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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Grrrrrr!!! Negative comments ...


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I would never undervalue my daughter's education, and I make sure she understands that obtaining a good, well-rounded education with college to follow is a priority. She has taken in the past and will be taking next year an AP class, and has always followed the honors track. She would like to become a physical therapist working with dancers one day, and she realizes she needs to have a good educational foundation to do this. The difference between myself and the other parents that I know personally is that I'm willing to view college as being attached to the end of a rubberband which may get stretched a bit in the next few years but will eventually snap back in place.


My daughter at age eleven decided she wanted to be a neonatologist and went to the hospital to tour the neonatology unit and interviewed a very kind female physician for a class project. But within a year of this, she started wavering and then finally admitted to us that she really wanted to be a neonatologist/professional dancer/choreographer--all at the same time--plus have about five children! :wink: Eventually she realized that in reality this would not work, so she has prioritized and modified her goals. She also realizes that one must be able to support oneself for the longterm and is fully aware of the kinds of salaries dancers make. I feel that if I am able to provide a degree of financial support to allow her to pursue her dream for a few years, I intend to do so--but she knows that support will not last forever. Even so, I really cannot picture her totally out of dance someday, it's simply too much a part of who she is.

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Even so, I really cannot picture her totally out of dance someday, it's simply too much a part of who she is.

It was such a funny thing this past Nutcracker. I think 3 or 4 seperate people, right after going on about how beautifully DD danced, then said, "When do you think she'll quit". That was such a bazaar question to me, much less to have been asked several times. While I have no idea how far DD will go in the world of ballet, I really think she will dance as an adult. I can't imagine her giving up the joy of it. When they asked, "When do you think she'll quit?", I said, "I don't think she will. Not that I am assuming that she'll dance professionally, but I definitely think she'll continue dancing as an adult." I think non-arts or non-ballet people sometimes think of ballet as something that "little girls" love.

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I think non-arts or non-ballet people sometimes think of ballet as something that "little girls" love.





Yes, and the attitude that it is something we wouldn't dare think about them pursuing as a future.


You have "hit the nail on the head" here.


I love how this discussion has meandered into such interesting posts and how it has ended up here. This type of comment is exactly what urks me over and over.


This is the point for me - Yes, my daughter is going to pursue a career in dance. And yes, she is also pursuing her studies. And yes ------ it is a wonderful thing for her and for us (regardless of what you would want for your child)


Thank you very much.

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Many, many dk's are exceptional academic students. Mine is not. She is an average student, creative, hardworking and very interesting but definately not straight A. But she is a really good dance student! So, why not allow her to pursue something she not only loves but does well at? For years and years I have been listening to other mothers and kids brag about their academically gifted dk's and selves....GRRRRR. That is also hard to deal with!

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:wink: My observations for what it's worth as my son gets older and progresses up the ladder - after enduring the endless "slings and arrows" of being male and studying ballet; watching the dancers being "weeded" out; seeing the senior ranks shrink to the few left with the body type, talent and perseverance to stick it out, I hope and pray that one day he does land some type of professional contract. The fitting end to this passionate and expensive journey of dance. Oh - must not forget the academics, Plan B, when Plan A is over.
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AsleepAtTheWheel, I hope you didn't view my remarks as bragging--I usually never bring up her academics at all unless it relates directly to a topic we're discussing. Truthfully, I was being a little defensive, since I got the impression that sarsdad's post which directly followed my earlier post was perhaps assuming academics and a sense of the "Big Picture" are being shortchanged somehow in my daughter's life. I mainly was trying to show that the realities of life after dance are being considered even as she follows her dream.


She is an average student, creative, hardworking and very interesting


With the above ingredients, your daughter has a lot going for her. Those exceptional academic students you know have much less going for them if they lack creative thinking, a good work ethic, and can't carry on an interesting conversation.



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I certainly mean no disrespect to any member of this thoughtful board - certainly not Balletmom. If offense was taken, please accept my sincere apology! As my daughter has slowly moved of her own accord from one definitely wanting a professional career in dance to more of a recreational dancer (she still does not close the door and takes 8 classes a week) my wife and I have had to respect her decisions. Perhaps my motivation for my post was that I have seen some parents who faced similar situations after years (even a decade) of sacrificing family times, personal time, work time, and yes money; only to find out that this was a hobby (a beautiful and deeply fulfilling hobby) and feel that THEY had been betrayed. I have actually heard a parent describe a child's decision to step back from classical ballet after 12 years of training as "something he did to me." It is clear from the intelligent thoughtful posts on this board that no parent here would feel this way - I will admit however that it is hard not to, and important to stay firmly gounded on the fact that this is the child's life, and they need to be given a broad array of options so that at the proper level of maturity, they can make the right decision for themselves.

Edited by sarsdad
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Balletmom, I was not aiming my post at you or really anyone else. I was feeling a little defensive as well and tired too, more snappy than usual. It's been a source of frustration to me that many people I know feel that their kids have to be the best at everything. For most, this is just not possible. The pressure we put on our kids, in this current generation, has been tremendous. We all have high expectations for them, who cannot? Afterall, they are our children, the best and brightest we have to offer the world! It's then best to accept their limitations, encourage their interests and then let them go off into the world each day and see what transpires. DD's interest in dance is her 'thing', her interest, her joy. I hope people will not concentrate on her lack of ability in say, math, and instead see what else she has to offer.


Sorry, this thread has gotten off track with my comment.

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Asleep, I know how you feel - Kait was NOT a good student. She is bright and capable, but had absolutely no interest in school, and still refuses to even consider college - if the dance career doesn't work out, she'll do something else, but nothing that requires an academic degree. I, too, got a bit tired of defending her choices (once I accepted them myself, which admittedly took a while) - she's just A Dancer. Not currently an employed dancer, but a dancer.

