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Ballet Talk for Dancers

A and B Plans: College & Company together


SarahenPointe

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The Senior year for a dancer cannot be controlled, nor can it be put in a tidy package.

 

Oh, Mom of 3...You are so wise! Somehow, I never even figured out how to control any year and with applications and auditions, I'm sure senior year is quite..fun. :) And the original poster was talking about dancing and college simultaneously. After balancing rigorous academics in high school and rigorous ballet training in high school, I think many of these young dancers have the ability to do both. I'm sure scheduling, touring and plain old fatigue do make it really hard. I think I've heard that Fordham gives credit toward graduation for the training and performing experience; maybe others do or will follow suit. jmh4 and darlindancer, I'll pour you a glass anytime! There's a lovely California wine called Conundrum that is a blended white wine full of surprise. I think that is perfect for the situation! :)

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Momof3darlings

Not sure I'd call myself wise. I just remember Senior year raring back and slapping me very strongly upside the head with a vengence often. Many times for us, it was simply that my pockets were not deep enough to give her the world everytime an opportunity arose. But that year just went against the grain of my good old upbringing of if you "pull yourself up by the bootstraps", "the world is your oyster". Dreams still happen, they did for mine! It was not an impossible year just a growing one for me as a parent and for her as an aspiring dancer. And one where I learned that forever in the future, her ability to continue to dance might be in her hands and someone else's but it could no longer be in any control or dedication of mine.

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And one where I learned that forever in the future, her ability to continue to dance might be in her hands and someone else's but it could no longer be in any control or dedication of mine.

 

 

That could be the hardest part of all this. I am still going to want to drive her to ballet and peer around a doorway to watch her growing in the light of her studio - while thinking I am needed! There should be another thread to start ballet mothers preparing for these years in advance. Yet, it seems the intensity that's needed in later high school years , for figuring out these options, won't give you time to step back and get emotionally ready for them to fly away!

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marigold, you brought a lump to my throat. The peering around the door comment to glimpse your daughter I believe describes all of us. We just love to see our children enjoying their passion.

 

Momof3, I love your last post. The preparing for college as well as a career and knowing which comes in first position is a real truth. In talking to a young dancer, who is now starting her company life and listening to her recount the process of all those college applications and the tenacity with which she made them is illuminating. These poor kids are so terrified they will not get their dream that many will go overboard so that they won't feel like total failures. It can look confusing but in truth, it's a safety net and an essential one.

 

Senior year is hard. If they truly want a career some high end academics will have to go, you can't do everything. This will raise eyebrows and questions from many quadrants. The pressure and sideways glances my kids got from well meaning relatives and friends were not nice. If these kids are lucky and get their dream there will be no college for a while and in my social sphere, this is frowned upon. Lets face it, HS seniors who succeed in their desire for a career will have signed contracts long before graduation.

 

The original poster was wondering about early graduation in order to train seriously the senior year. My DD's stayed in school. One of them technically needed just one class to graduate but instead along with extra ballet classes added a close to full load of academic classes and did AP and some IB exams. She was afraid she would get bored otherwise, she was and still is used to working very hard. I think we have all heard this before but, if you want something doing and doing well, ask a busy person to do it. These ballet kids fit into this category.

 

I've noticed that the ones in the studio who at conference time are told they are lazy are the ones who do academics half heartedly as well. They are the ones who talk the talk but don't walk the walk.

 

There is no easy way to do senior year for a dancer but I'm so glad my kids did it. It helps them grow-up, juggling schedules and setting priorities. Great life lessons.

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"we parents we like to control things or at least to put them in a tidy package"

 

Boy, did THAT resonate. I agree with the prior poster about maybe this whole conversation segueing into a new thread about how to "let go" as ballet parents. I know in my case I'm making a very deliberate effort NOT to hover, NOT to chime in with my two cents before allowing my DD to formulate her own opinion, drop off/pick up DD at the studio without leaving my car, let her advocate for herself and not "race to the rescue" under any/all circumstances, and on and on. It is amazing the maturity and good common sense that can spring from the lips of a girl who I swear only yesterday was asking me, "Where is my sippy cup, Mommy?"

 

I've talked to several folks who are further along this process, and one in particular whose DD is a very talented dancer who is also seeking acceptance to Ivy League level colleges told me that on a couple of occasions during college visits, once the college officials they spoke to heard the kind of dance schedule her DD was keeping up, how well she was maintaining her grades in spite of that, they seemed to be extremely interested, even calling them at home later to "check in" after. Of course, this DD has the whole package in spades dance-wise and academic-wise and is one of the most completely charming girls I've ever met, so I'm sure her individual "spark" made an impression too.

 

I can't imagine having the kind of concentration and discipline that our DKs have to have gotten where they are now can't be like catnip to savvy college admissions folk.

