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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Bump in the road, rough time


Redstorm

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This is a bit off topic, but travels along the same line. I don't know if I should cut back dd's dancing until she is over this or allow her to work it out.

DD is going through a very rough time right now. She has had to make a lot of changes with her technique and has some bad habits that she has to break. She is insisting that she still wants to dance and is determined to overcome this bump in the road. She says she has to focus on her technique all the time.

She has lost a lot of her extensions from having to learn to use her turnout to its fullest but when she sees the other dancers who have these super high extensions, I know it bothers her.

Are there any other moms out there whose dd's have gone through this?

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Redstorm, I underestand exactly how you feel. DD has been going through some changes with her body and doesn't like it one bit. She has gotten larger up top and has had to find nude colored leotards and bras so as not to show too much in certain costumes. She's not huge by any means, but definitely not fitting the costumes like she used to. She was fitten towards the beginning of the year and now they are tight and too low on the chest. We used to have to buy size 0 stretch pants just to keep the pants up and now I'm trying to convince her to allow me to buy regular size 0 or even size 1 and she doesn't like it one bit. The only thing she's happy about is growing in heigth.

 

Another thing we had talked about recently is how she is less able to "impress" people any more. I explained to her that people are impressed with youth. The younger you do something the better. As you get older, people expect you to be able to do things. So now she sees the importance of the basic, clean, strong technique instead of the "tricks" that used to impress.

 

I think what our girls are going through is part of the normal maturing process that happens. The teen years are difficult and dancers are even harder on themselves than the average teen. Just be there to listen and hand them a kleenex when they need it. The one thing I have to remind myself is not to get so caught up in the emotions. I have to step back and be more the counselor than the parent. Another thing is make sure they get enough sleep! Without that, every mole hill is a mountain.

 

I'm sending good thought and vibes your way, from one parent in the trenches to another! :D:blushing::thumbsup:

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Redstorm--given what your DD has been doing (the double work on technique to catch up) she has every right to be tired and questiong things. That whole process while wonderful for her I"m sure is very tiring and would make even someone with the strongest will question themselves.

 

Continuing to talk to her is the best way to help her work through her fears. Allow her the opportunity to take a break for a few days if needed and as well make sure she understands that you will support her dancing or not dancing. It is up to her. Sometimes, they feel pressure that they will disappoint us if they quit or slow down. Let her know the decisions are hers and usually they will come to what is truly what their heart desires.

 

We are lucky to have nurturing teachers who sense my DD's perfectionist tendencies. They have come to pick up on when she may need a break from the action and generally ask her if it's time to take a day off. I love them for it.

 

And yes, teenagers. I have two. One well into those years and the other just budding into them. I'm taking deep breaths today for the latter as we're going through some issues that will need attention. Deep breaths. VERY deep breaths and even more prayer!.

 

VJ

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Redstorm, it sounds as though life is giving you a run for your money right about now! Take another look at your own signature line ... and try to really believe it.

 

These late pre-teen/early teen years are hard. Kids' bodies are changing, which can be awfully tough for physical pursuits. Moreover, their minds are changing! They are more able to look outward, and they are able to develop concepts -- abstract ones -- that they never were before. The world is a big, new, sometimes scary place, and it's not easy to maintain an accurate sense of one's place in it ... or to feel easy about that place. This IS an age when kids start to be able to evaluate their own abilities and prospects with regard to others -- and the comparisons can come as a shock.

 

It was at 13 that I realized -- in one fell swoop -- that I possessed neither the ability, nor the resources, nor the ambition (well, that realization came later) to compete in the horse world. Up until then, I was happy in my once-a-week riding lessons and spells at summer camp. Then came my first "real" horse show. I cried myself to sleep that night -- real, bitter wailing -- when I realized that other girls had their own horses and their own trainers, and they rode daily, and I just couldn't compete with that. The good news is that in the next years I found my own niche -- small country shows and gymkhanas -- in which I could compete quite nicely, and by high school I was really content to ride just for the pleasure of it. (By then I had found a barn with really excellent training -- we once-a-weekers had the same teachers who schooled their better riders to national championships.)

