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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Adjusting to high school


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I have to say that my dd's ballet school could be a bit more supportive, esp. when a student attends a "regular" high school (i.e., not homeschooled). They consider school-related events and heavy homework nights "unexcused" absences, which means the student is expected to make up the missed class(es).


(Though they allow students to miss up to about 10% of the total no. of classes during the semester without needing to make them up.)


Currently, dd's school considers illnesses and dr. appointments to be "excused" absences, which means the class(es) do not have to be made up.

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


One of the things done at our school is recognition in production programs for those receiving any type of scholarships (academic or dance related), any type of acceptances (colleges or companies). As well, notification is put up on our parent bulletin board so that those not in the company and parents of younger children can see them also. In addition, if a dancer is in the newspaper for any positive reason, their article generally finds itself on the bulletin board. I"ve enjoyed coming to know our dancers both in and outside the studio from these notes and articles.

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Guest costumier

Hello All,


I've been following this thread with great interest. It is amazing how highly achieving your DKs are, they must be real Trojans. I realise coming from outside the States I may not understand all the local/cultural etc factors at play here, but there are a couple of ideas I'd like to throw into the pot to see what people think.


I'm a high school teacher, and there is a phenomenon I've seen with some of my own students that disturbs me greatly. It seems particularly likely to strike the parents of only children or only sons. This is where the parent of a perfectly nice kid who is doing OK at school tells me that their child could be doing better but they're lazy (or similar). As I see it the poor kid is working as hard as anybody else, but just isn't all that exceptionally bright. Why would a parent prefer to imagine that their child has some character flaw than admit that maybe they're just not all that bright? Is there something bad (as in, morally reprehensible) with being average?


This then leads to a more general point. It is statistically impossible for everyone to be above average. It is statistically impossible for everybody to be outstanding academically. The harder everybody tries to outdo everybody else, the more the bar is raised, without the ranking of students changing all that much. The more the bar is raised, the harder students work, the more stress they are under. Where is this going to end? What is the purpose of all this? And what is the cost?


In my experience there is only so much you can stuff into a child's brain at a time without other stuff falling out of it.


Take Japan for example. They have probably the most competitive school system in the world. To get a job with a prestigious company there, you have to have attended the "right" university. To get into the "right" university you have to have attended the "right" high school. And it doesn't stop there. This flow-on goes all the way down to preschool! So you have piles of four-year-olds attending cram schools so they can get into the "right" elementary school or their lives will be over before they've even started. Those kids work so hard. It's not unusual for kids to do four hours of cram school after school every day all the way through their education. You'd think those kids would all be geniuses. And yet in international comparisons they perform at about the same level as New Zealand kids, who don't do any of this.


It's a question of diminishing returns. Up to a point, harder work brings lots of improvement. Then harder work brings a bit of improvement. Then harder work brings almost no improvement. You may be able to memorize a few more facts for tomorrow's test but you'll forget them again the next day. The child's brain is full for now.


I guess what I'm saying is we should be looking at the natural development of our children rather than getting sucked into the whole "race to be number one" thing. No matter how hard our kids work, there will be only one "number one". I think we're damaging a lot of our children by pushing them so hard. As many posters have pointed out, there are many ways to be successful, and even more ways of getting there.

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


My DD attended two studios through HS - one because she had been there since she was 8 and LOVES the teacher, one for more advanced training. The little studio was all about education and super supportive. The other teacher was not - told her no ballerina needs math. To be fair, she is much older and started as a soloist at 16, so maybe she never did worry about education.

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The other teacher was not - told her no ballerina needs math.


It helps if she can count to 32 .... :D

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Must have never worked with a choreographer, like Balanchine, who used unusual patterns and counts in their work! :wink: Those who are good at math and can see those patterns in their head and retain them easily thrive in such an environment. Those who tend to be more right brained will have lots of trouble remembering the combinations.


And how about musicality? I would suggest that this is somewhat correlated to understanding the counts and patterns of the music. Many studies show that those who are good at math are also strong musically. :D

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I agree with you on many points. Life is not all about the future, enjoy the now. Happy children can be more productive than over achieving. I try to remember that we all make choices and not all a great choices and sometimes remembering that being happy is OK and makes life good. I worry, as well as continue to discuss with DD, that we are obsessed withy the future and forget the hear and now.

