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Dealing with Disappointment

Guest OttawaMom

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Guest OttawaMom

Hi. I have been away from the board for sometime as I had a baby July 2003 so things have been very busy. I'm writing today to get some of your thoughts on how to help your child deal with disappointments (dance related). My dd, 14 years old, has had some tough luck this past year with ballet. In the spring she did her exam and received a Commended. She normally does much better and most of her peers did receive higher marks. In class she has felt very picked on by the teachers - and she is not usually one to complain. I spoke to her teacher about this and she spoke to my daughter. According to her, my daughter is still a very lovely dancer, she just seems to be putting so much pressure on herself that her stress shows when she dances. Finally, this past weekend she auditioned for Nutcracker and did not get any part. Her reaction surprised me in that she basically did not react. I know if it was me, I would have cried - but she seems to be keeping her emotions very well hidden. One other thing is that her good friend got a part. So far, none of this has affected her to the point where she wants to quit, but I'm not sure what (if anything) I could do to help keep up her self-confidence. Thanks!

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Hi Ottawamom, first of I want to offer a belated congratulations upon the birth of your baby! :D:flowers:


Now, as to your daughter, you wrote

I spoke to her teacher about this and she spoke to my daughter. According to her, my daughter is still a very lovely dancer, she just seems to be putting so much pressure on herself that her stress shows when she dances.


Does this mean that your daughter told you that the teacher told her that she (your daughter) was "putting so much pressure on herself that her stress shows when she dances"? Um, did this teacher have nothing else to say, such as offer your daughter suggestions on how to release this tension or improve? I mean, does your daughter feel she is getting corrections in her classes that attest to this problem?


I am not a teacher, but it would seem to me that there might be something more that could be offered here. I'm sure later in the evening some of our East coast teachers will have some helpful responses. In the meantime, that link fendrock did give you is a handy one - perhaps after you read through it you might use it as a jumping off point to talk to your daughter...

Edited by BW
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Hi Ottawamom,


I had been wondering where you'd gone! Allow me to add my congratulations on your new addition!!!!!!


We have had quite a trying 2004 in terms of dance at our house as well (especially in terms of casting), and I can relate whole-heartedly to your situation! Believe me!! :D


As to the exam, you know as I do that it's just the reflection of one performance on one day. I know it's hard when peers achieve a higher result, but ultimately all that matters is that she passed!!!


As to Nutcracker, I remember that your dd was cast another year in a company nut performance. If this is the same company's production and she didn't get a part this year, that's hard. However, that's also life in dance and a huge part of the profession. Who knows? Maybe she just wasn't the right size for the costume! That happens more than we all realize, I'm sure.


Anyway, hang in there and enjoy your new family member!




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Well, two separate comments on this .... I don't know how to coach a student about HOW to deal with dissappointment, but I do know that big, small, and unexpected dissappointments are part of this biz - and I would say that they ALL have to face it, including "the creme de la creme of the students" who can also face significant casting dissappointments, or being pulled from something because of an injury, etc. SO - if they want this as a profession, it is part of what they need to find a way, within their personality make up, to deal with.


On the matter of dancing with tension --- I would assume some of the teachers will have additional perspectives, but as the mother of a student, I think that a student can be more "at home" based on their body type and lord knows whatever other factors, with certain teachers, and certain styles and certain teaching methods. It is worth considering whether she is working against herself, so to speak, in her current situation.


It is also worth considering whether sprinkling in another dance style such as modern or jazz, as a "minor" one or two classes a week, using muscles in different ways to different music, choreography, etc. might be an indirect way of addressing the tension issue in ballet.


I offer these ideas based on a specific period in my daughter's life as a dance student.

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Guest OttawaMom

Thanks for the replies & congratulations also. I really appreciated the link to the previous topic - very helpful. Especially liked the Helen Keller quote that somebody gave (when one door closes, another one opens). Also, somebody mentioned that these things are sometimes harder on the parents than the children - how true! Like I said, she has not seemed to be very upset - so I may be worrying for nothing. All I know is that if it were me, I would be crushed. One thing that I think is helping her deal with this is that when she was cast in the last Nutcracker in Ottawa by the same company, she was only 12 and barely 5'2; she is now 14 and about 5'6 so as some of you mentioned, it could very well have to do with that. Somebody suggested that another dance class might help - she is already taking Modern as part of her program. They were offered a Jazz class, however, it didn't fit with our schedule. Right now, the teacher was telling them that they might try to give them a Pilates class and she is very keen on that. Well - gotta go - thanks again for all the ideas - the power of (virtual) positive thinking!

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My daughter has had more than her share of disappointment yet she keeps on dancing. Sometimes I worry about her persistance in reaching for the unattainable. It seems no matter what she is the one overlooked, a point away from getting a better grade, the one laid off from work, etc. My son and myself on the other hand have opportunity falling at our feet when we don't deserve it. My daughter is a hard worker and deserves so much more. I'm waiting for the day when the opportunity knocks on her door. The rejections will get her down for awhile but she always springs back with a good attitude, determined to succeed.

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:sleeping: OttawaMom - don't worry about not being cast in this year's Nutcracker in Ottawa. My son was rejected at 12 by the same company, didn't survive the first cut and I don't really think he put too much effort into the audition. He was tall and I think he was trying out for a rat?? or soldier?? He basically shrugged it off - I was upset because I had to take time off work for this and fight traffic and try to find that stupid side stage door, etc. I was in a foul mood on the way home. :P Now after all we've been through in dance for the past two years, that audition and rejection was just a minor bump along the road. :wink: He survived a major rejection, then found acceptance - it all seems to work out for the best in the end.


Your daughter is most likely just fine - keep the faith and go with the flow..



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DD will react to my reaction. If I am upset...she will be and vise-versa. I have learned this over the years and watching my behavior at disappointments. I have tried to learn to hide it but it usually doesn't work. DD and I are too close for her not to see through me. :wink:

There are times when I do get disappointed and there are times when I wonder why she didn't get a certain part. I have learned through trial and error to keep my big mouth shut. The teachers/choreographers know best. It hasn't been easy, especially for an outspoken Irish women! :sleeping::P

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What I try to do is talk to my daughter about long term goals versus short term goals, especially when it comes to minor injuries (trying to keep them from becoming major injuries). Parts in performance pieces are a little harder. I remind her that this year's auditions are important as she is looking for a residency program and that in the end, not getting a certain part in a certain piece isn't going to matter. Sometimes a little reminder that she is not the center of the universe is a good thing. :yes::blushing:

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