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Gosh! Hasn't this conversation taken off while I've been away! I have to say, when I wrote this post I was having a particularly crappy week - hating my own job and wondering what happened to the creative side of my life which gives me so much pleasure and satisfaction, but which I now seem to have no time or energy to do as I'm so busy working at something I'm good at but don't necessarily want to be doing. :P You get the picture.


There have been so many different and interesting points of view expressed. A couple of comments struck me particularly.


I simply feel we need to temper absolute support with a dose of reality - perhaps not even to be shared with the dancer.


I thought this was very well stated by sarsdad. As adults, it seems we focus on limitations. Children focus on possibilities - after all, how often are our children told as they are growing up "everything is possible - you can be whatever you want to be". So as parents, knowing that our young dancers may not indeed have what it takes to become professionals, knowing that they may face limiting injuries, knowing that they may completely change their focus and decide on an alternative career path, we ensure that the doorways are left open to allow other choices to be made in the future. But we outwardly give our dancers support to pursue their passion!


Going back to the original post on this subject - that does not mean that while they express a desire to become a dancer they should have to deal with constant negativity. On the one hand society says "you can be whatever you want" but in reality we are saying "as long as it's not being involved in the arts because that's all a bit too hard".


I also related to asleepatthewheel's post:


She is an average student, creative, hardworking and very interesting but definately not straight A. But she is a really good dance student! So, why not allow her to pursue something she not only loves but does well at?


My dd had a lot of difficulty keeping focussed in school and completing written work, so her teacher (when dd was eight) asked the psychologist to test her for learning difficulties. Her teacher said she was an absolutely delightful person and a lateral thinker, who could recite back what she had learnt, but was a 'poor producer' when it came to completing written work.


The results came back and showed that had an IQ of over 130 and was actually classified as being gifted - with no learning difficulties! This being said, she continued to have problems completing work (basically she is just a social butterfly who loves to talk more than she loves to work :rolleyes: )and does not have strong academic leanings. She does however, have an amazing ability with ballet. This is where she excels and it is what she loves the most in life.


In ballet she has developed self-discipline and focus - and she is now learning to also apply these skills in the school classroom. In ballet she has learnt to set personal goals and to achieve them each term - and she is now starting to do the same at school.


So, in our household she gets absolute support for ballet, Mum and Dad deal with the realities and keep other doors open and to the rest of the world, we now say "cobblers"!

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I was feeling a little defensive as well and tired too, more snappy than usual.


I can identify with that--and my family can attest to it, I'm sure. :P


No offense taken, sarsdad or AsleepAtTheWheel.


Sometimes the various replies to a thread are so disjointed, it's easy to misinterpret--someone may be replying to something several comments above, but in a quick reading I don't catch it.


Sorry about getting us offtrack! This is a good topic, though, and one we all face at some point or another. I think if someone continued to question me about my daughter's career goals re:dancing, I would tell them that all children need to find their own paths in life, and discover exactly what it is that will bring them fulfillment. If they stumble a bit, or make what we may consider poor decisions, well, it's a learning experience on the road to maturity.

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If they stumble a bit, or make what we may consider poor decisions, well, it's a learning experience on the road to maturity.


Just adding that this is not always so easy--but I'm trying!

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Back to the original post - I didn't have a answer for this, because no one ever, that I can recall, gave us any grief about our daughter's career goals - our families, her school teachers, and our friends all thought that the fact that she wanted to be a professional dancer was something special and exciting. I never realized how lucky we were in this respect. (Plus, our son at one time wanted to be a professional musician, so we had two with performing arts goals.)


Interestingly enough, some of her friends thought that she should take the more conventional college route, but our friends were very supportive.

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I believe like sarsdad that we do have to temper this with reality. My son once asked me if I thought he could be a professional dancer and I was honest with him. I told him he had the physical facility, body and looks but I wasn't sure that he had the drive, ability to deal with rejection and perseverance needed to make it in ballet. It isn't just the best dancers that get the job. Sometimes its the ones that don't give up, keep trying, have a great attitude and spirit that shines through are the ones that walk away with the prize. (he did get an paid apprentice contract this year and I am thrilled for him)


I've also know of parents that when it became clear that the child was not principal material that they stopped supporting ballet. I asked the Mom what was her daughter’s goal, would she have been happy in the corp for a few years before going off to a "real job"? It was top of the pecking order or no support for the parents so the decision was made. I often wonder if the daughter will live to regret her decision, she had been offered a contract and turned it down.


I've know dancers that are amazing technicians with no spirit who go from job to job and other will less natural talent that bring so much joy to the stage that the directors love them and don't let them go.


It is hard to tell at 12 or in my case ds was 15 which direction to send the child. Boys are a little easier since they usually don't physically change as much as girls during the teen years and don't have to wear the dreaded point shoes.


I do believe in being honest without being negative. I don't think you can ever go wrong there. You may be the best at your school but there are so many schools and so many good kids that they have to understand what they are up against.


One thing that I did was let him talk to some of my friends that were professional dancers for many years so he could get some insight into what the future would look like if he took that path. That kept the you don't know anything Mom factor out of it so that he would hear the message. He was 15 and they have a hard time hearing anything they don't want to hear at that age. That being said all school work had to be done even if it was in the car going back and forth to dance class. There always has to be a plan B just like we should always have an updated resume!


Wow, this is longer than I thought it would be.... sorry

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A little bit of levity, but also off topic (sorry)


"after all, how often are our children told as they are growing up everything is possible - you can be whatever you want to be".


If selected a career in response to this that was much more challenging to reach. In kindergarten when I was asked this, I proudly reported that I wanted to be a monkey when I grew up.

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