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Ballet Talk for Dancers

high school dance team?


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I am wondering if your daughters have been faced with this dilemma. My daughter's high school dance team practices for an hour and a half after school, Monday through Thursday. These girls then go on to their ballet/dance classes at our studio which are usually 1 1/2-3 hours. On Fridays, during the football and basketball season, the dance team misses the only pointe class offered by the studio. They usually try to take a lower level class during the week and use it as their pointe class. My daughter is feeling a lot of pressure to try out for the team. The reason behind this: the girls need a high school social life with their high school friends. We hear different things from different dancers who have experienced the high school dance team. From: "I wish I had spent more years on the dance team, I regret not getting more involved with my school" to: "The combination of the ballet classes and the dance team requires too much work and it was hard keeping up with my grades. I would never do that again." My daughter's comments range from: "I dance 3 hours a day and I really need to get a life, only the dance schedule makes it difficult to socialize with school friends", to: "It would be so much fun to be on the dance team, I would finally have a social life but my heart is in ballet and that would suffer." The problem lies here: She is not willing to give up her ballet schedule. All her friends will probably be on the dance team. She feels that she will be missing out. She agonizes daily over this. :grinning: Any comments would be most appreciated from everyone. Thanks.

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"It would be so much fun to be on the dance team, I would finally have a social life but my heart is in ballet and that would suffer." The problem lies here: She is not willing to give up her ballet schedule.

This is the dancer's self-protection instinct talking, and she's right. Good for you, kid! Some adults don't have this trait sufficiently well-developed.

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Isu, I feel your pain(and dd). My dd was pressured to join the dance team her freshman year. Our's like your's has many dancers from the studio and our company. Socially it's wonderful for jumping right into "being" known at school. We have over 175 audition for 16 spots. They practice 2 hours 3 times per week. I was able to keep the advance classes late enough for her not to miss. However, the games were another problem. She did miss dance and we felt it affected her training espically going to SI auditions her freshman year. I DID NOT want her to join the team BUT who knows what the future holds so it was her decision. She missed many games in the last 2 years because of classes and performances or SI auditions. Was in trouble with the dance team coach all the time! This year much to my surprise she resigned from the team. YEAH!!!!!! She (on her own) felt this was not helping attain her goals in dance and it was hindering them.


In the end I'm glad I let her make the decisions on this. I think sometimes she wishes she could redo those 2 years but she's happy with her decision and very focused towards her goals. I think her friends have a better understanding of her dedication to dance. They have supported her by coming to see her in the Nutcracker(even her dance team coach).


I don't know if this helps it's just our story with the dreaded DANCE TEAM!!!! :grinning:


p/s There are still dance team members I must work with weekly and their schedule. None who will pursue dance after high school.

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Guest fille'smom

My daughter faced the same situations - having to choose - this year at school. You see, it was her first year to attend school - ever - always homeschooled with plenty of time for dance and Pilates. DD found out quickly that there are many, many exciting, social options available at school. These were appealing for about 2 weeks until she discovered they were interfering with ballet. Long story short - after 1 semester dd is back to homeschooling and dancing her little heart out. Never been happier! I insisted that she stay in school for at least a semester so that she could be absolutely sure of her desire to make ballet the priority. Her response has never waivered " I want to be a professional dancer. That means I have to work hard and make sacrifices now." End of discussion.


PS. DD got a call from a boy last night whom she met at school. It seems there is a school Valentines dance this Saturday night. Her response to his invitation "No thank you, I have an audition Sunday afternoon and I need my rest on Saturday night." :grinning:

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  • Administrators

Just a couple of thoughts on this.


1. I think that if a high school student is on the pro track for classical ballet, AND if she has a realistic potential for this career, that the added hours of dance on the team are detrimental in terms of the time and energy required there, when it should be put into ballet.


2. If there is serious doubt about the potential for a classical career, then the experience and fun and social life ARE important.


3. If the student feels that she is "sacrificing" anything by choosing to dance over other social activities, (and let's face it, school dance teams are a social activity, not one that is beneficial to a classical dancer) then perhaps her priorities need to be examined. The choice to dance over other things must be because she would RATHER be doing that than anything else, not because she feels she SHOULD be doing that.


4. All of that said, I believe that some social life is very important in a high school student life, and that there are ways to have SOME of that too! :grinning: While the dancers closest friends are generally other dancers, since that is where she spends the majority of her time and where the interests are the same, interaction with non-dancers is important in developing a more well-rounded adult. They do need to experience some things that are outside of the studio and the somewhat closed world of classical ballet. There is no reason that a serious, on track student cannot attend dances at school once in a while, participate in things of interest for her, whether they are watching the sports teams or being on a debate team or being in the drama club. It's just a matter of balance and priority. There ARE actually some times when it is quite justified to miss a day at the studio. Even our students do attend proms, graduation activities, and an occassional important school trip! :wacko::(

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Miss Leigh, as usual you are right on! Above all, I believe these young dancers must learn to make these difficult decisions -- it's part of growing up. Parents and instructors can provide counsel, however only the dancer knows what's in his/her heart. As far as dance team participation and higher levels of a pre-professional program, I can't imagine having enough time or energy to do both -- but I guess that's because I'm not a teenager.

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When my daughter was nearing the end of 5th grade and the next year would be middle school, I saw a notice for try-outs for the dance team. This was 3 years ago and I had not discovered Ballet Alert. I was still VERY naive about ballet, and did not yet "get it" with regards to the devotion and the passion that my daughter had for it. At the time, it was dance, and dance team would be more dance. This is good...right?


