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How "Different" Are Our Kids


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And yet Mondoux says he rarely regrets missing the high school proms. For the sake of companionship, last year he made an effort to meet some friends who had nothing to do with ballet.


"It totally backfired," he said. "I met some people but it seemed like they had a total lack of direction. I mean, when you meet someone whose goal it is to move out of their parents' house by the time they are 24, what do you say?"


This quote is from an interesting article in today's Links forum (A big THANKS by the way!) about a serious 17 year old male student at the San Francisco Ballet School. I have only one child (also 17), so my experience with other teens is limited to what I hear from friends and co-workers, and also my nieces and nephews. Mother's Day prompted some introspection on my part about how different would she be if she had not become so dedicated to becoming a dancer at such an early age, and how much different would my problems and concerns be raising a teen in today's world? On one hand, she seems much more independent, self-reliant (probably thanks to those summer SIs) and focused than most teens. But on the other hand, she has very little experience dealing with the peer pressures that confront today's teens since dance leaves very little free time for hanging out, parties, etc.--although some of her experiences as an apprentice this year have been an eye-opener. :lol:


Are our kids "different" from other kids? And for those of you with more than one child, how does your dancing child differ from their siblings? Do you look at these differences as all good, or as a mixed bag?

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I think my daughter is very different from her friends. Others have always commented on how much more mature she seems than the kids her age. I attribute that early maturity to her short-lived career with Radio City where she performed and communicated with adults everyday. Also, her summers away from home made her much more independent. Also, I think our dk's have more poise and confidence in the school setting because of the exposure to performance which makes them different. I think, our kids, because they are so focused on their passion for dance, don't often have idle time for some of the stuff that their friends are doing. I am happy to say that dd does make time for her friends but that most of them are at the dance studio handling the same schedules. She finds that her school friends don't really have an appreciation for the dance world, but they understand that she has lots of rehearsals and performances just like they have soccer practices and games. They have developed respect for each other. I think the kids who don't have hobbies and ambitions at a young age are the ones who seem so different to me!


I think our kids are choosing to be different, and that's not necessarily a bad thing!

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I also find that it doesn't take long, or too many days off dance and on the computer, to make mine seem like one of "them"!!! Thank God for SI's!!!!

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Wow -- what an insightful question! Mine's young (11 1/2) so I'm sure I can't speak to the topic nearly as well as some of the other parents here, but I can say that dd has noticed that she's "different". Although her friends are busy with after-school activities, she has found that most of them will skip a soccer practice, say or piano lesson (or at least try to talk their parents out of going) in favor of a party or hanging out with friends. Mine is trying to figure out if she can take another ballet class, or if it's a "home night", she relaxes by stretching. She's realizing that several of her friends don't "get" ballet -- some dance at the local recreational studio once or twice a week, and they've often been the least "in the loop" as far as her interest/dedication to this ballet thing.


I used to joke, saying that when she's a teenager, she'll be spending every day at the studio, so I don't have to worry about where she is or who she's with. That's the good side...but I agree with balletmom that these kids can become insulated from some of the "typical" peer interchanges.


Knowing my very intense kid, if it weren't ballet, there would probably be some other all-consuming passion for her. I guess I am glad that she's chosen such an art. This is parent observation week at her studio. Yesterday, my dear husband and I got a chance to see her in class. The light in her eyes from the moment she walked in the studio was such a joy to see. We'll see how the next few years go, as I know there are many changes ahead, but for now, she revels in dance. We celebrate her uniqueness, just as any parent does.

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I think that today's dancing teens are pretty similar to their non-dancing contemporaries, it's just that their fads and crazes are different. Other kids wonder about getting their noses pierced, dancers wonder if they should get pointe shoes with winged boxes. :lol:

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I know I'm not supposed to post here, but as I am a teenager and a dancer, I agree with Mel. We're pretty much the same as other teens, we just look at things differently. And when in Balletmom's qoute it said that their goal was to get out of their parents' houses by age 24, that totally depends on who you are talking to. I mean, there are teenagers like that everywhere, but there are just as many who have high ambitions. That's all I have to say! Hope you don't mind!!


always dancin,


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What a great topic and what insightful posts so far!


I agree with 2thepointe that my dd's friends who have their own focus (soccer, band, etc.) have a respect for my dd's dance. However, they see all their school friends at these activities, and socialize in that fashion.


DD dances in a town 45 miles away. She has good dance friends and does socialize with them - both in organized outings, and in relaxed, informal ways. She gets to spend very little time with her school friends, as most of the kids on this board. But she does treasure those friendships.


One interesting manifestation of being different from her school friends has just come up. This weekend is the BIG 8th grade dance. Everyone has been planning since January what they are wearing, who is doing their makeup, where they are getting their hair done, manicures, pedicures, and (this is true) which limo service to use. Slowly but surely over the last several months each of her girl friends has gotten paired up with a boy - but not her. One boy last week who had already asked someone else, and was reluctant about it told her he really wanted to ask her, but he was afraid she would say no....She is very self-reliant, independent, and graceful. It did not really bother her that no one had asked her until last Friday, but she was feeling a little funny about going to dinner and the dance with lots of girls who were paired up with guys. I think if she was around every weekend to socialize with these kids, she probably would have been asked by someone sooner. Or maybe not. I think part of the independent, self-reliant streak comes from being the only child of old parents. But, I do know many dancers who share these traits. From a young age they have to figure out how to sew, do their hair, makeup, etc. When you throw summer intensives into the mix, that fosters other attributes - making new friends easily, responding to different instructors, etc. All this, in my opinion builds a different kind of kid.


