Jump to content
Ballet Talk for Dancers

teary-eyed SI phone call


Recommended Posts


At Suzanne Farrell Cedar Islands there are NO phones (land or cell) and no electricity. All calls are made from a public phone on Sundays when they leave the island. They clamor for their five minutes to call home and actually look forward to talking with their pesky parents. Ms. Farrell insists that they write home and also answer the mail they receive. With only 10 girls, they are monitored to see that this happens and they give their outgoing mail to Ms. Farrell to mail. Mail call is a big deal and they all sit around reading their letters and often sharing details of their letters with each other. Several times Ms. Farrell told my daughter, "Be sure and answer that question for your mom" or "Don't forget to tell her about this or that." It is a wonderful system -someone else does the nagging! :wink:


I have never before or since received so much mail from my child. :( I got long, long letters (8+ pages) recounting the details of her day. I loved it! There is something to be said for the 'old fashioned' approach to correspondence. I continue to send cards and stamps each year, hoping that she will rekindle her love of the written word... B) No such luck. :dry:

Link to post
  • Replies 215
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

  • greatboys


  • Redstorm


  • Momof3darlings


  • OldDancerBabe


I should feel very lucky. I get both phone calls and letters. My DD's took stationary, stamps and the like and they are using all they took. Both my husband and I have written to both girls at least once thus far, yet I love the sound of their voices.


I don't quite understand the reason for the isolation. This is not a vocation after all and to me the isolation sounds as though ballet is treated as such. During the latter years of WWII my mother was a nurse and that was treated as a vocation back then. Perish the thought if one of them was found anywhere near a man. Over the ages many careers were seen as vocations but the only one I still know is one is the church. The word vocation speaks of having a calling. I may have a number of you coming down on me for this post but, I don't see the need! I don't see, perseve or understand the benefit!

Link to post

No tearfull calls, in fact, barely any calls. :(

I received one when she got there and one when she got her placement. Thanks to Gogators, I have all the information I need. Seems her daughter is a bit more talkative! :wink:

I do require at least one or two phone calls a week. We will see how that works out. I am just relieved that she is happy with placement, roommates and teacher. :dry:

Big change from last year!

Link to post

Speaking from a parent whose DD chose to stay home this summer in preparation for Residency...



The calls from SI's don't mean nearly as much as the IN PERSON conversation you have at home.


Let them be. They will be home soon. But make sure the conversation is flowing freely for the next 10 months when they return. This, parents, is where the trust is sewn.


We, as parents, have to really decide if we are ready to let them go for a mere 5 weeks, and then, when the decision is made, let them LIVE it. It doesn't do anyone any good to tell them they are mature enough to go across the US, but then, not mature enough to decide when and how often to call us!! It is a life lesson, and if they (or we), are not prepared to handle that, then they should be at home until all parties are in agreement. I know it's hard, but these are "adults in training", not children, especially in the environment they have chosen. If they are able, let them lead...and try not to make them feel guilty for being independent.


(Not to say that I didn't have teary-eyed moments those first few years away. We did, and still probably will, but I will let her be the guide, as, at this point, it is her life to choose. I am just her biggest fan, dancer or not. )

Edited by l2daisygirl
Link to post

Well, I feel very lucky as we hear from dd at least once a day when she is away. She is good about telling us how her day is going and what evening activities are in the works. Classes are going well at her SI, new friends are being made, and the body is sore. What more could a dancer ask for? Come to think of it, she did mention that a care package with crackers and Teddy Grahams would be appreciated!

Link to post

pasdetroix, did you mean the isolation on Cedar Islands or isolation at SIs in general? I don't think most SIs are very isolated, as most are in large metro areas, with plenty of ways to connect to home. Cedar Islands is isolated because it is in a remote, outdoorsy vacation area where cell phones don't work. Ms. Farrell owns the islands (and they really are islands - only accessible by boat) and has chosen to keep it simple there. I don't think it has anything to do with ballet. It is the area where she spent her childhood summers and she simply likes the rustic, simple life that the area provides.

Link to post

Pictures, your DD has grown into maturity probably from being given the freedom to call at will over the years, I'm sure. Thanks for the perspective of the mother of an older dancer...they really do love you and are thankful for what you have given them. It just takes maturity and years to understand it.


I am now over the age of 40, and for the first time, I feel compelled to call my mother every few days. She probably doesn't need it...but I do. It all comes full circle.

Link to post

Thank you balletbooster! I certainly appreciate Ms Farrells choice of location and therefor the limitations of the program when it comes to communication, this is most certainly the exception rather than the rule I think we would all agree. I'd read a couple of posts talking about programs that allow only one phone call a week, no cell phone's and a request for letter writing, this type of thing. I believe there was a posting by treefrog to this effect. My post was in regard to this attitude, which in this day and age isolates a child. Are there really programs out there that limit the dancers communication with home and friends. If I'v got this all wrong I'll be very happy and beg forgiveness. I hope I got this all wrong.

Link to post
Treefrog, that sounds like a boarding school in the north of Scotland with only cold running water and no heating. ...



Oh, no no no no no! Not in the LEAST! It is just about the most nurturing place on Earth, and both my kids adore it! It is their second home, and both plan to return as counselors when they get older (actually, that's next summer for older DD, who hopes to teach dance there).


It is a place where kids -- younger kids, the camp only takes ages 8-13 -- learn to be a bit independent of their families and rely on their own resources. Sure, the kids get homesick ... but the staff is really, really terrific about helping them deal with it, and get over it. Isn't that what we want for our teary-voiced kids -- to make that successful transition to their new and exciting environment? The camp philosphy -- and it is common to a lot of camps, really -- is that it only prolongs the transition if the kid keeps touching base with mom or dad. The counseling staff is right there to help them through the transition. And for any especially needy kids, one of the daily options is to hang out in the garden with one of the camp directors, i.e. "mom". (And if a kid really is intractably homesick, the camp does involve the parents, and they jointly decide what the best course of action is.) These folks know more about child development than all of us put together (if we leave out vagansmom!), and I trust them absolutely. Heck, not only do they deal openly with homesickness in the first week, in the LAST week the counselors discuss with the kids how hard it will be to transition back to "the real world".


