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Ballet Talk for Dancers
Jennsnoopy

Level Placement and Friendships

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Jennsnoopy

I’m curious if most dance friendships are forged and maintained around the level your dancer is at. My daughter has had a rough experience and I want to know if it’s par for the course. My DD met a lovely girl in her level when she started at a new studio about 6 months ago. The girls seemed really compatible, they encouraged each other to work hard and they dreamed of getting to the next level together. They spent time out of class working on their goals, texting and just hanging out. 3 weeks ago, my DD’s friend was moved to the next level up but my daughter was not. Although my DD was sad, she respects her director and congratulated her friend. Since that time, her friend has stopped calling, talking to my DD or even encouraging her. When my DD congratulated her all the friend said was “thanks!”. My DD is a hard worker and will no doubt move up when the time is right. Although not being advanced was hard, this girl dropping the friendship seems to be even more difficult. Is this how it works? My DD is a very caring person and loyal. She supports dancers in levels lower than she is at so she doesn’t understand why her friend seems to be ignoring her.  I am very sad this has happened. Both girls are 13 if that contributes while my DD just turned 13 and her friend is about 6 months older. I’d really hate for this to happen during every level placement. 

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dancemaven

Friends in dance are like friends anywhere else:  some are real friends and some are situational friends, and some aren’t really friends.

It is never fun to realize someone you thought was a real friend turns out to be something less.  Your DD has done nothing wrong.  She’s the same girl she was the day before the promotion.  I would recommend you be supportive and she continue as she always has.  This is more about the other girl’s character and feelings about the nature of the friendship.

And the girls are 13.   That pretty much says it all.  Horrible, horrible age. A lot of self-discovery, self-doubt, and not knowing what is what or how to really act goes on at that age.

Give your DD big hugs. :wub:

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Eligus

I'm so sorry you and your DD had to experience this, Jennsnoopy.  Dancemaven's thoughts and advice were right on the money.  "This is more about the other girl's character and feelings about the nature of the friendship" than it is about your DD and her choices.

I do feel like the ultra-competitive environment of a pre-pro ballet school exacerbates the jockeying of social standing that occurs in the middle school years. A lot can depend on the studio environment, of course.  There are studios that seem to "breed" in-fighting among the dancers and other studios that encourage a more positive environment. 

In addition, I wonder if dancers themselves can be more anxious and insecure (especially during the early teen years) than the "civilian" population.  I just posted a topic in cross talk that discusses anxiety in the dancer's brain that you may find interesting.  I am not trying to paint all dancers with an overly broad brush, but in my own personal experience with my DD, I've wondered whether the ballet environment encourages some of the personality tendencies I've seen in my DD and her peers.  Of course, anxiety and insecurity are not an "excuse" to treat others poorly, but understanding other people's struggles may help your DD become even more empathetic and lovely than she already sounds.

These thoughts won't really help your DD right now, but they may help you support your DD as she moves through the social world and learns about friendship, loyalty, jealousy, insecurity and how to balance emotions and mental health.  Teen years are super difficult for a reason...

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forglitter

So sorry your daughter is going through this.

My younger DD has been on the other end of a level placement friendship split. My DD and another girl in her dance class were good friends. Then they were placed in different levels. Because we live far apart, they rarely got to see each other anymore. The friendship dwindled. The two are still “friendly,” but not the same good friends that they were before. DD was also uncomfortable talking about anything related to levels/placement/casting with the other girl (or anyone she used to be in class with), because she didn’t want to brag or seem condescending.

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Jennsnoopy

Thank you so much for your thoughts. They are very helpful. My daughter actually reached out to the girl yesterday via text and asked her what’s up. Apparently a lot of girls in my daughter’s level were very angry and jealous that this girl moved up and she has been experiencing some backlash. My daughter told her she is completely proud of her and she deserves this. The girl also admitted that she did not want to hurt my daughter’s feelings about the new placement. My daughter was very gracious and said she didn’t feel that the placement took anything away from her, it’s just a sign to keep working. And it showed that her friend was ready. So things seem to be ok.

Coincidentally, it hasn’t gone unnoticed that my daughter dealt with this maturely while others seemed to be much less graceful. I’m not sure if that counts for anything in the studio world but I think she built a lot of character in this process. It’s easy to be jealous, a lot more difficult to be gracious. (I’m not saying there weren’t tears at home. She had a good 10 minute cry when she initially found out. But then she went to her ballet journal and started writing her goals!)

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dancingjet

Good for your daughter! It isn't easy to practice such direct communication, especially at a young age. Regardless of what happens with dance, that is a great sign for her as a human. :)

Edited to add - good for the other girl too, for being honest with your daughter! 

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AB'sMom

I’m so glad they worked it out. I was going to say that when someone moves up the subject often becomes like the 100lb gorilla in the room. People in general, and kids in particular, try to avoid awkwardness. When my daughter moved up this past fall I felt a little awkward talking to the parents of the kids in her formal level. I was worried that they might think I suddenly thought my kid was better than theirs and I worried that they were upset about the situation. I imagine that it is worse for the kids. It takes strength for the kids to broach the subject and have an honest conversation. 

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dancemaven

Your DD handles the situation very well.  She can be proud of her maturity and willingness to reach out and listen.  She definitely understands what friendship is. :wub:

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all things ballet

I'm glad your DD was able to speak with her friend and hopefully resolve some of the awkwardness that has been felt.  My DD11 is experiencing something similar.  She was 10 and placed in a level with 12 year olds last year.  She made friends easily and had a good year but there was always drama with a few of the girls.  When levels came out for this new year her friends moved up and she did not.  She was of course hurt and even now there is still some awkwardness between them.  To give one of many examples, the girls were talking the other day and whispering.  She asked them what they were talking about (feeling insecure) and their response was "well, it's a level 6 secret." :( Of course she came home hurt and we had a good discussion basically on how other peoples secrets are not her business. :lol: She returned to rehearsal the next day and of course they told her and it was all over a crush one of the girls have on a boy dancer.  Why would you say that to a friend?  My point is though, since was held back she has made several new friends and one of them she seems very close to.  She is still the youngest in her level but only by a year.  She says she can concentrate easier because she isn't worried about all the drama that was revolving around those other girls.  She isn't worried about if they like her.  So even though she was disappointed when levels came out, she and I both know it was the right call by the instructors.  Plus, 2 years is a huge maturity difference not only emotionally but physically at this young age.

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all things ballet

Oops! I just realized I somehow ended up on over 13 board when gazing! I apologize. Please remove if necessary.  Sorry again! :blushing:

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