Since Nut, dd has been involved in 2 major performances, adjudication for RDA Festival and Festival. We bought a cute, little inexpensive dress a week ago, and picked up a pair of shoes on sale yesterday. We're in a group not taking a limo. DD is doing her hair and makeup, as she always does. When you spend as much money on pointe shoes and SI's as dancing families do, you simply don't get into the "what is everyone else doing?" syndrome. The priorities and rules at our house are very different from all of her school peers. Again, this does make dd "different."


DD seems comfortable in her skin, and likes being different. However, she is 14, and does go to great lengths to just blend in at school.


And Major Mel, as for your comment....or, when allowed, should I wear these pink tights on the outside of my leotard? YUCK! Maybe that fad will fade soon.




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My daughter is in middle school, dances Monday through Friday and is as typical as you can get. Her ballet evaluations speak of her excellent focus and work ethic. I wish her school report cards were as good, but they aren't. Most of her friends are not dancers but friends from middle school. They IM way too much, stay up too late and wear questionable clothes. I can't wait until high school (just kidding)! I have two older boys who seemed much easier. Her friends are very supportive of her ballet and she is supportive of their activities. But I am glad her free time is limited and hope is stays that way. There are too many kids going home to empty houses after school with too much free time.

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I have an almost 20 year old dancing daughter and a 25 year old son. The major difference between my two kids, as teenagers, had to do with practical life. My son could cook, clean, and sew. In fact, he hand-quilted a beautiful pillow. My daughter? Ahem. She was good at putting ramen noodles in the microwave. Hopefully they didn't burn. And she could sew ribbons and elastics on pointe shoes.


I never found that SI's imparted any of these skills to her. She remained blithely undomestic until she graduated high school. We used to say she was semi-cloistered. (But two years of living on her own since high school have made her a very independent and capable young lady). There WERE ways where she was much more mature than her non-dancing peers: self-discipline, organizational skills, for example.


She never missed a school formal, brought her dancing boyfriend to every important high school affair. She's still close with several of her best high school friends. As we all know, IM'ing sees to that.


I think Mel's right. The ballet teens are every bit their non-dancing peers' equals. Nutmeg Ballet, where daughter trained through those years, seems to foster great relationships among the teens and since they also have a great propensity for attracting male dancers, there's much socializing going on within those walls. Now that my kiddo's entering her 20's, I can see that she's had a happy and in many ways ordinary teenager-hood.

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I don't think my own DD is much different that her non-dancing peers other than the amazing time mangement skills that have developed from having to fit the school work into the dance schedule, and still leave enough time for sleep, which is a high priority for her. She is very high acheiving, but tends to bond with other high acheiving types at school, who are not dancers. At DDs dance school I see a variety of types of teens. The more focused, serious ones seem to have less stress, as they always seem to have things under control. They also seem to have less longing for more socializing and down time. So perhaps those who are a little more serious and driven have a greater chance of staying with dance in the long run.


If we surveyed dancers who are 17 and 18 and still training hard, I bet the vast majority would be excellent students.

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My daughter? Ahem. She was good at putting ramen noodles in the microwave. Hopefully they didn't burn.


:P Just had to laugh at this one. My DD (13) did burn her ramen in the microwave today! But this was truly an anomaly -- she loves to cook, and came home and baked a chocolate sponge cake (yum!).

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Dancers ARE different, thank heavens! :P They are focused, intelligent, passionate, driven, commited, and know where to place their priorities. Most of them are excellent academic students, but they still consider that secondary to their training. They are social, when it's convenient, but again the priorities come into play. Naive perhaps, in some of the ways of the world, however, the ways of many teens today are not what most parents would really want. They are not giving up anything to dance, they are doing what they want to be doing and most feel sorry for those who have nothing better to do than shop, have manicures and pedicures, and plan their social events for months ahead of time. They have a purpose for their lives, and because they are intelligent and focused, they will learn what they need to learn to survive in the real world when the time comes.


Is this a snobbish or elitist attitude? Maybe. But maybe not. Most of them are also very loving and caring individuals. They are sensitive, emotional, and, if trained in the right atmosphere, very supportive of all of their peers. They learn to work together and to help each other. They do volunteer work through their academic school, and for the ballet they band together and do bake sales, car washes, or whatever it takes to earn the money they need for trips, costumes, more performances, major ballet competitions, Regional Dance America Festivals, or whatever. They are involved and working towards something while there high school friends are involved with dating, rap music, and hanging out in malls. And probably a lot of other things we would rather not think about.


So, in my opinion they are different, and long live the difference! :D

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I was reading through this thread, mentally composing what I wanted to add. Then I got to the end of the thread...and discovered that Ms. Leigh had said exactly what I was going to. I teach "typical" high school kids all year, and then spend my summers with "atypical" high-school-aged ballet dancers. And, oh my goodness, is there a difference!


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As my 13 year old DD says, "who wants to be normal." Thank goodness she strives for something other than average is my thought. DD is more focused than her friends even here. But one of the primary differences I see with her is that she is thinking to the future - college and beyond and how what she is doing now will be part of that. Therefore although she does have conflicts with social events and rehearsals/class time once the immediate weaping has stopped she is able to understand that all decisions require compromise.

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