Royal ballet school junior associates

(74 Posts)
MaisyMoo123 Wed 08-Jan-14 22:25:30

Hi, have raised this on a different thread but thought I'd start a new one specifically on this topic. My 8 yr old dd's ballet teacher has suggested that she audition for the royal ballet school junior associates programme. I'm really not sure what to make of it. Clearly we're very proud of dd as she's obviously showing some promise and I can see it would be an amazing opportunity but it also fills me with fear as it is a completely alien world to me and one I'm sure would be viciously competitive and require huge time and financial commitment. honest! Has anybody got any experience of this? I'd really welcome views and opinions to help me get my head round it! Thanks!

lottieandmia Thu 09-Jan-14 10:45:13

I don't have any dds who are JAs but I do have knowledge about the process. As far as I know if successful your dd will have to attend every Saturday for training. Girls are chosen mainly on how much potential they are considered to have. Also, body shape is very important - they only choose girls who they think are exactly the right shape no matter how good they are. JAs automatically have the opportunity to audition for White Lodge.

MaisyMoo123 Thu 09-Jan-14 11:14:04

Thanks Lottie. I've heard it's about the potential rather than current ability. Dd does ballet and no other dance, and that's only once a week (twice at present due to exam coaching). Interesting re body shape too - it sounds like they look for the blank canvas to shape and mould. Dd is very tall and willowy with long limbs - graceful (when she wants to be!) but I always assumed she'd be way too tall for ballet longer term. Can't deny that the prospect of weekly lessons scare me a bit given it would involve a lot of travelling. I'm not sure dd loves it enough at the moment for it to form such a significant part of her life. Lots to ponder!

Helpyourself Thu 09-Jan-14 11:18:08

If it all took off it could be life changing. Ballet is like music- such a hard life that its only really sustainable if you can't bear not to do it.
Does she love dancing?

lottieandmia Thu 09-Jan-14 12:31:18

I would let her audition. Where I live, children who are accepted into the programme get a chance to be in the Christmas production of The Nutcracker so that is very exciting for them.

MaisyMoo123 Thu 09-Jan-14 12:43:14

I agree with it having the potential to be life changing if it were to all take off helpyourself. I find it quite scary! She does love dancing - but she doesn't love it more than other hobbies i.e swimming or choral singing. I've not raised the prospect with her as I need some time to get my head round it first. She may well make her own mind up about it when it comes to it. Dh has pretty much dismissed it on practical/financial grounds - might have some convincing to do there if we did decide to go for it!

Ledkr Thu 09-Jan-14 12:57:42

Ds went when he was about that age. It was quite exciting travelling to Birmingham every other weekend, it was something we did together and I went shopping.
Eventually for him the physio decided he w as never going to be flexible enough but I'd prepared him for this so he was fine about it.
It's good for them I think
Go for it.

MaisyMoo123 Thu 09-Jan-14 13:18:12

Does anyone know how frequent the lessons are? I see they offer 24 or 32 sessions but how does that pan out over a year? Seems very premature thinking about this when she's very unlikely to even get through the audition but it's all part of the decision process for me!

Ledkr Thu 09-Jan-14 19:21:30

We went fortnightly but he's 22 now so may have changed.

Sparklymommy Fri 10-Jan-14 14:48:42

I think it is roughly fortnightly for our JAs. the other thing to consider is that if she gets a place as a JA, it may mean se misses a regular, syllabus class at her dance school. I only say this as my dd recently Took her grade 5 exam with a couple of JA s and they were not really secure in the syllabus work as they missed every other Saturday class leading up to the exam. All our exam students do two ballet grade classes a week, so they thought they knew it all, but when it came to it, they didn't.

ThoughtsPlease Fri 10-Jan-14 21:04:27

Sparklymommy The teaching from RBS in terms improving a dancer far outweighs being secure in the syllabus of a particular exam, exams marks don't actually mean much really.

PandaNot Fri 10-Jan-14 21:11:22

My ds is an elmhurst associate and also attends another associates class once a month. He hasn't auditioned for RB jas because it would clash with his regular classes. Associates classes are designed to complement, not replace, their regular classes.

Go for it. My ds loves his associate classes. But it is a big commitment , both time-wise and financial.

