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Dancerfun

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How many of your kids will also be doing YAGP? We are considering doing the pre-competitive category next year. Mostly because a friend of my daughters (and her mom) is talking us into it and our ballet teacher is encouraging it as well.

We go to a comp studio with weak ballet program. A few of us supplement with ballet elsewhere. My daughter's serious ballet teacher (not at comp studio) will choreograph her solo. She feels that if my daughter has any inkling of professionally dancing she needs better ballet/technique training full time. We are not ready to leave the competition world quite yet though. And my 10 yr old is not sure what she wants for her future but knows dance will be part of it somehow and she's interested in experiencing YAGP. Our ballet teacher is a very serious, technique driven teacher and said after next year with YAGP it's likely my daughter will know if professional dance is really what she wants or if she'd be happier staying at a competitive studio and just having fun. She encourages going while she's still young and in the pre-competitive level to get her used to it.

From what I understand... She will be working my daughter very hard and because the solo also represents her she has high expectations. My daughter is excited as am I. And it will be interesting to see if next year does put us at a decision making point when it comes to the remaining with a comp studio that is great in many ways, but lacking solid technique and ballet.

This is long but mostly I'm just looking for people's experiences with YAGP. Was it eye opening in any way for anybody's children? Good or bad? I did do a search as well and read some old posts here. Most of them seemed to be at least a year old though so thought I'd still ask if anyone wanted to share their experiences. [smile]
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tendumom

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YAGP is, in many ways, just another competition. For me, that was the most eye opening thing! We heard so much about YAGP and it was made to sound like it was something for elite level ballet students- the best of the best. Dd's ballet school was very much against it and then the director changed her mind. She trained just one specially chosen student. We went to cheer this dancer on and it was jarring to those of us who had come from the comp world who had expected more. We realized quickly that any student in the upper tiers of the home ballet school could have competed and done well. Anyone can enter... and it seems like anyone does based on some of what we saw... some pieces that really just did not belong at that venue at all! 

I guess I do not see clearly how it would help a child that is on the fence decide on a ballet career or even switching from a comp school to a ballet school. An actual ballet career and training has little to do with solos and working on the same piece week after week. The training is about being in a classroom with others. 

I have a 19 yr old ballet dancer. I'd say maybe half, if that, of her dancer friends who are making their way into the professional ballet world, have done YAGP at some point in time. It's a nice extra.. icing on the cake. It is by now means at all the cake or the main course. 

Now, all that said, the chance for your dd to work privately and work very hard with this teacher in a challenging situation may very help in her decision. However, without a classroom situation, it's still only a fraction of the picture. You already know there is weak ballet where you are. Even if my kid were not interested in ballet, I'd hesitate at staying at a dance school of any sort with weak ballet unless my dd was just going to learn a dance not learn to dance. I know others have different opinions... it's just how I feel about pretty much everything. I wouldn't send my kid to crappy piano lessons and, if she did not want to pursue music, I would also would not send her to most serious teacher that required 6 hours of practice a day. Somewhere in the middle would be what I would want. Solid training that would open the door to more serious pursuit if desired, but not a place with weak teaching that could eventually close that door 

 

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melissa745

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Quote:
Originally Posted by tendumom
I wouldn't send my kid to crappy piano lessons and, if she did not want to pursue music, I would also would not send her to most serious teacher that required 6 hours of practice a day. Somewhere in the middle would be what I would want. Solid training that would open the door to more serious pursuit if desired, but not a place with weak teaching that could eventually close that door 

 



I must say, this is the best comparison I've ever read. I'm probably going to end up stealing it from you when people ask me why we go to the dance school we do!
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Dancerfun

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Quote:
Originally Posted by tendumom

YAGP is, in many ways, just another competition. For me, that was the most eye opening thing! We heard so much about YAGP and it was made to sound like it was something for elite level ballet students- the best of the best. Dd's ballet school was very much against it and then the director changed her mind. She trained just one specially chosen student. We went to cheer this dancer on and it was jarring to those of us who had come from the comp world who had expected more. We realized quickly that any student in the upper tiers of the home ballet school could have competed and done well. Anyone can enter... and it seems like anyone does based on some of what we saw... some pieces that really just did not belong at that venue at all! 

