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Noel

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1. Approaching a teacher for solo choreography, etiquette? Specifically with regards to music and content. I know for certain that DD would love to have certain skills included, it would mean a lot to her for them to be a part of the routine. Is that rude? (truly truly a newbie here)

2. Approaching a teacher for solo choreography, etiquette... music. Is it acceptable to bring a few songs to the teacher or do you wait for the teacher to advise you of what the teacher would like to choreograph for you?

3. Conventions w/ competitions attached. Once we can get a solo from #s 1 and 2 above, attending as an independent, what should we know? Newbie level so please assume that we don't know whatever it is you might want to share.

4. Are there generalities to how independents at conventions are treated or is it company by company dependent?
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JojosDanceMom

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1. Depends entirely on the teacher and how she handles things.  Some love the feedback, others despise it, and there is a whole range in between.
2.  Same as above, it completely depends on the teacher
    - For both 1 and 2 I would start under the assumption that the teacher does not want input and then feel her out going forward.  This season you may have zero input, but once you get to know her you may develop a rapport and be able to offer more input.
3. I'm only familiar with NYCDA and Break The Floor (Nuvo, Jump, 24 Seven, etc.) convention/comps.  For NYCDA you cannot enter a solo unless there is a teacher registered for the weekend as well.  For BTF you can't enter a solo unless you're also doing a group.  Conventions for both are open to all.
4. I don't find independents being treated any differently than studio kids at the conventions.  Often times independent entries win to placements and scholarships.
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Noel

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Reply with quote  #3 
Thank you, JojosDanceMom. So good to have something to start with.
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prancer

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Reply with quote  #4 
Noel, I totally agree with JojosDanceMom for questions 1 and 2.  

For the other questions, independents are generally treated the same as other dancers by conventions, but as a newbie, I wonder why are you starting out as an independent? 
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mic123

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Reply with quote  #5 
How old is your daughter?  I leave items 1 and 2 up to my daughter.  She talks to the teacher and tells her if there is a song she likes and they decide things together.  I don't get involved in that, however, my daughter is 13 so she is old enough to have that conversation.  The teacher also knows her strengths and weaknesses and will choreograph with that in mind.

As for extra competitions or conventions, you can ask your studio owner if you can register her under the studio name even if she will be the only one going from her studio.
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Noel

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Prancer: I'm not really sure how we would be starting out. She's with a traditional ballet based studio. Her only commitments now will be Nutcracker, should she choose to participate and recital. This leaves the whole year open to attend conventions if she'd like, and since we're near a major city there's practically a convention any weekend of the year. I know that some have a competition portion attached, and DD would definitely like to participate in that if she's attending, particularly if the schedule includes your audition during the day you're there in class anyway. Just trying to understand how it all works.

Her studio does not attend conventions so I assume we'd need to go as an independent?
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Noel

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Thank you, mic123. She's just turned 10. She toyed around with the idea of doing a solo last year, strictly for the purposes of learning and refining and was completely steamrolled by the teacher. She is learning how to be respectful but assertive, but right now that often leaves her saying nothing where she really needs to find the courage to simply, respectfully, voice her opinion.

(By steamroll I mean she went in with songs that spoke to her, teacher played a song already cut from a previous year's team routine... totally inappropriate for a girl of (at that time 9) and completely not DD's style at all. But she said, "yeah, OK, I like it" not wanting to upset the teacher... she had no problem expressing some of the technique she wanted but the whole endeavor fell apart naturally as the teacher ran out of time to complete the routine and became unavailable for private lessons. I counted my lucky stars that we were able to gracefully bow out without having to a. have DD dance a routine that she didn't connect with at all or b. coach DD to speak more confidently about her feelings to this coach, when, in hindsight, this coach would not have taken kindly to that at all.
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dave9988

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Noel
Prancer: I'm not really sure how we would be starting out. She's with a traditional ballet based studio. Her only commitments now will be Nutcracker, should she choose to participate and recital. This leaves the whole year open to attend conventions if she'd like, and since we're near a major city there's practically a convention any weekend of the year. I know that some have a competition portion attached, and DD would definitely like to participate in that if she's attending, particularly if the schedule includes your audition during the day you're there in class anyway. Just trying to understand how it all works.

Her studio does not attend conventions so I assume we'd need to go as an independent?


The auditions during daytime "class periods" are totally separate for the evening competitions.  The auditions are for the convention's "Super Duper Dancer" awards (each convention has a different name), and are based on combinations learned in class.


