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Ballet Talk for Dancers

How "Different" Are Our Kids


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This is a really interesting topic. I had to think a little, because since my dd was very young (she is now almost 12) people have commented that she is 'different' to most kids her age. This has generally been stated in a positive sense due to her being very articulate, perceptive and sensitive, a bit of an abstract thinker and literally happy every single day of the year (oh, that I could be so blessed! :( ) She also differs from her three older sisters.


I can see differences between herself and her school peers that are a direct result of her ballet pursuits.


She sets personal goals - since she was 10 she has set firm personal goals each term and each year, focussing on a different element of technique.


She is very sure of what she wants to do with her future.


She is very dedicated - last week she was invited to a birthday sleepover party, beginning at 6pm on Friday and ending at 12.30pm Saturday. She phoned to accept the invitation, but said she could only attend if it was okay to not get there until 8.30pm, as she had ballet class and if she could leave at 11.30am (again to attend class). Ballet is her priority and if she's unable to go to something else she doesn't see it as a sacrifice but sees it as doing something that she loves more than most other things.


She is more concerned with being healthy than her peers - her focus is on what the body can do rather than how it looks. She is very comfortable with and positive about her changing body.


Already, many of her peers are very pre-teen - the clothes, make-up, boys etc While dd enjoys dressing up on occasion she wears clothes that are comfortable and age appropriate and has a certain elegance (must be that dancers poise!). My dd has always had many boys as friends and thinks the whole boyfriend idea is just a bit silly.


She is creative - she attended the aforementioned party, which was fancy dress, as the ghost of a French aristocrat who was jilted on her wedding day - not just a costume but she had developed a whole character with a history! I have no idea where this came from :blink:


And as for the many things she has learnt or is learning - poise, grace, focus, being supportive rather than competitive, always being the best you can be, lateral thinking, honest self-evaluation, working as a team - truly, the list is ongoing and I can't think of one negative. As a parent, that makes me very happy! :D

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My dd is very like her circle of friends, but her friends are possibly atypical.


Her ballet friends are all good students, all balletomanes, and very focused. I've never seen their midriffs, except for the Arabian Dance in Nut.


Her high school friends are almost all into other forms of performing arts, are good students and tend to be fun to be around, but not social butterflies. Haven't seen their midriffs, either, but they go to a private school with a strict dress code. Come to think of it, they dress pretty conservatively even on weekends, but they ARE fashion conscious.


Both groups seem to be pretty great kids, credits to their respective parents. They'd never show up in church with a visible thong peeking out of their ultra low-rise jeans (oh yes, and sitting with her family - what was Mom thinking??). If I was pressed to cite the most visible difference between dd's group of friends and the typical kids their age, I would say it was dd's friends' level of professionalism & dedication to their respective art. Amazes me.

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I have 5 children -all adults and independant except for the dd .The most outstanding difference I can see between them is that the dancer has a deep respect for her elders. I think that this is something that is frightfully lacking in today's society and that ballet teaches youngsters among lots of other things already mentioned.

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the dancer has a deep respect for her elders.


Ooooooooh, I love that about ballet. :( "Yes ma'am and sir" The clapping at the end of class for the teacher and the pianist. The applause for classmates who do something particularly well. The deference towards the older dancers. The thanks given to the teacher daily for giving the class. I just love what that does to how a dancer thinks. My son gets similar training in martial arts. I agree it is lacking from society and just love that it's part of my children's daily lives!!!!

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I love what Ms. Leigh said about dancing teenagers. It is so true. Having survived the teenage years with my other grown children, I have to say having a dancing child as the youngest has been a joy. I don't have to deal with so many of the issues forced on teens today. The biggest difference I have noticed is at 13 and entering highschool next year, my daughter is looking ahead to January and which residential SI's she is going to audition for in hopes of getting accepted year round. There are not many kids at this age that would even consider, in thier wildest dreams, moving away from home to further a dream.