I guess I do not see clearly how it would help a child that is on the fence decide on a ballet career or even switching from a comp school to a ballet school. An actual ballet career and training has little to do with solos and working on the same piece week after week. The training is about being in a classroom with others. 

I have a 19 yr old ballet dancer. I'd say maybe half, if that, of her dancer friends who are making their way into the professional ballet world, have done YAGP at some point in time. It's a nice extra.. icing on the cake. It is by now means at all the cake or the main course. 

Now, all that said, the chance for your dd to work privately and work very hard with this teacher in a challenging situation may very help in her decision. However, without a classroom situation, it's still only a fraction of the picture. You already know there is weak ballet where you are. Even if my kid were not interested in ballet, I'd hesitate at staying at a dance school of any sort with weak ballet unless my dd was just going to learn a dance not learn to dance. I know others have different opinions... it's just how I feel about pretty much everything. I wouldn't send my kid to crappy piano lessons and, if she did not want to pursue music, I would also would not send her to most serious teacher that required 6 hours of practice a day. Somewhere in the middle would be what I would want. Solid training that would open the door to more serious pursuit if desired, but not a place with weak teaching that could eventually close that door 

 



Very interesting! Thank you for the information tendumom!!! What I understand our ballet teacher (outside of the comp studio) to be saying is that the comp studio is not giving the kids the proper technique or discipline needed for a professional career. She sees potential in my child (her natural flexibility and natural performance ability) and says she has some great potential with proper training. But I think pretty much every kid has potential. Lol [wink] She has also told me as of now... My daughter's technique is lacking. Which I know. It's obvious she's been with a comp studio for most of her training. We just started with this teacher this year and she is amazing! I now can clearly see the difference between her ballet and our studio's. [frown]

But with all that said... In our community we do not have a comp studio that also has a true quality ballet program. I've looked! If we moved 5 hours away they are available. But not in our community. So instead... I supplement. But I honestly hate that my daughter is still required to still attend the less than desiresble ballet at our comp studio as well. I worry that it's going to make bad habits even though we still get this other quality training twice a week! I will be meeting with our SO soon to see if she will allow us to get our ballet requirements completely off site next year. But I see her position... If she makes an exception for one she has to for all... And many of us on our team want to get our ballet elsewhere. It's a hard one. She's running a business but I need to do what's best for my child.

But for now my daughter is very happy at the comp studio (she's been there since age 4 and loves it) and yet loves her time with the ballet teacher who challenges her and teacher proper technique. But my daughter is also not completely ready to give up the "fun" of dance no matter what others may say her potential is. [smile] And ultimately... This is her journey, not mine. So she's excited to learn the solo next year that will be technique rich (with no tricks like our SO would put in for her) and experience intense training from a quality instructor, while remaining with her comp studio and doing a solo through them as well.

I'm curious to see how it all goes. Thanks again for the input!!!!


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Ktyyyyyyy

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Reply with quote  #5 
DD has been doing YAGP since she was 9. She's 14 now. The first two years she was just in a group piece. She started competing with solo ballet variations at age 11. DD loves YAGP. For her, it's not just the competition that she likes, but the whole process. She has really grown by working one on one with a teacher to try to perfect even the most minute details of the variation. The competition itself is a great performance opportunity. While at the competition, dd loves to watch the other dancers. Lots of the seniors are truly amazing. She also enjoys taking the workshop classes at YAGP. DD's results have been mixed. She's placed and made it to NY some years, and not placed other years. She never goes in with any expectations for placing though, because that's not what it's about for her. It's really about the whole journey. Placing is just icing on the cake. Over the years, we've been to three different locations for regionals. One was small and nearly everyone was really good. Another was huge, and the competitors ranged from nearly professional level to really bad. This year, we were at another large regional, and the talent level was very high almost across the board. There were lots of international competitors.

