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Is it possible for my dd1 to reach her dream of becoming a professinal dancer?

(27 Posts)
AdelaideDancer Sun 13-Mar-16 14:32:17

DD1 dances for 2 and a half hours a week. However she also practices and stretches everyday at home. At the moment she does Grade 2 ballet (30mins) and Grade 3 modern (30mins) on Thursdays and Grade 2 ballet(45mins) and Grade 3 modern/Grade 2 tap (45mins) on a Saturday. In May she is doing her Grade 2 ballet, which she has been in for a year, exam and is practicing for it everyday. We hope that in July she will do her Grade 3 modern, which she has been in since she was nine, and her Grade 2 tap, which she has been in since she was ten, in October/November. At the moment dd1 is 11 and will be 12 at the end of June.

So is it possible for her to become a professional dancer? And, if so, how hard will she have t work to get there?

Balletgirlmum Sun 13-Mar-16 14:38:32

Without seeing her it is impossible to say.

However Grades 2 & 3 is pretty low for her age, it's possible to catch up & it's not all about exams but a combination of technique, facility, musicality & performance quality.

At age 11 most vocational schools select on raw ability/potential but by the age of 16 they are expected to be at a certain level. She will be competing for college places against children like my dd who is in Year 9 & dancing for between 2-3 hours six days a week. She takes her Intermediate exsm tomorrow - several of her classmates took it last year & are already in Advanced 1.

Is the school she attends mostly recreational or do they have a track record of children attending Associate Schemes or going onto to Vocational school. Do they offer non syllabus/free work classes? You might need to change schools or look for these opportunities.

Katymac Sun 13-Mar-16 14:48:26

BGM asked most of the relevant questions

The answer is, it is possible but only with innate ability, very hard work and an amazing teacher

DD was 13 with dance (Ballroom & Latin, Salsa, African) experience and took her grade 5 Ballet in 8 months & was at vocational school with 3 yrs

But BGM would agree that's not the normal route

andadietcoke Sun 13-Mar-16 14:52:42

It depends what happens to her body as well. I shot up and was suddenly too tall when I auditioned for corps or chorus type roles.

Balletgirlmum Sun 13-Mar-16 14:53:49

I think you'd be the first to admit your dd had a bloody minded ethos & worked like a dog to get where she is now.

Finding the correct teacher & increasing hours is a must. It won't happen stuck in a school that only offer 30 min classes & take 2 years to get to the next grade up.

Katymac Sun 13-Mar-16 14:57:06

Oh yes BGM & if we'd walked into the wrong school she'd be studying catering or childcare at Great Yarmouth right now.....but the right school & 20 hours lessons a week plus GCSE's and she got there

ImperialBlether Sun 13-Mar-16 15:00:09

When my son started his Music degree, everyone on the course wanted to perform. When they started the different modules in composition, production etc, they realised that some people were way ahead of them in certain areas, but they all wanted a career in music. Now virtually all of them has a career in music, though very few of them are performers.

To be capable of a career in any performance you've got to have natural talent and be prepared to work relentlessly to achieve your goal. Without either of those, you wouldn't get there.

AdelaideDancer Sun 13-Mar-16 15:00:23

I will talk to her teachers about other classes that she can take.

Katymac Sun 13-Mar-16 15:05:32

Start looking at associate classes too - your teacher should suggest some local to you - or where the best place to travel to is

DD attended 3 over 3 years - one for 5 terms, and 2 for 4 terms each, which combined with summer schools and workshops really helped

Balletgirlmum Sun 13-Mar-16 15:05:32

Another question

Does she want to be a dancer or dirs she NEED to dance. As in its a need in her life as important as eating & sleeping.

If the former encourage her to take whatever classes she wants & to enjoy her dancing.

If the latter you need to re-evaluate completely everything she does.

AliciaMayEmory Sun 13-Mar-16 15:18:11

I think she would definitely need to increase the hours she spends having tutored lessons. Maybe a private lesson thrown in to help with technique as group lessons cannot give the amount of individual coaching needed.

I disagree that she is in low grades for her age. It's not a race to get through the grades and at any audition they would be able to spot talent regardless of the grade she is in. Some dance schools wizz kids through the grades to keep then in the school and keep them feeling like they have achieved great feats by being in a high grade by age 12, but this does the dancers no good at all if they are not in each grade long enough to perfect each step of the syllabus. Also, different dance syllabus look for different things as an indication that a student is ready to move to the next grade. Some look for beautiful technique where as some are more about the theatrics of a performance. If you have a good teacher then trust their knowledge and experience. If you are in doubt, go and check out other schools to see how they compare.