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That was a wonderful post, costumier. It really puts things in perspective when it comes to education and

pushing one's child to hard. Thanks for the info balletbooster, my dd will be going to college in a few years and I have already started worrying so that info on junior college admission options was really interesting.

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Costumier, I like the points you made, very insightful and knowledgable. Enough is enough and your best should be good enough without killing yourself! My friends daughter came home crying yesterday. She sat an AP exam and managed to throw up twice during it and had to leave early without doing anywhere near the job she was capable of. Life really throws you curve ###### and as I commiserated with my friend we were both very philosophical about the reality of what it all meant. What it meant was that she's probably be taking that course in college and it wasn't the end of the world. The poor kid was ill today as well, so, there went another exam! Talking about math, this young lady is in the top 1% in the nation, quite brilliant. Treefrog, ballet definately has someone who can count to 32 with her!


Our school is very suppotive of academics but we have been in another school that stated emphatically that ballet must always come above academics. I can tell you, the parents buzzed at that one! My families former dancer who is now struggling at the end of a ballet career encourages my DD's to do well in school and is very proud of them for their efforts and achievements. It takes guts and insight to use the example of ones own life to say what not to do. Yes, you can go back to school to improve grades enough to get a higher education but in your late 30's it's beyond hard. It's different than my DD's teacher stepping from a company and being in an academic position to take m.cats!

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I have spent some time reading through this topic and it is hitting close to home. My DD started high school this year and it hasn't been easy. She has always been a great student and loved school but it doesn't come easy for her. Dancing comes easy for her and so does math but the rest drains her brain. That is her makeup. Her brothers are book smart with lots of useless information about anything and everything while she struggles with keeping the info in long enough to be tested on it. It is so hard to be a parent of a passionate child and try to keep all paths clear and visible when one path seems so clear. I see her loving to dance but always wondering if she will ever be good enough and staying up late to finish an assigment so she keeps up her grades. I want her to have an education and a childhood but sometimes it feels like that comes with a price...her future as a dancer. It feels so "all or nothing" sometimes. :) Sorry, maybe I should be posting over on the wine couch. I spoke with a mom this week who's daughter has decided to go the college route. Her DD came home from her SI last year and had decided that the pro path was not for her. The mom said the best part for her was that her DD came by the decision on her own. It felt like a burden lifted from from the mom. I guess my DD is still too young yet, I still feel responsible for her and her happiness. Anyway, I am loving all the input and it is helping me sort thru and find the balance.

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Parent of an under 13 student:


The insights and experiences shared throughout this thread are extremely valuable to all of us (no matter what age, grade, year in college, etc.).


The "need to dance" thread on the under 13 forum illustrates how, as parents, sometimes it is just simply okay to look purely at those things that bring our children joy, knowing that before long the pressures of the future are upon them. It is appropriate to appreciate those feelings in our children as many types/levels of pressure (academic and otherwise) eventually impact that joy - so why not enjoy it with them while it lasts?


Our culture is effectively sending the message to hurry up and grow up. Academics are indeed important but, like anything else and as many have pointed out on this thread, balance should truly be factored into the goals (no matter what the aspirations).


Thanks for giving another pearl to parents of younger ones.

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I really can relate to what you are saying. Academic and Dance education can be so competitive, it seems there is no room for the bright child or talented child in our society anymore.Everyone who makes it seems to be in the superlative category. My dd is going to be taking an AP course next year and I am already superstressed about the test. Though she tries to hide it, my attitude and worrying does affect her negatively. I worry about everything!!!!!! Am I doing the right thing by pushing her academically, is she really taking those courses for herself or for me. Sometimes, I even wonder if her recent desire to consider ballet seriously is because I love it so much. Yesterday we were watching a Dinkle recital that she had participated in and though the technique was HORRIBLE in comparison to the school she is attending now, My dd said she had a wonderful time. I am trying so hard to take a step back and let her call the shots. We will both live if she does not make it into the top 50 colleges in the country or is the best ballet dancer in the world. Maybe AP courses are not that important at this time either, she is in HS. Reading these posts have given my something to think about. Thanks.

