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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Mom needs a pep talk!


mcrm55

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In our school no one really talks about scholarships, but people also sort of know who is on scholarship and who is not, or anyway they have a pretty good idea because we all bump into each other over time as parents, picking up and dropping off, or for other events; so anyone who thought about it (judging by the book's cover: clothes and cars and the like) could more or less tell who is a little strapped, who is getting by, who is doing well financially, and who seems not to be hurting a bit! So no one asks, certainly not the parents. The kids tell each other without much embarrassment.

 

What I find worrisome is the phenomenon, referred to in Joan Brady's excellent book "The Unmaking of a Dancer", of holding onto non-scholarship students as cash cows, in order to pay for the scholarship students, or just pay the expenses of running a school. Brady tells the story of (a young) Suki Schorer advising her to get a scholarship so that she won't be held back--ie the school would avoid promoting her for as long as possible in order to hold onto her parent's money!

 

Major Johnson and Ms. Leigh, do you think this sort of thing still goes on??? To what degree? I found this suggestion upsetting, as I am paying for my dd, and wouldn't like to think that her promotions depend (or don't) on how much money she can bring to the school... :)

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mcrm, I really don't know, but I suppose anything is possible. I seriously doubt that most schools do that, as most schools have to have paying students in order to exist. I really don't think that the idea of keeping paying students in order to pay for the scholarships, is really valid. Without most students paying, there would be no school. If they can also afford to scholarship a few, that is great, but the first thing is to be able to keep the school functional, afford good teachers, musicians, space for performances, etc.

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Thanks, VL! After reading that story in Brady's book, I was absolutely spooked for a bit.

 

I am on a reading kick to try to get caught up with all the changes since my time. Frankly, it's been pretty scary. I now can relate much better to what my parents did so many years ago, because the idea of exposing my daughter to this whole thing (the sacrifice, the pain, the competition, the short career span (if you can get one), etc.etc. is daunting, to say the least. I keep saying to my dd, "don't do this just to be good at it -you may find you are good at many things- do it because you love it! Because if you don't love it, ballet is just too hard -- just do it for fun!" (She is putting a lot of pressure on herself right now to work really hard and improve and she wants to take classes all the time so I have to reign her in). She says she likes being good at it -- what do I do with THAT? :-( Having shot my mouth off in the early days on the boards of saying we should all support out dks and all that, I feel chastened by seeing what goes on...I'm so discouraged and a bit scared right now...even though she is getting a fair amount of encouragement all round by her teachers, and did well in her spring concert, she is so young, and the chances for any kid are a snow-ball's chance in hell....arrrrrrgh! I need a mom's pep talk. I realise I've veered off topic, sorry. Feel free to move or delete.

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Mcrm55, Just keep reminding yourself that your daughter is young, a lot can happen between now and high school graduation, and, if you feel confident about the ballet school's ability to train a dancer, take a big breath and get through one day at a time.

 

I've said this at least twice on these boards but it's a little bit of wisdom my daughter showed me about three years ago and it applies here: She commented that a high school friend of hers said to her one day, "So if you don't get a job in a ballet company, all these years have been a waste!" To which my daughter replied, "I've spent 11 years of my life doing the one thing I love best. How many people can say that about themselves?"

 

That really woke me. She DID have a wonderful life, none of that training could be considered wasted no matter what the outcome, and I was able to lighten up a bit about it.

 

I also used to say the same sort of thing to her as you do with your daughter - "You don't have to do this for Dad or me..." because I was really concerned she might feel an unintended pressure from us. As parents, we are trying to support our kids but we always have to be careful it's THEIR dream and I was trying to do right by that. One day, she stopped me mid-sentence and told me that when I said such things, it made her feel I didn't care about her dancing. "THIS is what I love doing the most!" she said. I realized that, by trying to show her I loved her no matter what, I gave her the impression I didn't value what she loved.

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Another comment on the Joan Brady book in regards to scholarships.

 

The situation in the book as I remember it was that Ms. Brady was told she would have a better chance of making it into the company if she were on scholarship, because they would want her out of there as soon as possible so they wouldn't have to pay for her anymore. Whatever the subtle difference, it is still bogus reasoning. The school very rarely has any say as to who is taken into the company. That is all determined by the company artistic staff and they don't care who is scholarshipped or not. They just want who they want.

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The school very rarely has any say as to who is taken into the company. That is all determined by the company artistic staff and they don't care who is scholarshipped or not. They just want who they want.
Absolutely true, LMCtech!

 

However, assuming you are on the audition circuit and IF anyone bothers to read the dancers' resumes, some scholarships get the attention of the auditioners. (And sometimes that, assuming the dancer is appropriate, is the deciding factor.)

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