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At what age did your child *know* that all they wanted to do is dance?


AmaLari

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I am the mother of a very young dancer (just turned 6) who has been obsessed with dancing for 2-1/2 years. She started out in a RAD baby ballet program and is now in Grade One. Her love of dance is not limited to ballet, as she has been studying classical Indian dance (Bharatanatyam) for nearly two years as well. She seems to spend all her free time either reading stories about dance or making up her own choreography. When she hasn't been in class for a couple of days, she seems a bit off and only perks up after she has class again.

 

At first, she enjoyed the playing aspect of baby ballet, but once she started working on foot, arm, and hand positioning in Primary she became thoroughly enthralled. This sort of precision is exactly what she enjoys about classical Indian dance. Her idea of relaxation is to stretch and practice "making waves" as she points her feet.

 

She does ballet twice a week and Indian dance once a week. Last week, she insisted on going to the ballet class before hers (one level lower) so that she could get extra dancing in.

 

I'm not sure whether or not I should be worried about her intensity. Her teachers are sticklers for technique, but make their classes fun. My daughter is naturally a bit shy, but when she's in class, she's like a completely different child - so confident and at ease. She even performed a solo (her Primary exam dance) in front of her entire school during an assembly and was so comfortable on stage!

 

Is this normal for children who have a true "need" to dance? Is she doing too much? Or should I just let her run with it and see how things pan out?

Edited by AmaLari
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Hello AmaLari, welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers :)

 

I think that if your daughter loves to dance, let her dance! :P It doesn't sound like she is doing too much. And while it's pretty early to really have any idea whether she has a "need" to dance or not, it is certainly not impossible for a child to know that.

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Check out this discussion:

 

The 'need' to dance

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Victoria Leigh -

 

Thanks for the welcome! It's good to know that she isn't dancing too much. I worry a bit about her spending too much time turned out at such a young age, but the RAD curriculum seems to be quite sensible for her age.

 

Clara 76 -

Thank you for pointing out that thread to me. :P

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Clara 76-

 

I read through that thread and many thanks for pointing it out to me. I think there may be a slight misunderstanding about my motives for posting my question, though.

 

I'm coming at this from a position of concern. I don't think obsession of any sort is healthy - drive is good, but anything more is excessive in my opinion. My husband would prefer to nip this "dancing thing" in the bud. I'm happy to go along with it as long as she's interested, but I'm worried about the long-term effects. We have friends whose 13yo DD is very serious about ballet and is our DD's idol. I appreciate how happy and centered ballet makes my friend's daughter feel, yet cannot fathom how she manages her time dancing for so many hours each week.

 

I love to dance, myself. I understand feeling a bit off without a dance class on the horizon, though my interests lean more towards a different style of dance.

 

Ultimately, I would prefer that my daughter not want to try to dance professionally. I cannot see how she would be able to complete a demanding academic program in high school and university whilst dancing every day. In my ideal world (LOL), she would continue ballet as part of a university program (if she's still dancing at that point) with the goal of doing something she truly loves as a serious hobby. As an example, I've talked to her about a friend of mine who has a Master's degree and a law degree - and teaches dance in the evenings because it's her love.

 

It's all very confusing to me. I asked about whether or not this commitment to dance shows up early in serious dancers so that I can better decide how I should approach it as she grows older. I am also concerned about the health effects of dancing for 4 hours a week at such a young age, but Victoria Leigh has put my mind to rest on that issue.

Edited by AmaLari
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Knock, knock. Mom of an over 13. My DD came out of her first ballet class at 4 and said "I wuv dis." She is now 15, and still absolutely loves class. It strikes me as so weird. Who would want to spend hours each day struggling, stressing and working so hard? But she would literally live at the studio if it was possible. We thought "this dance thing" would pass. We didn't know any dancers, and couldn't imagine that kind of life. We encouraged her to try basketball, swim team, scouts, cheerleading, gymnastics, academic team, etc. She did it all for several years, and enjoyed everything, but also loved the dance much more. If you expose your daughter to a variety of choices, she will let you know how high on her priority list dance is over time. Also, my DD will be entering her senior year at a very academic public high school this fall, and despite the 6X week dance schedule, makes great grades, scores high on exams, and does some extracurricular stuff too. It IS possible for a high energy, motivated kid to do it all if they want to. Let your child lead, and she'll find a great path.