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I still think you are missing the message here regarding your family dancer. In the late 30's, there are many, many schools who will accept him/her without any concern for their HS grades. They can do online coursework and finish a year or two of credits or a whole degree this way. As a non-traditional student there is no reason to have to 'make up' grades in order to get into college. Their life experience at that point earns them the right to attend college. I don't know what school denied entrance to your relative, but I can guarantee you that there are a ton more that are clamoring for the students in this age group.


Here is some information on Univ. of Phoenix. Notice the phrase, NO PRE-ENTRANCE EXAMS REQUIRED:


University of Phoenix is America’s largest

accredited private university.


Awarding Graduate and Undergraduate

degrees at over 170 campuses, through a

flexible online program, and through a combination

of the two, University of Phoenix helps thousands

of working adults advance their careers on their schedules.


• The flexibility of studying on campus, online or both.

• No pre-entrance exams required.

• Learn from professors with real-world experience.


Classes are offered at 186 campuses and learning centers in 39 states, Puerto Rico, Alberta, British Columbia, the Netherlands, and Mexico.


Undergraduate Programs

Undergraduate degree programs vary by campus.

Graduate Programs

Graduate degree programs vary by campus


Here is the link for Indiana University General Studies degree that can be done online. There are specific instructions about attaching a letter explaining why the student thinks that they will be successful in a college environment, if they had poor HS grades, were dismissed from a previous college or denied admission, etc.




Here's the link to entrance requirements for University of Oklahoma College of Liberal Studies. Take a minute and look at the entrance standards for traditional freshmen at OU on their regular admissions website (quite rigorous) and compare that to their requirements for freshmen over 21 in the College of Liberal Studies. Note the phrase, "Those with a GPA <2.5 are encouraged to apply!"




Your comparison to the teacher who left dancing and was well-prepared for the mcats is just the sort of rationale that is so dangerous. There is a vast difference in being prepared to take the mcats and being prepared to do well in college. Why is it necessary that our children feel they must be up to the mcat level? Why isn't it OK for them to just be in a position to pursue a college degree? You don't need to be prepared to take the mcats unless you want to be a doctor. I sure wasn't prepared to take them, even after graduating from college with all sorts of awards, including being named one of the top ten students in my graduating class of approximately 5000! That wasn't something I was interested in and my HS coursework (with minimal math and science) well prepared me for MY area of interest and stood me in good stead in a demanding college academic environment.


Why do today's teens need to feel that if they are not on track for a medical degree, law school or an MBA from only the most prestigious universities, that they are selling themselves short? The world needs teachers and social workers and bankers and computer programmers and all sorts of other skills that do NOT require one to train at the most elite schools, with the most rigorous academic standards. I'm with costumier on this one! I didn't take a lot of math courses during my formal education, but I do understand that it is statistically impossible for all of our children to be exceptional at everything! :) That's only possible in Lake Wobegone... where all the children are above average. :P

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One of my DD's informed me last night thay she's debating even taking one of her AP exams. She's overwhelmed and just hasn't had time to study enough. It will be her decision if she misses this one. I'm disappointed for her as she's worked so hard all year. Last year at this time she missed another AP exam because it conflicted with a performance and a rehearsal was called during her testing time. She opted to attend the rehearsal and we backed her in her decision. It's not the end of the world. She can still get into college without an AP test pass. These decisions do affect their futures but they won't ruin them. It's not dropping out of high school. She does regret not taking last years exam but she's not beating herself up about it. Decision making is also a part of education, growing up, maturing and learning that there are consequences to everything we do. She's at an IB exam right now. The one yesterday was a killer and she doesn't feel she passed.


Balletbooster, I wasn't getting your point and do appreciate your willingness to try and get through to me. Our former dancer has no academic confidence and that obviously contributes to the dilema now being endured. Thanks for trying to make this such a well rounded discussion, it needs all aspects to be stated and you have done an excellent job presenting so much very important information.

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