MaisyMoo123 Fri 10-Jan-14 21:59:39

Thanks all. Really useful to hear your views. As I said, this is a completely alien world to me so any insights are really useful. I'm going to try and chat to dd's teacher tomorrow as all talk about it so far has been over email. To be honest I'm still very undecided about it all. I've still not raised it with dd directly but did ask her if she'd like to do more ballet and she replied "probably not" which raises obvious questions. I'm just not sure we are up for the time and financial commitment either - call me selfish and I'll probably get shot down for saying it, but it sounds huge and we have a younger ds and a whole load of other things to think about. We're still mulling though and I totally get that it would be an amazing opportunity. Part of me wants to let her go for the audition for the wonderful experience it would inevitably be knowing that she's unlikely to get through but...

dontmesswithmytutu Sat 11-Jan-14 19:28:40

It's a long process with the potential of a lot of heartache. If she's not 100% sure she wants to do more ballet it's a roller coaster I'm not convinced you should endeavour to get on. Maybe leave it a year and see how she feels then? There are taster days you could look into for you and her which may help decide if it's the right thing for your dd. good luck!

MaisyMoo123 Sat 11-Jan-14 21:24:06

Spoke to Dd's ballet teacher after today's lesson. She said she'd love her to audition - she is showing the potential, has the right proportions, the feet, the jump and the plié. She was very understanding re our concerns about the commitment though and wasn't overly pushy about it. We have some time to mull it over so no rush to make a decision. All your insights are really useful. Thank you!

herdream1 Sun 12-Jan-14 20:11:37

Just in case, I find some info (financial support, trial lesson next month..) at

chazboo Sun 12-Jan-14 23:23:29

Hi Maisymoo

My son is a JA with RBS. Costs are around £700.00 per year. He is in his second year currently awaiting results from his audition for vocational training (boarding school) at White Lodge/Mid Associates. He had never been interested in dance and was selected by a dance teacher visiting his school who himself had been a principal with RBS. He began contemporary dance and a year later in Sept 2011, ballet. Fourteen weeks later he was auditioned for RBS associates and was accepted. He has never done exams to this day. Ballet is his total passion and has become all consuming. On Saturdays we drive around 100 miles between his morning sessions of regular ballet to afternoons with RBS plus two other nights of regular ballet. He also has RBS exercises to do daily and his dance practice which all in all probably takes one and a half hours daily. Some of the dancers do not do the required exercises but my son is totally driven by it all. He is a very quiet child and I never dreamed he would be prepared to leave home aged 11 but it has become his dream. I also have an 8 Year old daughter who dances and rides and at times it is exhausting but honestly it has been the making of my son. I would say that your daughter would have to be passionate about it. It requires dedication and commitment but it's a great opportunity if it comes along. There are of course some obsessive mothers and the further along the course you travel, the tougher it gets. The reality is that most don't make it but some do of course. Good luck with your decision to audition your daughter.

Sparklymommy Mon 13-Jan-14 15:15:01

I am not saying that exams are more important than associates, or vice versa. But to some they are. And in my personal experience (we have one VERY obsessive grandma whose granddaughter is a JA. She would expect her to get the top mark in any exam she took and she is one of the ones who struggled with syllabus knowledge), exam grades can be useful in gaining places at vocational school, and are a better indicator of a child's potential as a dancer than whether or not they were a JA for two or three years before the Royal effectively wiped their hands of them! That may sound harsh, but at the end of the day once they believe you have reached your full potential for what they want that is basically what they do.

JAs is a big commitment, from the cost of the classes, the extra uniform that needs purchasing, the workshops in London that your child is expected to attend and f course the travelling costs. It is worth it for some children. As I have said previously, I will probably audition my son when he is old enough as I believe the the regime will suit him. For my dd, not so much. She gains more from having a regular private lesson And attending intensive summer schools than I believe she would have gained from a regular class at JAs. that said, we have particularly good ballet teachers available to us at her dance school.

Junior associates is a good oppurtunity for some children but you will also encounter the obsessive ballet mums (who make the Abby Lee Dance Company mums on Dance moms look positively friendly and soft) and it becomes very competitive very quickly.

ThoughtsPlease Mon 13-Jan-14 22:44:46

I completely disagree that an exam result is a better indicator of potential than several years as a JA. If you want to be a ballet dancer RBS is the best.

Yes they may a few years down the line decide that you are not suited to RBS, but that will not have changed the potential. An exam result does not increase potential, 'struggling with syllabus knowledge' is not a lack of ability or potential.