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mic123

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Reply with quote  #9 
I'm sorry to hear that.  I agree it's important for them to connect with their solo song.  We are lucky that her teacher is very open to this, but I see from many other posters that is not always the case.

Last year her teacher picked the song (different teacher/different genre) and she was not so sure at first but grew to absolutely love it.  It was her first solo (age 12) so we didn't know what to expect.  It turned out to be a great fit for her personality.

I guess I am saying to be open to what the teacher is suggesting because sometimes they know what would be a good fit for your child.  However, If you feel it is inappropriate for her age, that's a whole other story.
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prancer

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Reply with quote  #10 
dave9988 is correct - auditions are part of the convention workshop experience.  Many conventions also have an attached competition that she could take a solo to.

Thanks for the reply Noel.  I understand better now.  My very first step would be to ask the ballet studio about her desire to compete at conventions next year.  You are training with them, and so you are affiliated with their studio.  The studio may be glad to let you register her for conventions under their studio name, or they may want nothing to do with it.  We have local dancers at ballet only schools who compete at conventions and use their ballet school's names to register.  I would definitely have the conversation with your studio before you call yourself an independent, because you do not want to inadvertently offend her school.  If you are having someone at her ballet school choreo, that makes things even easier.  

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JojosDanceMom

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Reply with quote  #11 
I have to make a correction to my post.  BTF used to require a group in order to compete a solo, I believe the last couple of years they only require that you are registered through a studio.  So, as long as your studio is ok with you using their name she would be able to compete solos at their competitions.
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dancingpeanut

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Reply with quote  #12 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JojosDanceMom
I have to make a correction to my post.  BTF used to require a group in order to compete a solo, I believe the last couple of years they only require that you are registered through a studio.  So, as long as your studio is ok with you using their name she would be able to compete solos at their competitions.


They change that based on location, so you need to check each year for your location to see if they accept solos without a group or not. I think they decide based on demand at each location.
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Noel

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Reply with quote  #13 
Thank you, Prancer. What time frame would you approach the studio? We are new there (only the second month) and they are gearing up for an early June recital. I want to respect that recital is their priority... but I also recognize that conventions start coming around early fall and she'll need time to get the routine and ready it before a convention.
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Noel

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Reply with quote  #14 
Thank you dancingpeanut (and thank you to anyone I forgot to say that to). It is so great to have your replies and start to feel a little more informed about all of this.
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prancer

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Reply with quote  #15 
Unless you don't have a read on your new studio yet, I would probably mention it to the studio now if you might want one of them to choreo for her. Once you have your plan in place, you can wait until after recital to learn the dance for fall. But if you ask now and they are not interested, then you will be free to start trying to line up another choreographer. My impression is that most competition choreo will happen in the summer months for most choreographers.
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Noel

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Reply with quote  #16 
Thank you, Prancer... it's a lot like dating being at a new studio. Awkward, don't want to be too pushy, don't want to be too needy, then again, you do need some things.... [wink]
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tappinmom

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Reply with quote  #17 
At our studio all s/d/t were invite only and then style, song and costume were chosen by the DT.  Once dancers hit about 14/15 years old the DT "might" ask them for input on songs but it was always her decision in the end.  DS competed solos from 16-19 and only got to personally pick his solo song once when he was 16 and then only because the SO couldn't find music she was happy with that she thought he would relate to.  This was the exception rather than the norm.  Looking back it was his favorite solo but not his best technique wise.
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Noel

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Reply with quote  #18 
oatmella, a lot of it has to do with the fact that she's 10. She's just beginning to narrow her focus. She's realized that she needs to put the respect and time in with classic and fundamentals if she wants to be able to grow. When we first selected a ballet focused academy she approached it as a challenge, a learning opportunity, but stating that she did not want to focus on ballet specifically; she wanted to go back to the roots so to speak, build a foundation, and grow from there. Now that she is there she's loving the challenge and saying that she wants to focus on ballet more intensely and perhaps with more of a future than she realized. Conventions would purely be for variety, learning, and being surrounded by other dancers, not necessarily convention focused training (if that's a thing?) Does that make sense? I'm still working through all of it, learning the language and the manners and the expectations and the general yearly events of a ballet centered environment, so all I truly know is that there's a lot that I don't know.
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Noel

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Reply with quote  #19 
tappinmom, that is really good to know. DD right now feels like she would be driving this ship and I'll have to break it to her that is more than likely not how it will be.
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ggsmith

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Reply with quote  #20 
My DD switched to a ballet focused studio around 10 also.  

Her former academic school has a talent show each year.

