Advanced ballet classes in Sussex/ Hampshire or good classes in London?(8 Posts)
Hi there, I don't know if anyone can recommend for me. My daughter is 16 and desperately wanted to get into ballet school last year but didn't. She will try again for 17 and 18 and broaden her horizons a bit, I think.
However, in the meantime we are really stuck for ballet classes. She has already dropped classes at a time when she needs more because she finished Grade 8 a year ago. She takes her Advanced 1 in November. Her dance school doesn't have a dedicated Advanced 2 class; she's now the furthest ahead in the school. I don't think this is great as she has nothing to aspire to. There seems to be nowhere around us at all who teaches Advanced 2. Her ballet teacher seems keen to hang on to her at any cost, but she's not really providing her with enough and she says she cannot provide private lessons. DD only does a one hour class twice a week now (plus modern) and she doesn't think this is enough for what she wants to do in the future.
She's happy to go to London on a Saturday if necessary (I don't think we can make evenings as we are 60 odd miles away and she finishes college late some days) but we have no idea what to go for.
Anyone this level can recommend?
Have you tried asking on balletcoforum? You probably need someone with quite specialised knowledge.
There must be courses during the holidays which might be easier for her to get to. Or residential courses?
Sorry - I only have children at much much lower grades so can't advise usefully!
Is she only interested in ballet? Have to say that she will be facing something of an uphill struggle at this point - it is possible to get into schools at 16, but most who do have been doing many hours training a week for years. They have to be at the same standard as those who have been in full time training since they were 11, and that is really tough. It isn't impossible, but I'd say she would need to have a pretty much perfect ballet body (proportions, flexibility, feet, etc etc) to have a chance, and would also need to drastically increase the number of hours a week she is dancing.
Has she done any summer schools, or anything like EYB or NYB? Things like that can be a good way of gauging your level against other young dancers. How were her auditions last year? Where did she apply and how did she feel they went? Did she have any recalls? Is she/has she ever been on any associate programmes? Or even your local Centre for Advanced Training? I have to say, virtually all ballet students who get places at 16 have usually been part of some type of associate scheme - RBS, Elmhurst, London Senior Ballet, etc etc. But you can only join these in September, having auditioned the previous year, so that would be no good until September '13, by which time she would be 17, and I'm not sure if they take them on at that age.
In the immediate future, I would look for more classes. Advanced 2 would be good if you can find them, but at this level it is more important to get used to picking combinations up quickly and performing them well than it is to learn and polish a syllabus over months/years. Try to find some advanced non syllabus classes for her to attend, and if possible some Adv 2 as well.
Would Byfleet be too far for you? Susan Robinson is the first school that springs to mind when I think of very high quality non vocational schools. They certainly do Advanced 2. There are others around though. Look at where finalists from things like Young Dancer of the Year are from.
Sorry for sounding so negative. It isn't impossible, and some schools (Central, London Studio Centre, Northern) will accept 18 year olds, so it isn't necessarily too late. But it is incredibly competitive, and unless she has been doing things like associate schemes, summer courses etc, she will be at a disadvantage. Is she interested in any other types of dance? If you're looking at contemporary or musical theatre then completely different rules apply, and it is far less age restricted - she'd still be very young in those terms. Ballet is brutal though - the kids who don't make it in at 11 have to then keep up with those who are training full time, as well as hoping they don't grow too tall/have wrong feet/have the right size head/flexibility/all sorts of other stupid things. Those who haven't been dancing for lots and lots of hours a week and doing associate programmes etc have that to catch up with too, so it really is tough. But it can happen - you get someone like Melissa Hamilton come along, who has had far less training pre-16, gets a place at Elmhurst, gets told she will never make it a year later, and a couple of years after that is a Soloist in the Royal Ballet!
Thank you for all that. We know it is incredibly difficult. She hasn't had an associate place because her ballet teacher does not support it (always put intermediate to advanced classes on Saturdays so they couldn't go) and so she is coming up against it now. She knows she may have to get more realistic and broaden her horizons.
She has done summer schools and she has done EYB a few times, where she has had solo roles the last few times and got the scholarship from them. They say she really ought to get into a vocational school and have helped with references etc which is brilliant. However, we know she is not a perfect ballet shape, sadly. She's a bit too long in the body and probably not stick thin enough, though I hate to say it (by any normal standards she is pretty thin, but when you put her against some of her contemporaries who are in full time ballet training, not so much).
Looking back now, we should have gone to a ballet school where there was more support to get into ballet schools as an associate, but it's too late now. I don't know anything about a centre for advanced training. The trouble is we've had just no support over the years and I know nothing about it all. We had to research schools ourselves when she auditioned (we didn't even know what ballet schools existed) and she didn't get recalled. But her ballet teacher refused to do the photos properly because she doesn't agree with them leaving her to go to ballet school at 16. She also refused to do a reference and said she would send them separately to the school so we have no idea what she put. The director of EYB said that having poor photographs and the ballet teacher refusing a reference would have negatively affected her chances.
I think it is time to move on from the school she is at. We will certainly look at Byfleet and also at London. I'll see if I can do a bit more research for her. It's hard when she's wanted to do this her whole life and is so set on it as I can only really see disappointment ahead.
Thank you for that information, anyway. I didn't even know things like Young Dancer of the Year existed. It's given me more things to look into.
It sounds like your teacher puts her own needs/desires above those of her students, which is never a good thing. Personally I think it is pretty inexcusable when teachers don't let their students do associate programmes etc, and this isn't the first time I've heard of it. Local teachers need to understand that when they get a talented, dedicated student then their job is to teach them to the best of their abilities, and prepare them for further training. That includes telling them about associate programmes, summer courses, other opportunities, and audition preparation. She sounds like she likes having your daughter as a student because she can show her off as her star pupil, and doesn't want to lose her, but that is totally unfair on your daughter. It is absolutely outrageous that she wouldn't help with the photos/reference.
Centres for Advanced Training are like local associate courses - they exist in most counties and are there to supplement the regular classes. A lot of them have a contemporary slant, but they should all include ballet classes too. But they are another thing that are September entry.
If EYB are positive about her chances that is definitely a good thing. The body issues aren't so good - I don't think the weight thing would be a problem, as she is slim, and they know that weight isn't a permanent thing. The long body might be more of an impediment. Again, it is something that would be unlikely to matter nearly so much in other styles of dance, but classical ballet is just so constrained.
Which schools did she audition for last year? Is she planning to go for the same ones this year?
Ask on the balletco forum, I know there certainly is stuff in London but the people over on those boards know all the details!
I heard about this scheme, and thought it may be useful for your daughter, particularly given that she doesn't get much support from her teacher. londondance.com/youth-dance/join-in/aspire-dance-mentoring-scheme/ It isn't classes, but the advice and experience could be useful for her, and applications are due in now so it's something she can do now rather than waiting until next September. Closing date is in 10 days. I expect most mentors will be more musical theatre/contemporary based, but they may be able to get someone classical, and even if they couldn't it would be a good experience for her.
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