It sounds as if your daughter really enjoys her dancing and I think at her age this is the main aim. Keeping motivated over the teenage years where many drop off is a difficult patch and will be a big test of her determination.

Katymac Sun 13-Mar-16 15:23:11

& I'd say when DD was established in her dance all of her academic achievements increased by 1-3 levels - from Ds with occasional Es to solid Cs with some Bs and occasional As

It was amazing to watch as the school had predicted a falling grade with starting so much dance

AdelaideDancer Sun 13-Mar-16 15:27:52

I will try to get her some privates sorted.
Around where I live there are literally no associate around. The nearest is in London and that is three hours drive away.

Katymac Sun 13-Mar-16 15:55:59

Sent you a PM

dodobookends Sun 13-Mar-16 19:08:36

OP to give you an idea, my dd took both ballet and modern grade 2 when she was 9, and by 12 she was in Grade 6 and Intermediate and had been on pointe for a year.

Many will say that what grade you are doesn't matter and to an extent it doesn't, provided she is in the hands of a truly exceptional teacher. The thing is, if she goes to auditions she will be up against people much further on in their training and you don't want to have to pick up different steps and learn new terminology in the middle of an audition!

At age 12, she really needs to be doing a minimum of 3 hours a week of ballet, and starting vocational grade work as well. There could be an associate programme near you, that you don't know about, so do keep searching, and for workshops too. Take a look at the English Youth Ballet website, they tour the country and do performances in regional theatres with a cast of young dancers auditioned from the local area. There are also many summer schools that your dd could attend, and there might be some that she could do in the summer holidays. A few are still accepting applications for this year.

Katymac Sun 13-Mar-16 20:12:01

TBH attend an audition for an associate scheme - it'll give you an idea of what she needs to be aiming for

DD did one for classical Ballet and was laughed at, one for contemporary and was told she needed more maturity (the director is still watching her 3 yrs later & waiting) & a MT one which she got a place at

AdelaideDancer Mon 14-Mar-16 09:33:38

Does anyone think that it would be beneficial to my dd if I also enrolled her in three other dance schools so that she could be dancing a lot more than she is already. This would mean that after Easter she would be doing:
Dance school 1 (current school): Thursday 6.20-6.50pm=Grade 3 modern; Thursday 6.50-7.20pm=Grade 2 ballet; Saturday 1.30-2.15pm=Grade 2 ballet; 2.15-3pm=Grade 3 modern/Grade 2 tap. 2 1/2 hrs a week.
Dance school 2: Monday 4-5pm=Dance Theatre; Monday 5-6pm=Street; Monday 6-7pm=Ballet; Monday 7-8pm=Advanced Dance; Thursday 4-4.30pm=tap; Thursday 4.30-5pm=Ballet; Thursday 5-6pm=Street. 6hrs a week.
Dance school 3: Saturday 10-10.45am=Grade 2 tap; Saturday 10.45-11.30am=Standard 3 ballet; Saturday 11.30am-12:15pm=Grade 3 modern. 2hrs 15mins a week.
Dance school 4: Tuesday 5.45-6.15pm=Gymnastics Senior; Tuesday 6.15-6.30pm=Freestyle Senior; Tuesday 6.30-7.15pm=Tap and Ballet Senior; Wednesday 6-6.30pm=Gymnastics Dance Junior and Senior; Wednesday 6.30-7pm=Ballet Junior and Senior; Wednesday 7-7.30pm=Freestyle Senior. 3 hrs a week.
So altogether my dd would be doing 13 hrs and 45minutes of dance every week of which 4 and a half hours would be ballet. How does this sound to you? Should we go for it?

nonicknameseemsavailable Mon 14-Mar-16 10:39:37

you have to be really careful doing classes at more than 1 school, a - the schools tend not to like it, b - the boards might be completely different and c - they will probably have very different teaching styles.

grades aren't necessarily a reflection of ability but she is lower than girls we know that age who are doing ISTD grades (only 6 grades compared to 8 RAD or 8 BTDA therefore obviously are on lower grade numbers but equivalent work). I gather at auditions they don't actually care what grades the children are on.

my 6 and 8 year olds dance for 4hrs a week, 4 different styles at 1hr each.

