Jump to content
Ballet Talk for Dancers

A Dose of Brutal Reality

Guest Watermill

Recommended Posts

As I sit her in the midst of no less then 5 college applications, I really appreciate NLKFlint's post. For those of you with younger daughters I can't begin to tell you the anxiety that Senior year brings. I wish we all had a crystal ball to look forward just one year! It is every parents wish to protect their children from "brutal reality" My dd, a senior in high school this year, has many hard decisions ahead of her. The 5 or 6 coleege applications cluttering my computer desk are definitely not plan A in her mind. Her passion is ballet, she wants that professional career. We have always encouraged her to reach for her dreams. (As much as I hate to admit this, I would like to see her in a good college program.) She has agreed to plan A, plan B, plan C and even plan D. We both are very aware of the odds of that professional contract, especially right out of high school. She will audition for company's that are with in reach, apply to several top college programs, apply to several colleges close to good post graduate ballet programs associated with professional companies, and apply to at least one college that has nothing to do with dance and everyting to do with other professions she has an interest in. I want my dd to to know that whatever next year has in store for her, her success does not lie in obtaining a dance contract and we will never feel that the money we have spent on dance was wasted. :rolleyes:

Link to comment
  • Replies 121
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

  • vagansmom


  • BW


  • Momof3darlings


  • dancemaven


Pattec1, It sounds like you folks are covering all the bases. Remember, too, that deferring for a year is always an option. Knowing she could do so gave my daughter much relief as a senior - she found it a far easier year than her junior one. I, on the other hand, spent many a sleepless night fretting about all kinds of things, not the least of which was how to fund any decision of hers. But, even with my husband losing his day job, it all worked out. It just about always does, despite our parental worrying.



Link to comment
Guest Jaynny

It's certainly been along time since I've posted. Now, since my youngest has started school, :yawn: I'm enjoying having a little leisure time here.

It probably was a year ago when I first heard the statistic about the percentage of ballet dancers who actually "make it". At first it startled me, really made me take a look at the amount of time and money we were all spending on dd's

Well a year has gone by, and our 12 year old has an ever growing glow and passion about her that I pray will stay with her forever. We don't only see it in her dance, but in everything she does. What better way to spread your commodities than on something that will achieve this result. Will she be one of the 1 or 2% who "make it" as a ballet dancer? Maybe. If not, hopefully, she will have been taught the self confidence to lead a happy and fufilling future. :D

Link to comment

I have read this topic with great interest because, as I have posted before, I am the parent of a dancer that was not one of the 2%. She was lucky, though, because it became obvious early in high school, so she had plenty of time to pursue other options. Was it hard to realize that a dream wasn't going to come true? Sure. Was her life ruined by it? Absolutely not. Those 13 years of dance were a huge part of her life, and even now she says she wouldn't have changed a moment of it. Yes, we spent huge amounts of money on SI's, classes, and pointe shoes, but we don't regret it. We have a lovely, poised young woman that learned so much from the years of discipline and opportunities to perform. She carries herself well and has never been even the slightest bit afraid to stand up in a class and give a speech or presentation, which I attribute to all of her stage time. Plan B, or C, or even D isn't such a bad thing. I honestly don't think that a moment of time spent dancing is ever wasted, no matter what the future holds.

Link to comment

My husband has inspired my two "artist" children by his philosophy of

a "no" at an interview, audition or submission is just something to get out of the way so you are closer to that "yes". My daughter is in her second professional year at a small company (had her share of no's). My son is a visual artist who is constantly getting those "no's" out of the way!

Link to comment
Guest Watermill

I like your husband's advice, Mary Lynn: It approaches the whole endeavor as a journey, with obstacles to be overcome, realizing that you can't get to the glory until you've climbed that hill, waded waist deep through that swamp, swung on a vine over that snake infested pit.


As I read these replies, I am coming to appreciate all the different ways BM&D's "wrap their minds" around this slightly insane but beyond beautiful expedition.


It reminds me once again of how important it is to keep a balanced outlook on all this. Funny, It's like ballet itself, isn't it? ... where the nitty gritty practical meets an almost otherworldly ideal. And we are somehow supposed to keep one foot in each world: dreaming and writing checks at the same time.


No wonder we're all a little crazy!



Link to comment
  • 6 months later...

Another oldie but goodie.


I can now relate much differently to this topic as my own daughter has decided to take a different path. I wonder if some of these posters from the past who we don't hear from too much anymore ever come back on here. I'd love to hear from them and get an update.


I just want to put in a good word for the long term value of ballet training - even if your child chooses not to continue down the long path of professional ballet or if he or she finds out they don't have the ability necessary to do so - all is not lost. Everywhere my former ballet student has gone to apply for new schools (academic ones) she's been met with high regard for all her years of ballet training. Schools, if they're worth their salt, recognize the focus and discipline involved with this performing art. And guess what, whether your child is academically "gifted" or not B) they're bound to have a lot of self discipline - and that is what it takes to be successful in anything.