DD has never been able to decide between ballet and commercial dance. Her studio offers both at a high level, so dd has been able to keep a foot in both worlds. I don't know if I would recommend it, as it leads to lots of hours to meet all the requirements for both programs, and there are often conflicts, but dd just can't imagine giving up competing on her teams, or giving up her ballet program. The result is that dd is good at both, but not great at either. That's okay though. DD doesn't have aspirations to be a professional ballerina. She wants to dance now, and likely through college, and then move on to a non-dance career. This is what works for her and makes her happy.
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tendumom

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Quote:
 If she makes an exception for one she has to for all... And many of us on our team want to get our ballet elsewhere. It's a hard one. She's running a business but I need to do what's best for my child. 


If she believes she is providing adequate ballet, then there is really no discussion to have. Without strong ballet or at least decent ballet, you don't end up with decent jazz and you actually do end up with cringe worthy lyrical. You mentioned that this is her journey, not yours. That is so very true, except a child is lacking the knowledge that you have of the implications of their choices. They live in the here and now. They don't have the perspective you have. They also don't pay for it. 

What is the "fun" of current school she doesn't want to give up? Is it going to competitions? Is it costumes? Is it being with friends? 

I can tell you for my dd, we discovered that it wasn't competing that she loved so much, it was actually the chance to perform. I asked her so many times that first year (and other years) if she wanted to go back to the comp school or a similar type of dance training. There was no turning back and she came from a strong comp school with decent ballet. The difference, once she got into the ballet school, she saw the difference in the training. Team rehearsals were quickly replaced by Nutcracker rehearsals. She made new friends that took dance as seriously as she did. Comps were replaced by performances. They didn't do the same dances all year. She learned different choreography for Nut, different choreography for the spring ballet and then different choreography for the recital. We were also lucky to find a ballet school that believed today's ballet dancer needs to move in other ways, so it was very easy for her to continue jazz and even hip hop. They even had tap, but it didn't fit in her schedule for most of her years there. She was able to pick it up again later on. 

I am on a bit of a soapbox. I always am when it comes to quality dance instruction, but I just came from an amazing evening with Broadway dance royalty- the dancers who worked with Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon going all the way back to one Fosse's first Bway shows as a dancer, before he was even a choreographer. Mind blowing. A topic that came up in the panel was what is not being taught to today's dancers. It illustrated what is missing in even the better schools. But, no matter what you want to do with dance, it boils down first to mastery of the steps which, in translation, is simple, clean technique. Without that, you have nothing. I could go on and one... but that's the bottom line. [smile] 

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Dancerfun

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"DD doesn't have aspirations to be a professional ballerina. She wants to dance now, and likely through college, and then move on to a non-dance career. This is what works for her and makes her happy."

Thank you very much for sharing. Sounds like she's doing just the right thing. And sounds like she's with a great studio! My daughter also does not have aspirations to be a professional ballerina. But she just turned 10. So I'm hoping to give her the foundation necessary should she choose to attempt that path. [smile] Time will tell I guess!
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Dancerfun

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Quote:
Originally Posted by tendumom



If she believes she is providing adequate ballet, then there is really no discussion to have. Without strong ballet or at least decent ballet, you don't end up with decent jazz and you actually do end up with cringe worthy lyrical. You mentioned that this is her journey, not yours. That is so very true, except a child is lacking the knowledge that you have of the implications of their choices. They live in the here and now. They don't have the perspective you have. They also don't pay for it. 

What is the "fun" of current school she doesn't want to give up? Is it going to competitions? Is it costumes? Is it being with friends? 