I often wonder how dance schools who do 30minute ballet lessons manage to get through the grade work between exams. A lot of the boards say there should be 60-70hrs teaching for grade 1/2ish etc (at least I think I am interpreting the info right - I have no background in dancing) so obviously a dance school doing 1 or 2hrs ballet a week at a grade will make more rapid progress.

I would speak to her teachers, ask about private lessons, ask where THEY see her going, can they support her with this. If not then you need to look round for another dance school that can do. If she has the ability then she should be able to move forward more quickly if she has excellent technique for the basics (some schools more very slowly in the lower grades as they are so focused on the basics, then the dancers can progress faster because their technique is so strong)

dodobookends Mon 14-Mar-16 10:46:24

Quantity is good, but as others point out, many dance teachers take a very dim view of their students taking classes elsewhere.

Also, quality rather than quantity is really important too.

AliciaMayEmory Mon 14-Mar-16 11:02:54

I'd definitely advise against enroling her in more schools (and that timetable sounds mad!! wink ) Going to different schools will not only cause problems if the syllabus is different and the teaching style, but also for shows/festivals and competitions. Use your money amd time to give her private lessons at her current school to build on the classes she is already doing. Since DD started having just one private lesson a week her technique has really improved and so has her confidence.

dodobookends Mon 14-Mar-16 11:12:58

Adelaide I have replied to your PM

dodobookends Tue 15-Mar-16 12:01:33

Unless she only started ballet fairly recently, doing grade 2 at nearly 12 is way behind for her age if she is thinking of a career in dance, and private lessons with her current teacher won't be nearly enough for her to catch up with her peer group. You would need to find a very good school with excellent teachers, a reputation for getting their students into vocational training, and who will push her hard to reach her full potential.

You also really need someone to give an unbiased opinion of her future potential and facility for future training. If she's got natural ability and the right physique then it isn't too late. If she hasn't, then dance can still be a fulfilling and rewarding hobby.

Associate programmes are really important too. People do travel long distances for them, and sacrifice a lot of family life because they are worth it in the long run if you have a talented dc. Don't underestimate the level of financial commitment either!

Witchend Tue 15-Mar-16 13:08:29

I'm going sound rather a downer, but I think unless there's more to it than you've said it looks unlikely.
Dd2 has just stopped ballet. She was in a class of 10-12yos. They've just done grade 4 RAD and her teacher puts them in later than a lot of schools. This is a group who I'd describe as social dancers, they're not particularly good, but enjoyed (until bully girl arrived anyway) it. Some of them had only started ballet a couple of years ago, but the teacher tries to keep with age as much as possible. Standardly the school gets about 10% distinction and the rest merit. The good 12yos are in grade 5 or 6.

The only thing I can say about that timetable is I suspect it will very quickly decide her away from a lifetime of dance. Either because she is injured or because of death by over-immersion...

Go and talk to the teacher. Explain that she at present wants to be a professional dancer and ask what she would recommend.
I'd have thought asking for a couple of private lessons, if the teacher can do it, a week would be much better than going to other schools.

Mixing schools often doesn't work particularly well as each teacher has their own styles and it can be confusing for the child. Also the schools, if they do exams, really want you to take it with them, but you only do it once (and at the price they charge you'll be happy with that). You've then got them in a class where all the others are preparing for the exam and they're slightly on one side etc...

GraciesMansion Tue 15-Mar-16 17:23:45

My ds started vocational school last September having just taken his RAD grade 3 exam in the summer so in exam terms she's a little behind where she could be but nothing that she couldn't catch up if she had more hours. For a place at 16 she'd be up against children who have been doing 20 hours plus for the last five years. She needs to increase her ballet hours dramatically. Even if she doesn't want to do pure ballet, auditions will always include a ballet class.

Good associates classes are very valuable and people do travel for three hours or more to attend them (not necessarily every week, some are fortnightly or monthly). It's a massive commitment of time and money but worth it if your child is committed and has the necessary pre-requisite body type, facility etc.

dodobookends Tue 15-Mar-16 17:37:45

If a teacher is only capable of getting their students to grade 2 by the time they are 11 or 12 years old, then there is no point in private lessons with that teacher, sorry.

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