**and yes, the respect dancers show towards adults and thier peers is wonderful.

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Having a dancing dd and a non dancing dd, I have definately thought about this question for years now. The differences in them are probably not due as much to dancing as to the distinct personalities that they (and all of us) are born with. It's also quite a pleasure to have the non dancing dd doing the 'teen thing' at the same time dancing dd is pursuing her dream. Non dancing dd brings me a breath of fresh air when I get tired of the intensity of dance. Dancing dd gives me an example of pure focus. Either way, teens/kids are still teens/kids and we need to make sure they have the time to be just that.

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[T]hey 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.


This describes not only DD, but her non-dancing sister. Non-dd is as equally involved in her chosen primary extracurricular activity as DD is in dancing. It is, however, non-dd who shakes her head at her classmates who can't seem to focus on doing homework, plan ahead for project due dates, or be able to handle a week with more than an hour devoted to extracurricular activities. Non-dd has an active social life, but often arrives at parties late following her regularly scheduled practice, only to leave before the "slumber" part because she has regularly scheduled diving practice beginning at 7:30 a.m.


Yes, I do believe a dedicated dancer is different from run-of-the-mill teenagers. But, they are no different than the elite swimmer, diver, soccer player, basketball player, musician, etc. It is the abililty to focus and discipline themselves that each of these kids possess in their innate make-up that allows/drives them to succeed in their chosen endeavors. Not all these kids are found in dance. The full set of these type kids scatter themselves across many disciplines.


It is not that dancers alone are so different from every other kid, but they are a subset of a group of kids that do have the drive, ability, and personality to permit them to focus and be disciplined. These subsets don't cross paths too often because a diver or swimmer isn't likely to have time to wander into the dance studio or the music room and vice versa.


Each of these elite athletes, musicians, dancer categories have similiar traits and experiences. They, by virtue of their discipline and innate abilities are typically honor students, focused, and goal-oriented. They also, by virtue of the amount of time dedicated to pursuing their particular passion, are not particularly street-smart in the ways of the world-- (DD thinks she flunked the Health test over street drugs, their "use", various alternative names for the same drug, and alternative drugs for the same desired effect. I'm thinking I feel better that she had trouble with what her classmates already knew!),-- are rather sheltered, and not particularly good at cooking much beyond ramen. (Although my diver makes some fabulous chocolate chip cookies! and has a broader stove-top repetory)

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I'm not a frequent poster, but I find this topic quite interesting. Both my DD's are recreational dancers and have no desire to go pro, they dance for the pure joy of it. Last summer, the art teacher at the day camp my DD's go to sought me out to tell me how wonderful my kids are--very focused, polite, striving for perfection--and went on to explain to me that while my kids are different and seem to struggle now, they will grow up to be great adults. I explained to her that I know my kids are different--they are dancers and this particular pursuit involves a whole different mindset of relationships and time management. I don't really know what she meant about the struggling part, both my girls are rather quiet although they both have a large group of friends, dancing and non. I think their interests in the arts does make them different but in a good way. I have noticed that the girls' friends are all academically/artistically talented and all have very close relationships with their parents. You don't find them wandering the mall or event school events alone, more often than not, both parents are there too.


My older daughter had received a part in Nutcracker this past year. Unfortunately, rehearsal conflicted with her soccer games (she was a member of a travelling/competitive team) and she needed to choose between soccer or Nutcracker. I encouraged her to stay with soccer because this team is comprised of her friends and classmates and I thought it would be good for her to be with them. In addition, her team is rather small and losing a player could potentially mean forfeiting a game. This spring, she came off the field from practice and told me she wanted to quit the team. She had told me after previous practices/games that when she was running she was concentrating on not turning out, which raised a flag to me that she was more worried about dancing than soccer. After talking with her soccer coach about leaving the team, I asked my daughter if it was a hard decision for her to make. Her response was "no, it was harder giving up my part in Nutcracker than it was quiting the soccer team." I feel really bad for not allowing my daughter to follow her heart and vow to not interfer--especially when it comes to dance!


At 11 my older daughter already has her sights set on Norte Dame or Yale. My younger at age 7 seems to think it is her mission in life to make people laugh--maybe I should let her audition for Saturday Night Live! I think knowing that their dance training is continuing and moving forward event makes these kids look forward and plan their futures sooner than most kids.

