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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Adjusting to high school


gogators

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My DD is a junior this year, and we are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Freshman year was difficult because many of her friends became involved with school sports and made new friends, so my daughter felt like an outsider. As the years went on, she felt as if people thought that she went to school and just went home. They were not aware of her six day a week involvement with Ballet. We would speak to her teachers at conferences and they would be amazed that she could keep her grades and keep her schedule. She started a dance club during activity period, and performed for some inschool events during her sophomore year. Now in her junior year, she made the decision to audition for the school musical because it had alot of dancing in it. She felt that she wanted to be a part of the school experience before she graduated, and she is enjoying it. Her ballet school, on the other hand, is not too pleased. The artistic director has read her the riot act afew times, asking her about her priorities and such. Also, threatened to keep her out of the spring show. I spoke with the director, but she occasionally says something. The show is soon, so things will soon go back to normal. My daughter will have a lighter schedule in her senior year, so things will be easier. Her decision to do the show hasn't affected her training, and I think it has done a world of good in that she has been able to feel that she belongs.

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Bravo mygurl for supporting your daughter's decision. These young dancers often have to forgo "normal" high school activities because of their training schedules. I think it is wonderful that your daughter had the confidence to make the decision that was right for her, despite the ramifications with her artistic director. Good luck with the show!

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Thank you DON HO, I am very proud of her, and sometimes, quite frankly, amazed at all that she has done and sacrificed for this dream of becoming a dancer. It is bittersweet that all of the school years are coming to an end, but all that she has had to deal with, pressure with homework, not fitting in at times, demands from artistic directors, and various other dissappointments, will hopefully make her better equipped to face the next faze of her life... college auditions.

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tutu maker 4 her

As my DD's freshman year draws to a close I can now look back and say that overall it has gone well.

 

I think perhaps I've done things backwards - I homeschooled her from 3rd through 8th grade and so this was her first year attending a school. I wasn't sure we were making the right decision. Her dance schedule is 6 days a week with an average of 15 hrs of classes. Aproximately two-thirds of the girls in her level are now homeschooled. But, it has been a good experience for her and she has grown and matured from the demands of her schedule.

 

Based on our experiences, I would recommend that young dancers continue to pursue their academic goals as well as their dance goals. It is not always easy, but too often I think girls feel pressured to choose between them at a very young age. Choices will have to be made along the way, but if you sacrifice one for the other all of the choices you could have made simply disappear. The only advice I can give is to dream big and follow your heart. :yes:

Edited by tutu maker 4 her
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As a sophomore, my dd has difficulty balancing dance and school friends. She wants to dance, but also wants to have time to be with her friends that don't dance. She is thinking now that she wants to take the dance classes and give up the performances. At her studio, there are nine classes a week (90 min tech followed by 60 min pointe) that she can choose from, which makes finding class time that meets your needs arrangable, but rehearsal times are set.

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An update on my dd who also is nearing the end of her freshman year:

 

Though it was a busy year for her and there were late nights studying for exams, completing lab reports & essays, etc., she did manage to successfully balance her ballet schedule with her academics. But as an observing parent, it wasn't easy, and there were days when she had to choose getting her assignments done over going into class that day (knowing that she would have to do make-ups at her ballet school later on).

 

Next school year, she will be facing another "fork in the road" in that she will be adding an AP history class to her schedule (along with chemistry, algebra II, and other required courses).

 

If anything, it'll be an interesting year for her with many life choices for her to make.

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balletbooster

I'm not sure that giving up ALL of her performing opportunities is wise, IF she wants to continue on a pre-pro track. Performance work is an essential part of classical training. This is where all that classroom work gets tested and used! Most pre-pro schools only offer 1-2 performance opps per year, so it would seem that she could still participate in at least one.

 

But, perhaps she is really saying that while she likes ballet and wishes to pursue it at a school where the training is serious and solid, she is not looking to pursue it as a career, so she is willing to give up the performance component to make more time for hanging around with her non-ballet friends on the weekends and other times when rehearsals are usually held?

 

Whatever she decides, it is important to really understand the implications of her decision. I would try to get her to flesh out more clearly what her current goals are for her ballet training. It is a shame when dancers in the early years of HS give up so much of their dance training that when they decide that they are indeed interested in pursuing a ballet career, they have lost too much time and are too far behind their peers who have been training at a higher level during HS and are better prepared to earn those lucrative contracts or highly sought after prestigious college acceptances for the top ballet programs. We know more than a few who took this route, had a change of heart around senior year and then were crushed to find that it was not so easy to pick up where they left off and catch up to their ballet peers! :yes:

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kathryn56

For my DD, it was finding time with her school friends that was the hardest. Luckily, they(and their parents) were usually willing to try for a later movie or she would meet them at the movies after they went to dinner. They tried to attend her performances when they could. She danced six days a week - Friday night and all day Saturday were Nutcracker in the fall, so very few football games. She still loved high school. I would like to repeat the advice to look for school time volunteer opportunities. DD chaired the school Food Drive two years in a row and was prom chair (yeah, I know - she really loved high school). In order to make it work, we actually transferred her after 9th grade - she had been in a performing magnet school. The combination of them telling me they could not schedule her into AP classes around her dance classes and that she was definitely discouraged from community service made it a necessary move. I still do not know where these kids get the energy!

