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dancindaughters

Need help to motivate dd

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dancindaughters

Hello, I haven't posted in awhile, although I still read this board often.

 

I'm up late (again) wondering what to do about my younger dd's dance training.

Younger dd is 8.5 years old, and has been dancing for 5 years. Through a complex set of circumstances, she has been taking class 4-5 days per week this year. She has always enjoyed her classes, but recently I have noticed some loss of interest. She recently told me that she doesn't want to dance anymore, but wants to do "something fun" instead. I know this seems like a no-brainer, that I should let her pursue other interests, the complicating factor is that she is really talented. Many teachers this year have commented on her talent and technique. Some comments she has been given by a variety of professional teachers: "you are a VERY talented little girl", "you have been given a gift", "some people look so at home on stage, like they were born to be there, you are one of those people," and "she has incredible potential." The problem is, she just does not care. She says that she doesn't want to be a dancer "it's too hard, and pointe looks like it would hurt." (maybe she is the smart one!) She dances with girls 1-2 years older, and is able to keep up without really trying, so she just doesn't try. The school she is at is not truly professional, but she is not interested in driving a longer distance to a better one. She works hard a times, and can be competitive. I feel that if she is in a school with other talented kids, she will be inspired to work harder, but I don't want the long drive to turn her off further. I know she is probably a bit burnt out from doing too much too soon, and I have told her we will cut back next year.

 

I studied ballet for many years, and I know that one can not succeed in dance without an incredible degree of dedication and passion. I just feel that I have made some mistakes which have caused her to lose some of the love of dance she once had. She still likes to dance around the house, and sometimes will come out of master class enthusiastic and happy. She has always expressed herself through movement, and I think it is really who she is. When I suggested she take a year off, she agreed, but then came to me later and said she had changed her mind. I would like her to get the joy back.

 

Has any one been through something like this? Should I move her to a new school, or encourage her to take a year off, or what? Thank-you. :D

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Nycbdancer

Not a parent so delete if necessary...

 

I can't say a lot here, but it sort of sounds like a case of burn-out. Isn't 4-5 classes a week a bit much for an eight year old?

 

Just my thoughts

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Siegelife

Dancindaughters-I think 4-5 classes a week is way too much at her age, especially if it's all ballet. Even though she has danced for five years, it probably wasn't until the past year or so that she should have been introduced to start actual ballet training. So, those previous years were probably more fun than serious. She may be getting a taste of what is going to be involved in ballet and maybe just doesn't like it. She may just be testing the waters and want to try other things. She is very young and has plenty of time to make up her mind. My DD took off for a while to ride horses. She was back to ballet in six months. I know it's hard as a parent not to panic sometimes. Especially if you danced as well. I've had to pull back a lot. My DD is 10 and let me tell you how much she has changed since 8.5!!!! If she has the natural talent she will not have a hard time picking it back up after taking a break, even if it seems long. Keep your head up and let her expand her horizons a little.

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Victoria Leigh

Totally agree with Siegelife. Take her out completely. She is burned out, and has not had the chance to find out if this is what she really wants yet. As you recognize in your post, too much, too soon. She needs a break, and needs to discover for herself that this is what she wants....or not. A break at this age will not be a problem, especially if she has the natural gifts. I started at 4, stopped at 7, and didn't start back until 10. During those in between years I experimented with a lot of things, but never really stopped doing physical activity, a LOT. Baton twirling, roller skating, ice skating, twirling fire batons on ice, etc. :blink: Always in motion. Also loved sports. But, at 10, begged to go back to ballet, and from that moment on it was TOTAL priority. Fortunately, I also had the natural physical facility for ballet. :)

 

Even with natural gifts, the motivation MUST be her own, not yours. As you know, ballet is way too difficult, and without the passion and self-motivation, it won't happen.

