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Ballet Talk for Dancers
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MickeyFan

Do you ever worry....

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MickeyFan

My daughter is eleven and a half and has been dancing for 2 plus years. She is very enthusiastic about it. While I am first to admit she is not the best in her classes, she seems to have a natural ability with it. I really love watching her dance, and seeing her perform gives me an overwhelming sense of pride.

 

I am really enjoying her journey through dance. I very often talk about dance with her and encourage her work hard for her goals. However, I constantly worry that I will turn into that scary Ballet Mom...willing to sacrifice her daughter's childhood so she can dance viacariously through her. I want to be very involved because seeing her progress is rewarding for me. I often wonder if I will know if my involvement and support turns into something unhealthy for both of us. Has anyone else faced this emotional/mental balancing act? How much "support" is too much? Is it uncool to peek in on her class for the last 5 minutes, or check in with her teachers once a semester? I don't want to seem pushy to the faculty at her school, but I also don't want to seem uninterested either.

 

For now, daughter loves to go to class. I never have to nag or remind her on dance days. Not at all like her foray in Taekwondo when I had to cajole her into going to class...

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Victoria Leigh

Welcome to the Moms and Dads forum, MickeyFan :rolleyes:

 

I understand your concern, and sometimes it is hard to know where that line is between support and "Mama Rose syndrome". Right now your daughter is very young, and has only 2 years of training, so I think your involvement can be quite minimal. Encourage, but don't hover. Interest, but no pressure. If she does well, great, and if she enjoys it, great, and if she has a bad day, a bit of sympathy. As her years and her interest increase, if they do, then perhaps a bit more involvement, but still let the ballet studio remain her territory, not yours. A meeting once a year with her teacher or the school's director, in order to assess her progress, is totally in order. Support for her schedule and rehearsals and any performances, definitely essential. Otherwise, stay away from the studio!

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MickeyFan

As alway Ms. Leigh, you give very level-headed advice. You are right, she is still young and I often forget that because she seems to be 11 going on 24. Thanks for your reply!

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tendumom

This is a tough one for sure. My daughter is almost 15 now and I have seen parents on both sides of the aisle. Finding the middle of the road can be hard. Victoria's advice is sound. Your daughter is young. However, I started learning more about ballet when it became clear that it was a very big passion for my daughter. That happened about that age. Over the past 4 years, I have found invaluable advice and support on this website. It has allowed me to gain the knowledge and resources I needed to make sure that my daughter always had avenues open to her. If you don't stay informed and involved to a certain degree then it is possible that options can close out.

 

Enjoying this with your daughter can be a wonderful shared journey. As long as there are many other things you share with your daughter, do together, spend time talking about, then you will not become a scary ballet mom. If ballet becomes the only connection between the two of you, then it has gone too far.

 

I have to admit that I have a different opinion about being at the studio than Ms. Leigh. My reasons are from a parent's perspective:

 

1) You enjoy watching your daughter dance. As long as she doesn't mind your "end of the class" peaking, (and there is not a studio policy against it) then I think it is healthy to do so. I make an analogy to parents who watch soccer games or swim practices/meets or hang out at the skating rink or horseback riding arena. Watching our kids do something they love gives us pleasure as parents. That is one of the benefits of parenting. Many studios only have one performance a year and I believe that is not enough "watching" for most parents. Of course watching can become invasive or an avenue for overinvolvement, but I don't think that is what you were referring to.

 

2) Peaking in occasionally lets you see what is happening in class. It is educational. You can learn about ballet and ballet training(just as you would learn about soccer or any other activity by watching) You also can get a feel for the quality of instruction which as your daughter gets older will be more and more important.

 

3) Some schools or studios have observation days when parents are actually invited into the studio itself for the entire class. These are wonderful opportunities to watch and learn.

 

Best wishes and enjoy the journey.

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Victoria Leigh

Observation days are fine, and I certainly encourage all parents to attend every one of those! Most studios do not allow observation on a day to day basis, or have the space for parents to do that. It is distracting to the students when parents hover around the doorway, even if it is allowed by the school. If there is an observation room, which a few schools have, then that is fine too, once in a while :rolleyes:

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Guest PAmom
I constantly worry that I will turn into that scary Ballet Mom...