I can tell you for my dd, we discovered that it wasn't competing that she loved so much, it was actually the chance to perform. I asked her so many times that first year (and other years) if she wanted to go back to the comp school or a similar type of dance training. There was no turning back and she came from a strong comp school with decent ballet. The difference, once she got into the ballet school, she saw the difference in the training. Team rehearsals were quickly replaced by Nutcracker rehearsals. She made new friends that took dance as seriously as she did. Comps were replaced by performances. They didn't do the same dances all year. She learned different choreography for Nut, different choreography for the spring ballet and then different choreography for the recital. We were also lucky to find a ballet school that believed today's ballet dancer needs to move in other ways, so it was very easy for her to continue jazz and even hip hop. They even had tap, but it didn't fit in her schedule for most of her years there. She was able to pick it up again later on. 

I am on a bit of a soapbox. I always am when it comes to quality dance instruction, but I just came from an amazing evening with Broadway dance royalty- the dancers who worked with Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon going all the way back to one Fosse's first Bway shows as a dancer, before he was even a choreographer. Mind blowing. A topic that came up in the panel was what is not being taught to today's dancers. It illustrated what is missing in even the better schools. But, no matter what you want to do with dance, it boils down first to mastery of the steps which, in translation, is simple, clean technique. Without that, you have nothing. I could go on and one... but that's the bottom line. [smile] 



I'm still figuring out how to quote properly! Lol so just quoting your whole post! [wink]

My daughter finds everything fun at her current studio. The dances are fun. The teachers aren't too strict and are typically very positive and encouraging. And she's with her best friends. The last two years (which is a long time at this age) has been the exact same girls on the team. And my daughter absolutely loves our SO (who teaches all the comp numbers). And our team of girls are really skilled girls naturally who all work really hard and push each other. It's pretty awesome in many ways.

One thing about our studio is that it's been hit and miss with ballet instructors. The past 3 years our studio has had a phenomenal ballet instructor (which my daughter had the last two years). I'm thankful for the time we had with her. But that teacher left and started her own comp studio.... Which is very unusual for a ballet teacher! But she did. And due to her amazing ballet instruction... Half the studio followed her (basically all the older kids). Very long and complicated story. Our team chose to stay. But the ballet teacher this year is just simply not as good. She clearly knows ballet and was a successful dancer... But not everyone has the gift to teach. And the time given to ballet is minimal (45 minute classes are the longest). Not the amount we need at this age of 10-12 yrs old.

So several of us end up supplementing elsewhere. Our SO is lucky in the sense that our team is really awesome. We don't win everything. Lol but we do have a team full of amazing kids, all of which are very naturally talented. But the lack of quality ballet this year is showing. Which is why I'm doing so much extra. I'd love a crystal ball to know what my daughter will feel in 5 more years. But I don't have that. In the mean time I'm trying to give her the happiness she feels at her home studio while also making sure she gets extra technique elsewhere. But I do think by next year we will need to decide if we stay or go. If she just wants to dance for fun... The comp studio is enough. If she has any hope of a profession... We need to make a decision in the next year I imagine. But I agree that she doesn't necessarily know or understand the implications of her choices or desires at this time. Which is why this is so hard. I want to do what's best for her long term. But also don't want to push my desires on her. [frown]

And you asked something along the lines of if she would really miss competitions. No! You are correct. She just loves to perform and be on stage... She still doesn't even understand the awards most of the time. [wink] So the nutcracker and a few other possibilities for performances may be enough to fill that need. I've even considered doing full time ballet and still doing a solo or two as an independent. But not ready for that quite yet. So much to think about.... Thanks again for your input tendumom!
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heidi459

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Reply with quote  #9 
Right now your dd is still young but I think you're right to be thinking this way.  It was at about 12 that it started to become clear that my own dd was thinking long term. And while in some ways it seemed silly to take it seriously, I also knew that because there was a chance that it wasn't just a passing fantasy, I HAD to take it seriously.  

I won't bore you w/the gory details.  It's rather long & involved... & messy.  But suffice it to say there are parts of your story that sound somewhat familiar.  Fast forward & my dd did switch to a very serious ballet studio eventually... at the ripe old age of 14. And  two years later her journey continues.

