Yamamba

Mama to new SFB dancer

9 posts in this topic

Hi there,

My 8-yr-old dd will be studying ballet with the San Francisco Ballet school in September. She was offered a scholarship for this via a dance program at her elementary school, so this is a new and somewhat unexpected adventure for us. We are excited that her first real experience with dance will be with such a high caliber school, but we are also a little nervous about the strictness and rigor of the commitment. I've been trying to find tips on this site for how to help students of her age stay motivated (since I'm not sure yet how self-motivated she might be) in hopes that she can make the most of this opportunity. So far in her life, she hasn't had any other twice-weekly extra-curricular commitment Any advice welcome!

Share this post


Link to post

Welcome to our forums, Yamamba.  I think you will find lots of experienced parents, and also teachers, here who will be happy to help you navigate through the early training years. I hope your DD will love her classes, and it's great that she has the opportunity to start at a high caliber school. :) 

Share this post


Link to post

My son started at 7 in a similar sort of school, and my advice is just take it one year at a time and listen to your daughter. I am also not a person with any dance background, so it can all feel a little overwhelming. But, you get to learn along with your child. 

It seems to me that some kids know right away that they love it, others know pretty quickly that they don't-- and I was surprised by the parents that insisted their children stick with it for years when it was clear the child was not happy. If she dances for a year, or for several years, or into adulthood-- she will have gained something from the experience no matter what. My son responded very positively to the rigor and high expectations. It turns out that he likes a well-run, focused class! 

One thing I wished I had started doing a little sooner was taking my son to see the company perform. It was very motivating to see the things he does in class translated to choreography up there on stage. (But choose kid-friendly, lighter ballets when they are young). I took him to see Midsummer when he was about 9 1/2 and he was entranced-- he had only see The Nutcracker before that. Now he is 12 and we make sure to take him to see the ballet fairly frequently (and especially if we can snag student or rush tickets for a discount). We also live in a major city, so its also fun to see other local and touring companies.

Share this post


Link to post

Thank you Victoria, and thanks for the advice 5Uptown!

Share this post


Link to post

5Uptown gave excellent advice, both about listening to your child and attending the ballet to learn about the art form (as you get further along).  I would add a "welcome" to this world, which can be both thrilling and frustrating -- sometimes at the same time.  You'll find a lot of your questions answered on this forum.  The information network here is vast.

It sounds as if you are already a good listener to your child, but keep that up (in spades).  My advice may sound counter-intuitive to all other parental training advice, but from my own hard-earned experience, let your child drive the boat in ballet... despite their age, if they fall in love with the art, they'll know what they need as they go along, and they are generally much wiser than their years, so try to keep your concerns/fears to yourself and support them the best you know how.  At the same time, always remember that if they do become attached to this art form, it's their dream, not yours.  So support, but don't control.  And try to enjoy the ride!

 

Share this post


Link to post

Congratulations. I would add only that you always keep at the front of your mind that your young dancer will go through phases and stages and to always take a few days to let major decisions sit before acting. As she grows, even over just the next year or so, she will change so dramatically. Don't allow something said on Tuesday to effect Wednesday if that makes sense.

Share this post


Link to post

You have been given very good advice so far. I would also prepare mentally her for a very slow and disciplined class. Level 1 at SFB is not a "fun" as the dance-in-school classes. There's minimal opportunity for performing, and they are really just learning the basics, but the teacher for that age is very sweet and she has a lot of patience. We know kids who were disappointed at the pace of that first level, and did not enjoy it mostly because they expected to be learning pirouettes and instead spent 4 counts going down and 4 counts going back up in plie. 

I would not worry at all about trying to keep her motivated. She will either like it or not at this age, and if she does, it can be an amazing opportunity.  

Also, you should know going in, that the vast majority of kids with her in level 1 will not be invited back year after year.  Some kids will be cut after level 1, some invited to repeat, and some promoted to level 2. By level 6, there may be only 3 or 4 remaining out of the two classes of 20 kids that started together. 

Share this post


Link to post

Thanks everyone. It's nice to receive all this feedback. Lemlemish, I have heard reports from moms of a couple other girls who went through this program, and I guess it is the sort of "un-fun" part that worries me. One of the girls quit part way through, and her mom lamented that her daughter didn't realize how fortunate she was to have the SFB opportunity. The other girl stuck it out for the whole year but seemed to get bored and disappointed that all that practice was not leading up to a performance. (She chose golf the following year instead). I definitely don't want to push, but do want to help set expectations. I am trying to frame it for her as something that will be beneficial to her whether or not she chooses to continue with ballet and to point out that an invite back should not be the main goal. Eligus and Noel19, sound advice, noted and thanks 

Share this post


Link to post

Yamamba, you may want to try a tried and true Physical Therapy method. Set short and long term goals for your daughter. Have her be a part of setting them. Perhaps in the beginning ask her (informally) to set a goal for her first week and maybe for her first month. Write them on a cute message board or white board, check off the days. It may help you both to stay focused on the opportunity at hand as it is and not let the (hopefully very long and very wonderful) long term goals swallow up the joy of the here and now.

As she gets through the first few weeks you will know how far to set the next set of goals. As the parent I would try to look at this year and divide it into two long term goals; mid year and end of year. Look for parameters that you as a parent set and try to see this through your daughter's eyes; try to get an idea of where she'd like to be at mid year. I think that might help you set expectations.

If you fear that she will miss having a performance opportunity maybe consider looking for a dance convention in your area that coincides with the spring time; something she can look forward to. Some conventions have auditions with feedback on performance; some even have performances as part of the event.

She may turn away from SFB or they may pass on the opportunity for her to return; but wherever she lands is exactly where she is supposed to be and it will all be part of her beautiful journey. Enjoy the ride.

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.