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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Shift in level, shift in parents


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I'll add my vote for Ms. Leighs take on the standard coming from the top. Mean girl syndrome is not acceptable at our studio. It never has been and never will be. Sadly, we'll get dancers joining us who are real little nasties and want to be queen bee's. They don't last long, they either change or die trying to stay the same. We do not watch class on a regular basis, I'd love to but I see the wisdom in not doing. Ballet Mom's are far worse than ballet kids. Some bahaviors are definately learnt at home!

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I was going to say, I wonder if casting for shows comes into it? I've seen online posts elsewhere from dancers who were upset not to get the roles they wanted. Some feel that it was unfair, so that could breed resentments with parents and young dancers.


On another note, some parents & daughters may also know each other from another context.

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My dd also was the youngest in an older level a few years back and it was very hard for her to deal with the different levels of commitment as girls get older. Some have it but don't use it, some think they have it and don't & some are just burnt out. Trying to be more mature and staying away from the petty backstabbing like I told her to, my dd was ask by one of the "got it but doesn't use it" girls "Why don't you like me?" Not having the skills to handle the question tactfully, dd told her. (AHHHH) Honesty is the best policy right? WRONG. I get a nastly email from the girls mother (who I thought was a friend) telling me that my daughter should mind her own business along with other mean things. It was hard to be the bigger person, walk away and let the girls work it out. It was after all something the girls had to work out not the parents. I felt like this mom hated my daughter. My husband would have told her to tell her daughter "Don't ask the question if you don't want an answer." Situations like these make my dd stronger and each comes with a lesson. Some are lessons for both of us.

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I doubt it would have helped had your dd been coached how to respond to the question.


If people are going to be unhappy for silly or unjustified reasons, there usually isn't a "right" way to respond.

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OK, I hate to admit this... :thumbsup: but sometimes you just have to make light of it all. Don't get me wrong, our dks' feelings are serious business. But as parents in the lobby, sometimes it's a bit like one of those court television shows you're flipping by-- sometimes all you have to do is watch for a few minutes to give yourself a chuckle and realize your own situation is just fine. :o People who are miserable are often miserable because they have made themselves that way, as opposed to someone else making them that way.


"Being the bigger person" sometimes means being gracious when you are rewarded, and sometimes means complimenting someone else who is rewarded instead of you. This applies to students and parents alike. We have had a particularly tough run with the latter recently, and it is no fun--but now that a couple of weeks have gone by DD is happy she quickly congratulated the person being rewarded. They may have even become better friends than before. I think the person being rewarded was caught off guard by my DD's support.


So my confession... :blushing: I want to get along with all of the parents--there's no point in being catty. But once in a while I'll sympathetically entertain the rantings of the stage mom or the princess' mom or the they-only-love-her-for-her-body's mom just a little longer than most. Sometimes hearing about how their children are so perfect yet so unloved can put our average little lives into a happy perspective--and give me a few minutes of comic relief. :wub:

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I've been dealing with this for almost ten years. I have several parents that flat out won't speak to me even when I say hello to them [on the rare occasion I have to be at the studio since I avoid it like the plague]. My dd hears ALL the comments made behind her back as well. Even some from the parents! I tell her to be the "grown up", ignore them and kill them with kindness. Even though she won't admit it I know the nasty remaks sting.


And tonight, she gave a ride home to one of the worst offenders at her studio because the poor girl had no way to get home and all of her "friends" couldn't help her out. I was never more proud of her.


I don't think there is an answer except perhaps for competitive parents to stop living their lives through their kids. It only corrupts them as well.

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Good for your daughter. If she is driving, she is much older than mine, but exactly how I'm hoping dd will be.

Sounds like your dd has a beautiful heart.

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  • 5 months later...
Guest cuppatea

I really agree with Ms. Leigh on this. There is no doubt that the Director of the school sets the tone.

We have had a major problem with this, the Director certainly won't change-but this is the best school technically in our town. I have followed the advice that Ms. Leigh suggests: stay away from it. I also am very gracious/supportive to other students and parents when I do see them, as is my dk. If this isn't reciprocated and-at times when it really gets ugly -I have tried to help my DK try to have a sense of humor about it. What else can you do?

A sense of humor helps her move on from any hurtfull comments so she can focus on what's important-

improving, working hard in class and enjoying dancing.

