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Farewell to Ballet


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After 10 years of Ballet DD after many tears and sorrow has decided to quit dancing. She has sustained two major injuries and missed out on two years of summer intensives, she now feels she is not cut out physically to dance. Needless to say she has lost her confidence.


Also she is turning 18 soon and has been told she is behind most dancers her age, this is because we live in a small town that does not have a pre pro level school. Since her goal has always been to dance as a profession she feels she more than likely would not stand a chance against dancers that have that advantage.


As most young dancers do she has given up alot to dance and worked hard. This is what makes it so sad that she no longer has the heart to continue on. To not see her dance again is going to be difficult for me, but I support her decision. I will continue to encourage her to pursue her ambitions no matter what she decides to do.

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You sound like a very good mother.

It is good that you are there for her, just supporting her and letting her know that she is wonderful just because she IS.


It is surely quite hard for both of you. Your DD is very brave.

I hope she does not feel that the past time spent on ballet has been "wasted", for that is surely has not been!


I understand the dilema of living in a small town. (we live in a small town, and I have two DDs...)


Hopefully your daughter will find things which give her joy, and maybe even continue to dance for herself, at some time.

At first that may hurt, too, but in the end, the real reason for dancing is for oneself, is it not?


It is a very competitive world out there, and especially - or so it seems - in ballet.


Does your daughter have anything else she wants to concentrate onat this point?



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The years of ballet are certainly not a waste. Make sure each and every moment and role are commemorated, so that she knows how much dance meant to you and to her. Colleges love ballet students for their dedication, healthy life styles and appreciation of the arts, so discuss the ballet at length in her college applications. Remind her of the friends she met and the life experiences she had that she would have missed without ballet, and also remind her that this is possibly the BEST time ever to switch focus, either for a while or permanently. Now she can enjoy her year, try new activities, make new friends and focus on school/future plans without the worry of "is there dance there?" And don't hang up your driving gloves too soon, because DD has had several friends reach junior/senior year, say "that's it for me", take a month or two off, and come roaring back with renewed focus and vigor. These were girls who loved ballet FOR ballet, came to the realization that a professional career would not be for them, and had to take a breather before understanding that what they loved about ballet was not the potential to make a living at it, but the class, the cameraderie and the costumes. They danced to their fullest until they graduated, and uniformly chose colleges with dance classes (as non-dance majors). One is now on Broadway, one teaches dance, and the other changed to a double major (including dance) at the surprisingly late age of 21, and now dances for a ballet company. So, you just never know. We get so wrapped up in the career issue with our young dancers that we don't stop to think about the miniscule percentage of high school soccer, tennis, football and baseball players who go on to play in college, let alone professionally. Most high school sports are just that - HIGH SCHOOL sports, and then the kids move on. Do we say, what a waste of time that ball team was? No, we glory in the touchdowns, the losing games in the rain, the jokes played on the coach, and think of it as a great time in life. Ballet should be the same. She came, she danced, she learned and she shone. Now she can try something else, and if she misses it too much, come back to it at any point in her life. My 68 year old mother wears pointe shoes and takes class 4 days a week, and she never danced a step till she was 63. Truly, anyone can fall in love with ballet at any age!

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Diane and dance1soccer1, thanks for posting those great responses to redshoes. I too, have seen dancers dance through high school for their own enjoyment only to discover in college that they love dance so much that they had to take a shot at training for the professional life. In my 2-cents-mom-opinion which doesn't count for much, :yucky: I would never totally close that door with her. As you have said, she has suffered through 2 injuries and not gotten the best training. Why not try for great training and good PT care before finally throwing in the towel since this has been her life long dream? Dancers come back from injuries all the time. It goes with the territory of dancing professionally. Definitely support her in her decision, but also let her know that she is only turning 18 and companies today are looking at older dancers with college degrees. She could still turn this around with hard work if she really wants to. I would definitely focus on getting her injury free with PT and pilates in the meantime. It is hard to feel confident and positive when you are hurting. Let her sit back and absorb this decision. With the right teachers who are positive, nurturing and supportive and who really understand her injury situation, there is no telling what she could accomplish. I really think that patience, positive thinking and perserverance is the key to succeeding in this difficult profession. Good luck to you and your daughter.