Vocational school auditions are based on the ability seen by those judging the auditions.

chazboo Mon 13-Jan-14 23:11:14

I agree with that comment from thoughtsplese! Vocational schools look for potential.not exam grades. The four students I know who have made it to White Lodge did so with no exam experience.

Sparklymommy Tue 14-Jan-14 09:05:04

The thing is, the royal ballet school is one school, a very prestigious school, yes, but only one school. My dd has a friend in y7 there, and she was a JA. She also had exam grades that showed her potential.

In my opinion, if you want to be a BALLERINA, then yes, JAs would probably suit you, and your ultimate goal would be a place at the RBS. However, in a way that is closing more doors than it opens, and limiting you to one genre (ballet). A few years down the line, when you suffer an injury, or you grow too tall, your career is over before its begun.

Some of the other vocational schools and colleges are therefore much better at keeping your options open and who truly knows, at 11, what they want? I have seen many JAs have their hopes and dreams crushed. I have seen many children who would not have been accepted by the scheme go on to be amazing performers. I know several in the west end as I type, a couple in ballet companies around the world and many excellent teachers too.

Also, for the record, at 16 most vocational schools will be looking at the exam grades achieved and including them in their decision making process. Usually the latest exam results, but they do matter. And they get UCAS points for them too.

Ledkr Tue 14-Jan-14 09:37:56

I danced professionally and always got my jobs on my audition.
I had a portfolio but it was rarely looked at.
They just want to know you can pick up their choreography quick and perform it well.
I didn't go to vocational school btw.
The jobs I got were only chorus and cruise ship but it was still great.
Probably different if you wanted a plum role in west end or a big ballet company.

lottieandmia Tue 14-Jan-14 09:58:15

I think Sparkly makes a good point. I knew quite a few girls who were JAs and about 4 who successfully auditioned for White Lodge. But of those 4 girls only one of them actually became a ballerina and made a career of it. At least one of them had to retire early through injury. Plus the Royal Ballet school will assess people out every year - this can be very stressful. And often they assess people out because of how the person looks physically rather than because there is a problem with their dancing.

Sparklymommy Tue 14-Jan-14 10:09:06

Audition technique is an important skill, ledkr is correct in that. I would rather dd did some audition technique workshops tbf.

Yes, at the end of the day, being able to Pick up choreography quickly and retain that information is going to be very useful. Dd and ds have both just done pantomime and it is very obvious, very early on, who can do that and who needs a lot of work.

Ledkr Tue 14-Jan-14 17:16:44

And for most dancers, auditioning will take up large portions of their career.
Ds was a beautiful ballet dancer but the RB physios didn't like his lack of flexibility yet it never held him back in any other audition.
Matthew Bourne left the RB and look at him now.

Sparklymommy Tue 14-Jan-14 18:34:50

My point exactly.

And failure to get into RBS can seem like the end of the world to a vulnerable young dancer, it can be a knock that is hard to take. Yet it is not the end of the line.

Many very talented dancers wouldn't be looked at twice at RBS, but can have very successful careers with other companies. Matthew Bourne is an excellent example.

Picturesinthefirelight Tue 14-Jan-14 20:56:59

Sparkly mommy sorry but I disagree vocational schools do not take grades passed into account when selecting dancers for upper school. They go solely in the audition.

Picturesinthefirelight Tue 14-Jan-14 20:59:10

Vocational school students don't even take graded exams though some have their students take the vocational grades mostly because you need them if you want to train as a teacher later on.

ThoughtsPlease Tue 14-Jan-14 21:05:16

I think the point to me is that even though being a JA and/or going to RBS might not turn out as planned if they decide that you are not turning out to be what they want, if you want to be a ballet dancer it is very unlikely that you will have lost anything by going through the process and then going elsewhere if necessary.

Obviously if you are not necessarily committed to ballet then it is probably not the best option.

However auditioning for JAs and attending if successful would give a child an insight to how RBS works and if they did feel that committed to ballet and RBS.

I say this as an ex JA and RBS pupil, my sister was also an RBS pupil, however interestingly by early twenties we had both given up ballet and pursued more academic careers.

Sparklymommy Tue 14-Jan-14 21:06:08

I am talking at 16, not 11 pictures. Having watched many of our senior dancers audition they all take with them to auditions portfolios with latest exam grades and head shots/ full length pictures. They all learn several audition pieces too. I am not saying they are taken into much consideration, but they are looked at.

