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Encouraging Discipline

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CDM -- I am really agreeing with your point of view that "this road is not for everyone."


And, per Treefrog's list, given the outcome, the choice to travel that road should really be made by very few.


I am not saying that attending a residency program constitutes an abnormal childhood.


I am saying that what a child must manage in order to train successfully as a dancer is very atypical of what we generally expect of children in this country.


There are very, very few people capable of training intensively at a place like Harid and managing academics to the degree that they are accepted at places like the Air Force Academy.


What about those kids who really are not able to do this, yet will feel as if they have "failed" if they subject themselves to all these pressures and do not get jobs as dancers?

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There's something I just don't get here.


*Jobs with ballet companies are in short supply

*Ballet jobs pay really badly

*Injury rate is high

*Career prospects are short and uncertain

*Performing arts are neither well funded nor well respected in this country


Just food for thought here...Ballet jobs...1st year corps in the top companies in the US are making more, on a weekly basis, than many ballet teachers who teach full time. The numbers are out there if one searches...NYCB $956-$1641, PABallet $800, PNB$797, SFB $914-$1162. I have lived in two of those cities as a teacher and never made that kind of money and we teachers worked more weeks than the dancers.


Career prospects...[http://www.ocregister.com/ocr/2004/12/15/s...icle_344609.php] Go to the ABT forum on BA to read the article about Ethan Stiefel's new artistic directorship of Ballet Pacifica. Salary undisclosed, yet it does allude to the fact that many ADs of mid-range companies are making $100,000+. The prospects are out there. Are there really that few jobs in comparison to the numbers of college graduates who are reaching to the stars on the corporate ladder? :)

Edited by vrsfanatic

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Are there really that few jobs in comparison to the numbers of college graduates who are reaching to the stars on the corporate ladder?
vrsfanatic, yes there really are less jobs. I'm sure you didn't really mean that literally, but one can't compare job openings for AD's of successful ballet companies with those of a CEO in numbers or salaries. (And do we really want to? :( )


But wait, who's saying if one doesn't get a job in ballet that one must climb the "corporate" ladder? :blink: It's a big world out here and there are such a huge variety of opportunities for people to explore! While we're trading links: U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook 2004-05. :)


I'm really enjoying reading everyone's thoughts on this thread which has morphed from what a mother's role is in using discipline to foster her child's dance career, to what a parent can do to turn their dancer's life into something akin to the tougher European residential experience in order to excel and be chosen for a position by an American ballet company's AD, to whether there are far too many American students shooting for any spot in any ballet company anywhere. And, it does one's heart good especially at this difficult time in the world to see that everyone's maintaining their sense of decorum, as well. :D Just kidding! :gossip:


So are we back to whether a life's choice is up to the parent or the ballet student? :innocent:

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If others wish to discuss who should make the life choice, o.k. My original question was based on the fact that (I’m told) my dd has already made that choice. I appreciate the comments of those who have seen how hands off approach has worked and I’ve gotten food for thought. I would like to hear for those who feel there are specific proactive things (besides money and transportation) parents can do to foster the disciplined training. (I’ve read the posts on developing an appreciation of ballet and music.)

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I perhaps did not state my question as well as I may have. Sorry! :D What I was trying to state (but boggled) was that with all of the students pursuing high level careers in the corporate world, how many of them actually get those jobs. I do compare working for one of the major US dance companies to having a job in the high level corporate world. Salaries are different, but training, courage, talent and abilities are similar.


Anyway, this is off-topic. Please feel free to delete. :)

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Mrs. Stahlbaum
I perhaps did not state my question as well as I may have. Sorry! :D What I was trying to state (but boogling) was that with all of the students pursuing high level careers in the corporate world, how many of them actually get those jobs.


Hmm...this gives me an idea for a new TV show: The Apprentice: Ballet Style. :)

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Fendrock...I think your last is right on. One of the previous posts mentioned the fear of failure a child might experience. I think that although they may experience great frustration, most young dancers are in pretty close touch with reality.


I know when I was a youngster, I started off playing little league baseball (first organized endeavor) and probably figured out even then (though only in the deep recesses of my mind) that there were at least two million other kids my age competing for the same New York Yankee second base position I was. Knowing that to be the case allowed the reality of my love for baseball to sink in. I continued to play through American Legion and then walked away from organized ball with a lifetime full of memories and (unrealistic) dreams of what might have been...but I would not trade away a minute of those years for anything.


He went like one that hath been stunned,

And is of sense forlorn:

A sadder and a wiser man,

He rose the morrow morn.


....as did I.


I think kiddos who enjoy ballet in the same way I enjoyed baseball are so much better for all the enjoyment they had along the way and for all the lessons beyond dance that ballet can provide.



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Guest justthedriver

I agree that ultimately the discipline - i.e., the willingness to endure rejection, not just occasionally but regularly, the sheer stubborness that can make you push past pain that would have most people whining in a heap on the floor, the dogged optimism that you can succeed when so many around you fail - has to come from within. Please note, a kid without this broad streak of unnatural dedication and desire is a normal kid. But he or she may not have the stuff to survive as a working artist.