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Momof3darlings
She recently told me that she doesn't want to dance anymore, but wants to do "something fun" instead.......The problem is, she just does not care. She says that she doesn't want to be a dancer "it's too hard,

 

My suggestion would be to read the above quote as if it wasn't your own child and follow the advice you'd give that person. Talented or not, happy/healthy is most important. Allow your child the ability to cut back, cut out or walk away if that is what she chooses. She needs to know that you are in her corner (regardless of her talent) and that you'll support her no matter what she chooses. A person really embraced by dancing will still choose the dancing but the choice is freeing for them.

 

You didn't say what classes she was taking. I'm assuming she taking ballet, then tap and jazz as well to make that many hours of dance at that age. (Or at least for that many hours to be reasonable at that age) In that case, allow her to cut back on her jazz or tap for a while.

 

There is no harm in taking a summer off at this point, allowing her to "play" and then asking her if she wants to return to dancing either full time or part time. If and when she says she doesn't want to return, listen.

 

vj

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Momof3darlings
Baton twirling, roller skating, ice skating, twirling fire batons on ice, etc.  Always in motion

 

And Ms. Leigh, just a side note off topic, I am having such a hard time imagining this :blink:. The things we learn on Ballet Talk for Dancers :)

 

vj

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dagny78
She recently told me that she doesn't want to dance anymore, but wants to do "something fun" instead.

 

Hi :)

 

This says it all for me. If a person isn't enjoying what they're doing, then why do it? Obviously, there is hard work and bad days, but generally it should be fun, especially for a child so young.

 

My 12yo daughter is obsessed with ballet and rarely shows interest in other activities (despite my efforts! :wink: ), but we have two rules about it. The first is that every effort will be made to avoid injury by taking care of herself (proper training, warmup, etc) and the second is that it be fun. There have been two times when we were faced with a situation that rendered life miserable for her. One time when she was 9 it was so bad, she was crying in the car driving home after every class. She didn't want to stop dancing but it was clear to me something had to change and we ended up switching schools. It wasn't an easy decision on many levels but the priority for me was to insure that the joy she derived from dance be restored and not be simply drudgery to get through while working towards being a professional dancer. As an adult, whether she dances professionally or not, I want her to be able to look back at her life as a child with happiness and remember the years spent in ballet studios without regret.

 

I just believe that life provides enough hardship that the things we choose to devote time to should be enjoyable, challenging, and a source of joy.

 

My two cents for the day! I hope it is helpful. :blink:

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Renata

My DD, who is now in the highest level of a competitive professional ballet school, did not start ballet until she was 9. She was the one who initiated the ballet. I would give your daughter a break from her intense program.

 

Perhaps in the fall, she will be willing to dance at a somewhat reduced schedule (at that age, DD went twice a week) or perhaps she will have found something else that she loves. It is great that she was able to talk to you about how she feels.

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chauffeur

It really does sound like your daughter needs a break. In the larger scope of things, she really is very young still and there is plenty of time for her to figure out AND to get the right training for whatever she wants to do when she grows up. And don't let yourself feel like the teachers' positive assessments are some kind of a mandate for your daughter. They're just feedback, nothing more, nothing less.

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Dance_Scholar_London

Knock knock. Not a parent but 'motivation' is one of my research interests. I just came across a couple of articles which might be of interest for you. Rescen (Centre for Research into Creation in the Performig Arts) has a couple of transcribed seminars. Have a look at 'The Motivation of the Artist'. It's very interesting to read :)

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vagansmom

I agree with all the other posts but just want to add that it's quite a burden for a kid that age to be told about her talent. For some 8 or 9 year olds, that's enough in itself to turn them away. Although there are some kids who would use that knowledge to work even harder, there are many, many others whose reaction would be to guard themselves against such a burden. It's normal for a child. Your daughter is saying, in every way she can, that she wants to be a kid!

