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Maryland_Taxi

American Ballet Compettion

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Can any of you tell me anything about the "American Ballet Competition?" Is it a reputable event? Are this year's "master teachers" good?

Here is the link to their site:

http://www.americanballetcompetition.com

Any insight would be greatly appreciated. My daughter is considering this but the cost of flying into Miami would make this a rather big "to do" for us and I'm trying to discern if the experience would be worth the price tag.

Edited by Maryland_Taxi

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I know that Kee Juan Han is a very good teacher, if that helps.

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The "Guest Teachers, Coaches, & Adjudicators", contain several notable people in ballet. I know nothing of competitions, but it looks like it is a reputable event, just based on the calibre of people involved.

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Sounds like another version of YAGP. How in the world do they schedule classes for 11 year olds in the same category as 14 year olds? How do they expect to have 11 year olds doing classical variations? If this had been limited to seniors, especially those 16 and up, pehaps it might, IMO, have some validity. When you include children, it's just another competition, which means it's about winning, and that is just not what ballet is about. The only reason I can condone it for the older teens is that it might provide the potential for a job, and that is always valid. The idea of 11, 12, 13, and even 14 year olds doing classical variations made for soloists and principal dancers in professional companies is, to me, totally appalling.

Think carefully about these competitions, parents. It would be lovely if they were a performance opportunity, to be seen by directors, for dancers ready to enter the professional world. Or perhaps even scholarships for study for those in the middle teens. But when there is an 11 to 19 year old age category, they are about making money. Period. Ballet is a performance art, not a sports competition.

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I think that we have to look beyond the names of the individuals running the event. I read through that list and yes, there are some well-known names in the ballet world listed there. But they need jobs just like anyone else does and I don't blame them in the least for signing on. But does that make this competition good for ballet? Or good for our kids?

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I concur with Vagansmom and Victoria Leigh-

Competitions are one way to be seen. Unfortunately, it is becoming more common to see dancers listing their "titles" or "placements" in their bios.

However, it is not necessary to compete if you want a job as a dancer. Many dancers are hired every year who've never, ever been to a competition.

Clara :(

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I really have a hard time believing that just because competitions accept young students that it's only about making money. Our experience was a very positive one for my son as well as for many of his younger friends who attended YAGP. There are many good things that come out of these competitions as well as some not so good but I don't feel you can lump them all together in one big category. I do have a problem with those very young kids that seem to go from one competition to the next...but that's certainly their perogative to do so. I also agree that you can't judge a competition solely on the caliber of judges but I think the judges do say alot about what type of comp. you're dealing with. The standards are higher with the more distinquished judges.

Many of my son's younger friends were offered several scholarships to choose from and my son was offered 2 company positions, one from San Francisco and one from Boston as well as 2 other scholarship offers. We really have YAGP to thank for this and the professional people that were part of it. Many of my sons friends have competed in comps such as the Prix de Lausanne ( for younger dancers) and Gennee and have won medals and scholarships. As Cara 76 stated it is "unfortunate" that company dancers are now listing their winnings in their bios. I can only say that I know my son will be very proud to list his Gold Medal under his bio next season. It's something he worked very hard for.

Hearing phrases like "trained in a barn","Best in show" and "Competitions are for horses" I think is unkind for those who have enjoyed them and won prizes. I'm the first one to agree that Ballet is an Art not a Sport but perhaps if we can work together and support them it would be far more productive in lifting these comps to a higher level. I feel they are uniting the dance community in a good way and giving opportunities to dancers that wouldn't otherwise have them. My son received his trainee position at the Royal Ballet School because of YAGP and the benefits from that offer have been immeasuarable. Tango

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Okay. The track this thread has taken is very interesting to me.

I have two reactions one related to young dancers learning variations, and another related to competions in general.

Email/internet is wierd, and I know you cannot hear my tone of voice, so please know that I am asking sincerely, without sarcasm, for my own understanding ... I'm a "ballet mom" with a child in a very small school (6 kids). We're investing much time, money, emotions, sweat and tears (no blood, yet) into her training so if we're doing it all wrong now would be the time for the professionals to let this poor old mom know ...

First - why is it appalling for a 13 year old to learn variations? If the dancer is focusing mainly on technique 3-4 times per week, and variation class is mostly a reward for hard work in technique class - what's wrong with that? Is there some reason why a solid "intermediate -advanced" dancer should NOT learn variations? (I put "inter-adv" in quotes because I have no clue what that means. That's the distinction her teacher gives her at this point in his interaction with her.)

Secondly, what's up with competitions? For most of our dancers, there are pitifully few performance opportunities. The competition venue allows our dancers to perform onstage, gain experience before an audience, and have a venue for exposure to other dancers their age. It's a competitions where they can witness dancers with greater demonstrated skill, or (occassionally) to celebrate the skill level that their own hard work has garnered.

Don't get me wrong: We have our own issues with most competitions. Our girls train hard and have high respect for technique and artistry. They are weary of the way "entertainment" value seems to trump good technique at most of these dog & pony shows. Precisely for this reason we are seeking out competitions that are "mainly ballet" in the (maybe unrealistic) hope that the girls' ballet technique and artistry will be appropriately respected and celebrated.

Some in our school went to a YAGP regional last year and were pretty disgusted at the lack of organization and professionalism. We skipped it this year, but planned to try again next year - mostly because it seems to be the only comp that is seriously "ballet" as opposed to "shake yer little behind." In the mean time, we found this ABC event ...-

If these competitions (even the "seriously ballet competitions") are NOT a good way for an aspiring dancer to have her growing skill and talent recognized, or are NOT a good way for her to gauge the success or failure of her current training, then what SHOULD WE be persuing to this end? Yes, our dancers all have roles in the annual Nutcracker, yes they'll have a spring recital (where most will perform a variation - gasp! ) but is that IT? What are we missing, here? The girls want to dance! They want to show what they've learned. They want to learn the "next thing." They want to work hard and grow.