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spazcyn,

 

DD had the same response from college officials (Ivy League) during her visits to this summer. I was simply stunned at the visible difference in maturity and poise between our dd and the other kids as she stood patiently to ask her question about being able to dance professionally and attend as a college freshman. From the reaction of the college representative, it was visible to her too. It was at that moment that I KNEW that all the money, all the worry and all the time taken by ballet was ABSOLUTELY worth it! No matter what happens, dd has gained confidence, poise and knows how to interact with adults. She'll figure what to do when the time comes and she'll do it her way ...with intelligence, poise, grace and a vision that is distinctly hers. It won't be easy but then nothing worth doing is......

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Momof3darlings

Let me clarify, the tidy package I was speaking of has absolutely nothing to do with being a hovering parent. I was referring to the fact that we as parents believe if we do all the right things, pay all the right money, make available the best of the best schools that the dream can be controlled in the end. The process can be controlled, the end result cannot always be. If that was not the case, we would not be the parents we are here, reading on a daily basis to learn and decipher....some who've driven hours to get the best training or moved families, etc. I personally don't think the dancers can brave Senior year without someone helping them by being engaged, even if that is just to type a handwritten essay so they can get some sleep or determine what can be shuffled on the calendar that appears already triple booked when their brain is on overload and can't see that little tiny space over in the left corner. Even a "you look tired today, can I drive for you" will be welcomed.

 

Pas--as much as I'd like to say let something give in the Senior year, I would not really encourage that if the dancer can handle it. Hopefully because of the acceleration of how education works these days, they will have a lighter load anyway. But it's important that they don't lessen the Senior year if those top level colleges are the choice of any one of the plans. Even one of our larger state colleges that has become extremely competitive to get into will look at the Senior year info to make a decision between two applicants if need be and certainly for scholarship potential. Depending on the major, you can explain a lighter Senior year to allow room to audition but not for all majors. It sure is a balancing act to find isn't it?

 

This is sort of two threads all balled up into one, but I hate to split it because it will stop and seperate the discussion in a way that slows down information in this case. So carry on because in a roundabout way, it is still about making both things happen for a dancer who wants a wide variety of options available to them.

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Momof3, I believe in your wisdom and marvel at your written word more than you can know, but, when it comes to really high level academics and IB in particular, well, for the truly serious ballet student, something has to give. A serious IB student spends the summer prior to senior year working very hard on academics. There is no time for a summer program or even a serious ballet schedule. IB is as demanding as can be and, yeah, in this instance, something has to give! My DD had to decide her first choice, academics or ballet. Most dancers at this stage of the game choose academics. Either they don't want the ballet career badly enough or they are so divided that giving up on academics just isn't acceptable. That in itself is a decision. There is always an exception to the rule and some dancer out there may have managed to do full IB and get a contract straight out of HS into the bargain. Boy, I tell you, such a girl would have to be wonder woman or have learned to lived on no sleep. I don't know how else it could be done. Anyway, you can't dance eight hours a day and go to school for eight hours a day and have time left over to actually do a credible job on IB homework. Trust me, we've been there and tried that and, well, serving two masters means you give a second rate effort to both, at least that's how my girls felt. We know a boy who is discovering this now and he is dying because he is flunking both! No one manages to come out on top, both somehow come second and absolutely nothing appears to work.

 

All this said, a dancer can graduate from HS with high level classes and good grades and be accepted into good and prestigious universities and still have a ballet career waiting for them after the auditions are all over. I really do believe decisions regarding academics have to be made and IB for the serious ballet student is impossible. I have seen no one achieve it!

 

Talk to kids who go to programs such as BBII, HBII, studio companies or even trainee programs their senior year and ask if they even managed to graduate from HS on time, even with lower level classes or are they achieving it six months and even a year late. I'm sorry, I hate to say it but, these kids can't have it all as much as we would like them to. They can still get to university, maybe just not Harvard or MIT! Maybe if they weren't determined to aim so high for academics, they would have a company contract at some level. Which came first the chicken or the egg, who knows but, this is how I see the reality of dancers and academics. I believe in academics very strongly, I also believe in dancers following there dreams.

 

I know this post probably comes across as a little dogmatic if not aggressive, but, the final years of HS have been my world for a number of years now. We have ballet friends who have gone on to Ivy League universities but to get there ballet was sacrificed, at least with respect to attaining a career. Some still dance for the love of it. The only dancers who have achieved their goal of a contract have been the dancers who have made the decision that ballet comes first. By the way, with company contract in hand they had the university acceptance letters that acknowledged they are academic achievers. Education is never to be taken lightly. It is essential.