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AsleepATheWheel

Everyone before me has weighed in with all the right things so I am just going to add an anecdote. Very recently, dd and I were tripping down memory lane and I was reminding her of the things she did as a small (and not so small child). Hours and hours of playing outside, long winter days creating plays and playing school in the basement, catching fireflies, searching the yard for fairies and other make believe creatures. I then asked her if she missed doing those things. Her response was ...no, but, "I am glad that I got to do those things when I did. I don't think many people I know got to do them". Unstructured play for children is so critical to a child's development. It's how they learn, work things out and begin to find their place in the world. Since you're daughter is 8.5, allow her the chance to reclaim some time for herself and she will find what brings her joy in life...and then she will naturally go after it.

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mcrm55

I so agree with everything said here. Eight and half is so young to be doing that much! No wonder she is burning out, which, considering her apparent love of dancing and aptitude for it, is a shame. I have been actively encouraging my dd, now 11.5 to cut WAY back, reassuring her that this is not a race, that in fact the biggest danger is doing too much, not too little at this point. No matter how tempting it is, you both must have faith that her burnout symptoms are the real signal to listen to.

 

And as a human being, what are you teaching her if you train her to ignore her own feelings? When she is grown up, especially if she is a dancer, will she ignore crucial signs that she needs to take care of herself and instead push herself to the point of misery, depression or injury? I am finding myself telling my dd to have faith in a more long-sighted approach.

 

Let her try other things, take a break, rest. If she finds she misses it, as others have pointed out, she will come back to it, with more ability to enjoy it because she is not so penned in and exhausted. And if she doesn't? Well, who knows? Just because someone is good at a certain thing, doesn't mean he/she has to like it best. She may have many other talents her involvement in dance have left her little time to discover and explore, which may prove to be even more fulfilling, even a better expression of her true self. :)

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dancemaven

The point, in life, is to be happy.

 

Your daughter may be very talented at dance, but if it does not make her happy, then let it go. She will most likely find something else that she is equally as talented at that DOES make her happy. It may even take a few or a lot of experimenting to find it . . . but particularly at her age, that is part of the fun (and privilege) of being a child. And if, later, she wants to come back, please no "I told you so"s or "if you had stayed with it, you would be (there) instead of (here)."

 

My DD was a talented soccer player from age 4-10, a talented oboist for a couple of years, a fine pianist, a respectable softball player, and a swimmer with a beautiful stroke (and no speed :) ). She did all of those activities at one time or another in addition to dance, but as she progressively increased the number of her dance classes, the other activities fell by the wayside by her choice.

 

Giving in to her desire to give up the oboe was the most difficult acceptance for her father and I because she had begged and worked toward playing the oboe since she was about 5 (result of an instrument petting zoo at an art festival!) She (and we) had repeatedly been told she was very, very talented. And at first, she was extremely interested and worked hard. But then, it became pure drudgery for her and she hated it--even though she was still very good at it.

 

DD did not end up with 4-5 days of dance classes until she was around 10 or 11. At age 8, she had 1 (or maybe 2) ballet classes, a jazz class, and a flamenco class. She still had plenty of time for soccer and a piano class.

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Redstorm

Some of you already know our story, but this seems like one of those times to bring it up again....

DD started skating at 6. We were told that she had talent and "the look". She was a natural jumper. By the age of 8, she was skating 5 days a week, 2-3 hours per day. (5:30am was start time :) ) She was completely burned out by 11. I was devastated. She was thrilled to be done with it. She tells me now that the last 1 1/2 years she only skated because of not wanting to disappoint those who kept saying she had "it". It was a very unhappy time in her childhood, and I blame myself for not recongnizing her unhappiness. I should have allowed her to quit when she wanted to. I too thought she might outgrow it and allowed coaches to push even harder. She began ballet around 10, once a week to help with her skating. By 12 she was auditioning for summer programs and attending one. Ballet was not my dream for her....skating was. Dancing is her dream for herself.

Let your daughter decide her own future. I can't tell you how much I regret pushing her at such a young age into something she clearly did not have a passion for....no matter how much talent she had.

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