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I haven't had a chance to come back to this topic since I posted yesterday, but I am amazed at the many insightful comments. :thumbsup: I agree with the general consensus that our children's involvement in dance is a good thing.


    Yes, I do believe a dedicated dancer is different from run-of-the-mill teenagers.  But, they are no different than the elite swimmer, diver, soccer player, basketball player, musician, etc.  It is the abililty to focus and discipline themselves that each of these kids possess in their innate make-up that allows/drives them to succeed in their chosen endeavors.  Not all these kids are found in dance.  The full set of these type kids scatter themselves across many disciplines.





My dd has always been a type "A" personality, and I feel certain that if she had not had dance, she would have been involved in something else with just as much passion. I know she is fully aware of the kinds of issues and challenges other teens face in today's world--she is not nearly as naive as I would like to think--but thankfully, due to the "cloistered" lifestyle vagansmom refers to, did not have to deal directly with these peer pressures at the young age many of today's teens do. Hopefully, by the time she does come face-to-face with these things, her focus and maturity will carry her through.


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.  :blushing:


Mel, this seems to say it all! However, I do know a couple of dancing kids who wondered if their navel ring would show through their leotard. :D



(Offtopic:We've had a hectic Wednesday so far--our 12 year old bassett hound had to be rushed into emergency surgery around 12:30 this morning because of an "acutely life-threatening" condition called Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus. Basically his stomach became greatly bloated, and then twisted. This can cause a host of problems, including necrosis of the stomach tissue itself. We--daughter, husband and I--finally got home about 4:30 this morning, then a couple of hours sleep and on to work. One advantage of homeschooling is that daughter was able to sleep in a bit, then tackle her schoolwork. Our bassett, by the way, is doing much better :) but won't be out of the woods until about 48 hours after the surgery.)

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I'm not a parent, so delete if necessary.


I'm 16 years old in fairly selective college prep high school. Nearly everyone here is very focused academically (besides the select few whose parents clearly have some kind of extreme connections...); going to public school my entire life, this was the first thing I noticed upon arrival freshman year. Some of the kids are only focused on schoolwork, they're in the top classes and doing well but that's all they do. They wake up early to study, go to school, and then go study more; they're the one's overwhelmed with work, they're the ones complaining that they don't have any free time or any social life. There are also the kids who came to school here so that they could get involved in a new activity; my roommate for example came here so that she could start fencing. She loves fencing, but has realized that she's not ever going to be as good at it as some of the kids who have been doing it since they were little, she'll miss practice to go to a school dance or hang out with friends. Then there are the kids who came here for the flexibility that the school would provide around their outside passions. They're actors, dancers, musicians, riders, and fencers; or they're several of those things. We're the ones that are best adjusted to taking what little free time we do have and using it as best we can. Some may think that we're no different than the academics, but there's that driving passion. We tend to stick together, we understand what the other means when they say that they can't because they have rehearsal, a meet, a practice, a lesson, or a show. We're in those top classes as well, we work best under pressure, we rarely get stressed.

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Yes, I do believe a dedicated dancer is different from run-of-the-mill teenagers. But, they are no different than the elite swimmer, diver, soccer player, basketball player, musician, etc. It is the abililty to focus and discipline themselves that each of these kids possess in their innate make-up that allows/drives them to succeed in their chosen endeavors.

I agree completely. Young dancers are different from the average kid because they have a passion for dance. But they are not really any different from kids who have other passions. I am happy for my dd that she has such a passion for dance beacuse of the joy it brings her, and happy for the focus, discipline, poise and ability to make wise choices she has learned as a dancer. I expect those lessons will serve her well no matter where her life path leads.


And I want to thank the moderators for leaving the posts from the teens. I really appreciated their additions to the topic.

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I have a very strong opinion about this. I have to agree with everyone who realizes our DKs are really no different than any other child or teen who has found something to be passionate about, and who has a family to support that passion.