May I suggest using Ballet Talk's above clickable link to Amazon.com and check out the book Keeping You Kids Out Front Without Kicking Them From Behind (How to Nurture High-Achieving Athletes, Scholars, and Performing Artists by Ian Tofler, MD and Theresa Foy DiGeronimo, M. Ed.

 

This book speaks at length on recognizing what they refer to as "Achievement by Proxy" by recognizing different parenting styles and suggesting ways to support your child. It also spends time on choosing instruction to best suit your child's skill, sacrifices that children and families make, realistic evaluation of the whole child's future, as well as burnout and over-training.

 

I highly recommend this book.

 

t :rolleyes:

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honeyb2

oops, I posted under my daughter's name.

Edited by honeyb2

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mom1

Looks as though my dd has a screen name, as I just added a post under a new name. The above post was me, mom1.

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Guest Jaynny

This is a wonderful thread because it really hits home with me. It can at times be a fine line between pushing to hard and encouraging.

Proud Mom peeking in to see dd dance is ok, but I've actually seen Mom's giving corrections to kids on the way to the car! Even worse, commenting negatively on another girls technique. That really crosses the line between being interested in what your dd is doing and being too involved. Although, I've never crossed the line in that way, I can think back to a few times where I've been a lttle too involved, making my dd a bit uncomfortable.

She recentely wanted to do an activity after school. I told her absolutely not that it was too much .(In my head I was thinking how it would take away from her focus on ballet) She was very disapointed, but didn't argue much. Then an image kept coming to me. It was the mother of the dancer in the movie Center Stage. (my kids have only seen it 100 times) You know, the one who had bad feet and couldn't make it as dancer, so she was living through her daughter.

Although, I've never danced, I don't want to become that type of a mother. I'm letting dd do the play and she is thrilled. It doesn't interfer with dance and it doesn't interfer with her exploring a new interest.

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MickeyFan
The truth is I don't need my daughter in the room to get "my fix" of watching. I am perfectly happy to see another group

 

Mom1, how very true that is for me as well. The waiting area at daughter's school is directly connected to the main studio so sometimes you can't help but watch. Most of daughter's classes are not in that studio, they are in one of the back rooms that are not accessible to parents. While waiting for her I can observe the classes in the main studio without being "invested" in them. The classes held there are typically the advanced levels. I don't ever seem to tire of watching them work, and I really gain an appreciation of how good some of these teachers are at working with kids. The only time I feel a little funny watching is when daughter has her class in the main studio - as if I am hovering. I have never asked her if it bothers her, although I don't know if she would give me a completely honest answer. She is very much a child who wants to please you...at least compared to her brother she is. Maybe I will just plan on hanging out in the car on those days.

 

PAMom, thanks for the book recommendation. I will check that out.

Edited by MickeyFan

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MickeyFan

Jaynny,

 

The mom in Center Stage is the exact image I have in my mind too!! :rolleyes:

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Guest allmydancers

I am chuckling Jaynny as I read your reference to the mother in Center Stage. In our house, my family often jokes that I am that mother or they call me Mrs. Shields (reference to Brooke's mother if any of you are old enough to remember this stage mother extraordinnaire).

 

What we do is try to keep a sense of humor about my passion for ballet in general and my "enthusiasm" for my dds with ballet class and other such endeavors. What is truly wonderful at their ages is to experience professional ballet performances with them and share our mutual interest. I let them tell me the things they want to share about class, I delight in their achievements and commiserate with them about their frustrations.

 

However, while I think all sorts of things privately, I don't ever let on to them that I am indeed a closet stage mother. It takes all I can muster to maintain some sense of normalcy! I also tell them several times a year that it is THEIR decision to undertake such a commitment and that they should do it for themselves, not for me. (It's too darned expensive!)