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Momof3darlings

Ahh, I now see where you're coming from. You are referencing a very specific type of high school Senior who has to make those choices. One who not only would be taking IB classes but one who would be trying to choose between IB classes and bypassing Senior year at home to accept a Trainee position. Now that you've clarified in your recent post the type of student you're talking about that first post is more clear. However, without that clarity, it sounded like you were saying students taking high academics, which in my mind includes AP and Joint Enrollment classes and is not just an IB education, could not make that choice Senior year while auditioning and for that, I beg to differ. I know a good number of dancers in all levels of companies currently who did just that.

 

Many of our Seniors on BTFD stay in their regular school setting (including residency as well) and wait until after graduation to accept a Trainee/Apprentice/corp position, therefore they are not dancing 8 hours a day Senior year plus taking 8 hours of school classes in the manner you've referenced. They are taking very high level classes, even though they may not be IB classes. Their choice came long before Senior year to take a more traditional approach to school and dance. But yes, for the specific student you outlined and now clarify, something likely does have to give. I venture to guess though, that the giving up for that student began long before Senior year.

 

Talk to kids who go to programs such as BBII, HBII, studio companies or even trainee programs their senior year and ask if they even managed to graduate from HS on time, even with lower level classes or are they achieving it six months and even a year late. I'm sorry, I hate to say it but, these kids can't have it all as much as we would like them to.

 

I would really like to add the word "some" to your quote above as in talk to "some" kids who go...........I know a few very well, and several of them graduated from high school first before even going to these positions. But even for those that did not, let's not assume because they are there that all of them left school early or didn't graduate on time because they chose to accept these positions. There are early grads, high school grads and those working toward high school graduation at both of the programs you've mentioned. Likely as many scenarios as there are dancers. We also don't need to put on a whole class of students that it takes them longer to graduate than normal because they dance during the day. That sort of global statement will not be true for every high school Senior in either one of those programs. Unless that change has happened in the last year.

 

However, to try and get it back to the original question again, spacyzn suggested that her family concurred that the full time high school experience was important to her DK (homeschooling was offered and by her post I'm assuming declined) and it appeared to me the question was about college and dancing and how she could make that happen now that the decision about high school has been thought out. My assumption based on her post was that she was referring to doing both in college, not high school. High school seems to be settled for her, at least for now.

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I'm sorry, I hate to say it but, these kids can't have it all as much as we would like them to. They can still get to university, maybe just not Harvard or MIT! Maybe if they weren't determined to aim so high for academics, they would have a company contract at some level. Which came first the chicken or the egg, who knows but, this is how I see the reality of dancers and academics. I believe in academics very strongly, I also believe in dancers following there dreams.

 

This topic is so timely for us. DD is a junior now. It is very true that there don't seem to be enough hours in her day. She is taking a full, prep school junior academic load and and A (2) level course and dances from 8:30AM-6:30 PM. It was at her insistence that we visit colleges (highly selective, Ivy ) this summer. The reception when they learned of her attributes and the alternative way that she is being educated was very encouraging. She was encouraged to apply and told that her application would be handled a little differently than most because of the ballet training and the educational path she is choosing. So our experience is that these highly selective colleges may be within the realm of possibility. Additionally, at least one of these colleges told her that they believed that scheduling and virtual classroom would make concurrent employment as a dancer possible. I have to wonder what suffers though....

 

As for the reality of now....getting everything done and maintaining the A's while trying to be a master of both worlds, I am quite concerned. She lives with 5 other teenage girls and when I talk with her the noise level can be deafening. To me, this seems like the road to disaster but it is my daughter's chosen road and we will not tell her that she can't try to do anything.

 

As far as controlling things, we adamantly feel that this road is one she has to navigate herself--- or what's the point? It's her chance to see what she can accomplish. We do ask how the homework is going, we monitor progress through her on-line high school and if things are getting done, we make suggestions about finding time that seems non-existent. She has a library card to a university card nearby so she can go there on weekends to study if things get too crazy in the dorm. As much as possible, we try to "tidy up" by providing resources to help smooth the road. ( A tutor when she gets stuck, noise-reducing headphones, etc). I have honestly seen moms do kids homework because "she's just too busy." I even saw a mom quit her job so she could take her daughter's senior English course (daughter was behind) so daughter could go to SI. :) Again, what's the point of that? As one Pasdetrois pointed out, these are the ones that aren't walking the walk.

 

I believe that you can't be a master of all but at age 16, kids think they can do anything and should be allowed to try. All of the girls in her flat sometimes wonder what it would be like to be "normal." Some are questioning the ballet career; at least one thinks she has no choice because she hasn't worked at the academics and she feels trapped. That is exactly why we support trying to do the best that dd is capable of doing in both academics and ballet. The academics as a junior have progressed to more difficult subjects. There are SAT, SAT IIs and 2 AP tests on top of everything else and I am truly concerned about how everything is going to happen but dd wants to try.

