (two of them are below her level).  She has improved so much.  At first she felt a little deflated that the artistic director felt she was not as strong as her new teammates in ballet, but she saw the other dancers and knew that it was true, so she set to work in all her classes. After a couple of weeks of feeling a little awkward about it, she realized that she was benefitting from all the ballet training.  Now when I watch her after less than a year of better training, she finally looks like a dancer.  I attribute that change to ballet.  
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cynmckee

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Reply with quote  #20 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dancingymnast


Well, if I understood it correctly, each group takes a set of classes together, such as ballet, jazz, lyrical, etc., and in each class they learn a dance that they compete. So, a kid who doesn't compete would not be in that class. So, yes, they learn choreo during classes, but I don't think there is any choreo in ballet, ballet is a technical class. At least they didn't do any choreo while DD was there yesterday, just worked on technique. 
1.5 hours of ballet is required, additional 1.5 hour is optional.

In any case, seemed like they have a strong ballet training. The group DD was with yesterday was way too advanced for her. They said she is missing a lot basics (which we knew of course), but she has a lot of potential and if she works hard they would get her there. There is another group that she would fit better with for now, they are a bit older, but less advanced.

I don't know, we are still thinking about it. She felt a little discouraged after that class. I guess she is used to being a big fish in a small pond at her current studio, so it was a bit of a shock for her. [smile] 



Making a move is hard...so if you are going to make a move, make it a good one.  Only 1.5 hours of required ballet in not enough to be considered strong ballet training.  My advice is to keep looking.  And then once you find a match know that your dd is going to be very unhappy for 6 months.  My dd was a big fish in a small pond too and cried everyday after our move for a long time when she realized just how behind she was and how hard she was going to have to work to catch up.  She felt lied to and humiliated.  But she did the work, and because of that time she isn't afraid to work hard in the future because she knows she can and she knows how good it feels when you improve everyday.
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dave9988

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Reply with quote  #21 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cynmckee


Making a move is hard...so if you are going to make a move, make it a good one.  Only 1.5 hours of required ballet in not enough to be considered strong ballet training.  My advice is to keep looking.  And then once you find a match know that your dd is going to be very unhappy for 6 months.  My dd was a big fish in a small pond too and cried everyday after our move for a long time when she realized just how behind she was and how hard she was going to have to work to catch up.  She felt lied to and humiliated.  But she did the work, and because of that time she isn't afraid to work hard in the future because she knows she can and she knows how good it feels when you improve everyday.


Good catch, cynmckee.  No way could 1.5 hours required ballet at age 12 be considered "strong."  That's barely one weekly class.
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cynmckee

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Reply with quote  #22 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dave9988


Good catch, cynmckee.  No way could 1.5 hours required ballet at age 12 be considered "strong."  That's barely one weekly class.


That and along with practicing the dances during the week and separate classes for company/rec...says no freakin' way to me.
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prancer

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Reply with quote  #23 
dave9988 and cynmckee, you know I usually agree with you!  And I do agree that this studio does not have strong ballet training with only one required ballet class.  I assume by "strong", the OP meant that the dancers were better in ballet than her daughter is now.  

I feel like a should make a comment that not everyone wants the same thing out of dance.  Some people are happy with recreational dance, some are excited about dancing in novice or intermediate levels at comps, some want to be in advanced levels at comps, some aspire to stand out at conventions, some hope for professional careers.  

I fully agree that the higher in that list you want to go the more you need more ballet, but not everyone aspires to do more than have fun.

  
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dave9988

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Quote:
Originally Posted by prancer
dave9988 and cynmckee, you know I usually agree with you!  And I do agree that this studio does not have strong ballet training with only one required ballet class.  I assume by "strong", the OP meant that the dancers were better in ballet than her daughter is now.  

I feel like a should make a comment that not everyone wants the same thing out of dance.  Some people are happy with recreational dance, some are excited about dancing in novice or intermediate levels at comps, some want to be in advanced levels at comps, some aspire to stand out at conventions, some hope for professional careers.  

I fully agree that the higher in that list you want to go the more you need more ballet, but not everyone aspires to do more than have fun.


No problem, Prancer!

I'm fine with folks getting whatever they want, even if it's just to feel pretty in leotard once/week at a community center - by all means, go for it!!!!

But if "strong ballet" is a requirement for a new studio, then I'm not sure 1.5 hours fulfills the requirement.  Perhaps it works for "stronger than what we have now," and that might be all that's needed.


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dancingymnast

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Reply with quote  #25 
Thank you everybody! I appreciate all the input and don't take any offence.

Sorry if I chose the wrong wording. I guess by "strong" program I meant that it would be strong enough for my DD, since she really just wants to compete for fun, and not planning to dance professionally in the future (wouldn't be able to even is she wanted, considering her history of back problems).

But I see your point. We still have some time to make a decision, so we'll see what else is out there.
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