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How to support daughter?

dancingin the sun

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My 11 year old daugter is taking 20 hours of dance a week. This includes daily ballet class (6 days/week), pointe, character, modern and exercise. Last year she only took 3 dance classes per week - 2 ballet and 1 jazz so this is a big increase for her (she was accepted to a professional division school for this year). She is living at home as we live in the city that the school is in. Any advice on helping her with the transition? She is very motivated and loves dancing.

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dancinginthe sun - is you daughter doing most of the dancing during the day at school? If so, lots of snacks for during the day and water, lots of rest, understanding when she is sore/cranky/needy (we had a foot bath waiting each day last year when we jumped to the hectic schedule. It did more emotionally, then it did physically), communication with the school etc...

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My daughter is also 11. She did the 20 hours for years at her old studio, but we moved to a good ballet studio and now she is only doing 7.5 hours. All ballet and pointe.We might add 1 hour of jazz, but right now she is relieved to have some time to practice her violin, do homework without feeling rushed, and just sit around and watch tv. These are things she didn't realize she would like because there was never time for them before!!

I would be scared that big of an increase would cause burn out. Even if it is something she loves, that is a dramatic jump. Does she have to do so many classes?

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hippiechicken - Their daughter is heading to RWB school so opting out of classes will not be an option as it is Prepro now for them. I think that schedule is standard for a pre pro dancer at that age in that school.

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Knock knock... may I respond?


Congratulations to your daughter on her acceptance! How to support her is indeed a complicated question. Do you completely advocate this move? Because that will be the key. 20 hours /week is a LOT, and can be stressful on family relationships and on the DD!


A little about our experience: my DD is now 15, and began dancing at age 10 with five one-hour classes per week (ballet class at fine arts charter school in lieu of PE). At 12, she went to an SI where she met girls who, like your daughter, danced 20+ hours/week; at the time, she was only taking 7 hours/week. We wondered how they did homework, ate dinner, etc. They told us that the studio was pretty much their lives, but that they loved it: that is where their friends were, and where their passions lay. Some were in public school and got early release to take dance for PE credit, and they did homework together on their dinner break. It was at that point that DD realized that she needed more BALLET than her studio could offer at her level (they had no middle ground, only beginner-2 yrs younger than she- and advanced- 3yrs+ older...it was a jazz studio with a good ballet teacher) and we moved to a studio where she danced 9 hours/week. It was still difficult to manage middle school homework sometimes... not enough time before class to get going, and hard to start after class and dinner. Lots of NAGGING was necessary on the part of the adults in the relationship...


Obviously it can be done with good time management, and IF your DD is passionate about dance. With one as young as she is, I would say that your role might include:

  • checkwriter - goes without saying! :devil:
  • being the one who moderates (all dance and nothing else makes Jane a dull girl, if I may borrow...) and provides opportunities outside dance
  • enforcer - being sure that chores and homework are completed, and that she gets plenty of rest
  • dietician - making sure that she is well-nourished, what with the extra exercise load and growing happening at the same time
  • cheerleader - sometimes kids get down on themselves and need a boost
  • BUT NOT BALLET MOM!!!! - my DD is most adamant that this is SOOO important, and I will say that it is the most difficult to manage of all your roles

All the best to your family!

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Hi dancingin the sun,


Sounds like it will be a change for both you and your dd, in terms of driving to and from. Hopefully you will be able to have some kind of a carpool with other parents (is this possible?) so you can have a break from driving, even if your dd has to dance 6 days/week.


As for your dd, she must have had a good opportunity in the summer to decide if she likes it enough to go every day. She's very lucky that you live in a city with provides this sort of opportunity, and luckier to have a family to support her in her dreams. Gracey gives some good advice, I don't know that I have much more to add...


The only thing I can think of is that you may want to consider inviting dance friends over from time to time, particularly if there are some in your dd's class from out of town. That said, it's also a good idea to do what you can to maintain the non-dance class related friendships. This is something my older dd did not do, and I think now she sometimes wishes she had. She's in University now (so a long way from where you are), but all her school friends live quite a distance from us - most in different countries - and I know she has wished that there was someone local that she could just hang out with from time to time when she is home.


All the best,



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Wow - thanks for all of that great, practical advice. I think I will even journal about some of your insights. :) It is so nice to hear from other moms who have experienced similar intensity.

To answer your questions..

-We don't have a choice about the number of hours once we said yes to the program. Rehersals will add additional hours to this schedule.

-Summer school was a good introduction and the more she danced the more she wanted to dance. She kept her ballet leotard/tights on for 24 hours after summer school ended until I made her take it off.

-We are supportive of her decision to enter this level athough aware that it may mean some pretty big changes for our family.

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I don't have any advice, but I wanted to wish your family good luck. It sounds like a very exciting time in all your lives!

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DITSun - first of all, congratulations for your DD! However, your DD may be taking less classes? Unless RWB has changed their schedule, when my DS was there a few years ago at age 13, he had character class one semester and then modern the next, or vice versa and no jazz, only in summer school. You may want to check your DD dance schedule again when she starts to dance this week. She will definitely have ballet technique every day, pointe ? and then either character or modern plus the conditionning (at least the boys had a conditionning class, but I know it wasn't every day).


There will be no rehearsals until closer to the year-end performance, the company is not doing a Nut this year, I think they are performing Peter Pan - there may be auditions for younger students? Someone can correct me if I'm wrong.


Your DD will be tired physically, but the mental part is really tough too...I think that aspect will require more support than just sore feet, etc. It is a real grind and there are going to be times when your DD may second guess her decision, or she may not and just jump in with both feet. But your DD must be ready to be challenged, assessed and critiqued on a daily basis, some days it will not be "warm and fuzzy" like summer school. It is a wonderful opportunity, the training is excellent, "slow-cooker" method, your DD will have many ups and downs this coming year and you will have to provide all kinds of moral support. One good thing is that you live in the city - I know my DS went through a homesickness period each February in residence - freezing cold weather, usually sick at some point - yep, I'm certainly glad he is now closer to home.


Good luck to both of you!

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Keep eyes wide open for clues that she is enjoying ballet for herself, not to please others. Serious ballet students tend to be obedient and want to please their instructors and parents. They tend to be high or over achievers and put their all and everything in all they do. :)

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Sounds like a 'growth period' is upon you. I say good luck as well. Let us know how it is going. My advice is to take care of yourself, too. Don't be afraid to ask for help from those around you, carpools make it easier. I'm sure there are other parents in your dd's class willing to help out. So when you need it, ask.

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Knock, Knock dancing student here,

The best things you can do for your daughter is A) drive her B ) Force her to eat healthy C) Not to snap at her and make sure she gets rest and finally be there for her and do not criticize her dancing. If she needs your help she will come to you. Ympathy is the best thing to get after long hours of pointe not- I told you you should have brought more tape- even though you're probably right, the next day you can say, "maybe you should bring some more bandaids today"

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