Concerns about Dance School..

(58 Posts)
Wikkitikki Wed 14-Oct-15 10:41:25

My daughter has been passionate about dancing from an early age. She began having tap and modern classes at the age of 3 then moved to a different school of dance 2 years ago where she attends ballet tap and modern classes plus festival troupe on a different day.
They do a spectacular show every year and have also taken the festival troupe to Disneyland Paris. Last week, out of the blue the classes where split and my daughter was told she's not ready to take grade1 ballet next Feb. Some of the younger students are now in the same class so essentially they feel she hasn't progressed in 2 years.
My daughter was distraught, said she felt angrry with herself for not being good enough. We have invested so much time and money into her classes and hoped by doing this she would be able to fulfil her ambition to study dancing post 16-18.
She is very settled at the school and has made friends but I'm also concerned that it appears only the Principal has A.I.D.T.A, one of the other teaches is Pre Associate but at present my daughter isn't being taught by the Principal or the Pre-Associate.
It will be a huge wrench to move her but if we don't do it now we fear she will always be behind compared to other dance schools.
One of my friends at Zumba said her daughter was on pointe at age 12.
I'm actually finding this more stressful than my son's secondary school application! I'm not belittling that process but where we live it's very straightforward . I would like to hear from other parents who have been in this situation and also from parents of children who continued with dance after leaving school.

JeffsanArsehole Wed 14-Oct-15 10:46:45

How old is she?

If it's before going on point, it would be better to treat is as just for fun.

You can definitely do dance (not ballet, most dancers stop ballet at some point) post 16 with other dance skills.

If you/she wanted to be a ballet dancer and she wasn't progressing in two years then it's likely a pure ballet career isn't for her.

mummytime Wed 14-Oct-15 10:55:17

Sorry but deciding at a young age (as it seems she is) that she wants to go to dance school it's 16 is madness.
Maybe she isn't that good a dancer? Very few are.
Maybe she has the wrong physique?
Maybe she will decide she wants to do something else?

How many years has she been doing dance? Why doesn't she have grade 1 yet?

Is this her ambition? Or yours?

Why can't she do it just for fun?

My friend who was a professional dancer retired before she was 30. Your DD definitely needs a back up plan.

YetAnotherUserName Wed 14-Oct-15 10:57:48

How old is she? At my daughter’s dance school, girls are usually at least 12 or 13 years old before dancing on pointe, and that's been after grade 6 for my DD.

In fact, my DD has only ever done about 3 grade exams - life clashed with some exams or she wasn't good enough to take others (this has been met with either relief or distress depending on what else has been going on in her life).

But the teacher has kept her with her group and DD has kept up pretty much. She's expecting to do the grade 7 exam. My point being that progess could still be made without taking the exams.

Wikkitikki Wed 14-Oct-15 10:58:50

She's 9 years old. She wants to be a dancer or teach dance, but probably not pure ballet.

Wikkitikki Wed 14-Oct-15 11:06:22

She may decide she wants to do something else but we want to ensure she has the training to enable her to pursue dance if she chooses to. My eldest has started uni and hasn't yet decided on a career, we want our children to have every opportunity they can to choose their own path in life.

She didn't take the last exam which was prep ballet as she was on a trip with Brownies

Wikkitikki Wed 14-Oct-15 11:09:10

Her physique is slender btw, takes after her parents.

Racundra Wed 14-Oct-15 11:10:59

She hasn't done G1 yet, but wants to be a dancer/ dance teacher?
I'd say age 9 for grade one is v late. Did she start dancing really recently?
It is possible... The professional dancer I know didn't take up dance until 8, however that was a long time ago, and things have changed professionally since those times.

dodobookends Wed 14-Oct-15 11:21:39

Her physique is slender btw, takes after her parents

Actually, when people in the dance world talk about the 'right physique for ballet' they aren't talking about this, there are a lot of other things which play a bigger part.

Long straight legs and a short body, a straight spine, level shoulders, a long neck, good feet which neither roll in or out, good turnout from the hips, naturally good posture, placement, balance and co-ordination, the list goes on.

If she is now 9, the perhaps you need to speak to her ballet teacher, and ask why she is not yet ready for the exam. It would be concerning if she isn't being taught by senior teachers - some schools use older students to teach the younger classes and this is far from ideal.

AnneSansTete Wed 14-Oct-15 11:22:59

On pointe from 12 plus is typical (depending on childs foot development) but never before grade 6. At our school girls are graded approx every 9 months. To have not completed grade 1 at 9yo when she's been dancing all her life is very odd. Have they only just started grading?

Whatevva Wed 14-Oct-15 11:25:14

My dds started ballet at almost 8 and took a grade 1 RAD presentation class after a term and a half, then started on grade 2. They were behind all the talented dancy types, but age appropriate and took grade 8 before they left for uni. Have a look round for a smaller school, where the owner has more time. Also, have a look around for contemporary dance teachers. There is no grade system and no examining board, so you need to look into the qualifications and experience of the teachers (they are usually more than happy to tell you - there are plenty around who trained at the London School of Contemporary Dance and Laban who are no longer performing). Contemporary dance is good for focus, thinking about how your body works and moves and imagination and choreography. We have a regional dance agency near us that had contemporary performance groups which start at about 11.

