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Ballet Talk for Dancers

A Dose of Brutal Reality

Guest Watermill

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Guest Watermill

My goodness...I never expected such a number and range of replies in just a few hours! Thanks to all for sharing their concerns and slants on such a difficult endeavor.


They say Misery loves Company. In this case it is a joyous misery and I am warmed by your company, fellow Ballet Moms & Dads!


(I'll keep working on Plan B... and praying hard)

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I am a big believer in theory of plan B's, but am having real trouble finding rationale time for discussion, or believing daughter has time to work on. Any one else in the boat (among the long distance parents)???

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My husband will tell our kids: "What ever you do, shoot for the top; if for some reason you don't make it, you'll fall somewhere near." So my daughter takes that to heart and wants to shoot for the dream of dancing for a major company. If she has to leave her present studio, the only solution would be to send her to a pre-pro boarding school, but that would take alot of money. We're talking around the $20,000 range per year. If dd chooses that route, there goes her college money, so there goes plan B. :wacko:


My husband doesn't really know why we are doing this. He doesn't know why she wants to do something where she will probably end up getting another job to be able to do it. Sometimes I wonder, too, if this is all worth it, but what do you do? Tell dd that all her hard work and sweat may not be good enough and so it's time to give up and go home? Where is that darned crystal ball!!! Oh, to be able to have answers! Which route do we take? Do we throw caution to the wind and spend every penny on a big name boarding school? Can we get away with staying here and for how long? :thumbsup: Well, I'm just glad to see that I'm not alone in this, also. I have all of you for company so that I don't go insane!


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Mylildancer, take heart regarding the college money. Many of the dancers at pre-pros end up with very large merit scholarships to colleges.

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Guest Watermill

Syr, as a very looong distance parent (Oregon to Florida ... Mom is with dd in FL)

our Plan B is homeschooling for a diploma and then hopefully a college with a good enough dance dept to keep dd in shape and auditioning.


I suppose the sword hanging over all of us (besides the one that caused me to generate this thread) is that of career ending injury. It can happen. If it does we want to make sure the education process has taken place so that an 18 year old isn't having to take freshman math. DD has recently switched from BYU to NARS for her diploma program. As you know, there are a couple of very helpful threads on this matter.


Plan A is so all consuming, it's easy to lose sight of the importance of Plan B, isnt it?

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Although I will never recover financially from having 3 dancing daughters, I continue to support daughter number 3 in pursueing her dream of dancing professionally. I KNOW that it is difficult for any young dancer to make it to the pro level. When my oldest got her job with a small to medium sized company the local paper did a newspaper story about her. They interviewed her company director and he said that he had 1800 applicants/auditioners for 1 position and had chosen my daugher from that group. So the percentages were a lot less than 2% for that job. I know how all of our kids worry about being accepted at their favoritte SIs when there will be hundreds accepted to the SI but somehow magically believe that they will be the one chosen for the ONE and only opening at the same company. The odds are incredibly against them, but still they work hard toward that goal. I remember hoping that daughter number one would stay at her job for at least a few years so that she would earn as much money as I had paid for her ballet education along the way. She is still dancing there 8 years later, so even though I am still paying on my credit card charges for her dancing, she has earned a living from it for 8 years and has lots of great memories. When I watch her perform and hear the audience members speaking to each other about her in glowing terms and then see hoards of people waiting at the stage door for autographs, I know that this is a very special profession. She is doing something she loves and is blessing others when she does it. Like the Master Card commercials say "Priceless".

Since daughter number 1 made it to the pro level, it gave us more hope for daughters 2 and 3. We also think that we have a better idea about what it takes and what to expect. Daughter number 2 got her job with a pro company much more easily since she had had the advantage of good training sooner and we knew a little more about the audition trail.

Daughter number 3 is just coming of age to audition. She is taking a slightly different path than her sisters but we know that it is not going to be easy. We have to be smart and use what resources we have as effectively as possible. I know that for us, a year's dance cost was way more than $10,000 each. They could each cost $5000 in pointe shoes alone. Then when you add in an SI you have another couple of thousand--with plane fares and housing added in. Tuition and housing at a pre-pro school can be over $10,000 alone.

