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Ballet Talk for Dancers

What is my responsibility as a dance mom?


AsleepATheWheel

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Now that I have been on this board for a few days, I am going to post my first question. I hope it's in the right place. I can tell there are many knowledgeable people on this board to guide me.

 

I am often confused about what my responsibility as a mom of a dancer student is. DD is in a residential program as a day student. I have no interaction with her teachers except to hear of comments and corrections(from dd) and to view her report cards. At times I have questions, general and specific, but I have never called the school to ask them, nor have I met or met with her teachers. It seems as though this just isnt done and I want to respect the rules and the culture of the school.

 

I know that there are parents who do show up, try to talk to the teachers but with varying results. DD would like to handle everything on her own and has done fine so far.

 

I guess my question is...does this seem right to all of you? :D

 

Thanks in advance for any replies.

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AsleepAtTheWheel - I'm trying to remember if you've mentioned your daughter's age? It sounds as though she's in her teens, in which case everything sounds pretty "correct" to me.

 

In some schools, both residential and non, parents do meet in tandem with their dancers for their yearly "progress" meetings until students are fully fledged teenagers as in 15 years old...unless they've forbidden their parents. :blink: I don't really think there are any hard and fast rules, though. I know 16 year olds who have a parent present, too.

 

The school culture can be hard to navigate sometimes, but it seems to me there should be someone to whom you can ask a question or two...though overstepping one's bounds in one's offspring's eyes can be "iffy" in itself.

 

I'm sure others with plenty of experience will chime in over the next week, if they're not too busy rushing around during this busy season. :D

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I think this is a very good question. I have been reluctant to approach teachers in the past, as a) I know they are busy and :devil: I don't want to be seen as a pushy stage mother that encourages the response "Oh no ... hide ... it's dd's mother again!!"

 

My daughter's school provides twice yearly written reports and now she has reached a more advanced level, in addition offers teacher/parent/student interviews twice yearly with the head of the school. These are great opportunities not only to ask questions and to get a good view of your child's progress, strengths, weaknesses etc, but also for you as a parent to get a better understanding of the overall philosophy of the school.

 

While there may be a culture at a particular school, I believe that as you are legal guardian of the child and are responsible for paying the bills, you have the right to receive information about your child and to know something about their teachers.

 

Perhaps you could contact her teachers, saying you understand that they are busy and have many students, but you have a few questions and would like a few minutes of their time. Ask them to nominate a good time for you to phone or visit.

 

Their teachers have such a big influence on them and spend so much time with them, it's good to know who they are. I have always found my dd's teachers to be very approachable if I am also considerate of their time. Hope this helps.

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I have always been a shy one in this regard, and so have always appreciated when schools have put together any kind of meet and greet, that brings parents into contact with faculty and staff, or organizes a group Q and A, etc (during which you could find out how to arrange a more private meeting).

 

I have only heard of one parents' experience where the parents were actually invited in for a conference when student was in mid teens+. Not because of a problem but because it was time to check in together.

 

But because it is rare does not mean it is not reasonable to request it. If you have questions, by all means call and request an appointment to speak with one of her primary teachers, or whomever it is you are hoping to talk with. I think there are things about this dance culture that make it feel awfully awkward or intimidating for a parent -- but she is undoubtedly investing much more energy and hopes there than in math class for example, so it seems quite ordinary to want to check in. Hopefully there will be a teacher who welcomes the contact.

 

Be braver than me! (Even I am braver than I used to be!) :devil:

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Guest fille'smom

Personally I cannot imagine holding back from contacting my child's instructor with any questions or concerns that I might have. (of course I am not talking about daily pow-wows or hounding an instructor to death) Older dancers can certainly approach their instructors and handle most situations but ultimately you are responsible for your child's wellbeing, you pay the tuition and you have every right to have contact with instructors. I would be very unhappy with a teacher or program that did not welcome contact with parents.

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I think if you have questions, you should be able to ask them. I agree with others who say that trying to pre-arrange a short meeting might be the best approach. Showing up at the end of class can put a teacher on the spot and might be just a bad time. Alternatively, you could ask her teacher if she would mind talking on the phone sometime.