Maybe it wouldn't work for everyone, but I really enjoyed the weeks of communicating via the written word. Luckily, both my kids are fabulous writers, and pretty regular correspondents. I have every letter saved away -- that's something that you can never do with phone calls.


Sorry, I got a bit :( Pasdetrois, I would never recommend this for the average SI, because most of them really aren't equipped to adequately handle intense socioemotional issues. But I wish you could understand that it isn't about isolating kids as much as it is about empowering them (GIVEN a supportive environment -- I LOVED hearing about Suzanne Farrell!).


I might also say parenthetically that our culture provides far too few opportunities to remove oneself from everyday life. I had an opportunity recently to spend a week on a 134' sailing vessel -- a tall ship. Talk about being cut off from communication! No phone, no mail, no internet ... only an emergency radio. I was crazy for a day or two, and then it became .... heaven.

Link to post

I've been getting several calls a day, as has my husband. One in the morning when she wakes up. On or two during her break or breaks, depending how long they are. One when she gets back to her dorm and one right before she goes to bed. I talk to her more now than when she is home! Although dd has been moderately homesick, she is not upset during the calls, thank goodness, but just needs to keep in close contact with us during the day. I never go anywhere without my cell phone. I hope that as time passes she won't feel the need to call quite so often, however, I must admit I enjoy hearing all the little details of her day given that this is the first time she's been away from us for so long.

Link to post

Please know that I am not an advocate of telling you DK not to call, quite the contrary. I just think it should be, for the most part, on their time schedule, not ours!! Believe me, I love the calls!

Link to post

Dd is not homesick in the least and is having the time of her life. She calls several times each day and I love hearing from her! I enjoy the excitement in her voice as she tells me about her classes or what they had for lunch. Only one strange phone call when she broke the vaccuum cleaner during her daily "chore" at her SI. She does not like to be fussed at and does all she can to follow rules, so when the vaccuum broke and one of the RAs gave her a hard time about it she did get a little upset, more bothered though than upset since all she did evidently was turn the thing on. I asked if there were more vaccuums and she said about 6 others. I got her to smile when I told her the odds of them not catching on as she took out the other 6 vaccuums are slim so she better not break anymore. :(

Link to post

DD is at her first SI, and before she left she liked to tell all of her friends that her mom was nervous and her dad was in denial. When I took her to the airport, she walked through the gate on her own (and a few other friends from her school) and never looked back...NOT ONCE!


She called when she arrived at baggage claim, and then when she was in the car riding to the dorms, and then when she got to her dorm room, and then when she couldn't get the AC to work, and then when she had a belly ache, and then when she couldn't figure out why there was a wad of cotton in her Pepto Bismal bottle, and then to let me know that the rubbing alcohol came open in her suitcase, and then to tell me she was all unpacked, and then to tell me there were no locks on the bathroom door.....there were no tears, but lots of frustration, confusion and "what do i do now?" in her voice.


Then she called to tell me how much she loved the food, and how many other girls wore the same pointe shoes that she does, and how nice the RAs are, and how she and the other girls made up a system to let each other know when someone was in the bathroom, and how exhausted she was from the placement class, and that it didn't matter that she's in the lowest level, because she's the youngest student in the dorms and if her regular classes were as challenging as the placement class, then everything would be fine. Most importantly, she's having the time of her life!


ALL of those phone calls in less than 24 hours! Of course she called her dad's cell phone to tell him she couldn't get the alarm clock to work.


She is now down to one phone call. She calls in the evening after she's had her shower and relaxing before bed. She's only 12 and I think she's still in awe that she's even there. Tonight she was telling me how she needs to do some laundry, how she did three triple pirouettes and the teacher actually saw them, and how she walked to the store with a friend to get some snacks. She reported what she had for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and how happy she is that pilates is the last class of the day because she can lay on the floor and rest! I love that she's having so much fun and can't believe she doesn' t miss me! I have only cried once, and it was right before we left the house for the airport. She ran into her bedroom and brought out two cards, one for her dad, and one for me. They were thank you cards.....thanking us for making the financial sacrifices to be able to afford to send her.


I'm so glad that everything is working out for her, but I'm sure as the weeks go on, I'll be the one crying on the phone and she'll be telling ME that everything will be ok!

Link to post

DancesInHerSleep -


I loved your list of all the times and all the different reasons your daughter called! It reminded so much of my older daughter when she went to her first SI, and made me smile. My youngest one (18 years old) who is away now is one of the ones who rarely calls. I really miss the letters that have disappeared and been replaced by cell phone calls and e-mails. Thankfully, my daughter still likes to make her home-made cards.



Link to post

dancesinher sleep-

I too loved the list of necessary calls. It really reminds me of how they grow up when they go away. However, also want to support the art of letter writing versus phone calls. It is not that my DD is a prolifc writer. Far from her first year at Interlcohen we got one letter with 13 words on it!! Boy did we raze her about that, showed our friends... Last year she did better and sent about 3 (letters). One was long just to prove the point that she could write a real letter. But what DD loved was when she came home she could read the letters she had sent. Then added more stories or details around them. She has kept these in her files because for her they are the best reminder of her time. Some kids write journals and these serve the same function, but letters sent to family have always served an enormous historical role in understanding our time. I am all for programs that suggest fewer phone calls - more pen and paper.

Link to post

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...