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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Adjusting to high school


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Guest balletandsynchro

Very well said balletbooster! I'd also like to add that many of our dancers will eventually go to college. So many colleges and universities are seeking to diversify the student body, and what could be more unique, and bring a different perspective to the school than a former professional dancer?

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Pasdetrois

I'd like to add my support to balletbooster as well. I actually had this conversation earlier today with another Mom from ballet. Her daughter is a really high academic achiever. My DD's do well in school but there isn't going to be a Harvard or Yale in their futures, they are capable but as stated by ballet booster it's impossible to reach for the stars in everything. A good High School diploma with the opportunity for higher education is what is expected. The level of their achievement is obviously not going to be all it could be dancing at least three hours a day. There just isn't enough time and energy. Some of these super bright kids take AP and IB classes without killing themselves.

 

In our household we don't expect perfection, if they try and fail, well, at least they tried. They can still get a good high school grade out of a class even if they don't get a 5 on an AP or even a 2. What matters is they are working for a future if their passion for ballet does not pan out for them. My DD's are looking quite happily at a state university if ballet ends up abandoning them. The choice to do AP/IB is their decision not ours as parents. Actually, we've tried to desuade them from this course but kids who are capable of a lot sometimes forge ahead anyway determined to do all they can.

 

In our ballet school we do have dancers who are aiming at Harvard, we have at least two former students there already. In my conversation earlier today we were talking about a young woman who is slacking up on school right when the big exams are here. I expressed to her mother that her daughter seemed to be wanting some quality of life rather than one of constant work and that to look at it logically it was pretty healthy. As I put it, Harvard and Yale would be nice but maybe a school a little further down the ladder would make her happier and wasn't life all about being happy rather than impressing the neighbors. Besides, she wants to dance. She might be defering university for a decade or more.

 

So, balletbooster, thank you for stating so very well that there are many ways to live a life, you can not do everything in life. I really liked where you said, giving our teens permission to balance their lives. Burn out happens You are spot on! I just want to be prepared for the next corner I/we have to turn.

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lovemydancers

Wow, this is great to hear. I completely agree, balletbooster and pasdetrois.

 

DD made a decision this year to take a lower level of math than was recommended for her--the higher level probably would have been do-able, but would have been a constant source of stress and nerves as in prior years. She has been picked on, and her math teacher even looks down on her for not taking the higher level. I worried that not taking the higher level would hurt her later. Instead, she has the highest grade in the class (A), gets the same math credit as the higher level, takes two other honors classes, has been recommended for three next year, and does not stress about math anymore.

 

Hmmmm...she might be the smartest one in the bunch.

 

We too question where you draw the line between ballet and academics. How good is good enough? Does "good enough" mean the same thing as "settling"? What happens if the ballet thing doesn't happen? Will she be prepared academically? I have tried to follow balletbooster's philosophy of giving 'permission' to balance her own life and so far she has done a good job--but it is very hard to not be concerned during the high school years! :party:

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balletbooster

lovemydancers, I think you have hit upon the issue that really unnerves those of us who are 'high achieving parents'. :jump: That issue of whether saying that a grade or a course or an extracurricular activity involvement is 'good enough' or is really just 'settling' is the key. :P

 

However, I think the key here is actually: what is wrong with 'settling' in one area of life, so that another area can be 'uplifted?' It really is OK to settle for less in one area, if it means that another area can be pursued at a higher level. Why do we feel that our kids cannot settle for anything but the best in all areas of their lives?

 

I think parents often feel that they must justify why it is OK to take the non-AP course by stating that my child made an A and the course will get the same academic credit, etc. Why not just say, "My kid chose to take the non-AP course to lighten her academic load."

 

It is as if admitting that your child 'settled' for something less than the highest level possible is a red badge of failure in the mindset of so many parents today. It is easy to feel that your kid is on the road to the community college anytime they do not take the absolutely highest level of class offered in every subject area, do not compete in at least one sport per year at school, chair one committee, run for one class or student govt. office, take more than one SAT prep course, etc. etc. etc. :D

 

Maybe what we really need to do is give OURSELVES permission to not explain our children's HS choices to our peers or their teachers, beyond the obvious: He/she needed a lighter load. He/she will still be on track for college and well-prepared, should he/she decide to take that route.

