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Ballet Talk for Dancers
Sunny

Just waiting for heartbreak

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GratefulMom

I love so much here. and wow Fraildove, your story gave me tears of joy.

Sunny -- another thought to add to what has already been said.  My DD13 will likely not "make it big" as a ballerina.  Her work ethic reminds me of your DD though -- so solid; so committed; 100% in.  In 10 years of her dancing (recreational then competition; she just switched to serious ballet study this year), I have not once ever heard her complain about rehearsals or classes, and in the competition world, that can be 20-plus hours a week (because of variety of genres and muscle groups used) plus competitions, even at a very young age.  She once said to me: "Mom, I don't know why, but is it weird that when i dance, I sometimes can't help myself from crying?"

And that's when I knew that dance wasn't an "activity" for her; it was how she negotiated her space in this world.  It's how she participates in life.  And while I don't mean to get all philosophical about it, I know this for 100% fact: she wouldn't have been given that as part of the fabric of her very soul without a very good reason.  Will it be a "payoff" of a professional career in ballet (or other dance)?  I don't know.  Realistically probably not.  But -- I would be very surprised if this didn't inform her career in some way, though.  And I love who she is after six hours of sweaty dance time in the studio.  She is her best person covered in sweat from studio work, not the stage.  And I say that because the stage, or the accolades or the "nailing an audition" part of being an artist is great, but it's 1% of the experience.  99% of the experience is the sweaty hard work that no one sees; the unglamorous part.  I always tell my 4 daughters: don't pick anything in life for the 1%.  Pick according to the 99%. It doesn't mean you can enjoy the 1% but the 99% is what will make you happy.  (I tell them the story of how I grew up thinking I wanted to be a lawyer but when I got to law school I realized it was because I fell in love with watching LA LAW, and that was the 1% not the 99%.)  (My career has nothing to do with law now.)

In the meantime, with DD13 dancer I take a two-fold approach: I am 100% behind her desire to focus on ballet 100% and try to go pro.  If that's her goal now, well then I am all-in, no matter what.  I believe that crazier things have happened.  Second approach: I am helping her expand how she defines herself as an artist.  For instance, we found out this year that she is truly a gifted singer.  Who knew?  Yes, she was picked for a solo in church choir a few years ago, but we never gave it a second thought.  But wow! Suddenly, she is this amazing soprano getting picked for singing opportunities.  She is in the honors chorus now for our region, and she just landed the female lead in her school musical (where we are super lucky to have found a director who would arrange rehearsal schedule around her dance schedule.). 

And then what makes this all work is this: faith that her soul will adjust and her desires will morph as her opportunities change over the upcoming years.  Sure, there will be disappointments and hard days as dreams change. But I don't think one single huge moment will be the defining crushing disappointment that "her ballet dreams are now suddenly over."  If we pay attention and do our part and do the work that our souls are wired to do, what we want and what we are meant to contribute to this earth before we leave it have a way of weaving themselves together in harmony.  Bumpy harmony sometimes, but harmony nonetheless.

I hope this is even a tiny bit helpful.  Sending you love and hugs -- I'm so grateful for the thoughtful, loving parents I see here.  

Edited to add: DD turned 13 the other day so technically we just aged out of this forum I just realized.  Still this was all true up until the other day when she was still 12.

Edited by MelissainParis
explained age

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nynydancer

Ballet training is so much more than going pro.  I have watched kids who our school kinda gave up on become beautiful swans who did not become profoessional dancers, but did become amazing poised, focused and competent women.  There is an amazing Ted talk on Ballet teaching grit- find it.  Because your daughter is not delusional, I think it's good to support her full out. There are worse things to do than ballet, and she will inspire everyone around her because it sounds like she has a killer work ethic.   I think the only time we need to be careful is if a kid is completely blind to reality.  But your DD is doing an hour of extra work every night without being asked?  She knows.

I agree with Melissainparis, that you want to watch out for other talents.  For my DS, ballet was that hidden unknown talent (he was a singer and actor), and he ended up loving it.  It's good to branch out a little!

There are 3 girls I know very well who people could have written off easily at 12 who are very different at 15 or 16.  I would stay the course, and if the current school is great, stay there.  