I know as a mom though, that they are doing what they love. They are working toward a very difficult goal with determination. They show great work ethic that should be appreciated by any future employer--ballet or otherwise. As said by others and by my own kids, even if they don't make it to the pro level, the pursuit has been worth it. They have loved the performance opportunities during school and seeing themselves improve through the years. I don't know how they survive the audition process. My stomach knots up just thinking about it. I have great admiration for them and all dancers who seriously pursue their dreams. Amazing people.

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DD is slugging it through completing high school by correspondence on top of rigorous days of classes and rehearsals, about to become even busier as Nut approaches. She's not home again until after Christmas. Upside is that I'm sure that this is a lively discussion amongst her friends and fellow students, and she certainly has had the opportunity to observe up close the various efforts and outcomes in college app's and auditions. I'm just having a bit of trouble imagining her blazing out the time to do any college app's at all.

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syr, as I've mentioned before, my DD refuses to even consider college (although she did mention lately that she MIGHT think about it when she's really old, like 30 :pinch: ). Besides, her HS grades were just OK, and she didn't take the final math class that she needed for college admission. So if she does decide to go, it'll be community college for her, first (which is not necessarily a bad thing). Her Plan B is actually dancing, just not ballet - Disney, cruise ships, or Vegas. So, in the case of most injuries, she would have to move on to Plan C, which is, at this point, nonexistant. ALL of her HS friends went to college this fall, which meant absolutely nothing to her. We've basically agreed to support her financially for two years, and at the end of that time, we will see where she is and what her options may be, and reevaluate. But if she does decide to go the college route later, it'll have to be on her dime, because we've spent it all on dance. And, no, I do not feel very comfortable with this, but I have, in the last couple of years, had to really accept that she needs to go for a career, and we have chosen to support that, no matter how we personally feel about her choices.

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Nlkflint, I really love your post, especially about how you never really came to your senses.

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I really loved nlkflint's quote. Thank you for sharing it here.


You know, I distinctly remember fixing the points of the compass at the births of each of our children--the needle pointed to PASSION.


In finding my own passion in life, I knew the sheer joy, immense learning experiences, and the unbelieveable sense of satisfaction and fulfillment which my passion has given me for the past 25 years and continues to do so everyday. This is what their father and I wanted for our children, more than anything else.


We too never had the money, but in the big picture, it really didn't matter. Finding what they LOVE to do and then applying themselves to it, in whatever capacity, was more important. Our expectations were never more than that of a wondrous journey. And, that is exactly what we've gotten, in addition to two passionate young adults. An even more important aspect of this which we had forgotten was,


['. . . that the true worth of your travels lies not in where you came to be at

journey's end, but in whom you came to be along the way.']


Now, there's the big picture.

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K8's Mom,

Since my DD's back up plan for when she can no longer dance in a company is the same as your DD's, you can both move in with us in Vegas and we can bill them as the "Ballerina Showgirls". We can then get jobs as dressers back stage for their show and make back all that money we've spent on their ballet education.

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yes, great post nklkfling - and K8 - thanks for the reminder that their are many variations to plan B.


It is the grit and passion and love that drives them - no paltry statistic can do mcu to temper all that.

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Guest Watermill

Plan C: Teaching?


My daughter's ballet teacher actually selects certain top level students and involves them in the teaching process, introducing them to the rudiments of instruction at the beginning levels. Not only does this keep them focused on fundamentals, it also ensures the "passing of the torch" from one generation to the next.


It also develops a set of skills and knowledge (patience, clarity of communication, anatomy, nutrition, developing a progressive and orderly syllabus) that can only serve to improve the overall dancer.


By the way, since one can no longer edit old posts, I would like to apologize for mangling the spelling of Boston Ballet's Artistic Director: It is Mikko Nissinen.

I wish I knew how to say "I'm sorry" in Finnish !

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