Also, to take teaching exams they need to have passed certain levels of exams. Our dance school encourage dancers to take their DDI exams as its another string to their bow and can be a nice filler for performers between jobs. We also have several girls who want to yeah rather than perform themselves.

Whether a child is a JA or not is not that important when it comes to auditioning for vocational schools either. Even RBS doesn't solely take JAs, or even take very many from the JA program. You don't HAVE to be a JA to audition for the school.

Sparklymommy Tue 14-Jan-14 21:07:40

#teach not yeah! Bloody predictive text!

Picturesinthefirelight Tue 14-Jan-14 21:10:10

Yes sparkly. Dh teaches post 16 only so has an insight into the audition process at 16 & has been on panels. They don't look at exam results at all.

Picturesinthefirelight Tue 14-Jan-14 21:12:24

I am glad that dds school still do vocational grades (I believe RBS has stopped doing them) as it makes applying for a DDI or RAD teaching diploma easier & is another string to the bow.

Sparklymommy Tue 14-Jan-14 21:17:27

Fair enough. I still don't believe them to be meaningless though.

I have said many times that I will be auditioning Ds1 for JAs when he is old enough. I am not saying that its a waste of time. I'm just saying that its not the only thing that matters either. It's one establishment, and they are very particular and ruthless. As someone else said, the practise of assessing out every year can be very stressful for young girls who are encouraged to think its the whole world.

Sparklymommy Tue 14-Jan-14 21:19:38

RBS don't do any exams as far as I'm aware. And only about 5 GCSEs. They also only do Ballet and character dance. I think a very small amount amount of Spanish too but no modern, tap or commercial styles. Going there definitely puts all your eggs in one basket!

Picturesinthefirelight Tue 14-Jan-14 21:22:10

Dd never auditioned & would never have got into JAs. wrong body type & not flexible enough.

Going back to the OP- I would advise perhaps doing the JA for a day thing then seeing what her dd thinks. JAs is not something you do for fun. Your child has to really want it.

A friends dd did a taster day at BRB with a view to joining some new scheme - she hated it & announced she just wanted to dance a few times a week at her local school for fun.

Picturesinthefirelight Tue 14-Jan-14 21:24:36

RBS used to do RAD vocational grades but recently stopped. The sister of one of dds classmates goes there.

Dd will do 9 GCSEs. The same number as she would have at the selective school she got a place at.

Only 5 surprises me. A girl we know has just left after year 9 (her choice not assessed out). She's very academic.

ThoughtsPlease Tue 14-Jan-14 21:25:13

Of course it is not all that matters, and of course they are ruthless they want the best ballet dancers that suit them.

There are other ballet companies that are very good, but RBS want a particular type and look of dancer, if you don't fit this it does not mean that you cannot be successful as a ballet dancer elsewhere.

Why you think only young girls and not boys would be bothered by the yearly assessments is a very odd comment.

ThoughtsPlease Tue 14-Jan-14 21:30:33

We did 9 GCSEs many many years ago!

Sparklymommy Tue 14-Jan-14 21:33:55

Dd1s friend who she has grown up with and always danced with went in September. Her mother has said she wouldn't put another child through it. Her daughter is very committed, very much for her ballet and her mother says that no matter how hard they work it is never enough.

She writes to dd regularly and has had a few times when she's wanted to quit. She won't, because she really, really wants it, but its not an environment that I think is healthy for a young, vulnerable girl.

Dd was horrified when she said they only do ballet. She can't imagine not doing modern and jazz and everything else she does.

Our dance school head would never have got into JAs, let alone RBS, but was head girl at RAD. As was another of our teachers. She probably would have got into JAs but didn't start dancing until she was 12.

I think the Royal Academy of Dance is a much healthier environment for ballet dancers. Or the Birmingham Royal ballet (Elmhurst).

Sparklymommy Tue 14-Jan-14 21:37:24

Sorry thoughtsplease your right, boys are just as susceptible to the yearly assessments, and unhealthy atmosphere.

Ds will audition for JAs, but has already told us that he plans to audition for Elmhurst at 11. This is because the boys he looked up to a couple of years ago went there. He is currently 7! But very sure of what he wants already.

Picturesinthefirelight Tue 14-Jan-14 21:37:37

The RAD dont have a full time school - just after school & holiday courses.