I have three children, ages 18, 14, and 11. DD is the youngest. My 18 year-old son is passionate about soccer, and will play in college this fall. My 14 year-old is a competetive swimmer who swims between 7,000 and 12,000 yards a day! She wants to make it to the summer Olympics in Beijing in 2008.


DD's passion is ballet, and I thank God she has found something to be passionate about. And not because I think she's the best dancer at the studio, or because I think she needs to figure out what she wants to do with the rest of her life, but because it means if she's focusing on dance, she's not focusing on the things that could get her into trouble. Is she special? Sure she is, because she's my daughter, not because she's my dancing daughter. I'm confident that she'd do her best to excel regardless of what path she chooses.


Maybe DD's passion will change, I doubt it, but I know at 11, it's possible. She has ballet friends, and non-ballet friends. Her non-ballet friends don't "get it", but no less or more, than my 14 year-old's non-swim friends don't "get it", when she says she has to be at the pool at 5:30 AM and 3:30 PM Mon-Fri, and at 9:30 AM on Saturdays ...even during the summer! Between club dues, meet fees, and the cost of swim suits, I spend just as much, if not more on swimming than I do on ballet. Interestingly enough, non-DD is taking pilates because it will help with her back stroke!


While, my two oldest have never been to an intensive, they have been to residential soccer camps and swim camps, and have held summer jobs while spending time with grandparents on the opposite coast. Being military children, they know how to adapt and are just as independent as any ballet student. They are also just as self-reliant, self-confident, and money savvy.


I don't insist that any of my children be stellar students. None of them is passionate about being valedictorian. However, they are all very good students, and still get excited if they get the highest grade on a test. If any of them brings home a low grade after working their tails off, then that's ok. I'm thinking particularly of non-DD and Algebra 2! Again, no different than swimming your best at a meet, playing your best soccer game, or trying your hardest at an audition. They all know, if it's worth doing, it's worth doing right, or at least putting forth your best effort. All three also have healthy social lives that don't always involve soccer, swimming or dance.


I know, that all three of my children realize that they can not even hope to achieve their dreams if they are partying, smoking, drinking, or doping. A child without a goal, or something to be passionate about is at risk, in my opinion, just as a parent who is not willing to support that passion to the best of his or her ability is putting that child at risk.


Any differences, other than the posture, grace, and ugly toes that come directly from dancing, or the upper body strength, power, speed and crunchy hair that comes from swimming, or the fancy footwork, agility and concussions that come from soccer :yes: , are because of their innate personalities. The things my DD has learned from ballet are no different than what swimming and soccer have taught my oldest children, in regards to important life lessons.


My point is, that any child, given boundaries, guidance, balance, consequences, support, consistency and lots and lots of love, has a better chance of surviving in today's world, and becoming what so many of us see in our DKs.


Maybe the real question isn't "how different are our kids, but "how differently are we treating our kids?"

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I notice ballet students are more independent and disciplined then most other teens of the same age. Not to mention, ballet offers a new language. It's very refreshing.

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  The things my DD has learned from ballet are no different than what swimming and soccer have taught my oldest children, in regards to important life lessons.


My point is, that any child, given boundaries, guidance, balance, consequences, support, consistency and lots and lots of love, has a better chance of surviving in today's world, and becoming what so many of us see in our DKs.


Maybe the real question isn't "how different are our kids, but "how differently are we treating our kids?"



Amen! Ballet is one of many roads that lead to Rome. A lovely one at that, but still, one of many. Do not fall into the trap of thinking that our DKs are so special that no non-dk can compare or be as focused or self-disciplined. The discipline of any passionate endeavor provides the same stability, life lessons, and framework for developing a fabulous, mature, and independent child.

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I'm just wondering if other passions teach the children quite so strongly as the performing arts that "the show must go on"? I am sometimes amazed at how the kids are determined to perform in spite of being ill or injured. We gave a performance recently and the dance floor got very hot from the midday sun - two girls actually burnt the soles of their feet, but wouldn't stop the performance in the middle. I don't think that this was a particularly good thing, (we would all rather that they had gone off stage rather than suffered hurt) but this determination to keep going must influence their ability to overcome adversity.

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