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I remember arguing with my now 13 year old when she was 6 and in First grade. Every morning while she was getting ready for school, she constantly was asking me why she had to go to school beacause the ballet school was 'a school' & she wanted to be a ballerina so this other school was not important!! I guess the discussion has continued and evolved over the years. I am really proud and happy to , in essence, be part of the journey with my daughter. Even though the odds are against any sort of Ballet career, the special expereiences this journey has brought to our family are memories that we will cherish forever!

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dance1soccer1 - :( - 'i wuv dis.' That pretty much says it all for a little kid, doesn't it?

 

AmaLari,

your young dancer sounds like she is really enjoying herself. That is probably all that she is focused on at age 6. Her attentiveness and focus are also probably driven by this enjoyment. Your guidance along the way will eventually help her discover what her true path in life is. Ms. Leigh has reassured you that the number of hours per week that your dd dances thus far are fine. I believe the reason that Clara 76 referred you to the "need" thread was so that you could see that your concerns were also expressed by a few other members who then added these dimensions to the discussion. You are fortunate that you already understand many of the realities of the dance world as some of us have only recently begun to grasp them.

 

Best wishes...

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Yes, thank you Yankee...that's exactly why I put that link there.

 

I knew I wanted to be a dancer at age 5, and I haven't wavered ever since- no doubts nor misgivings, and I wouldn't change a thing about my dream.

 

But, AmaLari, just because I have had that experience doesn't mean that everyone will, and I thought you might be interested in other facets of the same idea. Honestly I have not formed any opinion of you at all- I haven't 'known' you long enough to do that! :(

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My daughter began dancing in fairies and elves at three, progressed into ballet and added tap and modern at seven. For a few years she wavered between loving modern better than ballet, but when she got pointe shoes at 11, she became very serious about her ballet and has now progressed rapidly. I think you should allow her to explore her interest fully, it may wane in a few years, if it doesn't then you know truly that she has a passion for dance. Her all consuming interest in dance will teach her concentration, perseverence and self confidence - all of which will stand her in good stead with her academic work. My 17 yo son has had many passions that consumed him totally - trains, the Titanic, Star Trek, back to trains in a more grown up way, and now politics. Each of these periods lasted a couple of years, but he gained much from them, has a vast knowledge of the world in which he is growing up in and although not academic is a very focussed person. I think many children have all consuming interests from dinosaurs to books or whatever and will eventually balance their life at the various stages they grow through. I'm sure you are worried about her and you value her education and think of her future. You know the world in which your daughter must live in, but browse this site, enjoy watching your daughter's love of dancing and store those memories somewhere special.

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When my daughter was 3 she loved to dance and people would comment on how it showed during her creative dance class. I let her take ballet class at the communitycenter as she got older, but I also signed her up for soccer so she would know the joys of team sports. Well, she spent her time dancing on the field and eventually her dance teacher at the rec center insisted that I take her to a better studio. Her passion for dance has never waivered even though I have tried to encourage other pursuits. My older son finally explained to me that if he could play professional sports, even at little pay, he would be the happiest guy in the world--why wouldn't I want that for my daughter?

She will start high school in Sept. and ballet has enriched her life hugely (while depleting my pocketbook!). She carries herself with poise and confidence, she knows how to work intensely, she is respectful of teachers, the musicality has probably helped her math and she has a killer kick for soccer! She is off this summer at an intensive and things haven't been easy, but she is still loving the pure essence of ballet.

I have often worried about too much stress on her body, balancing dance/school/life, etc, so I can truly understand your concerns, but I also know what it is like to see her joy and passion for this art. Although I would still love to see her become an orthodontist, I know that I would be sad if she didn't have the opportunities to realize her dreams since it is her life to live.

The chance of a professional career is small, but ballet has been a positive force and definitely kept her out of trouble during the middle school years! Mostly though, I follow her lead I am glad she is able to do something that she loves--how lucky is that?

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Wow, thanks everyone for your thoughtful replies! :) I feel so much more relaxed about this now that I've read through your posts.

 

It will be interesting to see how long this passion continues. Ballet has given her so much already - namely confidence and a way to express herself without words. I hope that her journey is as fulfilling as your children's.

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AmaLari,

 

We are here for you and hope your dd enjoys many years of dance. As she grows further in her dance education you will see her blossom academically as well. She will have a solid foundation no matter what she chooses in the future.

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Thanks, Yankee!

 

Though I hope she doesn't blossom academically any further - she's already working well above grade level and finished reading the Little House on the Prairie series on her own when she was still 5 years old! :grinning: I think her seriousness and innate perfectionism is part of the reason ballet is so attractive to her.

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