For three years she did a dance for the talent show.  The first two years she decided what she was interested in doing and I approached a teacher on her behalf and asked if they would be willing to help her work out choreography for a particular song and genre and polish it.  Last year she had a variation for YAGP, which she performed in the tiny stage area at school in flat shoes.  She would happily have performed more and entered a competition or two, but it didn't work out.  

DD hasn't done any of the big conventions, but she has enjoyed different workshops and weekend intensives in the area.  There is a state dance association that does some neat weekend intensives here and she's gone to the Lines Discovery Project, which is a 4 day workshop.  Once I started looking around there were so many different little events that exposed her to different teachers and environments without having to deal with big crowds fighting for space and attention in carpeted ballrooms.  Her ballet school used to bring in some nice guest teachers for workshops as well.
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nyklane

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Reply with quote  #21 

My daughter first solo was this year - totally a newbie.

She's 7 so, she and I listened to music together and selected a few things that she liked. Studio Owner also listened and sent some suggestions too. For us, definately collaborative. We ultimately selected SO's choice but DD was happy with it.

As far as choreo - I was as a new parent and young dancer to let SO lead there. And she did, but she was very open to DD's requests or changes and in fact DD did add a lot of pieces that she wanted. During the year DD learned new skills and we added them in. All with SO overseeing and working together. But SO was in the lead - but she also wanted DD to feel that she had a part in her solo - so it was all good.

I agree with the above poster that it is a bit like dating.  Making small suggestions and gauging the response is key.  At the end of the day it's a lot of money so you should be satisfied and happy with what you get, but having an open communication with the DT/SO is very valuable.

We went to NUVO this year as an independent - workshop only. DD wanted to attend - and our studio wasn't doing any conventions this year. We did not compete, but attended the two days and watched the comp in the evenings. DD *loved* it. I let the SO know that we were going and *not* competing.

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Noel

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Reply with quote  #22 
ggsmith, wish we lived near you, that sounds really great !
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Noel

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Reply with quote  #23 
nyklane, that sounds like such a great process.

I will definitely update as I get the feel for the studio and what the possibilities might be.

We are in such a no man's land right now... entering post mid year. Not in recital (fine with us but leaves us a little out of the loop) not time for anyone other than us to move on to what's next because they're all still in what's now. Patience is key.

For today I'm just encouraging DD to stretch her mind and self choreograph to things that move her, even if only free styling and finding an 8 count or two that she enjoys. I figure it's a good way to encourage her to find her own way and her own "voice" while we're in no man's land.
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dave9988

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Reply with quote  #24 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Noel
Now that she is there she's loving the challenge and saying that she wants to focus on ballet more intensely and perhaps with more of a future than she realized. Conventions would purely be for variety, learning, and being surrounded by other dancers, not necessarily convention focused training (if that's a thing?) Does that make sense? I'm still working through all of it, learning the language and the manners and the expectations and the general yearly events of a ballet centered environment, so all I truly know is that there's a lot that I don't know.


Noel, I applaud a couple of things here.  The realization that ballet training is a worthy pursuit for *any* dancer, and also the desire to include some variety in her learning. Even pro ballerinas need the ability to "jazz it up" now and then, or maybe show off a flexed foot.

Students are encouraged to attend a workshop or two.  Different movement patterns, different learning environments, and some inspirational teachers ... all valuable experiences for future auditions, etc.  And yes, our dancers do attend workshop tap classes, despite the fact that few of our dancers own tap shoes.  We're at a "ballet focused" school, where ballet is the clear focus.  Jazz/modern/contemporary are also sprinkled in, but no tap. 

For reference, we don't compete often. Maybe once in the spring, usually at a "stand alone" competition (not a convention). Spring, because Nutcracker rules the fall calendar! If there also a big spring performance, most comp pieces are fairly large group numbers with few solos.  Casting is optional, and invite only.  Sometimes it feels odd reading these boards and realizing that my teen dancer has yet to dance a solo outside of an in house event. That might bother some - heck, I might even get flamed by some - but it's OK with us and our dancer's long term goals. She's getting great training, and is doing a fine job of standing out in a crowd at the conventions.

Good luck to you.  IMO There's nothing wrong with expressing your goals and desires to a SO/Director and asking how that fits with their school and/or how or if they'd be willing to offer support. As long as you aren't demanding this or that and coming off as a prima donna demanding that your student be some special studio star, I don't see the harm in asking.
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dmjrm4

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Reply with quote  #25 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Noel
Thank you, Prancer... it's a lot like dating being at a new studio. Awkward, don't want to be too pushy, don't want to be too needy, then again, you do need some things.... [wink]


My life....
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