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Pasdetrois

I just found this thread. As with everyone else the academic year is almost over. So many conflicts for the dancing young person. They miss out on most of high school but with a junior and a freshman I'm discovering that the grumbling is almost none existant. They've attended the odd game, school play and, dance performance in support of their friends and in an effort to be a part of their generation. This morning was an AP exam and this afternoon ballet! We've already started the IB exams and life is very busy. What I think really helps them is the knowledge that we wouldn't allow social life Sunday through Thursday with or without ballet. Academics are essential! You can not forsee the future and you cannot predict any part of tomorrow. So, we look toward our SI's and anticipate a summer of ballet away from all that is dear at home, including school friends. That at times is a hard part.

 

One of my DD's teachers a former Canadian National dancer is looking to the next step in her life, taking the M-cats. Dancers, both students and professionals are smart people, we do them a disservice not to encourage academics. No matter how good you are, alternate plans in life have to be taken into consideration. Few ballet students actually dance professionally. How many ballet teachers does the world need, former dancers and those who changed direction can still have brilliant careers if they lay the ground work when the opportunity is there, which for teenagers is now!.

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kathryn56

Pasdetrois, I loved your post. Very true words. Interestingly, all of my daughter's AP teachers were super supportive.

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dance1soccer1

Wow, I'm going to second that. All DD's honors/AP teachers have been wonderful - even going so far as to adjust the AP test time within the boundaries required nationally, so that she wouldn't miss a school show, and actually bringing an AP class (history!) on a field trip to see DD do a school show of the Nutcracker. In shocking contrast, the teachers of the "drudge" classes, that are not tracked in any way and every student must take, have been IMPOSSIBLE - taking personal affront at necessary absences, belitting dance, etc. We are SO looking forward to next year when, as a senior, she will be in ONLY honors and AP, with teachers she has had before and loves. Without these wonderful and patient academic teachers, she could never have done ballet AND rigorous academics!

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Pasdetrois

I'm so glad to hear of other parents being so dedicated to their DD's academics along with dedication to their ballet. Most of our ballet teachers are right behind these dancers doing well in school. As I said, one is doing her M-cats. In school my girls are known as dancers and are respected for it, which is a real blessing. To hear all of you talk about AP and Honors classes really helps support our decision making. Many years ago, a relative of mine, a dancer, told me I was ruining my childrens lives expecting excellence in academics.

 

The truth is when I was injured as a teen, if I hadn't been on track in school who knows where my life would have gone. I was lucky enough to already be on a route to university. It would have been terrible to have that ripped out from underneath me as well

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balletbooster

Being 'on route to a university' as pasdetroix mentioned is important for most HS students. I think the danger comes when we expect our children to train at the highest pre-pro level for ballet AND be on track to enter Harvard or some other HIGHLY competitive college, with a full academic scholarship that we are treading on dangerous ground. :P

 

I do realize that many of our children are capable of doing this, I'm not in any way negating the fact that there are many high performing, bright teens out there who can and do build a village, climb Mt. Everest, dance the lead in major ballet company school productions, make perfect scores on their SAT, etc. etc. etc. But, I'm not sure it is wise to EXPECT this from them. I think that whether they CAN do it is not as important as whether it is GOOD for them to do it. At some point, I think that we 'high achieving' parents have to allow some balance in our children's lives and realize that when they are training at a highly competitive, stressful and physically exhausting level in one area, it is OK to make a B now and then. It is OK to opt for the regular History course instead of the AP class that requires a huge amount of reading, group projects, etc. It is OK if they decide that ballet is not their career goal for them to go to the state university or other college that does not expect all their freshmen class to have done it all by the time they are 17. Sure, we want to keep the door open for college, but does that door need to be open to even the most elite colleges?

 

Giving our teens 'permission' to balance their lives as their own needs dictate, while still keeping some minimum standards in place, is a really hard thing for parents in my age group to do. But, I sure think that it is important, if we want to raise emotionally healthy kids who are prepared well to enter the next phase of life, that we do NOT expect them to be high achievers in EVERY area of their lives. :P

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Amen, Balletbooster!

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balletrocs2

Totally agree Balletbooster!!! This year the Talented and Gifted Coordinator at Dds high school has been pushing her hard to add AP Bio as a sophomore. Teachers seem to get excited about how much these overachievers CAN do. AP Bio sounded interesting to her, but sometimes parents need to give these kids permission to say "Whoa - enough for now!!" Sure let them decide what interests them; but be there for them with a "reality check" about the number of hours in a day/week. I agree, if dance is their primary love and biggest goal they should be allowed to pursue academics at a respectable, but not breakneck level.

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