Okay. Now I've splayed my ignorance on the table. Educate me. I need to know.

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Variations from the classical repertoire were created for professional soloists and principal dancers. They are very difficult. Advanced students should learn them. Children should not. They are not ready technically to do that kind of work, and it is, for me, very painful to watch a young child trying to get through this kind of performance.

I have no problem with advanced older teens who are ready for scholarship and work opportunities performing these works. But watching kids who probably should not even be on pointe, or who have been there for a very short time, trying to perform the works created for dancers of the caliber of top professionals is just not something that should be encouraged. Students of 11, 12, 13, and older need to be very busy learning to dance, not performing these works and spending most of their time in coaching and rehearsals for things they are not ready to do in the first place.

And again, it's about winning. It's not about the art. Is this what we want to instill? How positive would you be about these things if your child had never won anything, including a scholarship?

The Prix de Lausanne and YAGP do give scholarships, and that is a good thing. My objection is the very young ages of many of the contestants and the type of work they have them doing. My objection to competition in general has been stated many times on these boards, so I won't go into that any further.

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And while I will not quote Artur Rubinstein again, my unshakeable belief is that attempting to quantify a qualitative activity is inimical to art.

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Okay. I hear you. I'm learning. (Be patient with me, I'll surely be back) :blushing:

Ms. Leigh: When you said young dancers should "be busy dancing" what exactly do you mean? Is there another forum where I could post questions about what constitutes an appropriate weekly program for ballet dancers this age (12-15)? I mean, how many hours in technique per week, en pointe per day, etc.?

Thank you.

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I went to a YAGP regional for the first time. I must agree with Ms. Leigh- watching younger kids do variations intended for a mature dancer was painful. Altho some could do the movements (and I'm not to judge how well, except with gross incompetence), that was all they were- no flow, no artistry or true musicality.

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My DD has been taking classical ballet training for 5 to 6 years. She is 13 (almost 14). She doesn't get to perform much. Nutcracker (party girl last 4yrs) and spring recital. I noticed that the girls who came from recreational programs that offered jazz, tap, hip-hop, and advanced snorkeling :blushing: were more comfortable on stage than dancers like my daughter who have only been trained in classical ballet. She doesn't feel comfortable on stage until she has perfected every movement. This fall she started jazz (1 hour/wk). The studio is a competition studio, so she has performed a jazz number in a small group and a lyrical duo. I think this has helped her. She seems to enjoy the workshops that are part of the competition weekend. These offer classes in jazz technique, hip-hop, jazz funk, lyrical and tap (she doesn't do the tap). Do you think this is a good alternative to ballet competitions?

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Maryland Taxi, the Ballet Talk for Dancers forum is where these kind of questions should be asked. There is a parents forum there, which Mel and I moderate, along with some very experienced parents. :D

thedriver, the performing experience in ballet will happen a bit later, but it will happen. While some of these lyrical, hip hop, etc., dancers may have more performing confidence, they very rarely have much technique, and none in classical ballet. These things are, IMO, a total waste of time, money, and energy. Put it into the classical training in a VERY GOOD SCHOOL.

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While I agree with Ms. Leigh, especially on the age factor, I must admit that I have struggled with this issue.

If ballet is a performing art, where's the performance for younger ballet students?

The infinite number of Nutcrackers is one quick and easy answer. End of year school performances is another. But for many students, especially those leaping about as mice or strutting about as soldiers for a few un-balletic seconds in the local Nut, and then performing little more than class-based center work as part of a 30 dancer herd at the school performance, it is not enough. I sympathize with those young dancers who seek out these competions as an outlet for the pent up desire to shine on stage. However, I do share Major Mel's opinion that judging and winning should not be part of this process. A non-competitive "Festival" would be far more to my liking (for the younger dancers).

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Watermill, what you suggest sounds very much like the Regional Dance America festivals. There's a thread going right now in the Parents' forum on Ballet Talk for Dancers. Classes by guest and master teachers, and evening performances by the participants.

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One of the factors to consider with very young students, though, is that they need to spend class time on mastering technique. It's one thing in a theater that has the school attached to it; there's time to fit in rehearsals and not stint on class time. But when a school tries to put on performances, or use young children in company performances, often "class" becomes rehearsal, or teaching to prepare for that particular ballet, and it short changes them. It's as if fourth graders spent all their English school time -- reading, composition, grammar -- on the school play.

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Point very well taken, Alexandra...not to mention the expense of performance: costumes, stage rental etc,etc... I don't know of many parents willing to spend the extra it would take...on top of an already pricey endeavor.

Thanks, Treefrog: good to know its out there somewhere.

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I am going to the american ballet competition in June, mainly because I want to get my connections set up with different companies so that when I graduate from high school in two years I'll allready be familiar with those different companies. I studied from Kee Juan Han <(spelling)

at Ballet Arizona about five years ago. I was there for one year, and also taking classes from Natia. But I can't wait till I fly down to florida and just have a fun time!

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Hi, Toe-in -- I've just sent you an email. This forum isn't really intended for competitors, but for fans and others watching competitions. If you're a dance student, you'll want to go to our other forum, Ballet Talk for Dancers, here:

http://balletalert.com/dancersforum/index.php

I'm going to close this thread, as it's off topic for this forum.

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