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Ballet Talk for Dancers

SI supervision and discipline issues


Avalon

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As a high school teacher I can echo what has been said in the previous posts. Drinking, drugs, sexual activity all occur anywhere, not just at camps away from home. Students share things with me that would horrify their parents. And the "good" kids are just as likely to fall from the pedestal and do as those who are identified as at risk.

 

Parents have to do their best to instill values, investigate what places are in line with what they expect in supervision and hope for the best. A difficult thing to do to be sure.

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  • Victoria Leigh

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Gracey - your DD is at Washington SI? Is she in residence or does she have other living arrangements? Are you worried and anxious about SIs or about full-time residential schools? Or both? If your DD is staying in a dorm, are you happy with her situation?

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dancemomca - my sister lives in Washington and my daughter resides with her. Actually I spent the first week and a half in Washington before returning home and though I did not see the residences at all, I did see some interaction of the RA's with the older dancers. It is an orderly, respective enviroment. I saw RA's signing out dancers and checking their lists. I saw dancers waiting at the doors until 3 were ready so they can follow the stay in 3's rule.

 

Maybe that is why I am shocked at the incidents such as these. Washington has such control, I just assumed they are all like that.

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Gracey-even with Washington's control things happen there also. I think what you as a parent have to do is to research, research, research. Continue to look at the SI forums. PM some people and ask the questions that are important to you about your SI environment. Ask some more people and talk, talk, talk to your dancer. You cannot control anyone but your own child and sometimes you can't even control them. What you can do is teach them to be a strong person who knows rules are there for a reason.

 

One of the good things about the WSB RA's is that many of them are repeat RA's. So they can deal with things that happened the year prior and how to better handle them the next year. As well, Ms. Leigh looks at those things herself. But RA's can only be proactive so much and then their job turns to clean up.

 

But being real, those 3 kids you saw?--after checkout there had to be trust in them. Much like you would have to trust your own DK. Once they walked out the door to the bus stop, the RA had to trust that 3 together stayed 3 together. In reality, that may or may not have happened. (ok, I know I'm being a devil's advocate) What is key is what the RA's would do if those 3 seperated and broke the rules.

 

No place is immune however.

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Without a doubt Mof3d - research is very important, though I venture to say that alot depends on the mix of dancers and maybe the ratio of "bad apples" to "total dancers" accepted.

 

Like any other environment,such as a workplace or school, enforcement of those rules is what decides whether those are really "rules" or not.

 

Avalon has a situation where the RA's were essentially deciding which rules would be enforced and which would not. This creates confusion for the dancers.

 

If a 13 or 14 yr old res student from Washington was noted walking around Friendship Heights alone, I suspect there would be a rukus heard from here to the North Pole and that dancer would know they were in for it the moment they were spotted breaking the rule.

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You got that right, Gracey! And not even alone, but in twos, they would both be in big deep trouble. They cannot go out unless there are 3 of them, and we must know where they are at al times. The sign out and in sheets are monitored closely.

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After reading some of the newer posts on this thread, I thought it may be helpful to post an update. Some of it is encouraging, and some is not. Let me echo at the outset what so many informed, savvy, and seasoned dance parents have said: It is quite important to do your homework before commiting to an SI experience. I freely admit again that I did not; it did not occur to me that we would be facing these issues.

 

After a week of daily contact with both DS and the director of the SI, and finally with the host university, husband was able to have DS moved to a private room. This afforded him the opportunity to retreat if/when rules were being broken by his older roommates in the former room. And indeed, such infractions did continue. Before the move I was on the phone with DS at 11:15 at night when an older roommate returned to the room (remember the in-the-room-lights-out-at-11:00 rule?). Roommate proceeded to put on cologne and leave the room again. Later that night he was caught in the room of a female SI student. Both were reprimanded the next day by the director, but no action was taken beyond this. The event was helpful to DS, though, becuase for the first time he saw the older roommate being told that the rules actually did apply to him, despite being over 18.

 

We have also learned that the RA's are 18 and 19 year-old female dance students in the SI and they appear to have limited authority with the dancers. DS also suggests that they themselves often do not follow many of the rules of the SI.

