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Maria D

Hello and Much Advice Needed!!!

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Maria D

Hello!

I'm excited to have found this forum and hope I get the information/advice I desperately need.:)

First some background:

I have a 13 year old daughter who lives and breathes ballet. She begged me for ballet classes since she was 4 and with her already involved in soccer and Girl Scouts, I didn't want her to be overbooked with too many after-school activities so I didn't sign her up. When she turned 7 (and still persisting), she said she would give up soccer for dance so I signed her up at the local dance studio (we live in a tiny town 40 minutes from Charlotte, NC) for beginner ballet.  Classes were expensive for only being 2 sessions of 45 minutes each.  Most disappointing of all was the classes were being taught by high school girls and all the kids were taught were sequence of steps for a Christmas recital for which I had to pay a ton of $$ for an expensive costume.  There was no structure, technique or jargon taught and I felt like they were just there to "babysit" these kids.  I kept her there six months and then pulled her out due to financial reasons and the fact that the school seemed to not have a clear direction.  Plus, the place was always dirty and smelly.  

Yet my kid persisted. Years 8-12:  "Mom, I want to dance Ballet"...to which I would reply "there is not a decent ballet studio in town and I'm not driving an hour in bad traffic so you can dance for 45 minutes only to drive another hour back."   Also the fact that I was working three jobs and going to college full-time didn't help.  Finally, I found out a professional ballet dancer had moved into town and she had opened a small ballet studio...this was fall 2016 and my daughter had turned 12.  I signed her up for ballet 1 and she loved it from day 1.  The instructor was kind but rigorous, strict and taught classical ballet the way it should be taught, focusing on proper technique and correct jargon.  However, my kid's grades started to suffer because she was spending too much time in her room "practicing" and not enough time on her homework.  She had been in class just a few weeks when I had to pull her out. I let her know that dancing was a privilege and she needed to do well in her academics to earn a chance to start over again fall 2017.  I know it may come across as cruel but I had tried everything else to help her improve her study habits etc. and this was my last option.  It worked and she did a 180...going from an f/d student to an a/b student by the end of the school year. She started back again on September 2017 and went from ballet 1 to ballet 2 in her first month.  Within her first 2 months she was selected to be one of the dancers for a performance in The Nutcracker Ballet and her teacher said she will be ready for ballet 3 by January.  She charges me for one class but invites my daughter to join the 3/4 class at no extra charge  and is very complimentary of my daughter's "form and lines"-

I see her dancing and it's like I am seeing a different person...I can see she absolutely loves ballet and has told me repeatedly that is what she wants to do always.  She desperately wants to go to UNSCA as a high school freshman next year and even begged me to take her to their open house a few months ago.  Well...we went and I was blown away.  I just submitted the application.  If this is what she truly wants to do then I will fully support her in her endeavor.  

However, I have several concerns and misgivings, especially since she is so new to ballet.  Her ballet instructor is not very familiar with the acceptance criteria for UNCSA but did say that getting into a top performing arts high school was extremely difficult.  While we were not discouraged to audition, she did mention that they are very selective and only choose the best dancers.  However, when we went to their open house, their admissions dean stated they were more lenient with kids who wanted to try out for the 9th grade program and that they would consider a young dancer that was "green" but that showed the potential.  What does this mean and how true is this?  Am I just wasting my time at this point and setting up my child for a major disappointment?  I am desperately treading the fine line of encouraging her to work hard and follow her dreams while at the same time gently trying to make her realize this is an extremely long shot and that even if she doesn't get accepted she needs to work hard and perhaps try again as a sophomore.

We have been at a disadvantage unfortunately financially and geographically...there were no good dance studios where we live and even if there were I don't think we would have been able to afford the classes before. And of course I have to live with the guilt of not being able to provide something my child desperately begged for for so long. Any thoughts, tips or advice would greatly be appreciated!!

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Momof3darlings

Welcome Maria D!  We're glad to have you.  We encourage you to grab a cup of tea, sit down and spend some time reading through the forum.   Then when you're ready, ask away.  We have some wonderful parents and teachers here who would love to help you.  Enjoy!

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tsh212

Hi Maria D,

welcome to this wonderful forum.  I believe that what is meant for your daughter will happen.  The fact that she has persisted in her quest to dance is wonderful.  I agree that school should not suffer and taking her out to get things back in order really worked.  She is now an A/B student which shows her resiliency.  My daughter has been dancing for quite sometime now and has that same love of ballet.  I say, let her audition for 9th grade.  She is moving up quickly at her studio which means that there is something in her.  Plus, in the ballet world there are disappointments.  sometime you get parts and sometime you don't.  If she auditions and does not get in as a freshman, at least she tried and should try again for 10th grade. 

I am a single parent and I know the struggle it is to pay for all the classes, shoes, etc.  Don't feel guilty about not putting her in dance earlier.  You are doing a great job!  Just believe that if your daughter wants to do this... she needs to work hard.. in school and dance.  Perhaps you can barter with the studio... volunteer hours and that might help with paying for classes.

at any rate... good luck to your daughter!  and to you...

 

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Noodles

Welcome! 

I just want to say that there is no harm in auditioning but I always think it wise to limit expectations. These dancers very quickly learn how hard it is to make it in ballet. My DD has been dancing for 11 years and I can be rough.

