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Grrrrrr!!! Negative comments ...


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I am getting totally fed up with negative comments being made regarding my daughter's desire to become a dancer!!


Yes, she is young (soon to be 12) but she has wanted to be a dancer ever since I can remember and has been extremely firm about this since she was eight. She is now in a vocational progam (six hours per week plus rehearsals) and every term her passion and interest increases. Her ballet teachers consider her to be a student with "enormous potential".


This week, I have been relayed comments made by dd's music teacher that she should consider another career as "ballet ruins your body". My dd's take on this was, that as the teacher believes she has ability in music, she would like to see her replace ballet with playing an instrument.


Dd's school teacher expressed concerns at the parent teacher interview last December that we appeared to be placing ballet ahead of academic learning. This is NOT the case, but we do support her desire to dance. I spoke with her teacher yesterday and she asked how things were going in regard to dd auditioning for the Australian Ballet School next month. During the conversation she made several comments including "as long as she doesn't put her all her eggs in one basket"; "as long as she keeps her options open" etc.


I am absolutely positive that if dd had expressed a desire to become an archeologist and was spending her weekends going on digs, no-one would make similar comments.


They wouldn't ask her what 'option B ' was; wouldn't point out the high risk of injury (after all you could fall down a trench); wouldn't say "tsk, tsk, it's very competitive you know - you might not make the cut - what if you don't make it?"; wouldn't say "well, archeologists don't earn much money you know" and we wouldn't be asked as parents why we "let" her spend so much time dancing or why we spend so much money where dance is concerned as there is no guarantee of success.


I often get the feeling that 'others' believe it is better to not try at all if there is the slightest risk of what they perceive to be failure. For some reason this week has been the straw that broke the proverbial back - and we have years to go!


How do I get others to see it from a different perspective and should I even try? I'm getting tired of being put in positions where I feel we have to justify the choices we are making.


Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you for giving me a place to vent!!!!

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  • danceintheblood


  • its the mom


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I just tell people that everyone is different. We all are not cut out to be doctors and lawyers. Some of us were never cut out to even go to college. Oh my, did I say that?


The point is, my son and everyone's child who works so hard and sacrifices a major portion of their childhood to work on a potential career (dance, sports) should not be looked upon any differently than a kid who spreads themself thin being in every club at school, class president, etc in an attempt at popularity that will get them nowhere in life.....however, nobody ever says anything about those kids and what their future holds.


All I know is a person should be given the opportunity to try. How many adults walk around saying "I really wanted to be _____, but because everyone told me I would never make it or because I would starve, I stopped trying." I don't want my kid to be one of those people. By the time he is college age, he should know whether or not he is good enough for a career in dance. He can make the switch at any point in his life. How many 60+ year old grandmothers do you hear about on the news who have graduated from college? I've heard several of those stories. It is never a bad time to follow your dreams. Some people just don't wait a lifetime to do it. My kid is not a couch potato playing video games and watching tv. Doesn't that say something?

Edited by Gremlin
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This tactic doesn't work very well in the US, but in places where British-based slang is prevalent, it's been known to have some effect.


When a well-meaning, but dumb-as-a-box-of-rocks-about-ballet conversationalist starts to bring up alternative careers other than that horrible ballet dancing, "We need doctors, lawyers, architects...." Smile sweetly, lean forward, look into their eyes and say, "Cobblers."


For the speakers of American, this is a rough equivalent to Gen. McAuliffe's answer to the German Commander at the Battle of the Bulge upon being called upon to surrender: "Nuts."

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This has recently been a frustration of ours, and dh and I have decided that people are really not interested in debating the issue on a logical basis or have discussions about comparisons to other forms of training (ice-skating/gymnastics/hockey). People generally just want to let you know you are allowing your child to follow the wrong path - bad parent, etc..

I guess these people really can't be expected to understand something they have not experienced.


We do not try to win approval anymore - we now just treat the comments lightly and smile and make positive comments like "Wouldn't everone love to have a chance to follow their dreams", "It's beautiful to see a person with such passion", " Wouldn't we all love to look back and have no regrets" - and if I am really mad... "She's lucky...Wouldn't we all like to have a talent/gift we could pursue to its potential - anyone would be foolish not to."


