Career Development Plan - Ballet School Year Programs

by Jacqueline

Career Development Plan - Ballet School Year Programs

Hi, Odette. Hope everything is good with you! Ballet has been going really well. I have been able to memorize 90% of the excercises we do at the barre which is pretty big for me and I have now focused a lot on my musicality and as I have become more serious about dancing with that and I noticed I've been doing really well. I also rarely get corrections. I know that corrections are meant to be a good thing, but the older girls (high school students) who are obviously the best get very limited corrections and when I do it's ust about something with my arms or spotting my head more in pique turns or when we have pointe (45 mins after 1.25 technique class) I get a few corrections when we do bourres across the barre.

Overall class has been great and every class I'm vastly improving, but it's already July and it's time to think about the upcoming school year. I have five options I have considered for the school year. I know for a 13 yr old this may seem overwhelming but please tell me what you think about each option. All seem great but they all have their own pros and cons so please read these. I’m not stressing myself out over this because I know I need to enjoy ballet and right now I’m doing so well and I’m so happy ballet, but as already mentioned it’s already mid July.

1. attend current ballet school full time upcoming year for the last year there
Pros: very affordable, possibly get to perform in ballet productions
Cons: don't get AMAZING training, don't get affilitaed with Joffrey or Ballet Chicago, no guarantee of performing in a ballet productions

2. attend current ballet school and take a few classes a week at Joffrey in their youth division (ages 11-16) and/or adult divison (ages 15+ but hopefully they will let me lside)
Pros: possibly perform in ballet school productions, get affiliated with Joffrey
Cons: no guarantee of training in Joffrey pre-professional division next year (yr 2013-14)

3. only attend Joffrey youth and possibly adult open divison classes (could take some technique classes en pointe if taking at lest 3 technique classes a week and teacher approves at Joffrey)
Pros: easier b/c only training at one place, get affiliated with Joffrey, good ballet training, youth division students may be able to move up to pre-professional division by audition, select committed, serious students may be able to take private lessons in addition to normal classs to get ahead,
cons: no perfomrning ecperience year 2012-13, once again no guarantee of training full time in Joffrey Academy of Dance pre-professional divison

4. Joffrey pre-professional division
Pros: great training, great resume, guaranteed performing opportunities, improve tremendously, possibly get option of performing in the youth america grand prix
Cons: very hard to be accepted into, highly expensive, big time committtment

5. Ballet Chicago
Pros: great training, great performing opportunities, slightly more affordable thean Joffrey pre-pprofessional divison, 40% of students are on scholarship , 1 out of 6 scholarship students are professional ballet dancers
Cons: unlike Joffrey Academy of Dance it’s not professional ballet training, much bigger time commitment than Joffrey (believe it or not),

Those were my options and they are quite a lot, but I really would like to hear what you have to say about my options. August 20th Joffrey is holding open auditions from 5-7pm for the pre-professional divison for ages 10 and up. I’m going to audition even though my chances of getting in aren’t EXCEPTIONAL. I've never auditioned for anything before so, I think this will be great experience for me and it will prepare me for what’s to come in the winter for summer intensive audition season.

I have been very dedicated throughout class and I’m working on being especially dedicated for Nutcrcaker season because if I do stay at my ballet school I really would love to dance in the Nutcracker Ballet. Dancers are selected by height, age, ability level, and commitment/dedication and so far I have had perfect attendancy. My current ballet school is also very small so, I’m hoping to get part because this year the company is especially small (6 or 7 dancers, only?) so they are going to need extra dancers.

I haven’t started pilates yet because of how busy this summer has been, but my mom and I have checked out pilates videos and I think I’m going to buy the Darcey Bussell video or the NYCB video which I have heard a LOT about. At the beginning of this summer I was really struggling with my legs because it’s not natural for them to pull together and touch eachother. Last summer I finally got the upper part of my legs to touch eachother, and this summer I have really been working on the lower parts of my leg to touch eachother and I’m doing really well on that an dI have seen a huge improvement of that.

I also have been working a lot on my developpes. My grand battmants are very good, though and I have noticed a difference in my developpes. To me, I personally feel like extensions are the hardest thing in ballet (or at least for me right now at this moment in time) because it requires such a HUGE amount of strength. A similar thing goes for my arabesque. I have good arabesque penchees and when I go ro attitude derriere to the back and extend it is very good, but lifting my leg can be a challenge. When you were 13 (my age) do you know how high your developpes were or how old you were when you finally got really high developes (like 160-80 degrees?) I’m scared that at the Joffrey audition they won’t accept me for three things. 1 I never have developpes higher than 100 degrees 2. I have low arches and insteps 3. My turnout isn’t always perfect/180 degrees. I have also heard mixed things n arch ehnacers. For example I have heard that many dancers (especially wth ABT and ABT II) wear them and that you can wear them to auditions and I have also heard not to wear them. What are your personal thoughts on that? I have a decent body for ballet. My legs are long, I am extremely skinny, I have no curves (nor do I think I ever will, lol), I have long, slender arms, and I have the small ballerina head. The problem is though I have pretty bad feet, legs aren’t hyper extended, I don’t always have perfect turnout, and my torso isn’t very long. I pictures of students from the Joffrey Academy of Dance and they don’t always have the perfect bodies ethier. I’m just going to stay positive and ballet has been so great for me lately. So, yeah I’m sorry this was so long. I really didn’t intend it to be that way, but if you can just give me some advice on my school year options, the audition ( I have hecked out your auditions page and it has given me great advice) , an danything else it would be great! Thanks so much in advance, Odette!!


Reply by Odette
To:- Career Development Plan - Ballet School Year Programs

Hi Jacqueline,

It is super you are looking at all the options of ballet schools and considering the pros and cons. This is really excellent to help you reflect and see where each place could lead you. I used this stratedgy a lot as a young training dancer, because when you are very ambitious it can seem hard to know which is the best choice to choose.

Your aim is to become a profressional dancer and dance in a ballet company, so which one would lead you best towards that direction? At the moment, I would say your training is the most crucial factor to get right. If you are in a good school with the right facilities and recognition, it opens more options in the long term.

I know that money can be an issue too and many of the great training places are highly expensive, so if you are able to get a scholarship somewhere then that would be very logical. I don't think my family would have been able to afford all my ballet training without the scholarships and bursary's I was lucky enough to receieve.

First things first, you have to do your auditions to these five places and then reflect on these options again. You may have more or less choices and other factors to take into consideration. I always believe you have to follow your gut instincts when making decisions and go with the choice that YOU want. You do also have to listen to your family and see what they think too. Your family will be there to support and guide you, so include them into making any decisions too.

I think each options would lead you to great places, as you are determined enough to make something work wherever you are. However, to give you the best chances to become a professional it would be a vocational dance school you should be looking to train at and somewhere that gives you all the potential to become a dancer.

With regards to your audition, my best advice is to 'go for it'. It sounds simple, but actually very hard. When nerves start to kick in, it becomes easy to doubt yourself or shy away. Whatever the outcome, you have to present yourself in the audition and use your eye focus to project confidence even if you are really nervous.

I have seen just a few dancers wear 'fake arches' to make their instep look better. They look more real on some dancers than others, but for you at this young stage I think you could still work to improve your feet. Keep practising on the thera band (see more on my physical therapy equipment page), but if you want to try with the arches then see how they look on your feet. For auditions though, I would expect the teachers would want to see your true facility and what they have to work with.

Great to hear from you Jacqueline and I know you will keep all the good work up.

Best wishes,

Click here to post comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Career Development Plan.