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not giving 100%


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Hi, I am new to the board and have enjoyed it very much. My question is regarding my 14 year old daughter. She has been in ballet for 6 years and on pointe for 3. I am concerned because although she loves ballet, one of her teachers told her yesterday said she was only giving 80% effort. I wouldn't be worried if the AD at the ballet company she is in (not associated with her dance school) also recently said something similiar to her at her evaluation. He said she has the potential to dance through college or maybe even professionally, but he feels he has to sometimes has to "pull out" the gift he knows she has inside. She dances 5 days a week and has quite a difficult course load at school. I think sometimes she may just be too tired to give 100% all the time! Do most dancers feel passionately about dancing all the time? She is quite upset at these comments and feels she is trying her best. Thanks for any input.

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Hello ruth, welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers, and especially the Moms and Dads forum! :angry:


It's hard to know with kids, but I do sometimes have one or two who think they are working as hard as they can, but they really are not. There can be several reasons for this, including the physical strength to maintain the amount of effort necessary, or the total commitment and focus that is also needed.


If the desire and focus are there, but not the physical strength, then perhaps you need to have her checked out by a physician. If she is healthy she should be able to maintain an academic and ballet load at age 14, unless her schedule of either one is really excessive. Five days a week does not sound excessive at all for ballet, unless there are too many hours per day?


Sometimes around this age they will also start to doubt their abilities and lose some confidence, and this could hold them back from working full out too. Watch for any signs of depression, or even just unhappiness after classes. Also talk to the teachers again and see if they have any input as to why this might be happening. They probably know her very well by now and should be able to sense a problem, since they see that the work is less than expected.

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Maybe it's not that she's not giving 100%, but being compared to those who give 150% all the time. My DD tends to be in the latter, and I know it makes it hard for others at times. It's hard for those on both ends.

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ruth, if I might ask, what time does your daughter leave for school in the morning and what time does she get home at night after ballet? You mentioned the academic load - I know that many high school kids have much more homework than we used to in the "old" days and that it differs from school to school.


Last year my own daughter left for school at 7am and didn't return home until 8:45pm and then had to take a shower, eat dinner and do all of her homework. Often she'd be so exhausted that I'd just have to say "lights out!" even if she wasn't close to being finished. This kind of schedule can be very stressful. Many do it, but that doesn't mean it's advisable. Stress is so common these days and teenagers are often subjected to much more than we realize.


Victoria Leigh has given you some good advice. Talk to your daughter, make sure there's nothing physically wrong and then bear in mind that emotional ups and downs can take their toll.


Glad to have you aboard Ballet Talk for Dancers and hope to hear more from you. :angry::shrug:

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Then there's the phenomenon of the student who's working like the very Devil, and they're working on the wrong things! That's where we, the teachers, have to step in and say, "More like this, and less like this!" :angry:

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Both Mel and Victoria both have words of wisdom here and are correct. I would also encourage you to have your DD ask the AD as well as her teacher for specific examples where they see her not working 100% if they are approachable. With reinforcement of an example that would show 100% effort. (from experience of having one "visual" learner DD and one "auditory" learner DD). If your DD "feels" like she is working 100% then she may just need specific examples to show her what they mean before she can make a physical change. A visual learner will "feel" like they are working and need examples to make their brain understand anything different.


As well, some kids develop a fear of failing in front of their classmates and would rather settle for dancing safe so that they are always correct in their presentation. If that is the case, the teacher may just want to see her "go for it" instead of holding back.



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Wow, I can't believe the quick response time on this board. Thank you so much for your replies.


DD is physically strong enough to maintain her schedule, but she often does have confidence issues. Her teacher placed her with older, more experienced dancers saying that it would help with her confidence and oddly enough it has. I thought it would have the opposite effect. DD's teacher also joked that if my DD should fall she would cry tears of joy. So she may, in fact be worried about making a mistake in front of the older dancers.


I will talk to both her AD and dance teacher as they are both very approachable. I believe DD is a visual learner and specific examples may be just what she needs. Thank you all.

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Hello Ruth!


The only thing I might add is that, if indeed your daughter is truly committed, this is probably "just a phase." And on the positive side, this may actually turn out to be a great opportunity for her. Something similar happened to mine a few years ago. (Incidentally, she too was in an extremely rigorous academic program and had a long commute to and from school in addition to dance classes every day.)She was not happy to hear that "she needed to work harder" and at first she would not admit -- even to herself -- that she really was not working as hard as she could. But she let the comment sink it, took it to heart and started pushing herself. Her growth since then has been remarkable and her teachers are giving her more challenging work in class as well as wonderful performance roles.


It sounds like your daughter's teacher and AD really care about her training and her progress. Feedback like this may "sting" at first, but it really is golden.