ThoughtsPlease Tue 14-Jan-14 21:46:38

Sparkly so a friend of your daughter has spent 1 term at White Lodge, presumably the first time she has boarded anyway, and is not happy there, but this is not a reflection on ALL the other children who have been through the process. Of course many will have felt like this, but the majority not.

Obviously if your DD is 'horrified' by only doing ballet then it wouldn't be the place for her, but really I think you should stop being so anti-RBS when it seems you have no first hand experience.

For many children it is great, and even if they don't make it is have provided something very valuable to them.

Sparklymommy Tue 14-Jan-14 22:24:33

The RAD have a college.

thoughtsplease I am not anti RBS, I reiterate I believe ds1 could be 'right' for RBS and will encourage him to explore his own potential, with the possibility of RBS.

For dd1 it would not have been right. She would not have enjoyed JAs, I am fairly certain of that. She is a performer and does not want to go down the very singular route that RBS would involve. Whilst loving her ballet she also enjoys all the other genres of dance not offered by RBS.

Dds friend does enjoy the school, and whilst she has suffered from the odd spate of homesickness, she will make it work as she truly wants it. She has never once complained to dd, but her mother has spoken about how hard it can be. It is extremely disciplined. Yes, for some I am sure it is the experience of a lifetime. But it is not something to be entered into lightly and will certainly not be an easy ride.

MaisyMoo123 Tue 14-Jan-14 23:28:45

Really interesting to read all your posts. It does make me realise how much of an alien world all this is to me though! The more I read, the more I think that this route would require a huge dedication that I'm just not sure we have. Dd loves her ballet and we've been taking her to lessons since she was really little but it has never been thought of by her or us as anything more than a nice hobby. Her teacher suggesting this has come as a complete bolt out of the blue. We had never considered anything like this and didn't even know it existed until last week! I'm not at all bothered about whether exams matter or if one syllabus will detract from another. I'm guessing they all have their merits and if you're serious about a career in dance and have the talent then you will find the right path. Whatever, all that seems a long way from where my head is at. If we were to send dd to the audition then it would not be with a future career in mind. She's 8 and way, way too young to set off on a blinkered path. This is why I am so wary of it to be honest. I can totally see how you would end up getting swept along with it all until it becomes the be all and end all. Dd often says that she loves her lessons but openly admits that she doesn't think she wants to be a ballerina and would prefer to just dance for fun. I'm wondering if I should take that as her answer to whether she'd like to go to the audition or whether I should tell her so she can make her own mind up.

Another thing I'm wary of is the fact that they are obviously looking for a certain type. Dd's teacher says she knows what they're looking for (she's ex RBS herself) and that dd fits the bill. It just feels a bit like a factory and I wonder if they are only picked if they are the right look and shape rather than showing real talent?

Dromedary Tue 14-Jan-14 23:49:53

Presumably they to have the right body AND the talent. Talent alone is clearly not enough.
I'd probably tell your DD what the opportunity is, but without making a big deal out of it. As you say, it is easy to be carried away, but on the other hand she may be resentful if she finds out later that she had a special opportunity and it was not discussed with her.

chazboo Wed 15-Jan-14 00:07:26

Hi Maisymoo. I think my situation was similar with my son except that he had only been doing ballet for a matter of months when he came home from his regular dance teacher with a letter to audition for RBS. I was very shocked and didn't fully understand how huge it was (rather stupid looking back) I didn't make a big deal of it but I did discuss it with him and he said he wanted to audition and it went from there. Your dd may not be ballet mad at the moment but that can very quickly change, particularly if she was accepted as a JA. I would definitely give her the chance to audition if she wants to, there is nothing to lose. Remembering competition is especially tough for girls as there are so many applying. When ds auditioned they saw just under 1000 children and there were just under a hundred spaces available I believe ( figures quoted by RBS) so not great odds! They are looking for the right body shape and potential rather than current talent. If your dad's dance teacher is former RBS she will know what she is talking about. Cost is a factor but if you think about the cost of any other activity they may take up such as horse riding then the associate course is not unreasonably expensive. Good luck with your decision.

chazboo Wed 15-Jan-14 00:09:30

Sorry, typo! I meant dd's dance teacher not dads

Sparklymommy Wed 15-Jan-14 07:33:54

Also, with regards to cost, there is help available if your on a low income.