Being positive and smiling with confidence usually halts the negative comments. Refusing to take the defense has made me feel better because in my heart I know we are doing the right thing.

(Next time, I will add "cobbler" under my breath and smile even bigger :( )


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In the US, and maybe in other places, the kids have had the perfect comeback for those sorts of statements, and this comeback has been around for quite a while now, there may even be others more suited but...


when others make statements of the sort you described in your post above, simply say....'whatever....'


and move on, either in the conversation, or just move on. It makes no sense to dwell on such things. Even my parents are still making comments like that to dd, it was made at her last DR appt by her dr, but dd just smiles and nods and doesnt change her mind or probably even listen anymore. she knows the story, has her back up plan, and that is that. People can, and do, say whatever pops into their heads. We dont have to listen.

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It's a waste of time and energy to try and change their minds, so, knowing that, it's a waste of time and energy to let it bother you or your daughter. Just feel sorry for the poor closed minds, and carry on! :(

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Danceintheblood, our dd is 12.5 and we've gotten the same thing. Some kids just really know what they want to be when they grow up. They feel the calling. If things change later on adjustments can be made. I wonder if we have a larger percentage of underemployed adults now than before the phase "oh, you have plenty of time to decide what you want to be when you grow up". That quote may be appropriate for a future doctor, but after age twelve a child doesn't have plenty of time to get the training necessary to be a professional dancer. When friends were dumbfounded that we would up and move to support our dd's ballet training, I replied to one "If you knew your child could be an Olympic contender in skiing would you move to Vale, CO?" Well, the light went on and they "got it". Sometimes I'll explain that dancers retire from dancing exclusively, earlier than other professions and that she'll have plenty of time for a second career afterward. Bottom line some kids just know. I wonder how many of the people who say those types of comments also say in other situations "follow your bliss". That may actually be the best response.

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It really is amazing to me how ignorant people are about the ballet world. When I tell people that dd is dancing professionally, they say things like, "So, she's just doing this for fun, right? When will she stop and go to college?" or "So, does she go to school during the day and then dance at night?" or "So, does she actually get paid to do that?" and the list goes on. It's as if a career in dance is fluff, not a worthwhile profession and not worthy of a salary. I don't try to explain anymore. I used to say that she is going to take some college classes on her off time, etc. (which she is), but now I don't think they deserve an explanation. I usually just say, "it's her chosen profession" and walk away. I am not going to try and defend our position by going into a long tirade about how pursuit of the arts is a noble profession, where would we be without art in this world, etc. If they are that stupid, they don't deserve a response. Mel, from now on I will repeat the mantra in my head - "Cobbler, cobbler." Thanks

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danceintheblood, it seems like from this thread and the other one you just started that you're maybe at that point where the ballet world is "a little too much with you." You're looking for validation in all the wrong places -- it can only come from within you. Take a break, go wander around that wonderful Royal Botanic Garden that we miss so much there in Canberra, stuff your face at the Hudson's with one of those friandes that we also miss so much, and just relax. :wink:

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We get the same spirit of comments concerning homeschooling that we get about dance. If it is made to you, ignore it, if it is made to yuor daughter, have the discussion with her that other people are not who make her life decisions and teach her to ignore them also.

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Trying to be thoughtful here, not just playing devil's advocate, so nobody shoot me.


In some ways, *I* don't get careers in the arts, either. I have friends who are children's entertainers (singers and story tellers -- high level, Grammy- winning -- but not highly paid, of course), and authors, and others sorts of expressive beings. I do often have the feeling of "you get paid to do that???". Rationally, I know that they fulfill a societal function every bit as important as the doctors and lawyers and plumbers and, yes, cobblers. But emotionally, it doesn't compute. I'm not even sure why. Maybe someone can enlighten me.


I have the same issues with careers in professional sports, but since they are so highly compensated the reasoning is clearer.

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My reply touches on both the original post and Treefrog's post.