I would also encourage you to research potential summer intensives for your daughter. This would be a great way to speed up her growth in ballet and she would probably love to immerse herself in it for a few (or more) weeks this summer. Auditions begin in Jan. You could ask your DD's instructor for advice on where she should consider auditioning and then you can come here and look up each program to see what you think is the right fit, and then choose a few (or more) to audition for. 

Good luck!

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Maria D

Tsh212,

Thank so much for your words of encouragement!  I am new to the world of ballet so it is a challenge navigating on this path.  Her instructor is so strict with technique and form that I was surprised that she was moved up to ballet 2/3 that quickly.  But I figured that may be the norm, I just don't know.  Instructor now has her doing pre-pointe exercises  and said she will be ready to tackle that starting next spring.  I know there are students that have been attending ballet 1 or 2 for two years and haven't moved up.

I will help her prepare for her audition as much as possible and will read other forums on this site to get any valuable insight on the process.  I'm glad I found this community!!

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Maria D

Noodles,

Thanks for the advice!  That sounds like a great idea and I will look into it.  I know UNCSA has summer intensive programs so I will look at that an option.

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Eligus

Welcome to the ballet world, Maria D. Good for you on being such a thoughtful and careful mom.  Clearly you listen to your DD, which is over half the battle in any mother-daughter relationship, IMO.

I would add another thought about auditioning that took me awhile to learn...  and that is -- yes, it's your job to be "realistic" with your daughter, and talk with her about the difficulties and competitiveness about the ballet life, so she is not clueless (although I think the majority of dancers learn and understand this fact VERY early, and don't need a huge amount of parental help to figure it out, as Noodles said in the post above).  I would, instead, be very careful in your "reality discussions" not to limit her or make decisions FOR her out of the very natural parental desire to protect your child from harm/negativity and unnecessarily imbue her with your own fears of rejection or worry. 

Failure is part of ballet and life.  There is a quote I like that says "Happiness is a risk.  If you're not a little scared, you're not doing it right."  If she's going to find happiness anywhere, she's going to have to risk failure somewhere.

We cannot and should not try to shelter our dancing children from a potential lesson on life due to our own desire to protect them from hurt or disappointment.  Doing so harms them more than helps them.  So, as difficult as it is for a parent to watch their child throw themselves into a challenging environment and risk hurt and disappointment, you have to let them do it.  Some lessons they must learn on their own.  And -- in the long run -- you might have age, wisdom and life experience behind you, but you don't really KNOW what will happen.  No one does. 

I learned that lesson myself when my then 12 yo DD auditioned for an incredibly selective summer intensive, where only 10-12 girls were selected to attend, out of a NATIONAL audition tour.  I *knew* there was no chance of her being picked.  She was young, this was her first audition ever, we were completely out of our element (and comfort zones).  But I kept all those thoughts to myself and allowed her to audition because  -- in the end -- *I* didn't want to be the one to tell my daughter "no, you're not ready for this yet."  If that was the message that needed to come, she needed to hear it for herself, and I didn't need to place those limits on her before she even tried.  I had to get out of her way.  I have to say that I second-guessed myself all the way there, during, and after the audition process.  It was very uncomfortable, and I hated it.  But the audition itself was a FANTASTIC growing experience for her, and that's when I realized that the answer didn't really matter.  Just the experience of auditioning was valuable ... for BOTH of us. 

So, keep that thought in mind when you help her make future decisions.  There are -- always -- huge, scary problems with this profession over which you have little control: money, luck, timing, circumstance.  But -- as my engineer spouse constantly must remind me -- "don't scope creep".... meaning, keep your focus narrow, and try to look clearly at the benefits or detriments of the decision in front of you at the time, and -- as much as possible -- ignore the potential thousand problems looming in the future and "matrixizing" themselves into a web of indecision.  The question of whether or not she gets in, how will you get the money if she does, what your living situation would be like if she does, whether you would be willing to let her go, whether she would really be ready to go, whether she could succeed there... all of those are potential problems that must be eventually considered and solved, but ONE AT A TIME.  Don't allow the specter of those potential future problems --  that are not even actual problems yet -- drive the original decision to risk or not to risk.  For me, it is THE hardest part of being a parent -- ballet or not. 

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tsh212

OMG Eligus!!!!!!!!!!!!! you hit the nail right on the head!!!! this advice was definitely for me today.. as I am stressing about my daughter's future and making the right decisions!

thank you, thank you, thank you!

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Eligus

:wink:  we have ALL been there, and I need reminders of my own from those who have gone before me.  Good luck to you and your DD.  Try to remember to breathe and enjoy the journey.

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Maria D

Elgin’s,

Thank you so much for your thoughtful response.  And you are right!~)  I need to just step back and at least let her try...  The school is part of the UNC system in NC and for high school students it is actually free which is insane.  It is very competitive to get into, even the summer intensives are tough.  However, at this point I am just ready to support her any way I can and see how far she wants to go.  I am even setting up a small practice area in our house with a floor, mirror and barre where she can practice. 

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learningdance

Pretty brilliant Elgins. . spoke right to a situation that I am facing now. 

Really liked this:

19 hours ago, Eligus said:

"don't scope creep".... meaning, keep your focus narrow, and try to look clearly at the benefits or detriments of the decision in front of you at the time, and -- as much as possible -- ignore the potential thousand problems looming in the future and "matrixizing" themselves into a web of indecision.

 

19 hours ago, Eligus said:

be very careful in your "reality discussions" not to limit her or make decisions FOR her out of the very natural parental desire to protect your child from harm/negativity and unnecessarily imbue her with your own fears of rejection or worry. 

 

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