 

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Sunny
On 2018-02-02 at 12:14 PM, MelissainParis said:

And then what makes this all work is this: faith that her soul will adjust and her desires will morph as her opportunities change over the upcoming years.  Sure, there will be disappointments and hard days as dreams change. But I don't think one single huge moment will be the defining crushing disappointment that "her ballet dreams are now suddenly over."  If we pay attention and do our part and do the work that our souls are wired to do, what we want and what we are meant to contribute to this earth before we leave it have a way of weaving themselves together in harmony.  Bumpy harmony sometimes, but harmony nonetheless.

I hope this is even a tiny bit helpful.  Sending you love and hugs -- I'm so grateful for the thoughtful, loving parents I see here.

Thank you for this MelissainParis! and thank you nynydancer.  It's a hard decision to change schools, but it's so great hearing from all the parents about their different experiences, it really helps.

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DanceMumNYC

I agree with the above posts. The 1st time they told you she can't continue much longer was the key to start looking elsewhere. Does she want to be a ballet dancer specifically? If she is also potentially interested in being a modern, contemporary, or jazz dancer, I wouldn't discourage her. I think you should look for strong ballet studios, or a high school with a strong dance program, even if it requires that longer commute. The teen/high school years are a crucial stage for training. Even if she won't dance ballet professionally, she will still need it if she decides to do other dance forms. Regardless, she's clearly passionate about it and should continue in an encouraging environment. Her drive is admirable. All the best! 

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LisaRG

Hi Sunny,

I had a sit down with my dd teachers as well.  They are notorious for telling it straight and no sugar coating.  But remember, they are giving you a one sided critique based on their schools desired vision, vs, another school who may be looking for another ability - like pure determination and passion. This trait sounds like your daughter.  

Also - I find these meetings can take a parent on a bad journey.  At first you believe your daughter can dance, maybe not the best, but with heart - and that shines on the stage.  But after the meeting you suddenly see your beautiful daughter as not having the right shape or ability as the others students, and you question everything.  Don't do this.  I am going through this now.  

You are her cheerleader.  Get her out of that school and into another.  There are so many wonderful schools.  Look for one that's smaller so she gets more attention. Let your daughter dance without her having to make any decisions about the future.

Misty Copeland had too much muscle ( athletic build unbecoming for old fashion ballet  requirements) and was too short when she started training.  .  

Hope this helps

L

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LisaRG

Hi Sunny,

google Micheala Prince.  Athletic build, black from war torn Sierra Leon -originally,   And with light and dark pigmentation on her face and body.  She won at YGPA, and now dances with ABT studio and has multinational add campaigns.  She is not skinny.

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jvrob1126

Michaela DePrince

 

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Sunny

LisaRG THANK you for this post.  Your description of the meeting is EXACTLY how I felt, and is is heartbreaking!  I'm sorry you are going through this too, but it sounds like YOU have clarity about how to support your beautiful and unique dd. Realizing that the school my dd is in now just doesn't have the vision to support her is the most important take-away.  They are looking for something that she doesn't have (and that they haven't taught her!), and we need to find a place that IS looking for what she has.  We have seen the amazing Michaela Prince on the 'First Position' documentary, which was amazing. My dd is very inspired by her, and Misty Copeland too, who have much more athletic body types. The good news is that we did lots of soul searching, and lots of looking and talking to and dancing for other programs, and we have found a very serious program, ballet-focussed which is my daughter's passion, (very small classes) and she had her first private lesson with the head teacher there this week (she will finish the year at her current studio while taking lessons whenever possible at the new studio), and she came out BEAMING from ear to ear!  So much worry and sadness, and when we've looked around we've seen opportunities open up, and other schools eager to have her part of their programs.  I'm grateful to this board to help me get the blinders off to see that there are other possibilities. And DanceMumNYC, thank you for your post too, dd does lots of other dance, but ballet is her passion....I do think that she may become more excited about the other styles once she has a chance to really immerse herself in ballet and see if that is the direction she truly wants to go. We are feeling very optimistic at the moment, THANK YOU ballet talk parents for your help and feedback! Good luck LisaRG, it sounds like your daughter is lucky to have a mum with such clear vision. 

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DanceMumNYC

Michaela is currently a soloist with the Dutch National Ballet.

I'm glad to hear that you already have another plan AND she's already taking classes there!! Her expression alone can tell you that it may be a better fit! Please keep us posted.

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LisaRG

👍🏼

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