Every since Julian received that merit scholarship two weeks ago, we’ve been discussing the merits of the ballet school he now attends, City Ballet School in San Francisco. It seems that New York City Ballet tends to give out merit scholarships to kids they would like to see in their school, the School of American Ballet, and company members most often come out of the school. In fact, only five company members currently have not come out of the school from what I was told.
So, would it behoove Julian to go to SAB this summer and, if offered, to attend the school next year? This question may seem a bit premature, but we considered the same last summer about American Ballet Theatre, although he didn’t get in to JKO. And we considered it about San Fransisco Ballet School. In fact, many of the girls and boys from City end up going to SFB at the highest levels simply so they can get considered for the trainee program there, which is an entree into the company.
Here’s our conclusion: A small school like City offers a boy like Julian more benefit than a large school. He has learned more and had more opportunity in a shorter amount of time because the school is small and he gets individual attention. For the first three months he had private 30-minute lessons as part of his weekly routine four days a week. He was cast in some great roles for the Nutcracker and got individualized attention for learning these roles. He has been chosen to do Youth American Grand Prix numbers with some of the best ballerinas in the school because he is one of only two boys. (He was the only boy until recently).
At a large school he might get lost in the pack. If he wasn’t chosen as one of the “special” ones, he would never get special attention. Even then, he wouldn’t get the kind of training and attention he gets in a small school.
I asked Julian if he would choose to got to SAB, ABT or SFB if given the chance, he said, “No.” I agree. He couldn’t be in a better place right now. Even if he has to audition to get into a company, should he choose to go into a company rather than to college, he will learn more and be a better dancer by staying in a small ballet school.
The only thing missing from the school is the competition and camaraderie of other boys. There is something to be said for having at least a few more boys–and some that are better–with whom to dance.