Registered: 1476983839 Posts: 10
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I have a 13 year old daughter who has professional dance goals, likely in a traveling Broadway type show, not as a ballerina. She attends a competition studio where she takes classes in ballet, jazz, contemporary, etc plus many hours a week in rehearsals for all of the competition numbers. The training is good, but the ballet isn’t great, so she also attends a separate ballet school with excellent training. As time goes on, I’m really questioning the value of competition dance. Certainly there is some value - experience on a stage, feedback from dance professionals, learning to work with other dancers in group numbers. But I struggle with the time and money spent on all of this compared to the cost of pure training. For example, my daughter’s 10 competition dances cost about $700 in competition fees for a single competition. Add hotel fees for the weekend and we’re talking $1,000 easily. And she’ll dance for less than 30 minutes! I could send her to 2 conventions for that money with 30 HOURS of dance training. Add the costume fees and I REALLY question the value. Fortunately, we can afford all of this, but I really want to give my daughter the very best training/opportunities for her future. So the question is, if not competition dance, then what?? Has anyone left this traditional competition studio arrangement and has a great success story to share? I know where our ballet training will come from, but what about other styles? How will she experience the stage? She absolutely loves conventions, but I view that as supplemental training, not something we would want to rely on. TIA - you’ve all helped me through difficult decisions in the past, and I value all feedback.
High Platinum Member
Registered: 1298213712 Posts: 4,328
Reply with quote #2
My recommendation is to look closely at the training of those who actually do what she wants to do.
What you will find, for those who dance on Broadway and in national tours of Broadway shows is an abundance of well trained dancers with a strong ballet background. There are dancers with very little non-ballet training, dancers who transition from actual professional ballet companies, who are very successful in that environment. My daughter is a ballet dancer, but Broadway is second in her heart, so this is something we've paid quite a bit of attention to over the years.
She will also need to be able to sing. I would look to supplement with musical theater programs if this is her interest. Does the ballet school offer other genres at all? Some do. Dd's ballet school when she was growing up had a weekly jazz and a weekly contemporary/modern class. Today's ballet dancers need to be able to move in non-classical ways so these other classes can be important to a ballet dancer as well. Also look into summer programs that would give her the experiences that will help her develop and grow.
I do agree. Competition dance is not often the most cost efficient method of training a dancer! You are not alone in preferring to put your dollars towards training versus multiple competitions. It's difficult today to find a strong general dance non-competition studio or one that doesn't emphasize competition. They are out there, but there are not enough of them!
High Silver Member
Registered: 1490819226 Posts: 223
Reply with quote #3
I am interested in the responses too. Most studios “seem” to reserve the higher level training for the competition kids or those in “company classes”. I wonder if there is a different model elsewhere. Certainly in the summer - there are plenty of fantastic summer Musical theater programs training at a high level. Have you looked into musical theater year round training in your area (especially if you think Broadway is a possibility)?
Registered: 1329494474 Posts: 6,259
Reply with quote #4
Originally Posted by
nyklane I am interested in the responses too. Most studios “seem” to reserve the higher level training for the competition kids or those in “company classes”. I wonder if there is a different model elsewhere. Certainly in the summer - there are plenty of fantastic summer Musical theater programs training at a high level. Have you looked into musical theater year round training in your area (especially if you think Broadway is a possibility)? Re: the bolded.... While I do agree that many do, I also think that the belief that it's more common than not keeps people from even looking for those studios that don't. And that's unfortunate. Because they are out there. It's all about the homework. You simply can't do enough homework. I often joke that I'm like my dd's personal assistant. If only I got paid
Registered: 1332216704 Posts: 1,166
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The benefit to comp for my dd is fun. If push came to shove, comp is the first budget line we would cut.
Registered: 1476983839 Posts: 10
Reply with quote #6
So much good insight here already - thank you so much!
Tendumom - thank you for reiterating the importance of her ballet training, despite not wanting to be a ballet dancer. I know how important it is, as does my daughter, but reading your comments about the training backgrounds of these professionals really struck me. The ballet school does offer jazz, although we generally do not attend since she gets jazz at her competition studio. Adding private voice lessons is on in the budget for next year, and we've already found a great instructor for that. Thank you for your feedback. I especially value your thoughts since your daughter IS a success story, and they are rare. nyklane - I haven't found good musical theater training in our area. They seem to be either recreational at area performing arts schools or through the school districts. Good, but not good enough, IMO. My daughter is going to audition for UNCSA Broadway Commercial Dance Lab this summer. I hope she gets in!! heidi - If we decide to take a break from competition, we will likely ask our current studio if she can continue with her training there. The training is entirely separate from rehearsals, and the training is good. I agree that homework is so important, as is simply asking for what you want. prancer - yes! I should have included that in my list of benefits in my op. Competition dance is FUN, and that counts for something. DD has a long road ahead, and I certainly don't want to remove the fun parts from her training. Thank you all again so very much. Keep the ideas coming! 😉
High Gold Member
Registered: 1401291531 Posts: 504
Reply with quote #7
I know a dancer who graduated HS couple years ago and was cast in Hamilton. She is a very talented dancer and was with one of the best competition studios until HS graduation. The studio has well rounded training and great ballet teachers, many dancers also got accepted to great ballet SIs. She can also sing.
I think the most important factor might have been that she had a talent agency (Bloc I believe) that specializes dance/performing art.