 

I think it might be telling that your DD has elected not to go away to an SI this year, despite having successful auditions. It sounds as though she is just not ready to confront the wider ballet world, and is very wisely shielding herself until she grows up a bit more. Kids often know what is best for them. Or, she could be pulling away from ballet a bit as it becomes less rewarding. I would be inclined NOT to call in the dietician and sports psychologist unless she really wants to see them.

 

As for the dual "I want your advice, but it s***s" -- well, that is just teenagerhood. They really ARE listening, but they are also doing the job of adolescence, which is to begin to pull away from mom and dad and become more independent.

 

By the way, I have a 13-year-old too -- so I really sympathize!

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Redstorm--I also just remembered what my kids former gymnastics coach said about kids and growth spurts/adjusting. Their thought was that it takes 3-6 months to overcome a growth spurt in sports. That much time for the body to adjust, the skills to come back into "command", and the strength to adjust to the newly elongated muscles and bones. This was a time that most kids in gymnastics quit. If there were able to "work through" the growth spurt they were fine and remained. So what you speak of is fairly common. Just another addition to my previous post.

 

vj

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I have tried to steer dd in a different direction...when choosing her classes for school, I suggested drama (something she loves) as an elective. I am hoping this is just a normal adjustment for her. She worries about everything. Too bad I can't fast forward a bit to see how this all pans out. Such is life.

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One thing that is helping 'us' thru the early teen years of mental and physical growth spurts is to adjust adjust adjust. I have adjusted schedules, cut out extra classes, and most importantly encouraged and ADDED time that dd could spend with friends. These kids cannot get by on dance alone. And we as parents need to see our kids as they are with friends, having fun, relaxing and growing in mind, body and spirit. This is all so healing for them. Time will pass, they will adjust to their new height and more mature bodies (as this is a natural part of growing up), technique will improve and we will look back on this period as just another bump on the road.

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Redstorm, my heart goes out to you! :wub: I can just feel your angst over this present bump in the road for your daughter! I think that many here can relate to your present circumstances.

 

I will have to echo what others have said and tell you that this seems to be a very common phase that dancers go through. It is a different age for different kids, but seems to coincide with body changes that are all completely natural, but do occur at different times for different girls. I think that it is very disconcerting for them to have to go through those body changes if they do not retain that pre-pubescent look, after they go through puberty. Frankly, the pre-pubescent look is highly favored in the ballet world and our dancers are not oblivious to this fact! When they start growing chests and hips, they know that they no longer have the 'ideal' body type for their chosen pursuit.

 

There is nothing that can be done about this and very few come out on the other side of puberty still looking as if they were 10 years old. But, the fact is that some do. Those bodies are the ones that tend to get the 'seal of approval' in all sorts of non-verbal ways from ADs, teachers, casting, SI decisions, etc. So, I think it is hard for young girls to not notice this and feel sad when they realize that they will not be in that select group of 'body type gifted' dancers. There is a bit of grieving that occurs when this reality hits. Depending upon their genes and other factors, some will still retain a body suitable for ballet, although perhaps not the pre-pubescent ideal. Others will come to realize that they are not going to be suited for classical ballet. This is something that your daughter is likely too young to determine just yet, although she may have already decided that the ideal ballet body is no longer an option. It will be some time before either you or she will really know if her body will be just less than ideal or if it will truly close the classical ballet door for her completely. I think it is perfectly normal for her to worry about this at her present age and development stage. Only time can answer this question. It is one that EVERY female ballet dancer has to wrestle with!

 

I also think that there are developmental highs and lows in ballet. There have been years when even to my untrained eye, there has been significant growth in my daughter's abilities and other years where I could see little change, although she seemed to be working at the same energy and commitment level with the same teachers. YOur daughter's friend is likely to be at one of those 'highs' in her development and your daughter may be at one of the 'lows' or the treading water phase. This gal is a bit older and sometimes even a slight difference in age/maturity/development reaps big differences in abilities. Often they need that extra maturity to push them to the next level in their training and nothing will help except time.