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Dear redshoes,

Thank you for sharing your stories and concerns with us, your honesty and support of your daughter have been inspirational!


In my "day job" I work with high school youth and their parents. High School, especially Senior year, is a huge transition time. Many youth are going through the same discernment process your daughter is, some by choice, and others through outside influences. Many have been passionate about a future path, only now to discover that this may not be the way for them. For some it is the narrowing of choices or the competition for slots. I remember a football senior who broke down one evening crying that he would never play football for a school again. he attended a small high school and played on the team what was going to a prestigious, large state university with a big name football team. What he would miss was the training, the thrill of the game, the comraderie, etc.


It is so goodof you to recognize that there are a lot of factors going on in your daughter's discernment process - the injuries, the lack of more demanding training opportunities, as well as missing the routine, the training, the dream, and performances, caring teachers and friends. She may feel lost and in a void without her dancing friends, the validation of teachers and the nagging "what am I suppose to do with my life". She may experience doubt and lack of confidence. I am sure you feel relieved that she is going through this while at home, where she has the support of family, friends, and others in her "safety net".


I think the advice here has been wonderful - focus on what she has gained through her dance training - the discipline, the learning of an artform, the various experiences and self-knowledge. These are valuable life lessons (and make for great college essays). Be open to ways of staying connected to dance, if this is her desire. Try something completely new. Senior year is a roller coaster of emotions and decisions!


And, redshoes, take care of yourself. You are so supportive of your daughter and have enjoyed her dance pursuit. In this time of tears and decisions, it is very easy for parents to get caught up in th emotional turmoil or our children. We are their safety outlet, and it can be had to absorb all of it. Please do take care.

All the best to you and your daughter.

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Redshoes, your poor dancer! I know the pain of seeing your child hurt in such a way. Many have been through similar senarios. As has been said, kids go back to dancing and even if they don't go back for a career, they can go back for the pure joy of dancing. Nothing really can be added to the marvelouse posts already made. Ballet is never wasted. Look at the beauty of a dancer just in street clothes. The way they move and the presence they have. Ballet is carried with them for the rest of their lives. Many dance but few are chosen. It doesn't lessen the value of all those glorious and frustrating years in class rooms and on stage. Celebrate those times. Truly she has a lot of beauty and joyous memories to carry with her.

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I feel for any parent who goes through a child's passage from intense dance involvement to the next step. We all know it will happen eventually. Some of us experience it sooner or unexpectedly, and that makes it more painful.


I used to have two daughters in dance. My oldest left ballet at 16. It was sudden and was followed by a depression. She left ballet for all the reasons already mentioned. She realized she was behind, and it would be difficult to reach the level of her classmates. The hard part was that she loved ballet since the age of six, and had been accepted to great SI's, etc. We also were confined to small town training. Her depression affected school as well - she ended up graduating from high school a year later than her original class. This depression came about for a variety of reasons, not just dance and school. The happy ending to this story is that she graduated magna cum laude from college this year. All of her college interviewers were very interested in her dance training. It did not matter that she ended it before her junior year in high school. She did take some dance classes in college, and found it could be fun again. I guess that's how you know it's time for them to let go - when dance class isn't fun anymore.


I'm sure the fact that her younger sister remained in dance, and is still pursuing a career in dance, affected her. We still talk about it to this day, although it's a less painful subject now. Yes, there is life after serious dance training. My daughter still loves to go to the ballet.


To redshoes and everyone else who is going through this - time heals everything. Your daughter will find what her passion is meant to be. It might be dance, it might not. All you can do is help them to the best of your ability. No child could ask for more.



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I would like to thank all of you who have posted for your words of encouragement. I appreciate the fact that others have experienced the same feelings as DD and I are going through and are willing to share their thoughts and words of wisdom.