 

Another pivotal event happened unexpectedly; DS was very inspired when the students were taken to another city last weekend to see a profesional ballet production. This seemed to help DS focus on his dance training more intently, despite the temptations and the behavior of some around him.

 

We are feeling a little more settled and do believe that our "complaining" has resulted in some improvement of the supervisory issues. Still, we are disadvantaged by the distance and have to engage now in the trust that so many of you have alluded to in your posts.

 

Oh, and on a lighter note, DS had the pleasure of doing his laundry away from home for the first time last weekend. He called several times for technical assistance, but still seemed befuddled by the tasks of sorting clothes, selecting wash cycles, and determining what to machine dry and what to drip dry. After four calls, he said he still wasn't "getting it" and he was going to send me some very important messages on my cell phone. Sure enough, they arrived in a few minutes: close up pictures of all of the buttons on the washers and dryers. My husband, daughter, and I got a very much needed laugh, both about his incompetence and his ingenuity in managing the problem.

 

Perhaps, given this anecdote regarding DS's lack of common sense, you can better apppreciate why we have been so concerned!

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I think he just displayed great common sense! We get this phone call every time my DS does laundry (even using our home washer.) Never has he thought to take a photo of the dials of unknown washers and send them to us! That was a really great idea!

 

As for the other issues, I think he's behaving like a male teenager, not someone with no common sense. Most kids aren't perfect. Mine isn't, anyway. But they have a good core of right and wrong and sometimes they just have to sort it out for themselves, especially when they're seeing those in "authority" doing certain things. I think it also takes them a bit longer to process situations, too. Remember, they often still respond to immediate gratification and, as such, still have lapses in judgement - it's part of growing up. I think you're doing a great job of supporting him and helping him grow and develop so that in the future he'll be better able to make "wiser"choices.

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Avalon -

 

Glad to hear your DS was able to distance himself from the troublemakers. I know many SIs won't let students over 18 stay in the dorms - perhaps the stories you've told are a very good reason why!

 

thanks for the chuckle regarding his laundry. I love how kids can quickly handle any high tech electronics but are puzzled when faced with a pile of dirty clothes and a few buttons on the washer and dryer! :)

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Avalon, may I add my 2 cents - you and your husband are doing a GREAT JOB :)

Thank you for being so open in sharing your situation and regular updates. It has opened up a treasure trove of helpful information and guidance.

 

It sounds as if both the parents and DS are learning from this situation. This will make him a stronger and wiser person. This will also give you experience on what to look for in furture situations and what kinds of prep work your (ours, too, btw) needs in future situations.

 

This year we had the opportunity to host a dancer who had made some pretty bad choices and been suspended from an SI. We knew the agony the parents were going through and that the youth's reputation was on the line. He went home and had some intense "these are our expectations for you" time with his parents. We had him for 4 months after that to continue his training and get him ready for SI and company work. He Got IT as to how close he came to blowing his career and he ws totally motivated and concentrated on his training. His parents added some strict controls to reinforce their expectations during this time.

 

I am happy to report that the SI took him this summer. I feel relieved when SI's follow their rules, but also look to see if the young person has learned from the experience!

 

A bad experience only remains bad if one doesn't learn from it and make the necessary changes.

 

Again, Avalon, well done and thank you for sharing.

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Spiritfire...how nice of you and your family to give this young man the opportunity to prove he could learn from his mistakes and change! BRAVO to involved! :)

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I imagine that some pointed questions should be asked with regards to RA's a school hires. For instance - are they students who attend the SI? Will here be an adult ( or parent volunteer) residing on the floor?

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Those are good questions Gracey.. Last year the RA's at my son's SI were 19 year olds from the college who knew nothing about dance or the dance program and there were no adults on the floors. I was astounded. Now I know to ask that question.

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I've always preferred SI's where the RA's were over 21, and were overseen by an adult housing director. Some SI's don't have one director in charge, but have house mothers and fathers who oversee the RA's. That works too.

 

As a mom, I always wanted people in charge who understood adolescent development from a position of maturity. It's OK in my eyes to use mature RA's in their 20's, but I still wouldn't want them making the ultimate decisions about the various sorts of incidents that might occur at an SI. I'd want them to take each issue to a director, an older person (preferably a parent) who has the maturity to overview, looking at the "whole picture".

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