 

No need to justify, excuse, rationalize, strategize or apologize for such decisions. Often it is ourselves, not others that we are really trying to convince that this is OK. :party:

 

And by the way, I consider myself to be one of those 'high achieving parents' that has to constantly do battle with myself on these issues. :huepfen:

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So .... for the serious-but-not-professional-aspiring dancer, isn't it okay to "settle" for "good enough" ballet training?

 

It seems to me that the sword cuts both ways, no?

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balletbooster
No need to justify, excuse, rationalize, strategize or apologize for such decisions. Often it is ourselves, not others that we are really trying to convince that this is OK.

 

Just as long as you fully understand that 'settling' means just that! In academics that might mean settling for acceptance to something less than the Ivy League, maybe the middle tier or maybe a state school. In ballet it means settling (depending upon the level of training you choose to settle for) for dancing in a less competitive college program or maybe purely for your own enjoyment and nothing more.

 

Being at peace with what you are settling for is an important part of the equation and quite difficult to achieve! :party:

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Nicely said! As we've often observed here, it's all about balance. The choices that each individual makes to achieve that balance are bound to differ.

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kathryn56

Balletbooster, I loved your earlier post about giving ourselves permission not to justify our "balance" decisions to others. It can be hard, especially in an academically elite setting. During DD's high school time, her friends, although very loving, were her biggest "doubters" about opting out of certain classes (for her own good, of course). We let her take the APs she loved. Her academic teachers were very supportive of her and were thrilled for her when she chose to defer college (even though she "ruined" our 100% college attendance record). All of them had positive things to say about following her passion. Her friends, chorus and school dance teacher were very negative. Her prom date even asked her when she was going to grow up - a boy she had been friends with since she was 5! And they all wanted to know if we were going to "let" her (since I teach AP classes at the school)!It is true that Ivies were out of her reach, but she was accepted into prestigious schools and some fantastic students were not accepted into Ivies, even though that had been their whole focus. There are no certainties in or out of dance.

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tutu maker 4 her

Our school director once told me - A very real reality of the dance world is that even for those that "make it" dance will only be one of a minimum of two careers they will have in their life. No one can dance forever.

 

We have seen several girls drop out of HS to pursue dance and we have seen the opposite where the girls give up years of dance training to pursue academics. Both of these decisions seem so extreme to me. How many adults knew what they wanted to be when they were 14? Like most ballet moms I have a smart child who loves to dance. Trying to balance the equation is tricky and can sometimes be downright impossible - but I have to believe in the end anything less would be a mistake - although I've been told by both sides I'm doing the wrong thing. :blink: I guess I'm just waiting to see how it all works out because at this point I'm kind of flying blind.

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lovemydancers

"How many adults knew what they wanted to be when they were 14?"

 

This, together with balletbooster's comments is what I guess I was getting at earlier--how can the poor thing be expected to make major life decisions now? So it's that insurance policy of strong academics that makes me afraid of letting her take an easier schedule. We all love our children and want nothing less than the best for them, so as parents, we try to cover all of the bases and be their "risk managers". :blink:

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kathryn56

It is certainly true that we all love our kids and want what's best (we're even on this board looking for answers). In terms of tough academics, though, that is such a case-by-case situation. As parents, we know our kids best and we try to balance how much pressure they can deal with safely versus optimizing future chances for success. What is asked of serious dancers is no different than what is asked of our local students who swim or row or combine track and cross country (all involve year round work and six day a week multiple hour practices) and I am sure the list could be continued. As a teacher, I know that some of these kids thrive on tough schedules and love being super busy. Other, equally bright kids are exhausted by it and have to let something go. As we keep telling them "First, you have to survive high school". With different kids there will always be different "right" answers and sometimes (the scary part for me) the only way to find that answer is to let them try.

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Pasdetrois

This thread just gets better and better. So much wisdom! A couple of thoughts. First of all, one of our former dancers, during high school, took all regular classes, no AP, no IB, no honors. She graduated with a 4.0 and won a full presidential scholarship to a rather nice and definately expensive private university. I actually wonder if my DD's did themselves a disservice by aiming so high. You need universities to weight grades in order for IB to be worth anything.