It is a good oppurtunity. I had never heard those figures re the 1000 for 100 places before, but that makes sense. And then the year groups at white lodge have 24 children. 12 boys and 12 girls. From across the world, not just the Uk.

There are other associate programmes as well tho: Elmhurst run a good one near us, and the RAD run one too. The RAD also do what are called ACE classes, which run for 4 months, one lesson a month on a Sunday. My dd has done these and loved them. And I think we paid £25 for the four classes. Also workshops are always a good thing to do with the RAD as they have some exceptional teachers and are fun.

As I think I've mentioned in the past, RBS run a workshop called JA for a day which it would be worth taking your dd to. I believe they do a Q and A and it would give you some indication of whether or not your dd would enjoy it. It is a big commitment, but I would definitely not rule it out without speaking to your dd about it. Obviously her dance teacher thinks she has potential or she wouldn't be suggesting it.

Looking back over this thread I can see that I have sounded negative about RBS. That wasn't my intention. It can be amazing and I think all the children that I know who have been JAs have enjoyed it. I would just try and make sure that I'd your dd does go down that route that she is aware they assess out regularly. And even if your assessed out by them, there are other schools and other companies.

Ledkr Wed 15-Jan-14 07:52:38

That said. If you are a decent dancer you will get work eventually if that's how you want to work.
With ds I did all the festivals ,JAs, extra classes and privates.
He danced for a short time then became a chef!
With dd who is good at ballet particularly, I've just stuck at class's, low key festivals for fun. She also does lots of other things including being part of a theatre group and singing.
She wants to do musical theatre/holiday entertainer so this is right for her.
Op it dies sound as if the commitment would be too much for you but I agree with talking to her about it.
With ds I had two older boys but now I've got dd plus a toddler so I couldn't fit it all in.

MaisyMoo123 Wed 15-Jan-14 11:51:34

Yes, I guess it is about having the right body type and showing the potential. It does feel a bit like a factory though. Chaz, I appreciate what you're saying about Dd potentially resenting our decision not to let her do it at some point but the thing is, that despite what you say, I think that realistically there is actually a lot to lose - our family time at weekends, time with my ds and dh, my sanity with all the travelling back and forth with a grumpy dd - and probably lots of other things I haven't even thought of! I know lots of people will think I'm being selfish but I have to be realistic about this from the start. I don't want to get sucked into a world that I'm not comfy with and will put undue pressure and stress on dd, who for now is having lots of fun with her ballet - but also enjoying a varied range of other hobbies. I need to think about how I might present the idea to her if I do decide to I think.

Ledkr Wed 15-Jan-14 14:37:06

maisy if her teacher is suggesting JAs so soon after her starting ballet then I'm sure her talent will grow with her and she will progress well if that's what she wants.
Ds used such a lot of his childhood dancing which I don't regret as we loved it but I'm not sure id repeat it with dd.

MaisyMoo123 Wed 15-Jan-14 16:01:31

That's my thinking Ledkr. If she has a genuine talent then that's going to grow and develop over time - if she wants it to - with or without JAs. I just can't help thinking it's very young for what would be such an enormous commitment - but then I read posts on here and there are plenty of people doing it without a second thought and I feel bad for giving it a second thought. It feels like a lot of pressure and definitely not something I was expecting at this stage!

Sparklymommy Wed 15-Jan-14 18:15:33

As I think I have mentioned before, you don't have to audition her at 8 and if you don't then that's it, missed your chance. You can audition at any age (JAs 8-11, MAs 12-15 and SAs 16-18 I believe).

We've had children audition every year and be unsuccessful until MAs. I would do what is right for you and your family. We are lucky, there are JA classes within walking distance of our home so if DS is successful it won't be a lot of travelling. However if he continues with it he will eventually have to go further afield. I have four children, so it impacts on them all if one wants to do something like this.

Her talent will grow if she wants it to, with or without JAs.

MaisyMoo123 Wed 15-Jan-14 18:37:18

Thanks Sparkly. You did mention that they can audition any year although I did raise that with dd's teacher and she said that it does tend to get harder as they get older. I don't know how true that is as another forum I was looking on suggested there were fewer yr 4 places than others? Wow! If we could walk to the sessions I wouldn't be thinking twice to be honest. It's the thought of 4 hours on a train every Saturday (and the cost that would obviously goes with it!) that is massively playing on my mind with this decision! That, and as you say, the knock on affect on the whole family.

