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delphine

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Reply with quote  #1 
Hi there, first time poster, be gentle. [smile]

So a long time ago, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I took RAD ballet for years.  My teacher was very English, very strict, and looked like Joan Crawford in the 40s, if Joan had worn a leotard and smoked cigarettes with a holder...in class.  My teacher was fond of pointed hands-on corrections and was not against using a fly swatter to make her point.  I adored her and still do, though she is long gone.

I am now the mother of a brand-new six year old girl.  She never expressed any interest in dance, until we took her to see the Nutcracker at the Four Seasons in Toronto this past December.  I thought she would be bored and I told my husband, if we have to leave at intermission, it's not the end of the world. 

She sat through the entire thing, completely enthralled.  From that day forward, it's been all about ballet.

We are in the GTA (Toronto suburbs).  I registered her for a one hour per week Pre-Primary RAD ballet class at a highly respected and not inexpensive pre-pro school.  She danced in the showcase recently and absolutely loved being onstage.  According to her teacher, she is musical, and she's flexible and slight and truly truly truly loves ballet.

Looking ahead to the fall, I am unsure of what to do.  I can keep her in her current school, or I can move her to a school that offers competition opportunities.  Note, she only wants to do ballet - I have asked her about jazz, but she's not interested.  

There is a school in our neck of the woods that's been around for a long time and teaches Cecchetti.  It also offers lyrical, jazz, tap, acro, etc.  It has a competition company and what's interesting to me, as someone learning about competition (I swear I knew nothing of this whole entity until this year) is that the children are grouped by age and by type of dance.  Meaning, if she only wanted to compete in ballet, that would be okay.  I would say it's a mid-level school insofar as competitions go (it is not CDC) and I'm fine with that.

This school has a good reputation and offers exams, which I like, but I know it's not AS good for ballet as the school where she's dancing at present.  However, her current school doesn't offer any competition opportunities.

I don't know what to do.  Any advice?


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momcrew

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Reply with quote  #2 
At six, keep her where she's happy. If ballet is all she wants to do and has expressed that to you, why push her to into something else? 
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delphine

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Reply with quote  #3 
Thanks.  I'm not pushing her into anything else, she wants to stay with ballet and only ballet and I'm totally cool with that.   If I had my way, she'd stay at the ballet school.  But she really enjoyed performing and wants more opportunities to do so.  That's why I'm considering the competition school.
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dancermom128

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Reply with quote  #4 
Does the new studio compete in ballet? A lot of comp studios don't...
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delphine

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Reply with quote  #5 
They do.  They offer the opportunity to compete only in ballet, or in other disciplines.  As I understand it (and I could be very wrong) many schools want the kids to dance in all disciplines.  
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rdsmom

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Reply with quote  #6 
I'd also recommend keeping her where she is since she's happy and she's getting good instruction. If she wants more performance opportunities when she's older, you can look then. If she was 10+, I'd probably change to say to ask if she can do both-compete ballet only at that comp studio, and do ballet with your current studio. But she's 6, so that's alot. 
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Phx115

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Reply with quote  #7 
I'd keep her at the school with better ballet, especially if that's all she wants to do right now. If she's not mentioning competition dance, I wouldn't open that can of worms. LOL!

Even though she's on the younger side for serious ballet instruction, that ballet foundation will only make her stronger in other styles (lyrical, contemporary, etc.) should she want to pursue them later on.
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delphine

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Reply with quote  #8 
Thanks.  She has no clue what competition is, with respect to dance, so she hasn't brought it up.  I was more thinking it would be a chance for her to perform.  Then again, she will have lots of opportunities for that down the road.

Dumb neophyte question but competitions, this is a newer thing, right?  I'm 46.  We didn't have this stuff when I was a kid, it didn't exist.  My old school is apparently now a hybrid of pre-pro and competition, so clearly, they've embraced it at some point.

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ggsmith

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Reply with quote  #9 
I'm with the other posters.  Quality ballet trumps watered-down ballet at a competition school.  Not that every competition school offers watered down ballet, but my experience (yours may be different) is that competition schools offer less ballet as the students get older and often you encounter students in ballet classes at a competition school that are taking ballet because it is required.  This changes the atmosphere of the ballet class.  Competition schools often (and I realize there are exceptions) try to create a jack-of-all-trades in their students.  Trying to fit 6 different styles of dance into a week, along with rehearsals for each style of dance for competition, simply doesn't leave a lot of time for ballet.  If your girl is all about ballet at this point, a ballet school is a great place to be.  Strong ballet usually translates to a strong dancer in other genres down the road, whereas hiphop, jazz, and lyrical classes are not going to give a stronger ballet foundation.  My opinion.  I'm not bashing competition dance, dancers, or studios.  Many dancers enjoy competition dancing and some competition schools produce great dancers.  

The other thing to realize about competition dance is that it is very expensive.  Expect to pay about $50 or more per group dance every time they perform, and $100 or more per solo every time they perform.  Costumes, makeup, different colored shoes, tights, private lessons, choreography costs... it all adds up.  

Some ballet schools will do community performances.  The ones I'm familiar with (southern US) often participate in local festivals, retirement communities, and schools.  One of the big outdoor malls here even sets up a stage during the winter holidays and invites community dancers to perform and one of the ballet schools does Nutcracker excepts.  My daughter's school did an Octoberfest, school presentations, tea party fundraisers, and performed at an event for one of their sponsors this year.  In other years they've danced on a parade float, participated in a Memorial Day ceremony, performed at museum functions, etc.  Once they got together a group to do Thriller for a haunted house raising money for a charity. They also send a few interested students to ballet competitions every year and are planning to send a small group to YAGP next year.  You might talk to her current ballet school and other ballet schools in the area to see if there are more performing opportunities for students as they get older right where she is.
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emmymom

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Reply with quote  #10 
Wow, what a wonderful dilemma to have!  