 

As I write my girls are at school, the elder has her first IB math this afternoon. Pretty nerve wracking. She opted to do the lower level exam, she was capable of the upper work but just couldn't do it justice with all else she has to do which is mainly 3 hours of ballet a day.

 

Some years ago one of our high schools IB kids opted to graduate early taking none of the exams. Instead she went to a prestigious year round school, a ballet company connected program. She didn't make it to dancing professionally, who knows the reason why but she didn't. She is now attending university, a good university. Taking school as seriously as she did obviously was the right thing to do. My youngest is talking of graduating early, her counsellor is on track with the idea and is encouraging staying on the IB track to do it as she'll be better prepared to leave early and have a better education into the bargain. As lovemydancers said, who knows what they want to do at 14.

 

There is no doubt about it this is a complex issue and I believe there is no right and no wrong answer just many variations. Actually, I believe there is one wrong answer. Doing so poorly in school that options are taken away from you and if ballet doesn't work for you, you can't get into even a community college and your left fighting for survival on minimum wage. I have a relative who is a former dancer who is in just that position. It's a heart breaker, this was and still is a very intelligent person who made the worlds worst possible choices!

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balletbooster

There are many colleges (not just community colleges) who will accept just about everyone. Even quite prestigious universities will take students with dismal grades, no activities, honors, etc. on probation for the summer before the fall term and if they do well, will take them in the fall as a regular student. This can often be worked out, if you talk with them and work out a plan. I know this to be true and it has proved successful for both a couple of my relatives and the children of friends. Did anyone see the movie 'Rudy?' His road to Notre Dame is not as unusual as one might imagine. Stories like his (without the inspiring football sidenote) abound in the world of higher education.

 

Students who decide after HS that academics are a priority can start at a community college or do online learning from just about any college or major university without SAT scores, good grades etc. Then, they can transfer to a much more prestigious school after completing 30-60 credits. Again, I can recount stories of several who have done this and even earned scholarships when they made the transition to the more prestigious schools where they graduated with impressive credentials.

 

So, again I want to throw out the caution that we high achieving parents don't make false assumptions about what doors might be closed to our children, should their HS academics be less than stellar. I'm absolutely NOT condoning poor performance in HS. Don't misinterpret me please! But, I am suggesting that there are many, many ways to get a college degree and to do so from a very impressive school too, if this is your goal. In this day and age, very few doors to higher education are shut as tightly as some may be implying. If you are willing to do your research, consider creative options and are committed to getting a degree, it is quite possible to do (and as an older, non-traditional student, there are a number of financial aid/scholarship opportunities open that are not available to the typical 18 year old college freshman). :)

 

PS - An example of a non-traditional route to a great degree is Richard Bland College of William and Mary. This is a junior college (not a community college) whose admissions standards differ greatly from those of William and Mary and are within the reach of most. Completion of 60 hours at the college GUARANTEES the student a transfer to William and Mary, Old Dominion and a number of other highly respected schools in the Commonwealth, based on a transfer agreement that the schools share. There are numerous other such colleges all over the country! Once you start looking for opportunities such as this, you will find that they are plentiful. :yes: Pasdetrois, I encourage your relative to do some digging and consider some other options and not allow the roadblocks that have been met thus far to deter him/her from getting that degree. Start first by looking at online options from some of the major universities around the country.

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tutu maker 4 her

It is so wonderful to see that so many parents value education as well as dance.

 

I'm curious to know how many of you feel that your child's dance school supports this position.

 

Is education acknowledged or praised at the dance school? And if yes, how do they do it. I'd love to see more support for well rounded students and would appreciate any suggestions or examples you have.

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Is education acknowledged or praised at the dance school? And if yes, how do they do it.

 

Great question. Education is definitely both acknowledged and praised at our ballet school. One way they show it is by readily accepting education-related excuses from class, e.g. college visits, participation in Model UN or Science Team competitions, or even just a really heavy homework night. (Assuming that protocol for informing the instructor is followed.)

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