So of course I let my daughter know about the dance team audition. My daughter looked at me as if I had suggested she jump off a cliff. "Oh mom," she exclaimed in the most disappointed voice. "That's dirty dancing." My comment was somewhere along the lines that she was becoming a ballet snob.


Well, we saw them shortly thereafter at a school function and she was not kidding. They had these shiny unitards on, and the dancing seemed very....how cam I saw... "mature" for their age. I was relieved she had no interest in this. And not long after I let her audition for her first SI. :D

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We haven't had to deal with this particular problem yet, but I have seen some of the results of dancers on school dance teams. One was torn ligaments in the knee, putting that dancer out for over 6 months. The next was tendonitos that required no dancing for 3 months, not to mention the pain that poor girl endured during our Christmas production and the latest was a torn groin muscle that had happen at her dance team rehearsals. That injury is still healing. All of these girls are on the same squad, so maybe it is the teacher and not dance teams in general. :shrug:

My daughter has decided that no amount of pressure from anyone will force her do that to herself.

It isn't just the injuries of the older girls, there was student of the schools that had a very promising future in ballet. She had full scholorships to several SI's over the years. (Houston, ABT, Joffrey, just to mention a few) she ended up quiting ballet to join her highschool cheerleading squad and is now a NFL Raiderette. My daughter was mortified. She had seen pictures of this girl when she was a student and couldn't believe anyone would give up ballet for a tiny top and short shorts. :o She is now convinced that all cheerleading leads to this type of career. :sweating: This girl recently came back for a couple of classes and my daughter was amazed that she still had it. Her training in ballet was so ingrained in her body that even after all these years, she was still amazing to watch. Although her big hair and other bigger attributes got in the way a bit. :D

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Ms. Leigh, Mr. Johnson and to the wonderful parents who responded to this thread..thank you so much. Back in October, after reading this board, I took my daughter to a reputable dance teacher in a major city close by (she took a summer intensive with him 2 years ago) to have my daughter evaluated. He said that she certainly had the determination and the ability to dance professionally. She was thrilled to hear this as this is her goal. :D She is, at the age of 13 1/2, aware of the sacrifices that she must make now and in the future and also the sacrifices that her family will make to help her achieve this goal. I have seen her turn down social opportunities in order to dance her best in class. I don't think I could have ever been this devoted to a sport and I was involved in a sport for 10 years before I gave it up. I think she will ultimately decide not to try out for the dance team and will deal with the "why not" questions from her ballet friends in her own way. I know she will probably be up there in the stands with the rest of the student body during pep rallies thinking, "I could have been on that squad, but..." and I hope she will be at peace with her decision. I will continue to encourage her to spend more time with school friends on weekends when not working on homework or dancing at class or rehearsal and I pray that we are doing the right thing by letting our 13 year old decide the course of her life.

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Guest balletandsynchro

Yes, one can have some of the social life of HS without dance team! My Dd (freshman) is in dance class 6 days a week - but attended the homecoming dance, 3 football games, and is a member of Model United Nations. She was also invited to perform a classical variation, and a contemporary ballet piece at our Fine Arts fundraiser. Her best friend is another ballet dancer at the studio, and she is closest to her dancer friends, but it is important that she has made nice friends at school. :shrug:

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Dance team does have it's place. And they can be very good in some areas and awful in others depending on the coach. They were never intended to be a place for dancers who wanted to dance professionally, especially professional ballet. And a good coach will have that discussion with your child and tell them just that. A good coach will also try to work as much within the studio schedule if possible should your daughter still want to try it out. After all, they want to keep a trained dancer not get one and see her technique deteriorate.


Dance Teams were developed as an outlet not for recruiting ballet dancers but rather for dancers who maybe didn't want to dance professionally but wanted to represent their school. Or for the naturally gifted dancer whose parents didn't see the gift until too late and would never pay for ballet lessons just gymnastics or soccer, yet they dance and dance well........just not with the technique that ballet requires. (when I was growing up you went for modern dance if this was the case)For every serious ballet inspired dancer there are hundreds who dance well but don't have the facility, or the turnout, or the professional quality training or whatever else limits dancers from their initial dream. Dance Team is for the girl who had ballet promise at 10 but had puberty completely change her body type and made that dream a nightmare.


I coached a Nationally ranked High School Dance Team for 12 years. I gave it up two years ago when my own daughter sought out a pre-pro ballet company and turned her focus to more serious training. (somebody had to drive the car an hour each way every night!) She is too much a ballerina to be on my own team although she loves to watch them. I'd tell her this and I tell her ballet inspired friends this as well. If you want ballet training don't come here. Stay where you are.


If you want a social outlet, want to supplement your Jazz training, just don't find the studio to be a place that is fun anymore then Dance Team might be for you. My ballet students that I have gotten (probably 4 in 12 years) left each and every practice and went to ballet class and at the end of one year, kindly told me that they needed to get back "home". My Jazz emphasis trained dancers usually stayed all 4 years on the team, thrived and about 2-3 a year continued their dancing either in college or professionally in jazz areas.


Your daughter should look towards what she really wants, then look at the team at her school. Is it any good? Is it one of those "blow out your knee" teams that focus on tricks rather than technique? Many are but many more are not. If her first love is ballet and she has a chance, let her walk away.



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My dd, since the age of ten, has always given up other things for dance classes. She is kind of an extreme case. When invited to a birthday party, etc. she always said "I'll be there right after dance class". Between her dance schedule and her school and homework, it does seem like she has no life. The AD of her current school had talked to my dd just casually about adding other things to her life besides dance class and school: listening to all kinds of music, going to symphonys, operas, museums, anything that will add to her art. I don't think he meant the concert that she went to recently! :thumbsup:B) She had fun crowd surfing, though.

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