You can't impose this on someone; a life in the arts demands that it come from within. What a parent CAN do is make certain that the child lives up to what he/she has promised others, whether it's showing up and working hard at practice, or doing the household chores. It's too much to expect a twelve year old, or a sixteen year old, even a gifted one, to really understand what an adult's share of commitment is required to be a working artist. All you can do is encourage, point the way, keep them on track and fed and rested - and set an example.


If they change their minds about their dreams, discovering that it's too difficult and they're still young - then you may draw a sigh of relief, for their having dodged the bullet of later and more bitter disappointment. If they can't take the heat at this point, a career in the kitchen is maybe not such a good idea. A rigorous dance studio will weed out those who need weeding. Let her teachers do the Darwinian dirty work; that's part of their expertise.


Being an artist is like being carjacked; you don't pick it, it picks you. You're not really driving, you're just along for the ride. And if any other life seems to hold even equal appeal, run for it. You can always buy tickets and see the dancers. If any of us has actually managed to live to adulthood without regrets over roads taken or untaken, then that person has certainly been working from a very limited map.

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That was SO beautifully said, justthedriver! That post should be put into the "classics" file!

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Justthedriver, I second Treefrog's applause! Thanks for putting it so well!


I do think the number of kids who have what it takes to become a "working artist" is small.


But I think most good ballet training sets the expectation for anyone who participates that they have the same aspirations as those who actually have the gifts necessary to succeed.


I wish there were more good schools with a broader approach, with goals more immediate -- to foster the love of dance in those who have it and to give children the opportunity to express themselves through choregraphy -- to encourage a personal best, even if it falls far short of what is expected of a professional.


Obviously, the focus of such a system would include the majority who are unlikely to succeed, as well as the few who have true potential.

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Victoria Leigh

Very well stated indeed,driver! I have told parents for a very long time that this ia an art that one simply HAS to do. You don't choose it, it chooses you. :wink:

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Thank you Ms. Leigh for repeating that comment. That wisdom has stuck with me since I first looked at this site, because it restated what dd was saying to me. "Mom, sometimes I don't want to dance. I just want to play, but my body has to dance." "If I don't have class at vacation time my body feels weirdish, like cabin fever." And "I have to dance. That's what my body was made for. It's my destiny." About the same time I read a quote by George Balanchine "I don't want people who can dance. I want people who have to dance." These comments all together were a wake up call to me that I'd better be doing my part to help her along.

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I have loved reading everyone's input and opinions. I don't have much to add. I do agree that a while a parent can teach thier child to be responsible and follow through with committments, they can not push them in any one direction, especially something they may not be as interested in as we may have hoped.

The comments made by Ms. Leigh, Vicarious and various others, about a dancers "need" to dance has always made sense to me but never so much as over the Thanksgiving week. DD's studio closed for the week. She did a couple of drop in classes at another studio but most of her time was off. By the 4th day she was restless and moody. I suggested that she stretch and do a bit of barre work. She looked at me as if I would NEVER understand her (and maybe I won't :wink: ) and said "Mom, I have been stretching everyday. I don't need to stretch anymore....I NEED TO DANCE!!!"

It was at that moment that I realized that while she says she loves dance and wants to become a professional, that I knew that she meant it and it is something inside her that drives her.

Now it is up to us, her parents, to pay her bills and hang on for the ride. At least for now....who knows what will happen down the road.

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O.K. I’ve read back through the posts and made myself a list of what I can do as a Mom.


1. Cutting the bucks is a reasonable consequence.

2. Support the schools rules.

3. Make clear the expectations of the art. (A discussion of this might be good.)

4. Don’t stress too much during nut, but have some boundaries.

5. Teach them to remember the audience. (I really liked that advice)

6. Follow through on expectations and consequences.

7. Sometimes back off and let them learn the hard way.

8. Don’t read Toby Tobias’ article. It’s discouraging.

9. As a parent stay optimistic. There are good, well paying jobs. If they make it they won’t starve. The kids will decide whether to be optimists or realists.

10. Make sure they live up to what they’ve promised others.

11. Encourage. (A discussion of this might be good.)

12. Point the way. (A discussion of this might be good.)

13. Keep them on track. (A discussion of this might be good.)

14. Keep them fed.

15. Keep them rested.

16. Set an example. (A discussion of this might be good.)

17. Pay the bills and hang on for the ride.

17. Last of all if they change their mind about serious ballet, breath a sign of relief.

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Boy can I relate to the "moody" of NOT dancing. The fun part comes when after graduation, aspirant program, and NO job offer, having to search out classes to keep DD dancing on a regular basis, in order to stay in shape for auditions.

I have stopped encouraging going to the gym as the "beast within her" only rolls her eyes and looks at me as if I have 2 heads! Thankfully she has a Nut contract to keep the "beast" at bay!

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