Just one thing that I really want to pass on perhaps....  & it's already been touched upon above.  And that is to never forget that your dd is a child.  That she does not know what she does not know.  That she's not capable of knowing.  Nor of truly understanding.  That she really is dependent on your guidance.  And for that reason.. to think rather carefully before taking the "it's her life" approach.  And yeah, I know that that's contrary to what many will advise but I guess I'm just at a point where I'm watching the fallout from that.  Dancers who were never really forced to face the truth.   And who now, at 17/18 yrs of age, are finding that what they thought, or rather what they were "allowed" to think (because it was, afterall, "their" life), has led to things like disappointment... & a boat load of "what ifs".  

Now of course, that's not to say that there is some guaranteed formula for success but I do think it's a safe bet to say that there is a formula that will make success much less likely.  And ignoring the potential negative consequences of questionable decisions? That's like jumping on the fast track to the latter.  Not that we should force our kids to do anything.  Of course not.  But we should, in my opinion, make sure they fully understand how the decisions they make today can impact their tomorrow.  I started the serious dialogues back when my dd was 12 but even now, 4 yrs later, I still spend a great deal of time in her face making sure she gets it.  We talk all the time. About what she wants long term. About how she can increase the chance of making it happen.  About how what she is doing today is contributing to her plan.  About how certain things might be working against her.  About what other things she can do.  It's an ongoing dialogue. And while I continue to probe & guide,  ultimately it is she who makes all the final decisions.  

I wish I had a crystal ball but, of course, I don't.  But the way we have gone about this has put me very much at peace w/ the path she has chosen.  Because I know she's going about it w/her eyes wide open.  With the truth at her feet.  She isn't just fantasizing.  She isn't fooling herself. Maybe it won't play out the way she hopes.  But at least I'll never have to hear her say "if only I had known",  knowing that I could've...should've... been the one to tell her.

Sorry. Off my soapbox now.  This topic hits very close to home.

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spiritmom

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Reply with quote  #10 
We have never done YAGP but i actually could see how the serious ballet teacher thinks it could sway your daughter.  I think in a lot of ways, the experience could be similar to attending a ballet summer intensive.  When you're surrounded by people who take dance as seriously as you do and when you see the beauty that comes from truly strong ballet technique, I think it's a lot easiser to see yourself making the leap from competitive dance to serious ballet training.  Maybe that would happen for your DD, maybe not.

It sounds like your DD and mine are similar.  It was probably about age 10 that mine started to realize how much she liked ballet.  We had a good teacher at our comp studio but the way the SO setup the program meant  my DD took only one ballet class a week.  The really good teacher hinted to me several times that my daughter really should be studying ballet elsewhere.  I looked at supplementing but the schedules just didn't mesh well.  We ended up changing comp studios for reasons unrelated to this post.  Last summer my daughter went away to her first summer intensive at age 12 and I think that's when things started to change for her.  It's when she was first started to articulate that she does want to dance professionally.  We had a chat about how continuing with comp really did not move her closer to her goal of being a principal dancer in a professional ballet company. She ultimately wanted to compete for one more year.  Unfortunately, some changes made by our comp studio made that a less attractive option (long story) and she decided to give up comp and commit to serious ballet training last August.  I think we both thought she would miss the performance opportunties, time wth teammates, flashy costumes, etc but that has not turned out to be the case for her.   As someone mentioned before, there have been other performance opportunties.  Her ballet school only does one performance a year but we've done two with a regional professional company, including dancing the role of Clara in Nut.  She says these girls at her new school are "her people" because they get her in a way I'm not sure many of her comp friends ever did.  
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camercad

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Reply with quote  #11 
DD competed at YAGP for the first time this year in the juniors level. She definitely enjoyed the ballet-only atmosphere of the comp and the master classes. If your child doesn't have access to see ballet performances, I could see how watching YAGP could provide more opportunities to see ballet than your usual regional dance comp. However, if I had to choose between YAGP and a good ballet summer intensive, I'd pick the summer intensive. 
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joriebelle