RapidlyOscillating Wed 14-Oct-15 11:27:58

Are they concentrating too much on the shows and festivals? Mine went to a very focused dance school for a couple of years that seemed to manage both and had mixed age ability based classes for grade preperation but I think the more advanced dancers were only about 7 doing their grade 1.

Whatevva Wed 14-Oct-15 11:29:59

One of my daughters went to a modern class at a school that did lots of shows from 7. By the time she had started ballet and was taking grade 5, she had only got to grade one in modern.

Wikkitikki Wed 14-Oct-15 11:31:09

She started ballet age 6.5, she's studied ballet tap and modern at her current school since Sep 2013. The whole class was entered for prep early this year, she missed exam but has still done work towards it. The school seems to focus on shows, she's enjoying it and we were busy with life and didn't realise that it wasn't normal for 9 year olds to not have taken grade 1.
She does want to do other things too but we're just trying to ensure she has training to facilitate this.

Lurkedforever1 Wed 14-Oct-15 11:31:53

Seriously if she's 9 and been dancing 6 years it's beyond me why they're only just getting round to grade 1. Even if she was the worlds most useless ever dancer you'd expect the rest of the class to be a higher grade after all those years.

My dd (11) is very much a happy hobby once a week dancer, as is the majority of her class and they're doing the grade 4 exam in the next lot. And that class ranges between more talented 9 year olds attending it with other classes and late starting/ less talented 13/14 year olds. Most are just for fun decidedly average y7's. So I really don't understand why she's not at grade 1 standard after 6 years. My dd and her regular classmates are not the next generation of the royal ballet!

As to being en pointe, its about leg/ foot/bone development and therefore while age for that can vary, and they do need a certain standard it's age rather than ballet grade that dictates it.

Wikkitikki Wed 14-Oct-15 11:40:58

Sorry I took a phone call and missed the last 5 replies,
The school is relying heavily on Seniors to teach, we wouldn't have really questioned this had they not separated the class.
Thanks for the replies, we shall do some research.

Wikkitikki Wed 14-Oct-15 11:53:12

Lurkedforever your reply made me chuckle! We really didn't know any different. There are some extremely talented seniors, one has won a place ata ballet school but I have just found out she had additional classes at a different school.
I just wanted feedback as to whether my concerns are valid. It's amused me if some think I'm steering her towards dance, my eldest also had lessons but got bored so that was that. There's never been a week when my 9 yr old hasn't wanted to go to dancing. She was very restless during the holidays and was practising routines on the beach.

Whatevva Wed 14-Oct-15 12:00:26

A lot of schools are just businesses which run to keep the owners happy in their chosen field of dance. They need lots of pupils, lots of cheap teachers and lots of shows for publicity. It does not matter if individual pupils progress, because there will still be plenty to pay the bills and there will a few stars who will get through whatever the teaching, and shine and make the place look good. [cynical smiley] Some schools grind through the grade exams, some more experienced teachers enter them for grades that are age/development appropriate.

Keep your ear to the ground and look around for alternative sources of teaching and experience. There are teachers around with BAs in ballet now (the RAD teach them) and new schools are always starting up, so no need to be taught by seniors. There are also some good hip hop teachers around with a wide experience of dance.

Go and watch some things by Akram Khan, Michael Bourne, Jasmin Vardimon, (and the Royal Ballet/Birmingham Royal Ballet, of course).

Wikkitikki Wed 14-Oct-15 13:02:59

Thank you Whatevva smile

Whatevva Wed 14-Oct-15 13:15:07

www.rambert.org.uk/

I'm watching this instead of the hovering wink

Whatevva Wed 14-Oct-15 13:15:42

HOOOOOOOOOvering hmm

RapidlyOscillating Wed 14-Oct-15 13:19:38

I am noticing a lot of new start ups in our area, some attached to theatres and done offering a junior associates or stage school style 'experience'. Varying quality I am sure, but there's certainty a lot more choice than there used to be.

RapidlyOscillating Wed 14-Oct-15 13:20:05

Some, not done!

scrappydappydoo Wed 14-Oct-15 13:45:50

Hmmm my DD is also 9 and in the lower group of her age and she is about to take her grade 2 next week. She however just does it for fun and harbours no ambition for a dancing career. Personally if my daughter was focused on a career I would be looking at another dance school - they can be so different in focus and ethos.

LIZS Wed 14-Oct-15 13:59:21

I hate be brutal to ask but genuinely how talented is your dd. Grade 1 at 9 is far from exceptional, although perhaps her other disciplines are higher level. Dd is 14 and working towards grade 5/6, not yet on pointe although in past years others have at 12/13. But dd dances as a leisure activity and is pretty average. If your dd isn't that technically and musically gifted, her enthusiasm alone will not be enough to pursue a career in dance let alone vocational school and beyond. Tbh I have misgivings about dd's dance school , a lot of older girls move elsewhere unless they are elite performers (and having private sessions) and the culture is to expect you to throw more money towards coaching for exams, costumes etc. However it is convenient and she has been going there for years.

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