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Ballet Talk for Dancers

boredom/focus in younger dancers


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I read with interest the focus of 14 yr old students on the other parent board, and I have the same situation with my 11 yr dd. Ms. Schneider suggested that "the mind works faster than the body" and can be a great source of frustration. What I am witnessing is the opposite though. Her body is able to do anything asked of it, but her mind has yet to develop to the speed at which the level dictates. I have suggested to her to keep working through it and remember that muscle memory takes time, but it frustrates her. This is when I see the "boredom" body language (yawning, gazing, adjusting her outfit etc.) Is there any words of encouragement I can give her? Other than patience, patience, patience! Becuase you know well that goes over with an 11 yr old going on 22!!

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It sounds more like your daughter is growing than actual boredom. With the onset of puberty, or even pre-puberty, the body and brain need more rest. The kids also need more 'to be' time, unscheduled time to assimilate all the physical/mental changes. It's a stage everyone goes thru. The best encouragement to your dd is to allow her to go through it without too much scrutiny unless certain behaviors start to take over (the old 'acting out'). Each age has it's phases and stages.

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I'm not totally clear on what the situation is with your DD. Is it that SHE says she wants to get better but it's just not happening, or is it that YOU sense she could be better but it's not happening?

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DD went through a period of being almost oppositionally board. She shut down in one teacher's class, half interested in another's but remained interrested in the third teacher's class. It got to the point we all had a talk with her. She danced at home. She would put on music and do a barre, would practice combinations, and would (what I call) doodle. But she was having trouble getting ready for class, going to class and engaging while there. She was "going through the motions". This lasted about six months.


The pivotal moment wasn't the big talk. The change came after she auditioned for a summer program. She was told she had professional potential with the right training. Whereas at the home school she was told she lacked muscle and to eat more (she interpreted as "You're skinny"). She also had corrections at that one audition that made a noticable change when she got back to the home school. She replied, "Now I understand what they wanted me to do." These things together improved her confidence. Both she a I were getting subtle hints that she wouldn't ever be very good and to just give up. So in a way that's what she was doing. The teacher that gave her that impression most was the one she became the least responsive to. Because the school was very small, some of her classes had the top level students in it. This really hammered on her confidence.


We've change schools and she's doing very well. The change in her tecnique is profound. Her love of ballet is constant. She's committed to her training. Her confidence is steady. And she is positive about a future in ballet. Of course she'll be turning 13 soon so we'll see what happens with the teen years.

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My dd has issues with focus, rather than with boredom. Every school report and ballet report between the ages of six and 10 had references to her inability to maintain focus (which also led to her being tested for learning disorders - none found, but she was identified as gifted!). A former school teacher commented that she had never met a child with absolutely no concept of time, until she met dd. Her current school teacher (who is teaching her for the fourth year now) has recognised that the lack of focus is the other side of her personality, and describes dd as the 'most sanguine' child she has ever taught, happy and completely carefree.


Dd loves ballet, loves being in class, but this lack of focus has been a real challenge. I still have to do the 10 step nag to get her actually dressed and out the door to get to the studio for class. It has absolutely nothing to do with lack of desire, it is simply her nature. The past year or so she has actually developed focus in her ballet classes and this is now being reflected in her school work also. Her ballet teachers and AD understand her personality (she has been with the studio for over five years) and work with it. First term of this year, after the long summer break, she had some difficulty focussing in class - second term and her ballet teachers said it was a different girl - totally focussed.


Managing the carefree child, while being an absolute delight most of the time, can certainly be testing and blowing my top when I reach peak frustration levels has absolutely no impact on dd - she just gives me that tolerant look which says "poor old dear - she's lost it".

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I am so glad to be reading this. My 10 year old is going through this now. I don't know what to do. I spoke with her teacher and she said that at times her head is not into the class. Both teachers have told me she is very talented but not serious yet? Is this the age? I see other 10 year olds that live and breath ballet. I told her after the summer if she wants to stop that is fine with me. But I have paid a lot for this summer program and needs to stay with it. Has anyone exsperience this with their ten year olds?

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What can I say 2inballet? I think patience is the key with this type of child. I always believed that dd would be better focussed as she gained maturity and this has been the case. At 10, dd loved going to class, was lucky to have a natural facility, but being a bit of a butterfly wasn't always mentally grounded.


My dd made a noticable adjustment not long after turning 10 - she started setting personal goals and challenges in class and as she was maturing was able to retain focus for the required time. This was very much an internal process that she went through and not anything I believe could have been imposed from outside.

At 12, she does take her ballet fairly seriously, but she also has an enormous amount of fun. As I said, I was very lucky to have teachers who understood her personality and were able to work with her without becoming frustrated. As for the AD, well, she said "she is only young, still a child, we don't expect her to be too serious at this age" and this helped me to refrain from putting on any unnecessary pressure.


Perhaps with your dd though, she is simply not that interested in ballet at the moment? Sometimes we can have a talent in something, but not the love for it that we need to pursue and develop it. Could this perhaps be the case?

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It could be the case. She may have went into ballet because her older sister did. My oldest is very passionate about ballet and lives and breathes it. With the little one it could be her age or she may need somthing else. She was use to being a star in gymnstics. I think will ballet one has to pay their dues first and she is not use to that. She is very athletic and excells in all sports. Even ballet she was able to move fast because of strengh and flexabiltiy from gymnstics. But ballet is diffrent than gymnstics. We will see what happens after the SI. I'm not one of those ballet mom's that force their children to do what they are not interested in doing. We will sit down and talk about it and decide what to do next. Thanks for your input.

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I told her after the summer if she wants to stop that is fine with me. But I have paid a lot for this summer program and needs to stay with it.


Sometimes, it seems that that message is just what our younger dancers need to hear -- you agreed with this, you're committed until the program is up, then we can re-evaluate. I've found that philosophy (good not just for dance) has several advantages. First, you've explained that you and she agreed to start this program, you've acknowledged that it's not permanent, but you've placed value on its completion -- a short-term goal. A lot of time, that takes the pressure off of "Oh, no -- I've got to do this forever!" At the end of the program, you may find that a.) she's ignited a passion for dance, and begs to continue or b.) she's done, for now at least, thank you very much. I think either answer is okay :flowers: ...dance is a difficult enough path without struggling with motivation/desire as well.


Good luck to you. Let us know what she chooses at the end of this program!

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I agree with eveything you said. We finish what we start. Whether it is team sports or ballet. It teachers them an important lesson in life. Thanks for your support. I will let you know what she decides at the end....

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I'm not sure if you had a chance to read the thread I started about motivating my dd. It is on page 2 or 3 of the over 13 parents board. I just wanted to mention that my dd also is following in the footsteps of an older and VERY motivated and hard working dancing sister. It's hard to tell if this is a factor in my dd's mixed emotions about ballet, but I bet it is, at least somewhat.


Of course, we all want our dks to be happy and choose activities that they love. But sometimes it is hard to tell if they are just going through a rough patch (as we all do) or if they really need to make a change. I'm happy to say that after a short break, younger dd is ITCHING to get back in the studio. She is very excited to be starting a summer program (at a different local studio) next week. Then she will have a longer break, and we will try to make some decisions about next year.


Best wishes to you.

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