 

When confronted with all of these changes that feel very much out of her control at the age of 13, it is no wonder that your daughter is teary-eyed, uncertain of herself and unsure about what to do! :blink: For most dancers, this period of uncertainty lasts just a few weeks or months and then they move forward. For some, it is with renewed gusto toward their ballet goals and for others, it is toward totally new pursuits. I think most come out of this period a bit more realistic about their place in the ballet world and with a clearer idea of what they will need to do if they decide to continue on the ballet journey. For others, that crystallization of their own ballet reality will propel them toward other interests or pursuing ballet at a recreational level or finding other ways to modify their ballet training.

 

I think the hardest thing for us as parents to do during this time is VERY LITTLE. That is not to say that you will not listen and talk and support. But, I too would resist the urge to call in the pros at this point. Let your daughter mull it over for awhile and clarify her thinking about all of this. She IS making some decisions that indicate that she is thinking this through and making some adjustments to her plans (not going to an SI, attending traditional school, etc.). She sounds like a very bright girl who is a very high achiever. She is going to come to the right conclusions for her, given some time. In talking with many of my ballet mom friends, it seems that after giving themselves some time to think about it all, girls seem to have an epiphany of sorts and decisions are often made almost overnight. Actually, they are the result of lots of thought, but the decision can be very abrupt and catch mom by surprise! So, if you can wait it out for awhile, I am hoping that your daughter will work through this current stage and come out the other end with lots of plans and goals and renewed zeal for all aspects of her life! I wish you both the best of luck. And for you, I wish sleepful nights and freedom from worry - as if that is possible for a parent! :grinning:

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Redstorm - does your daughter have friends both in and out of ballet? My dd has both and has been a blessing, because she can "get away" from ballet with her non-dance crowd or luxuriate it in with her db's (dancin' buds). Maybe that is why your dd wants to go to "regular" school - so she can have a mental break - even if she can't verbalize it.

 

Not too late for an SI if she wants to go and there are even some in our area, PM me if interested.

 

Hormones - can't live with them :grinning: and living without them ain't no picnic, either . :wub:

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Balletbooster said it all pretty well but I wanted to add one more caution. This age seems to be one where eating disorders develop. DD has recently told me about several dancers who are now 'watching what they eat', 'cutting back' and exercising (as if they dont get enough). This concerns me as they are lovely dancers with very slim bodies.... And many of us here know that eating disorders can be 'contagious', so we must all keep our eyes and ears open.

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Redstorm, I think a sports psychologist might be helpful. A 'perfectionist' dancer/student needs good 'coping skills'. There are just times when the parent can't deliver the 'message', but an objective professional can get through. PM me if you want a referral.

 

I think your daughter's decision to stay at her school this summer is more about her trust in her new teachers and perhaps she has had enough change in her life for the time being. Though I've had students get much out of their CPYB experience, I would nix this for a dancer who in not quite 'happy in her skin' at the moment.

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Redstrom, I admire your insight and desire to help your DD through this rough time. I wish I had been so wise. I want to echo what Taradriver said. Having friends outside the ballet world has been great for my DD. She listens and supports her non-dancing friends through their ups and downs in volleyball, basketball, dance team, cheerleading, etc – it helps her deal with the inherent problems associated with ballet.

 

Good Luck – your BTFD cyber-friends support you.

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Taradriver: Yes, dd has friends outside of dance. Not many and that, I think, is another reason for the school decision. She and a non ballet friend came with us to our cabin for 5 days of rest and relaxation over spring break. I don't think dd's decision to stay home was one of backing off of ballet, in fact, I think it was the opposite.

I think I will take the high road and watch how things transpire. I will keep a close eye on her, an ear ready for listening and open arms for those much needed hugs...oh, and a big shoulder to cry on. :grinning:

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