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Ballet Talk for Dancers

For Parents with Dancers in Residential Programs

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:D This is my DS's fourth year away from home - first 2 years in a residence, a 3.5 hour flight away from home. We didn't see each other much those first two years - I usually tried to travel at least one or two weekends a year and he came home at Christmas and for his school break. He did become quite "down" in February - he was usually sick with a cold, it was usually freezing cold outside as well and I think he was quite fed up at that point with living with the same 60 people day in and day out. Residence can be a fishbowl environment at times. I felt quite out of control of his academics and had to rely on him to get his work done on time - he is usually quite conscientious and self-motivated, so that never has been a big problem. I never did meet his teachers except for the first day when I registered him for Grade 9. That part was very weird for me, as I had been a very involved parent volunteer at my other kids' schools.


He is now closer to home - a 2.5 hr train ride away, he shares a house with 2 other dancers, is responsible for his own cooking, cleaning, laundry, curfew, homework, etc., etc. We tried it out in the summer, and he did very well, was responsible, mature and did not abuse the privilege of living without supervision. He is a Sr in high school and at the ballet school as well - gets himself off to class in the morning, then heads off to the ballet school which is right next to the high school, then home for dinner, etc. We talk on the phone every other day, or unless there is some "crisis"!!! We usually see each other one or two weekends a month now, which is great - I can check on his schoolwork, spend time with him outside the "dance" world, he can see his sister, go out with non-dance friends, I now see him perform at least 3 times per year which is wonderful. And, get to see him in class more often too, talk to his teachers as well, check on his progress.


Our relationship has changed over the years, we are still very close, but he relies less on me now for emotional support, mind you, he still does call when he feels frustrated about something technical or has had a "bad" day...he is becoming more independent, manages his money better now, although $$ is sometimes the "thorny issue" between us - he has champagne tastes on a beer or NO salary!! I think cheetah can relate to this issue!!


It has been four years of ups and downs, sometimes emotionally heart-wrenching, but to see him grow and mature as a person and dancer has been well worth the distance! My friends do question our decision to send him away at such a young age, but we couldn't give up the opportunity to expand his dance training and to see where this passion would take him.


His next weekend home will be to attend the Kirov "Swan Lake" performance, then I'm off on Nov 18th to see the first Nut performance.

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DD has been away at residency on and off since grade 7 (she came home 1/2 way through Grade 9 and went away again for Grade 11), she is now in grade 12. It feels like a lifetime ago that she first left home, I think I cried for the first two years, I missed her terribly. We have always tried to touch base every day by phone, we visited twice yearly and with the various holidays she was home for about 10 weeks each year.


DD is a social creature and having a ready made social life inside and outside her dorm door suited her well. At times she had difficulty balancing the socializing with her homework. Like most ballet students she can also be a bit of a perfectionist, which caused her some stress. DD had some bouts of homesickness, mostly when things where not going so well, if she was sick or injured, if she was struggling with the homework load or struggling in ballet class. The most difficult time was grade nine, DD was struggling with her development as a dancer, she was sad and after considering all of her options decided to come home. It was a mixed blessing for me, I had my child at home again, but she was crushed emotionally. It took a while, but with a lot of love and support she was able regain her confidence.


She left for another residential school at the beginning of Grade 11. DD will graduate from highschool in April with the requirements and marks to go to University if plan A does not work out. DD will need one more year to finish her ballet program, and possibly one year of post graduate training before auditioning, providing everything stays on track.


This has not been an easy road for our family, but with love and support and the freedom to make her own decisions DD has grown into a young woman that I am proud to call my daughter.

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mini cooper

This is an interesting thread to read.


DD (now 16) just went away to a residency program for the first time this year. I did go visit her for her 16th birthday about three weeks after she arrived at the program. It was quite selfish on my part, but I felt I needed to be with her on that significant birthday. (who knows, I may feel that way on her 17th and 18th, too!)


My husband and I will go for parents weekend late in October, and will attend one of the two weekends of Nut. She will come home at Thanksgiving and for the Christmas holidays.


We don't get to talk much during the week - the kids are extremely busy, and the school is strict about phone usage. This is not a problem, we can talk if we need to, but during the week it's rare or rather brief. I do think she talks to friends in the evenings sometimes. On the weekends we do have at least one really long phone call, and several quicker phone calls. One weekend it involved us finding a ballet store via the internet while she was taking a train into Boston.


I tend to send her emails if there are things I need for her to know. I like to reserve our phone time for just visiting - not going over laundry lists of things. Our phone visits are great. It's very interesting watching her grow up long distance.


The school will send information at certain intervals. If there is anything they are concerned about, they will communicate with us.


We have friends and family who communicate with her regularly - the old fashioned way - with cards and letters. There is simply no substitute for getting letters and small care packages.


Our family is very new to this, but so far it is working well. I know that dd misses her friends terribly. Friday nights seem to be especially hard. As others have said we feel this decision is very unique to each family. Each child is different even though they share much in their dedication to ballet.

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Muck Luck

This is our daughter's first year away in residency and I will be visiting her for the first time in two weeks for parent weekend. Because of all factors listed (work schedule, cost and distance) I was not planning to attend Nutcracker due to cost and work but I am toying with the idea now that my daughter was cast in a fairly significant role.One of the hardest decisions will be drawing the line and keeping my credit card in check because I don't forsee ever not wanting to attend her performances, so what is a devoted ballet Mom suppose to do? I'm having a hard time not booking a flight for the whole family! Tough choices...

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Muck Luck -


I think that not being able to see all my daughter's performances has been the hardest thing about having her away. We're in driving distance, and we still can't afford to go to all of them between gas, hotel stay, ticket costs, etc. Most of the time, peformances are in the evening, so unless you want to be driving home late at night, you have to stay over. I know how you feel. Sometimes you can buy DVD's, which helps.



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Our DD left for a residency program 2 weeks after her 12th birthday. She spent the first 2 years with billet families only a couple of hours from home. When she turned 14 she left for another program that involves a 2.5 hour flight. This is her 7th year away. She has graduated from highschool and the ballet school and is now living in an apartment on her own while attending the post graduate dance program. She manages to come home 2-3 times a year and we manage a trip or 2 out there. This will be the first year she will not be home for Christmas due to a dance committment though.

We still talk almost every day on the phone. The difficult times are when she is feeling down, or is ill.

She has become a very independant, reponsible and determined young lady who continues to follow her dream. I can't ever imagine not having allowed her the opportunity to do that.

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