A Day in the Life
The World of Dance might just be a TV show for some, but for Reagan, the world of dance is a place she sees herself excelling. Since beginning at Excel Academy a year ago, Reagan has been able to take advantage of opportunities that are helping her improve on her talents and bringing her one step closer to her dreams of becoming a professional dancer.
Reagan has been dancing for 11 years, many of those years at Riverside Ballet Arts, which happens to be an Excel-approved vendor. Recently, she was in BRAVA’s production of the Nutcracker, performing solo roles as a Spanish Lead, Chinese Lead, and Columbine Doll, as well as performing in the Corps de ballet. This coming summer she’ll be attending Boston Ballet's pre-professional program and has an audition for the prestigious Colburn School in Los Angeles.
Here’s how Reagan is balancing her rigorous coursework with a demanding dance schedule that’s getting her one jeté closer to her dreams of being a professional ballerina.
From Breakfast to Bed: Reagan’s Typical Day
Having more time in the morning has given Reagan a newfound interest in eating healthy; so when she wakes up around 8:00 a.m., she starts her day with a Instagram-worthy breakfast.
Then Reagan takes a few minutes to check her email, make a plan for the day, and get started on lessons. Currently, she’s taking four core subjects as well as P.E. (which for her, means Pilates), and dance as an elective. That means she spends about four hours a day completing her online work and the rest of her school time dancing and doing Pilates with instructors at a studio.
In between morning lessons, Reagan takes some time to stretch or do some at-home Pilates work, then breaks for lunch. After lunch she’ll often squeeze in one more lesson and then get ready for dance. Since her studio is about an hour away, she’ll sometimes continue to catch up on work or reading in the car and, depending on how she’s feeling, she’ll complete one more lesson when she gets home from dance practice. Reagan also takes advantage of being able to work on the weekends, using that time to catch up assignments or get ahead for the upcoming week.
More Time, More Opportunity
Because Reagan only spends about four hours on her schoolwork, she has more time for everything else—including dance. By not being restricted to traditional school hours, Reagan is able to take earlier classes at the dance studio and receive more personalized attention from her instructors, which has greatly improved her technique.
Reagan is also able to seize opportunities without the stress of schoolwork, finals, and morning classes looming. For instance, when she performed in the Nutcracker—which often has performances and practices that last well into night—she was able to get ahead in her lessons and push up her winter break. This allowed her to take on the greater responsibility of soloist roles and really enjoy the moment, without having to worry about studying between acts.
Aside from embracing current practices and productions, Excel’s flexible homeschool gives Reagan the confidence that she’ll be prepared for the future—when she’ll be most likely living with a professional dance company. While she’s dancing and training in at Colburn next year, she’ll be able to complete her work on the train to and from LA. And she wouldn’t have been able to take that opportunity if she wasn’t already homeschooling with Excel.
The way the ballet world works, at around age 17, dancers go to live with a company year round, eventually getting a contract with that company a year or two later. By starting homeschooling and online learning now, Reagan will be able to make adjustments at home under less pressure, so she’ll be prepared when it’s time to take the next step in her dance career.
“Other girls might have to transfer while they’re away, during that year, and it might be harder for them,” Reagan says. “I feel like I already have the experience with home school so when I do go away, I’ll be able to focus more on dancing and be more prepared.”
With the idea that Reagan will be living with a company in the next couple years, family time has become more important. And doing schooling at home, in between all her Pilates classes and dance practices, gives her more time to spend with her family and siblings while she still can.
Choosing Excel’s Flexibility, Funding, and Rigor
Reagan’s mother, Amy, is a public school teacher, so she was initially hesitant in allowing Reagan to switch to a homeschool program. She says that Reagan was insistent, and after she began receiving scholarships and offers to train at the region’s top companies, the family decided to give it a go.
“My husband and I began thinking, she’s probably going to need this skill of doing college or high school online, just in case she gets that offer in the next couple of years,” Amy says. “And we chose Excel because we knew her dance studio was an approved vendor through the program, which was a plus.”
Knowing what Reagan’s future may look like, they wanted a program that would allow her to continue to dance while getting the majority of her lessons online. Because Excel offers a type of hybrid learning—with both online courses and in-person classes, like Reagan takes at the dance studio and at Pilates—her family felt confident in allowing her to pursue the rest of her education via homeschool. They are able to use Excel’s instructional funds to predominately pay for her online schooling, and whatever is left over, they put towards her monthly tuition at Riverside Ballet Arts.
The online flexibility wasn’t the only thing that drew Reagan’s family to Excel. Her mom says, “We were actually surprised at the rigor of it. And I do like, in the future, that she has the possibility of graduating high school with her AA.”
Whatever Reagan’s future holds, just one year at Excel Academy has already put her leaps and bounds ahead of her dance peers. The flexibility of her schedule has opened up opportunities that are helping her pursue her dreams.
To find out how Excel’s flexible learning can benefit your child, click here.