You're right that dd's talent will grow with her current teacher if she wants it to. She is a wonderful teacher with a very successful RBS career behind her so I know if dd carries on she'll flourish under her teaching with or without JAs.

Sparklymommy Wed 15-Jan-14 19:14:14

Some say its easier at 8, as there are obviously a full set of places available. Some say its easier at MA level as the JAs that want to go to RBS will have auditioned and in some cases gone at 11. Also a lot of JAs will be auditioning for the other vocational schools at 11 so even if they haven't gone to RBS they may have left the program to go away to school.

The thing is, at 8 I would estimate more children try. Many of this at 8 who are unsuccessful wont then try again.

I would definitely consider trying the JA for a Day workshop. I believe they have a Q and A session when you could raise any concerns. I seem to remember a boy we had at our dance school who had help with travel costs from a charity.

chazboo Wed 15-Jan-14 21:40:33

No Maisymoo I don't think you are being selfish at all. It's obviously a big decision for you. I have only just realised the distance you would have to travel by train to do JA's . Are you certain there is nothing closer? We have a 60 mile round trip each Saturday afternoon plus 40 mile round trip Sat morning to regular dance and that alone is tiring. If my dis does not get a vocational place but gets into mids we will have a four hour round train trip each Saturday. You are right to give it plenty of thought. Her talent will not vanish if she doesn't do JA's. As I said my ds is very dedicated to it but of course it impacts on family life and my 8 year old dd who has been incredibly understanding and good natured.

Dromedary Wed 15-Jan-14 22:59:31

I agree with OP that it can be very easy to be carried away by a DC's talent and spend vast amounts of time and money on it and then find either 1) they give it up when they become a stroppy teenager, or 2) they don't make the grade to keep going with it at a high level, or 3) they go into it professionally and find that it is a very tough and unremunerative career choice.

Elsiequadrille Thu 16-Jan-14 09:58:26

Just marking place as my dc is hoping to audition next year (we just missed out on the age deadline this year).

Madrigalgrey Fri 31-Jan-14 10:32:37

Is permission from dance teacher needed to apply? I think I remembered reading last year that it is not?

MaisyMoo123 Fri 31-Jan-14 19:31:08

Hi madrigal. I might be completely wrong but I don't think you need a teacher to recommend a child for audition. From what I saw on the RBS website you can download the application form etc straight from there and send it off independently - although I guess you might need a signature from a teacher? Having said that I would assume the teachers know what they'll be looking for so are well placed to recommend or suggest if it might be more of a long shot.

Peggydoll Tue 11-Feb-14 16:55:32

This is interesting reading and like the OP it's completely alien to me. I've just dropped DD1 (8y3mo) off at ballet and her teacher has handed me a RBS Associate audition form. This is DD's SIXTH lesson! To say I'm taken aback is an understatement! Not sure what I'll do, but will talk to DD. I know her best friend (same ballet class) will be auditioning. I suppose at such an early stage in her dance experience we have nothing to lose....?

MaisyMoo123 Tue 11-Feb-14 22:46:58

Hi Peggy. Good to know I'm not the only one finding all this quite alien! It sounds like you're feeling exactly the same as I did when dd's teacher first approached me about it too! It came completely out of the blue - for us too and it didn't even know about junior associates until then. It's hard for you given that your dd has only just started ballet too - she's probably not in a real position to know how much she loves it yet!? We still haven't made a decision on it yet. I've spoken to dd and she was very excited by the idea and clearly thrilled about it - unsurprisingly but we had a very frank discussion about it and she could understand the commitment involved. How close are you to a JA centre? We would need to travel 2hrs each way to get to lessons and that's a major factor in my considerations. Lots of friends have suggested she do the audition and then delay the decision until we know if she's lucky enough to get through but I'm not sure I could turn it down if she were to get a place so feel we need to weigh it all up before we commit to the audition even.

Peggydoll Sun 23-Feb-14 15:40:04

Hi Maisie
I've just found the form at the bottom of a big To Do pile and remembered I'd left a message here! We're an hour+ from the nearest centre so it would be a big commitment. I've phrased the audition to DD as a "fun dancing day" rather than "audition" that way we can see if she likes it without undue stress on the day or afterwards and then decide whether to go forward in the unlikely event of her getting a place- IF we decide to go for the audition. I'm not sure....

