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Royal ballet school junior associates

(137 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!

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.

Marina68 Tue 08-Mar-16 09:39:07

Hello, my dd's ballet teacher has recommended that she applies for the JA programme at the RBS because she absolutely has the right physique for it. My dd will be 8 in November and has danced since she was 4. In the past year she has also started attending extra classes and has taken part in 3 festivals. I am aware of the level of competition and I would love her to give it ago next year but I am concerned about the shape of her feet. Her arch is rather flat (flexible flat) and I am not sure that she will have a chance at all even if her body shape is the right one...what do others think?

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