Registered: 1375924477 Posts: 421
Reply with quote #8
We’re exploring similar options currently for moving forward for similar reasons. We have come up with a plan that may work for next year... and then a 1-2 year later plan. Lol.
Registered: 1476983839 Posts: 10
Reply with quote #9
NCKDAD - it certainly helps to know that others question the same things I do! I am TOTALLY a “one year at a time” dance mom! Care to share your plan?
Registered: 1329494474 Posts: 6,259
Reply with quote #10
Fwiw, I think it's wise to constantly reassess. Never get too settled. My dd's (now soon to be 18) journey has had so many twists & turns... I've always tried to think ahead & keep my eye out for all sorts of different opportunities, not knowing exactly how things were going to play out. Familiarity/stability can certainly 'feel' good but it can also really limit you in the long run. In my opinion, if your kid thinks they might want to do this for the long haul it pays to always be one (or two) step(s) ahead.
High Bronze Member
Registered: 1455597049 Posts: 47
Reply with quote #11
My daughter was a comp dancer from ages 6-14, taking ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical and contemporary at a comp school. At age 14 she switched to a pre-pro ballet school and concentrated on ballet and pointe, adding character and modern. We had a very good relationship with our comp school and she continued to take a contemporary class one day a week and compete a solo each year till she was graduating. She has now been accepted into a BFA Dance program and will continue her training in college, concentrating on jazz, her goal is to perform then teach, but who knows what the future holds. Without switching to a ballet school I don’t believe any of this would have been possible.
High Gold Member
Registered: 1407373522 Posts: 593
Reply with quote #12
When you think about it, competition dance is really NOT a traditional route to a dance career. Competitions aren't new, but they have exploded in the last 10 years or so to the point where it seems like every dance school or studio has a competition team. There are surely schools out there that reserve their best training and teachers for the "team" or "company." I think Heidi is spot on about researching the available options and asking questions. I know a few kids from our area taking class at a big studio nearby that is considered a competition studio, who are getting good training and taking the studio's high level classes but not taking part in competitions. These are dancers focused on a possible career and unable or unwilling to make the financial and time commitments of participating on the team.
Registered: 1490225868 Posts: 68
Reply with quote #13
My daughters attend a ballet-based program that is not a pre-pro ballet school--my 16yo dd takes ballet 4x/week (not 6), and does not take ballet "extras" like partnering and character. The school does put on a full-length Nutcracker every year. But there is a significant emphasis on other dance disciplines, including contemporary, musical theatre, and tap. My dd also takes jazz, hip hop and choreography/improv weekly.
The studio had a low-key competition team for a few years--we competed two group dances in three local competitions. Although the kids enjoyed the competitions, increasingly we (parents and kids and the teacher) were feeling that it wasn't the best fit for our girls. When the head of the comp team left, the studio transitioned to a student company model. Students must be in an upper level ballet class to audition for the company, and all company members are in the annual Nutcracker performance, but the emphasis in the company is on contemporary and other genres. The director brings in multiple outside choreographers to set pieces on the dancers, including some amazing professional dancers/choreographers. We have found this to be a better fit and just a better use of resources, as our $$ is going to paying the amazing artists that come in to work with our kids rather than for costumes and competition fees. But I do realize that our studio is a bit of a unicorn! Also if you are looking for a summer musical theatre program, here's another one I've heard great things about: https://www.performingartsproject.com/
Registered: 1364733513 Posts: 7
Reply with quote #14
608mom....If you are in the 608 area code, there are other studios that provide good training, without the 10-routine-hefty-price-tag over-the-top competition team. There are a couple studios in the 608 that do consistently put out pro dancers...look around!
Registered: 1305842798 Posts: 1,042
Reply with quote #15
I can address this question. My daughter is a sophomore in a top tier BFA MT program. She competed from 7years - senior in high school. Our school has a strong ballet foundation. If this is what your child wants to do you should think about voice lessons from a reputable teacher. Also your child should be auditioning for community theater and even professional theaters that need teens or kids. Having a strong dance background will always help in the audition room. Does your daughter act that is helpful too. I also would recommend doing programs such as BAA and Broadway dreams or camps such as Long lake, French woods or stage door or interlochen .Remember it is a very competitive field. The more experience you can get the better.
High Bronze Member
Registered: 1517870509 Posts: 36
Reply with quote #16
We are in not a Comp school. Seeing all the comp fee posts I’m really glad. We can barely afford ballet, shoes and SIs.
My daughter also considered musical theater because she can sing well. Last year she spent a week with BroadwayDreams. I recommend their summer program. She worked with Alex Newell, Tyler Hanes, Spencer Liff, Florian Voss, Alexis Carrara, Mimi Scardulla and several others. I don’t mean she took their classes. I mean she was actually in a program with them and they hung out between classes. I even had Spencer Liff in my car once and she & Florian kept in touch for a few months after. (Humble brag: Florian thinks she sings like Celine Dion so he was really encouraging her to take voice lessons and continue to improve.) Like competition the students can occasionally be a little catty but if your dd can handle comp she can handle this and it wasn’t really that bad. If your dd can dance sing and act a little they’ll consider her a triple threat.
We won’t do BD this year but only because it conflicts with her intended SI and we can’t afford to do both again, but I won’t rule it out next year if we can work it out.