Lstar Tue 25-Feb-14 14:13:29

HI Maisie,
My dd auditioned successfully for JAs and just wanted to say that the audition experience was lovely, none of the kids seemed nervous and were put immediately at ease it was very friendly and a lovely opportunity to see inside the RBS even if nothing comes of it. A really great fun day out! I have been genuinely surprised by the nurturing atmosphere of the classes which she attends for 2 hours every Saturday. Teaching is incredible and my DD has made lots of new friends already. Also, the chance to attend dress rehearsals etc to see the company in action are amazing.The other mums I have encountered are very grounded, some more stage mum than others! It's a great way for your dd to decide whether vocational ballet is for her if she is successful. I feel that one day a week at RBS is a price worth paying for a brilliant opportunity to be trained by a world class ballet school at the age of 8! She can always leave if she doesn't love it after a term or two, no pressure to commit forever. You should be very proud that her teacher is keen to put her forward, one thing I will say is that the passion for ballet certainly has to come from the child as those classes are hard work and plenty of concentration required! All the best whatever you decide.

taxi4ballet Fri 14-Mar-14 15:18:29

RBS is not the only vocational school to run an associate programme. Among others there's Elmhurst, Tring and Central too, and many of the dance schools run workshops and short courses.

MaisyMoo123 Sun 23-Mar-14 21:39:41

Well, after much deliberation (helped by discussion on here, thank you!) dd's audition photos have been done today and we'll be posting form off in next couple of days. We decided to take it one step at a time and that the audition alone will be an experience in itself. Dd has been amazingly mature about the whole thing but is excited as anything about the audition now. Who knows where this journey will take us but as my dd herself said "we'll never know unless we try"!

devoniandarling Tue 25-Mar-14 13:10:01

Good luck to your dd!! I am sure she will enjoy the audition process, most of the children I know that have auditioned have loved the process.

MaisyMoo123 Tue 25-Mar-14 20:18:52

Thanks Devon. She's definitely very excited by the prospect of it whatever ends up happening in the end!

Dancergirl Wed 26-Mar-14 09:45:34

OP, are you also on the Balletco forum? I thought I read a similar post on there!

Anyway best of luck to your dd. Hope she has a great day at the audition.

MaisyMoo123 Mon 31-Mar-14 17:35:28

Hi dancergirl. Yes, I did post on balletco forum too. As you can probably tell, this has completely baffled me so felt I needed to get as much advice and as many views as possible to inform my thinking! It's all been very helpful.

morethanpotatoprints Mon 31-Mar-14 17:40:42


Well done to your dd just for auditioning.
Good luck, and hope she has fun grin

Peggydoll Sun 04-May-14 22:13:59

Hi Maisy

My DD did her audition last week. It was a lovely day out as a PP said. We took her best friend too: only the 2 of them were recommended to audition by their dance school, so they had each other to help with any nerves, but tbh they seemed quite calm and were beautifully behaved, whereas some were a bit showy offy while we were waiting.

It wasn't too "precious" at all, although one mum said how nerve wracking it was. Tbh I'd been more anxious about not getting lost and getting DD's hair to stay in a bun and as I have NO expectations at all I wasn't at all bothered beyond DD having a good time.

I thought the RBS people were lovely and gentle with the children. The intro talk reminded us all how most of them would NOT get a place "if we don't think you're ready yet, don't be disheartened and please try again next time because we do so love to see how your dancing has progressed". I'm not sure if we'll bother again, and the 2hour round trip would make me think twice should she be offered a place by some miracle....!

Anyway they all seemed happy when they came back from the session and DD is now the proud owner of a Ballet Bear souvenir bought at great expense ;). The experience will likely boost her confidence for years regardless of outcome: "Me and BFF had a day off school and I danced at the Royal Ballet and then we went to McDonalds " is her summary of the experience ;)

I hope your DD has a good experience too.

MaisyMoo123 Wed 04-Jun-14 18:03:59

Hi peggydoll and everyone else! Yes, my dd did go to the JA audition in the end - last week in London. I agree with everything you say about it - it was really nicely done, everyone was so friendly and it was a really positive experience for dd. She absolutely loved the lesson and wasn't really that daunted by it at all - I think I got more nervous sitting and waiting for her to come back!! I'm pleased your dd enjoyed it too. Now the wait is on. Who knows what magic ingredients they're looking for and whether anything will come of it but it was a wonderful experience which dd loved every minute of and is still reeling from now, and for now, that's all that matters.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now