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  • 2 weeks later...
my dd lost a special part because of parent complaints


This case illustrates Ms. Leigh's point that the tone comes from the top. It sounds like this person at the top caved to parental pressure which allows for more parental pressure later on something else. (not sure the tone was set well here) That makes me sad! It would have been far better, long term for studio atmosphere, to say to those complaining parents: The casting has been set and will remain, we will take your concerns under advisement for the future!

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I completely agree thta it all starts at the top.I have only one thing to add that has only dawned on me recently (though my dk has been dancing for years). Part of the "starts at the top" mentality is whether or not your child dances at a school that puts education first, or at a school that operates like a company (which appears to be happening more and more, with the endless number of performances and rehearsals). If your school is the latter, then the thinking at the top is not "what is best for each student." It is "what will make my performance look good." The students clearly come second to the performance.


I am not making a complete judgment against such schools. . .just saying that it is a consideration that we, as parents, need to be aware of.


So now my two cents are in. . .

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"We all knew the best are up front and have special parts, no questions asked! You show off in class, you get to be center."


I don't know how to move a quote....so I copied it.....

I have found that even in a studio that operates like a company, the girls in front and in special roles are not necessarily "the best". The assumption that they are may foster jealousy problems in a studio.

At dd's studio, so many times (most times) parts and placement are given by height...especially corp parts. It seems to me the AD keeps everyone guessing on why each person is put where they are....height? talent? who knows? When dd was given "special" parts, once it was because out of all the understudies, dd fit into the costume the best. Once, dd speculated, of the four girls who are the same height as the five who danced the part last year and are dancing it again, she either did a certain combination the best, or was able to bring her leg to the same height they did at the same time. At any rate, she looked good in the group at the audition.


Maybe our studio just does a good job of it. DD has been given "special" parts, and also put in the very last row behind taller girls, insuring that she isn't always "in the front". She understands completely, and it helps her remember that she isn't "the best" and most necessary dancer on the stage!

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Were you directly told by someone in charge that they demoted your dd because other parents complained, in exactly those words?


I can understand a studio stating that they would not give the role in the first place because other parents might complain, if that parent is asking for their child to have special treatment/a plum role/whatever, but I would find it to be a very bad practice if the child was cast originally without input from the parent, and then the role taken away simply because other kid's parent's complained. That's the way to run your school into the ground.


I hope that made sense....

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This year, dd has been told by several classmates that she is showing off or making them look bad when she completes a combination the rest of the class has trouble with. At her evaluation, a very direct teacher explained how much stronger dd needs to get in order to catch up to where she 'should' be. So she works hard at every class and will not 'dumb down' her dancing to the rest of the level for everyone else's comfort.


If I noticed or knew that she was 'showing off' in class, I'd talk to her because showing off breeds ill will.


What we have had a conversation about is reminding her to be kind to the others in her class when she hears them say mean things or they give her the cold shoulder. This has been a tough year. Everyone is anxious about moving up. Dd will advance and although the her class clearly sees she deserves it, this was not what the group expected, some have been in the level longer and will remain there another year. Many are struggling and some are realizing that a career as a ballet dancer is not in the cards. Some were blessed with far more facility than dd, but dd worked harder and passed them. It is a hard lump to swallow. Kindness is important, putting herself in their shoes, that sort of thing. This age and level seems to be where the differences become readily apparent and I know there are some hearts breaking in her class both the students and their moms, especially the moms who wanted a ballet career for their child. Best to practice compassion. Practice compassion but keep on working. Being the best in this class means nothing. Doing her best, trying her hardest, that means something.

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dd has been told by several classmates that she is showing off or making them look bad when she completes a combination the rest of the class has trouble with


This seems to be a classic statement made by those who want to hold someone else back to satisfy themselves. It is one we've heard several parents from several students say their own children had to deal with as well as there have been lots of references here to that type of statement as well. It is in times like these that we need to teach our young children the psychology of how to question: So what I hear you saying to me is that you want the opportunity to complete the combinations that you can do well whenever you can so you can look good. But for me you want me to mess up on purpose the one's I can do well so I don't? Is that what I'm hearing you say?


I have rarely seen a student really show off. (what does that mean anyway, how tangible is it?) The teacher demonstrates the combination, you either have a good run of it, an okay run of it or a bad run of it. When you have a good run....ahem, it's a good run. Your turn at a bad one will come. The same kids who want her to dummy down will laugh at her if she does poorly at a combination. So dancing to learn is the way to go.

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