Even though Ballet will not be an active part of our life we will always love the beauty and joy of ballet. And be thankful for the time DD spent dancing.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Is your dd not interested in any other aspects of dance? I know that Ballet is such a commanding art form and to suddenly lose it would be extremely hard. Can she not do any type of dance at all? Is she interested in teaching?

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It is not so hard as you might think. By the time kids reach 18, they have a fairly good idea of what they want. They are not forced to give it up; they choose to.


My DD -- never professional material, but a darn lovely and dedicated dancer -- gave up ballet cold turkey when she went off to college. That wasn't the plan beforehand. She thought she was going to keep taking classes. But ... life has a way of getting in the way of plans (which is another way of saying it throws out other opportunities). She is now happily ensconced in the modern dance company at her college, and auditing a modern dance class (which she cannot register for because she chose another class that overlaps the meeting time).


Choices like this are harder on the parents than the dancers. The dancer comes to it slowly, and with much thought. It hits the parent suddenly, a decision made. As a parent, one imagines the dancer to be in much anguish, but this certainly wasn't our experience. My dancer was just ready to move on.

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Just a note from some one who had to "give up dance "oh so many years ago. I do enjoy taking an adult class hear and there but get most enjoyment out of seeing my daughters' love of dance. I didn't push them to love it just because I did... It just sort of happened. Must be in the genes! Seems the love never really dies even when the classes stop.

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It definitely was harder for me as a parent when my daughter stopped taking class than it was for her. I think that any time our children move from one phase of their lives to another, it reminds us that time is passing, and we're getting older. Their happiness in their new passion always makes it easier.

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It is an interesting topic. The movement from adolescence into young adult has always been one of angst and separation. The need to form an "identity" separate from the one we as parents have sought for them to have. Dance/Ballet may be seen as something that requires "extra" motivation, once there becomes more "fun" things can happen... like dating etc. It is also noted that Ballet might be seen as something we as parents have wanted for our kids, and by nature, that becomes a bone of contention.


I don't imagine that this is procluded to only the parents of dancers. It probably works for a lot of things, like sports as well. I do however see a difference as dance can still be productive to the individual in many ways. For example, it is easier to convince my dd that dance has excellent health benefits and is something that can be done individually, whereas my son, who has been involved in team sports may not be interested in taking up an individual sport, simply because it's not what he's used to... tennis is not as exciting as soccer or baseball.... to him. I often find that my roll as a parent, also includes "motivational coach" as well. Dedication to the art can only bring good things.... and as we have seen so clearly in this thread, it can be just as quickly taken from you.


From a parents perspective, I would probably see a move away from dance as a tragedy. I know a young girl, who never did Ballet, but did dance for another school (where ballet has just recently become a staple) wh got injured and couldn't dance this year. I saw her working over the summer and was absolutely crusehed to see someone so talented, not chasing her dream. Dance, for those of us who have been around it long enough, evolves not only into a pastime, but a passion. To suddenly have that passion taken from you, is indeed a tragedy and that to me is horrific. I feel so sorry for you... I truly do.

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But nothing is taken away from the parent! That's my point. If it is your passion, fine; go take classes yourself. We as parents have to get over feeling our kids' passion vicariously. At 12, a parent is still very much involved in shaping a child's life. By 18, the child is in charge. She gets to make her own choices. A parent might feel some pain at giving up what s/he imagines the child wants, or at giving up dreams of what might be, or even giving up a social network -- but in the long run, the pride and elation at having a child who can make difficult decisions, who has the sense to read the writing on the wall, and who knows when s/he wants to give up one dream and follow another, FAR outweigh the pain.

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Excellent post, Treefrog! The vicarious living of the ballet dream is what I needed to let go. Now that my other daughter is studying dance far from home, I feel so much better. Yes, I miss her, but my level of involvement now is healthier for me. If she is successful, great - if not, she'll find another path I'm sure. Meanwhile, I need to remind myself that I have my own dreams to nurture.

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