I don’t know about anyone else, but Julian’s dance costs are eating us alive. Two years ago, we really got in over our heads. Julian had two competition numbers on top of his regular classes, and he was competing as an independent, which means we were unaffiliated with a studio. This also meant that every time we wanted him to rehearse we had to pay for rehearsal time with a professional and for studio time. One of his teachers cost us $100 an hour for rehearsals/lessons! That got really expensive when it turned out he needed time every week to prepare for his upcoming competitions. (And he hated having me be his rehearsal supervisor the rest of the time, but I said, “Tough you know what. I’m free.”) Along with some other expenses we had that year, we got into debt big time.
This year, I’m afraid his dance fees will send us to the poor house. Teen Dance Company (TDC) is not cheap, let me tell you, and it’s real sticker shock after Ballet San Jose School (even without a scholarship). Then there are the fees for the jazz classes he takes on his “off” days, not to mention an extra conventions (The Pulse). We had to cancel his private tap lessons. And I work as a freelancer, so I never know how much money I’ll be making, and paying his bills seems to depend on my income, especially since we’re still paying off all those hospital, doctor and lab bills from his summer illness. (If you know of anyone needing a nonfiction book edited, send them my way…)
Now I’m not even talking about (well…I guess I am) the additional costs for his sister’s art lessons and synchronized swimming team. Between the two of them, we spend well over $1000 a month. That’s disposable income we don’t even have! So, when someone asks my husband or me what we do for fun, I reply, “We don’t have fun. Our kids do!” And that’s the truth. Back to the point…
I have discovered that in some cases, studios are very happy to do whatever it takes to get boys into their classes. We were pleased to have a 50 percent scholarship at Ballet San Jose School for three years; they wanted and needed boys in the school. We were pleased to discover a studio in San Jose, Nor Cal Dance arts, that offered a 50 percent discount on classes – any classes – to boys. Unfortunately, Julian wasn’t able to take many classes there, although I was impressed with some of the teachers. So, it’s worth asking if a studio will offer your son a scholarship, or if they offer discounts for male dancers.
In a recent article in the New York Times, Peter Martins, ballet master in chief of New York City Ballet and chairman of faculty at the School of American Ballet, talked about actually allowing boys into his program for free so he’d have enough boys to fill a class. Here’s what the article said:
For the 2007-8 year the children’s division accepted 46 percent of boys and 22 percent of girls who auditioned. The program waives tuition for all boys older than 7 while they are in the children’s division, no questions asked. It’s an offer not available to the more abundant crop of girls.
I think the ballet world tends to more inclined to offer free and discounted rates for boys, however, than general studios. When Julian was on a dance team at a local studio, we were unable to get any sort of discount. And now that he is with TDC, we were unable to obtain a scholarship. TDC is a non-profit corporation, funded by individual donations, grants from private foundations and ticket sales, so I guess their money tends to be tight. They only give scholarships when they have a really big company, and right now it’s pretty small.
I’ve been disappointed to find that more studios don’t offer discounts for boys. They complain that they don’t have enough boys and they can’t attract boys to their studios, but they aren’t willing to really go out of their way to get them in the door. I suppose they aren’t willing to put money behind their desire to get them in the door.
That’s really pretty unfortunate, but when it’s all said and done, we mom’s with boys who dance really need to find the best studio and the best teachers for our boys. So, in the end it doesn’t really come down to the money at all. If it did, I wouldn’t be spending the outrageous amount I’m now spending for Julian to be with TDC. It sure would be nice to find a studio that wants to discount the rate for boys or offer a great scholarship and provide them with a top-notch dance education.
It is my understanding that many colleges will provide male dancers with great scholarships – sometimes close to a full ride. They really do want the boys in their dance programs, and they are willing to put money behind that desire. So, as my husband puts it, we are investing in our son’s college education now. We may not be putting any money “away” into his college fund, but we are, indeed, investing towards his college education every day, every month. Just look at our checkbook and you’ll see…