I guess I've been more lucky than many of you because my family and the schools my children attended have supported my daughter's aspirations all the way. When my mom was alive, she was tremendously proud of her graddaughter. But mom came from a family of musicians, artists, and avid social dancers. My grandfather was a European Olympics winner during WW1 and he sang opera. My family is accustomed to people finding their own way in the arts world. My friends are also, by and large, artistically creative people so they too support such aspirations. And my kids went to Montessori schools where they were surrounded by other creative kids and families.


My husband's family was the true test but because he grew up as an Irish dancer and opened his own school, they were somewhat used to the idea. His mom died before my kids were in high school so we never got to experience her opinion. We can only imagine. :wink: Hid dad, however - bless his soul - a man who had never been to a play and who knew nothing whatsoever about the non-Irish dance world till his granddaughter came along, adored everything about it. He was thrilled to see his granddaughter perform and thrilled that she found something she loved so much. Before he died, he expressed much hope that she'd make a career in that world because she loved it so much.


I think, Treefrog, that our upbringing is often what determines our attitudes towards a career in the arts (or sports world, for that matter). I know that you grew up in an academic-minded environment and that your parents had firm beliefs about what sorts of work held value. So do you think that could be a contributing factor to how you view a career in the arts?


As a teenager, people surrounding me died abruptly. My boyfriend died in his sleep at age 17. The rest of my high school friends died in a fire (The Gulliver's fire in Port Chester, NY - some of you might remember it). I learned right away how fragile life is and I think that realization has colored my life ever since. Life IS short! I want the ride to be fun and to have been spent following my heart. I want the same for my kids. And that's how I've responded to the very few people who have expressed their reservations about a life spent in the arts.

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What a wonderful post. I completely agree with you Jacki, that life is too short. I also believe that a child has the right to decide what there future holds. I am merely here to help her realize her dreams by advising and supporting her.

It isn't my life and it isn't my dream. My parents were older when they had me and were a product of the depression era. Thier views on life were vastly different than mine are now. The same goes for my children. I have never forced my children into college, into a particular career or pushed them in any direction. They are all successful individuals who are very happy and content in their lives. I am a proud mother who can sit back and enjoy watching them enjoy life. Yes, education is important and I have always been adamant about doing ones best. (not necessarily good grades) but letting a child find their way and decide their own future is up to them, not me. I am not going to be here forever and when it is my time to go, I want my kids to be happy and content in the life they chose for themselves, not something that was forced on them because it was a direction I pushed them towards because it was a "better" direction to go. I would never want my kids to resent me for taking away or discouraging thier dream because it didn't fit into my definition of success.

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I think a lot of people's response comes from simple fear. Fear that there is not enough "pie" to go around, that "you just don't get to do what you want in life". So many people have had this fearful way of thinking drummed into them from such an early age that they have come to think of it as the only mature or sensible way of thinking about a career in the arts. They also do not realize that although many, no, most of our dds and dks will probably not get to dance as professionals, there are many peripheral careers in which their dance training will be invaluable. Still, as some may know from my previous posts, I, like Vagansmom, come from a family in which the arts is what we do, in one form or another, so we always had it in front of us that a life in the arts IS possible. You may not get rich, but you will be enriched, that is for sure.


It also depends on what kind of life you think is important. If you care about having a guarantee that you will have two cars in the garage, own a big, beautiful house, clothes, gadgets, social standing and power, well, then maybe ballet, or any art, ISN'T the way to go. But if you care about having a rich, interesting life, awake to the spectrum of emotional, artistic experience, one in which you may be able also to help others appreciate the beauty and preciousness of life, I say, GO FOR IT!!


Final thought: Diderot classified art as that which inspired awe. Awe in the old-fashioned sense, as an almost holy, spiritual thing, not as in "awesome". Would these people say, "but what good is it studying THEOLOGY? Your son/daughter wants to be a PRIEST/RABBI/IMAM??? There's no money in it!" For dance, along with song, were the first spiritual arts.


Bless them, for they know not...much about it! :wink::wink:

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