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This is our second year doing YAGP.  DD11 last year scored 3rd place classical and top 12 contemporary.  This year she was 1st place classical and top 12 contemporary.  My DD11 however, wants to be a professional ballet dancer when she grows up.  If your daughter does NOT want to be a professional ballet dancer I would not have her compete in the classical division.  There is a contemporary division though which often attracts dancers that aren't aspiring ballerinas.  I mean, you could enter the classical division but it is quite different than your normal dance competition.  I agree with camercd in that if you were choosing between YAGP and a summer intensive it would probably be more beneficial to go to a great summer intensive.
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dancermom128

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Reply with quote  #13 
Joribelle didn't you say your daughter has never received lower than 2nd place?
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Mom2Girls

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Originally Posted by dancermom128
Joribelle didn't you say your daughter has never received lower than 2nd place?


She did. And I posted the bit about her dd getting 3rd place about an hour ago. She must have just forgotten and needed the reminder. [confused]
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joriebelle

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Reply with quote  #15 
Dancermom, yep you are right she did get 3rd at YAGP.   And actually only top 12 for contemporary.   I meant "regular" dance competitions 2nd place and above.  I don't know why I don't lump YAGP in with other competitions.  But yep you are right.
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dancermom128

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Originally Posted by joriebelle
Dancermom, yep you are right she did get 3rd at YAGP.   And actually only top 12 for contemporary.   I meant "regular" dance competitions 2nd place and above.  I don't know why I don't lump YAGP in with other competitions.  But yep you are right.


Interesting.
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dancermom128

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I'm originally from your area. I'm sure we have some mutual friends. 
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joriebelle

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From my area?!  You have me so curious, dancermom!  I bet we do.  Dance is such a small world. . . [smile]
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dancermom128

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Originally Posted by joriebelle
From my area?!  You have me so curious, dancermom!  I bet we do.  Dance is such a small world. . . [smile]


Yes it is.
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joriebelle

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We've been in this crazy dance world for about 17 years when my oldest took her first little twinkle two class.  We've met some wonderful families along the way.  There are some things only a fellow dance Mom would understand and are hard to explain to those not in the world!  [smile]
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Mom2Girls

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What places did she end up getting contemporary, Joriebelle? I'm curious if there is a difference in how each segment skews in terms of dance training.

ETA: Or do they only tell if it is top 3??


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tiptoemom

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My understanding is that a dancer HAS to enter a classical variation in YAGP and past pre-comp you HAVE to also enter a contemporary. You don't get to choose, unless that changes this year?
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joriebelle

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On the YAGP website it says this:  • All solo participants in the Junior and Senior age divisions have a choice of performing in one or both of the following categories: o Classical Ballet: Variation must be chosen from the Classical Repertoire List below. o Contemporary/Open Dance: This category includes any “open solo” variation that is not taken from the Classical Repertoire


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cypressmom

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I think that rule has changed. In the past, you had to have a classical entry in order to enter a contemporary solo.
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ggsmith

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Reply with quote  #25 
Less than half the participants at YAGP from DD's ballet school enter a contemporary solo, while all do at least one classical variation.  I honestly don't know why anyone would bother competing at YAGP with only a contemporary solo, as there as so many competitions and conventions out there for other types of dance.

In pre-competitive, you can be invited to the NY Finals for a classical solo, a contemporary, or both.

In Jr. and Sr. you need to score above 95 (although judges can invite a dancer at their discretion with a lower score) in classical to be invited to NY. 

My daughter participated in YAGP this year.  In our situation, there are quite limited performance opportunities for students below the level of trainee at her school and this gave her an opportunity to work one-on-one with some of the instructors and perform a solo for an audience.  If she had those opportunities without YAGP we would have spent the money other ways, perhaps saving toward an away summer intensive for future years.  She is currently taking private pilates lessons and has taken advantage of some weekend workshops and conventions this spring.  We'll soon have to make a decision for next year YAGP.  She loved the performance and very much wishes to do YAGP again, but I tend to think she is getting more from the pilates and workshops.  
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