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Guest BalletAuthor

Welcome, Ruth!


Everyone has given you very sage advice.


I'm just hopping on board to re-emphasize the need for a physical exam!


Ds had mono for MONTHS before he got it diagnosed...his school sent him to their psychologist because he was giving so little effort that they were sure that he was not only not giving it 100%, but that he had "quit."


Diagnosis came back the same day he saw the "shrink." Fortunately, they concurred...kid had not "quit", but was really really lethargic from the virus!


Again, welcome!

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A visual learner will "feel" like they are working and need examples to make their brain understand anything different.


Okay momof3darlings, you have me intrigued with this comment. I have a non-dancing child who is off the charts a visual learner. His instructers would say he doesn't give 100% often enough, and so would I. Would you elaborate on this?

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I have a ds that is a visual learner who never felt the need to produce what he learned. He just sucked it into the brain of his, learned it and moved on. No high need for approval. Of course that makes it really hard to evaluate in school. He'd keep his grades just high enough to continue to dance and keep the play station but not one grade point higher. I think he spent more time figuring out where the line was then if he had just done all the work.


This really backfired in dance. He would watch the teacher, who did not demo full out, and copy exactly what he did. Taking the auditory instruction and visualizing it so that he could learn visually, which is what he is comfortable with, was not easy. It looked to everyone including me that he was just not trying. It took my non dancer husband who specializes in teaching math to different learning styles to point out that he was a visual learner who was copying the teacher exactly. My husband gave him some suggestions on incorporating some different learning styles into his life.


One of his new teachers even told me "boy I have to be careful when I teach him or I see all of my bad habits".


He says now he feels it as opposed to seeing it in his head when he applies a correction. He seems to be learning quicker and taking in corrections into his body a lot faster than ever before.

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Ballet Author, that is right on about the mono problem. I have a lovely child who fell into a terrible period of time last year where I felt she was just not trying at all. She was lethargic and lacked any kind of spark or work ethic, and this was not like her. After watching this for a while, I talked to her Mom. I didn't know what was wrong, but I knew something was. Didn't know if it was physical or psychological, but something needed to be done. It turned out she had mono too. After treatment and some rest, when she finally got over it, there was a totally different child there! Her progress has been on track ever since :)

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Knock Knock. I'm not a parent, but I did have mono last year. . .a terrible case of it. I had the same attitude described here, plus some other symptoms. It starts off very light, which may be the case with your daughter right now (if this is the case at all), then will get severe. I would take her to find out if this is the case right now before it gets any worse. Most of the time mono has to just run its course, but in the latter half of my sickness, my body was so worn down I started getting infections. Hope this helps.


Moderators: feel free to delete.


Sarah Ann :)

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mom1--I'll pm you a couple of sites to check to help with strategies to help.


But generally speaking, if your NDChild is highly visual then they might need additional visual stimulation to get more effort. CMtaka's example is a great one. They will give what they see because they think that is all you asked for. And get frustrated, mind you, that you don't understand that they gave their all. They truly do have more to give but need to "see" the standard. Most teachers (and moms) want MORE but want them to produce that more in their minds and then execute it. :flowers: A classic kid for when studying Shakespeare really needs to go see the play.


Lucky for us , dance teachers (actually all arts related teachers) teach to all learning styles without even trying to. In most cases, our DD and DS get told the combination(auditory), shown the combination (visual) and get to mark the combination (physical) all before they have to present it. And on top of that, they get critiqued immediately after they present their "assignment" on what parts of it they did not achieve and many times get to immediately do it over again to impart the corrections. Classroom teachers could learn alot from the typical arts classroom setting.



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Ruth, I just want to raise the possibility that your daughter's actual desire is indeed less than her stated desire. It does happen that kids think they are more interested than they really are. Or, they truly DO have a desire to dance, but not to the extent required to prepare for a professional career. You said

DD's teacher also joked that if my DD should fall she would cry tears of joy. So she may, in fact be worried about making a mistake in front of the older dancers.
This characterization raises the possibility that your daughter is a perfectionist type who may be afraid -- or may not know how -- to make her true feelings be known. Kids like this often show their feelings in their actions rather than their words.


What to do as a parent? That's such a toughie! This is that eternal razor's edge: should I push a little and hope that she gains some confidence, or sit back and risk her falling behind when she really doesn't want to? So, in addition to all the very good advice about physical check-ups and asking the teacher for specific examples, you might have an open conversation with your dancer about her schedule, where she'd like to put her time and effort, etc. Vagansmom said something in another thread that seems really applicable here: it's your job to collect all the information and present it to your daughter, and discuss possible outcomes of various courses of action, but in the end, it's her decision what to do.

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