 

So my advice is:

1. Keep a sense of humor

2. Let them make the decisions

3. Give them their space (as difficult as this is)

4. Provide encouragement

5. Use the many ups and downs as life lessons ... IMO, being a ballet student builds major character! (for both kids AND parents)

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msd

This is a topic near and dear to a lot of moms, I think. It's very cool to be able to see your kid perform (and for mine, dance around the house constantly) and think --wow -- that person isn't half bad...and she/he is related to me! :wink: As for me, some of the other parents at my dd's studio have called me the "laid back" momma -- I figure it's my role to drive, to listen (but I can't comment much -- my background was music, definitely NOT dance) and to encourage the time management skills required of these busy kids. (That's been neat to see emerging.) I do indeed look forward to performances and to the once-a-semester parent observation days, and I am happy to see dd show me the great new thing she just learned in class.

 

Realizing that she is learning a (wonderful) new language, and that there is so much history behind ballet, I have found myself really enjoying books, both fiction and nonfiction, about ballet. This lets me into her world a bit, but keeps me out of her space. Right now, I am truly enjoying "Nutcracker Nation" by Jennifer Fisher (a great read for the end-of-Nutcracker transition). It's a hard line we walk -- especially when they're young (i.e. need chauffering!), you're very much a part of the logistics of dance...but it's her thing (like cooking is mine).

 

msd

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dancemaven

These are exactly the things I worry about. My daughter has been attending dance classes since she was three. She has progressed from taking one 1-hour movement class to taking innumerable ballet, jazz, modern classses, with stops along the way for flamenco, character, and tap. She virtually lives at the studio six days a week and can barely be pried out.

 

Although I can respect Miss Leigh's advice to visit the classes only once in a great while, I cannot follow that advice. My daughter and I have a special relationship that has grown around, but is not confined to, her dance passion. I have routinely observed class (our academy has large viewing windows; we do not go inside the actual studios) over the years and almost always have taken in some fraction of her daily "work". By knowing what she is currently working on, experiencing in class work, as well as what frustrations she is battling, we are better able to build a communication method. Besides, the process fascinates me as much as the result.

 

Countless times over the years, I have employed ballet as a metaphor when we were trying to make it through a "growing" period. For instance, she was able to understand (or at least accept) better why we wouldn't approve certain movies at certain ages because we could use ballet and the appropriate age for pointe work as a metaphor. She understood that although someone might be able to stand on a pointe box that didn't mean that she was necessarily ready for pointe. Thus, just because she knew certain behaviour in a movie was inappropriate didn't mean she should be exposed to it visually.

 

If I had simply dropped her off at the studio and then returned only to pick her up at the end of the night, I would not have been able to use what she knows and is familiar with to help her understand another aspect of life.

 

Likewise, when she is discussing frustrations or accomplishments, I would not have been able to put them into perspective. She does not mind that I watch her classes. She likes discussing them with me.

 

I have periodically asked the teachers if they really mind the parents watching from the windows. They have always told me that they appreciate the parents' involvement and support. They do not, however, appreciate parents who give corrections through the windows or who make faces or gestures to their dancer. The kids at the studio are very use to having observers outside in the windows. Often the young dancers will pull a chair up and watch in awe the older dancers.

 

The teachers prefer that the dancers do learn to prepare their own pointe shoes and are responsible for their own paraphenalia. Our academy has a single concert at the end of the academic year. The dancers that choose to be in the performance pieces must commit to a rehearsal schedule that leaves little room for weekend trips. As the rehearsal time comes to an end, the tech week at the venue becomes very exciting and demanding. The dancers, not their parents, must be responsible for themselves and their costumes.

 

I appreciate that the school is parent-friendly and dancer-disciplined. These kids learn lessons that will last them a life-time. But I would really be missing a major opportunity to build a very valuable connection with my daughter if I simply dropped her and picked her up.

 

Another value I see in spending a little time at the studio is that I have a much better idea when the changes in staff produce a good or bad effect. Currently, I have some serious concerns about one of the disciplines. If I were not so well versed in the historical philosophy of the academy, I would not know that a red flag is waving.

 

I apologize if this is too long. But this is a soapbox issue for me and yet I do realize the slippery slope I, and other parents, tread.

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Mel Johnson

You know that you are perhaps too close to what your daughter is doing in class and rehearsal when the director offers to have a costume made to fit YOU, so that you can go on, too! :wink:

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