 

It is easier if it is built into the program, though. At my daughter's residential school they have parents' days once a year. Parents are invited to watch class and then meet individually with the ballet teacher after class. To me, it makes a big difference being able to talk to someone in person rather than just read the feedback on her report cards.

 

Best of luck with this.

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This, being my daughter's first year at a residential school, I wasn't sure about contacting any teachers and didn't do it until several weeks ago. I sent an email to her pointe teacher about something I just wanted to let her know about. I feel that when a student is under 18, parents have a right to communicate with teachers. Well, I never received a response. There could be any number of reasons the teacher didn't email me back, but I am jumping to the conclusion that she doesn't want to hear from parents.

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Try again - or perhaps follow-up with a phone call?

 

It's hard not to jump to conclusions...we all try not to, but don't succomb so early. Believe me, I do know what it's like. Not all repeated attempts will meet with a response, alas, which in my opinion is indicative of "something rotten in Denmark". In your case it certainly doesn't sound as though there's any underlying reason for this teacher not to respond, manageitall. Don't give up. Perhaps this teacher doesn't "do" email? Perhaps the email went astray or there was a server problem at the program's end? I'd give it the old 3 strikes and your out method - or, in this case, maybe "their out".

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What has evolved for me as a dance parent with a child in a residential program for over two years is a very similar to posting on this site. I try to give my concern or my dancer's concern some time to work itself out before I pick up the phone. I try not to allow myself to react immediately and communicate before I give things a chance to be worked out by my dancer or before I get over my initial reaction. I have reached for the phone a number of times and later been very relieved that I waited before I jumped in.

The relationship that has developed and is continuing to do so is with my dancer and the staff (not with me). If it is strictly a ballet issue I try to stay out of it. I am not there and I have always been only a spectator when it comes to ballet. Even if I am convinced that something is not fair or right, my dancer has made the choice to try to make this her life and she must develop the skills to succeed at each level and focus on the next challenge.

If there is an issue that involves more than ballet or would have long term consequences after ballet then I feel I am justified in contacting the school and expecting a timely response back. I have been satisfied at that level the couple of times I have contacted the school. :lol:

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I agree--if it is an academic or dorm issue, then I contact the school. I feel that is somewhere that a parent needs to stay involved to a greater extent. With an older teen aged child, they know more about dance in the first place than most of us parents and they are the ones that need to navigate their own path.

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I am only personally familiar with one residential program and, like your daughter, mine attended as a day student. She started there as a young child in a pre-ballet class and stayed for 14 years. How long has your daughter attended her school? At what age did she start? That would help in determining what's normal.

 

Once my daughter was in the ballet (as opposed to pre-ballet) program, we received a yearly report and a few sentences here and there with her teacher when we'd arrive to pick her up. There was an occasional conference called by the teacher or AD.

 

Those conferences were twice yearly. Parent and child attended. Eventually, about age 15, daughter had private conferences but AD also met once a year with us, sometimes twice. Any time there was a change in daughter's training, AD met briefly with her and, if it involved money :(, my husband or myself. I remember it all as a fluid affair; there were a minimum number of conferences but there was also an occasional extra one or two. We requested a special meeting only once in those years - the others were initiated by the school but often informally - "We should make some time to talk". By the time daughter was 15, she'd spent 9 years of her life there so there was a family feel to any conversations.

 

I agree with the others who said that until your child is 18, s/he is under your wing and you should be part of the equation too. I think that, at a bare minimum, what's done at a local academic high school is what a ballet school should also maintain as a policy. But I also agree with the very wise advice :rolleyes: about waiting before reaching for the phone. Nearly every casting problem and social problem will resolve itself in a little time without parental interference.

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Thank you everyone for your thoughtful replies. I am still undecided about how I will handle any parent/school/teacher contact. I think that I will keep a low profile unless and until something important comes up. There are already too many moms that try to contact the teachers for every little thing...I dont want to be regarded in that way. But, I also dont want to be regarded as a mom who doesnt care. It seems to be a fine line that separates the pushy stage moms from the concerned every day type moms. I am sure that I will find my way as time goes on.

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