You have so many opportunities in the Toronto area, it is simply loaded with amazing studios (both competitive and not).  The talent in the area is ridiculous; the dancers, teachers, and choreographers are some of the best I've seen and I've been around a very long time!  Most of the competitive studios I have seen from the GTA have incredible ballet technique as well as jazz, lyrical, contemporary etc. Overall, they are some of the best trained dancers around.

However...

Your DD is but a baby in the dance world.  For now, I would keep her where she is happy and growing.  You will have plenty of time to move her to one of the incredible competitive studios in your area in the coming years if the two of you decide to.


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dancingpeanut

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Reply with quote  #11 
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. If she is happy where she is, keep her there.
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tappinmom

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Reply with quote  #12 
She is still so young so I would likely keep her where she is happiest.  If you truly want to take her somewhere else and explore competition have you looked in Sean Boutillier?  http://seanboutilier.com/index.htm  They offer top of the line ballet training and have a competitive stream if that is something she is interested in later.
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tendumom

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Reply with quote  #13 
ITA with those that say keep where she is happy. If something changes and it no longer suits her needs, then make a move. 

My dd is one who did the opposite, she started with competition and then moved to ballet. She was a bit behind, despite so called good ballet at the comp school. 

Competition dance is not new. I'm over 50 and it was around when I was a kid. One of my cousins did it. Today, it is a much bigger thing, with competitions all over the world, but especially in the US where there are cities where there are even more than 1 competition on a particular weekend. It's insane. TBH, the bottom line is money. There's more money for everyone- the studios, the competitions, the costume companies. It's a win/win situation for the business. It is not a win/win situation for the parents and their wallets. Is it a winning situation for the students? That varies greatly. 
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Mitzy

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Reply with quote  #14 
Wow, did we have the same ballet teacher? I thought perhaps we did, until you said your former school is still in operation.

My daughter also loved ballet from an early age. She did compete in ballet and jazz from approximately 7-10 years old and enjoyed it. She also took RAD exams until Grade 5. She then switched to a serious ballet school. She is now a professional ballet dancer. (That makes it sound easier than it was, haha!)

There are so many options in Toronto. Personally, I would keep her where she will receive the best quality of ballet instruction. A good foundation is so important and bad habits can be hard to break. Does the current school offer any performance opportunities outside of the annual spring show? Could you look for outside performance opportunies? You might consider the NBS Associate Program; she might even be able to perform in the Nutcracker (lamb - very cute). Performing is fun, but I also think it's an important component of ballet training. My daughter was lucky to perform in 2 Nutcrackers outside of her studio even before she switched to the ballet school. Her studio also performed at community events and seniors centres.

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delphine

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Reply with quote  #15 
You guys give really thoughtful, sound advice.  Thank you.

So DH and I talked about it last night and he suggesting checking Youtube to see if there's any footage of the competition school.  Don't know why I didn't think of this, but anyway...we watched the entire two hour recital from a few years back (we're a fun couple.)  It was a mix of comp kids and rec kids, and it was okay.  There were parts that were good, there were parts that were not, and generally, it was just...okay.

Our daughter's school doesn't do a "recital" where they learn dance pieces or choreography for a performance.  They simply show what they've been working on in class (except for a ballet showcase at the end from senior students) and I'm guessing that all that work on recital stuff might take away from learning in class?

Anyway, the difference, having seen this Youtube recital and having watched our daughter's school perform, in person, was like night and day, in terms of the caliber and quality of the work.  Worth noting that DH is a musician and was all, "why are you even remotely surprised?" because as he pointed out, the students at DD's school are going to likely be more dedicated and maybe even more specifically talented/skilled with respect to ballet.

I did email the comp school yesterday with some questions and got a reply this AM.   Even if DD was accepted in the company and only competed in ballet, she is required to take technique classes in acro, tap, and jazz.  Is it just me, or is anyone else uncomfortable with acro on Marley/hardwood??

All that said, she is staying put.  At the end of the day, it's where she is happy, and she will have more opportunities to perform down the road.  It's a marathon, not a sprint, right? [smile]


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delphine

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Reply with quote  #16 
Hi Mitzy, yes, the school is still in operation but has changed hands - it's in the East End, is that where you studied ballet?

The school DD is at does offer additional performance opportunities, but not for another few years (DD is six).  We did consider NBS Associates, but we missed the audition deadline.  Maybe next year.  Though I should mention that in this giant discussion DH and I had last night, he thinks moving her is "insane" -- he thinks her school is amazing.  He is usually the one who takes her to ballet and for the last term parents have been permitted to sit in, and he is super-impressed with her teacher.

The other thing DH pointed out was that the comp school seems to take many more kids per class.  DD's school, her current classes are pretty small, I think.  There are only 7 in her current class and 8 in the class above her.  As I said, he's pretty adamant that DD stay where she is, and he (and you all) have made some really good points.
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Mitzy

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Reply with quote  #17 
Happy to hear! Yes, it absolutely is a marathon! As long as she is happy and being trained safely I wouldn't worry. My daughter actually became quite frustrated with the focus on competition and jazz around age 9-10. Wonderful that your husband is impressed with the teacher. The small class size is also a huge advantage. My one piece of advice is to make sure she stretches 😊

No, it wasn't the same teacher, although the description is just the same: Strict, British accent, Joan Crawford hairdo and cigarette in holder as well as something to smack with in the other hand!
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