So don't throw the baby out with the bath water, whatever your kids decide they want to do. :)

Link to comment
Guest Watermill

Thanks for reminding us of this valuable thread, BW. I continue to marvel at your essential involvement with this board though your daughter has taken another path. You are providing us all with a shining example of keeping faith with the world of ballet (and BalletTalk in particular) no matter what direction the dancing kid may travel.

We all should be so giving.


I'd say that I'm "wrapping the old bean" around this expensive but frightfully competitive endeavor a bit more easily, thanks to dd being accepted on scholarship to SI's, a very favorable assessment from an AD, and the lowering of living expenses at the year round school (She will live with other dancers next year; Mom is coming home after two years away!) So we're getting a little breathing room.


But as I watch the employment situation, I lose my breath again: it's really tough out there. The 18 year olds who are not apprentices seem especially vulnerable: still not fully formed or seasoned, they are going up against confident pros for what seems to be an even smaller number of available contracts. Then there's the apprentice situation itself: a year long audition for little or no pay which may very well result in no contract either. Watching the apprentices at OBT has been like a season of Survivor. Except for the dancing, it's not been pretty.


Our daughter will try to develop relationships with a few mid level companies over these next couple of years, through SI's, classes, auditions for apprentice and whatever else we can think of (maybe competions). The top companies will be out of reach until her technique catches up with her musicality. It has become very clear what she needs to work on. The next two years will tell. At least we continue to be confident that she is receiving the best instruction.


Since I began this thread in October, it feels like things are getting in focus. All in all I'd have to say my wife and I have arrived at a moment of peace. We feel that we've really given our best effort in supporting a dancer who is also giving her best effort.


Now if Terpsichore will take her by the hand while Apollo plays...



Link to comment
  • Administrators

It is a daunting task being a parent of an aspiring dancer in these times, Watermill. That was a really nice post, and it sounds to me like things are on track very nicely for your dd. She is fortunate to have such supportive parents, and also to evidently have a lot of ability and good training.


Although I have come out against compeitions most of the time, when a student is at the age and technical readiness for a job, then I would have to say that would be the time when they could be most valid. I will not argue with anything that will get a dancer a contract! :)

Link to comment
Guest azure

Just a few thoughts from parent of now "retired" dancer aged 23.......cannot believe this but maybe writing it will be therapeutic for me!! My daughter...briefly ......full scholarships at the big schools......2 years on full scholarship all year round program and then apprentice. Then 4 1/2 years contracts at a couple of mid-large companies. Now basically laid off due to the company having financial cut backs so all but one of younger dancers laid off. She realizes that not only so difficult to get rehired but does not want to move again to some other area of country or world and now she wants to be settled. She has decided to move on and is happy about it and is working and retraining in other skills. She does not at this point wish to go to college. She would have loved to keep dancing but there is no doubt as we all know, that it is a very hard and disciplined life and she is definitely enjoying being a "normal" person something she has not experienced since she was about 10 :wink: I feel a sadness just because I will prob never see her dance again and also although all those years have made her into a very self sufficient, determined, capable and beautiful young lady......it is hard to see her in a sense starting from scratch at her next endeavors. Most employers I have to say do not seem to give much credit to having been a professional ballet dancer..in fact some people seem to think that dancers are quite dumb :) . She is extremely intelligent, thankfully, so she is quickly learning new skills but it is an uphill battle to get back to where she was in terms of salary. Any way I do not want to sound too depressing to everyone! She has enjoyed her time as a dancer and no one can take that away from her and NOW is the time for change and new opportunities.

Link to comment

Thank you, Azure, for sharing that.


Hey, 23 is YOUNG. I'm 50 and am in the midst of a career change. I've finally found a real passion that also pays well!

Link to comment

Yes - thank you, too, Azure. It is always good to hear everyone's real experiences. Your daughter sounds as though she's had an excellent time in her ballet world which is so many's dream... Although you're understandably sad, for the reasons you mentioned, it sure sounds as though the timing is right for your daughter and second career. It's always preferable to leave at the top of your game rather than when the audience and the powers that be are wishing you'd just pack it in.


Can't help but wonder what it is your daughter is retraining for - and wondering if it is in anyway an off shoot from her ballet days?


I'm sorry for her being laid off, but I'm very happy that she's got that can do attitude and is ready for a new stage. :wink::)

Link to comment

I would guess in the "works" somewhere is the possible reality show ......

Yes ballet.

If not we can borrow the title from as Watermill refers to the

"2%" Eye catching title. Hey We even may have a producer interested. Could you imagine the amount of dancers wanting to be on this show.




What an eye opening program for the general public, you know "oh your a ballet dancer" as they put their hands above their heads and twirl around.


No clue :)



Lets see could Donald Trump help in any way??

As each dancer is voted off the "sprung floor" they could break a pointe shoe, shank??? In stead of that flame going out.

Oh my I guess I am over the edge.


Link to comment

Yes, but it is scary how this could just become a reality series. :P Personally, though I did laugh at driver of a dancer's post, the concept is a bit sickening isn't it? :green:


In true reality, of course, very few do have any concept of what a ballet dancer goes through on the road to what they hope to be their profession.

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...