 

I worry that these roads will not smoothly merge but will collide. Just this week, she's had interest from a major ballet company which has caused me to wring my hands and say "you are too young, you (I) am not ready for this. She is clearly delighted and proud of herself as are we but the "tidy package" that has been planned includes finishing her training NEXT year, concurrent with her senior year in high school. College applications this summer, audition photos and videos in the fall, auditions in the spring and then an evaluation of the options on the table. Sounds good right?.... back to "Making God laugh" and that glass of wine...make that 2! :unsure: Wait.... it's only 8AM!

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Momof3darlings

Oh my :) is right! (referring to that kind of parental crippling...I mean help :unsure: ) When Senior year gets into full swing even if you believe it is their path to take you will likely help with something but never in my wildest dreams would it have been all of that you've mentioned. Typing a final draft of a college application essay to meet a deadline while DD slept for the first time in 3 days, yes. Writing the essay to begin with, not on your life.

 

I've heard the same as spacyzn and now swanchat about how dancers can be helped through the process by schools recognizing their path by members in the last couple of years. Musicians in the elite capacity receive the same help when a strong symphony is nearby but no strong music program at the college. There truly is not one way, it is what can the dancer handle. Before last year would have thought social life would have been what had to give, however, DD now dances with a couple of people working on law degrees simutaneously to dancing and for all of outside appearance they are social creatures as well. They may not sleep, but everything else seems to be in place for some assemblance of normalcy. Granted these are dancers in Soloist and Principal ranks so their pay likely affords them the ability to not work long hours at a part-time job like our DKs just starting out.

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spacyzn suggested that her family concurred that the full time high school experience was important to her DK (homeschooling was offered and by her post I'm assuming declined) and it appeared to me the question was about college and dancing and how she could make that happen now that the decision about high school has been thought out. My assumption based on her post was that she was referring to doing both in college, not high school. High school seems to be settled for her, at least for now.

 

 

You are correct, Mof3. DD wants no part of home schooling at this point and finishing high school is a given for us while taking college prep-level coursework. The trick is in helping her prepare as best as possible for what comes after -- professional dance or college (if dance, a plan to chip away at basic college coursework while she dances so that she finishes a basic degree before or soon after the time a dance career is over and if college, get her well-positioned to get accepted to the best possible choice there).

 

Point taken about my "hovering" comment. As she matures, my job as on-site parent will be more and more to take up slack wherever else I can so she can focus on dance and school, be a source of emotional safety/support when she needs/asks for one, but let her handle more and more and more on her own. It is hard to not "jump in there" without being asked when I see her struggling with a schedule that I know for sure NO WAY could I have handled at her age. I had to laugh at the comment about "typing an essay paper so that they can get a little sleep." Already been there, done that a couple of times.

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Momof3darlings

give it some time as far as the board is concerned spacyzn. Many of our members who have working dancers who may also be in school do not check in as often as they used to when DDs were still in high school since they are not in "seeking mode". But they do check in and I'm sure they will share how their DKs managed both. I know of a couple of dancers who aimed for a specific company because it's company rehearsals and class were later in the day so it made for a tidier route to taking morning college classes, then afternoon/evening company requirements. The company has changed hands a couple of times since then so I'm not sure the company schedule is the same. But even in 06 when DD graduated, it was a reason to look at that company, a smaller one but one with a sound reputation.

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give it some time as far as the board is concerned spacyzn.

 

Thanks, Mof3. I will definitely be checking back in periodically on this issue and a bunch of others. Again I can't say enough what a godsend BT4D has been to our family as we have taken each step in this process so far. Having somewhere to turn with people who understand the challenges of this path instead of looking at us aghast is invaluable.

 

I second what swanchat had to say about all the non-ballet specific life skills our DKs are getting out of this and how every sous would have been worth it no matter what DD does later on. Already DD comes home from her regular HS classes all frustrated at how undisciplined many of the other students are and how wasteful of time they are. The time management/organizational skills she is learning alone are considerable, and that can't help but make her successful in any other endeavors she undertakes.

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Hi Momof3. So there are dancers pursuing law degrees while dancing in a company? I understand they are getting paid, as principals or soloists, at least - but this is good to hear - that they found a way to do this. Do you know any more about how they are doing it?

 

BTW, I saw an article about a former dancer from Boston Ballet who had been accepted to Harvard, was allowed to defer for two years, but chose to only further her education, ultimately, with a real estate license and is now listed as a Boston area realtor. Never any mention again of her Harvard education. Maybe she lost scholarship money or found happiness with a husband and kids soon after dancing and had no time for it. But when you consider how few are offered a place at Harvard, I was surprised anyone would let that go.

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