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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Discerning loss of interest


2dancing

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My DD is 13 and loves to dance, however lately she is complaining about not "having a life". She dances about 17 hours a week. We do let her go to friends houses and parties when she's not at the studio. Is it normal for this age to "tire" of the grind? Do they get over it? I have this feeling that if I let her back off she'll fall behind and hate me in the future. My gut tells me to deal with the complaining and make her continue. Anyone else been there?

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what you are experiencing is not atypical. That doesn't make it easier.

 

if you insist that your dd continue with the schedule, you do risk her turning off ballet and turning towards you. Not fun.

 

On the other hand, if you allow her to choose and she elects to reduce the dancing committment, she may see things another way at some point in the future.

 

Therefore, a no-win situation.

 

For what it's worth, my thoughts are that it's hard enough to do this if the dancers heart is in it. If the heart isn't in it, then................

 

You may wish to have a very serious conversation about the consequences of this decision. Say for example dd decides to step back from ballet at this point, but in a year or two has a change of heart. In all likelihood, others will have surpassed her in skills (as they have continued intensive training), and the current AD might question your dd's commitment and consider this when casting.

 

Hope this helps as you discuss with your dd.

 

All the best,

 

m2

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Hi 2dancing,

 

I'm sure the moderators & others would like to welcome you to BTFD. In the meantime let me welcome you. So glad you are here.

 

I am only offering my experince & opinion on your situation. At 13 many kids begin to question how they spend their time and what their interests are. Friends and social life become become very important. Seventeen hours sounds like a heavy dance schedule for a 13 year old. Is it possible to cut back a bit on her schedule for awhile? Perhaps she needs a little breathing room and time to reflect on what is important to her. She may choose to return to a very dance focused life - but she may not. The drive and passion to dance really has to come from within the individual. I think she will ultimately choose for herself. She may love to dance, but not wish to pursue it to the exclusion of other activitities. That doesn't make her training less valuable for her. It will always be an enrichment.

 

If it is her choice, I don't think she will "hate " you. Perhaps asking her what she feels her ideal dance schedule for now would be, will provide some insight.

 

I hope this is helpful and you both will feel good about your decisions.

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Is your dd in a pre-pro program? If so, and all of the 17 hours are required by the program, then your dd has to decide if she wants to continue in that program. If she still wants to study ballet, there may be other options available at another school. As long as she is receiving good instruction, she will make progress, albeit slower. Regarding the minimum/ideal number of classes per week, I will leave that up to the esteemed teachers to chime in about.

 

Now if your dd is in a studio where she is taking ballet and tap and hip-hop, etc., I'd say get her focused on the dance form that truly interests her and allow her to drop the others.

 

If she decided she wants to stop dancing or reduce her hours, allow her to do so. If she doesn't want it, it will show in her dancing. Perhaps a heart to heart, even putting things down in writing, will help you both. That way, if she comes back at a later date, you can gently remind her that the decision she made was an informed decision.

 

Just my 2 cents.

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I just (within the past hour) got a text message from my late teen that she thinks she might be over ballet. She has been saying she wanted to be a ballerina for 13 years and has been pursuing dance with a mind to becoming a professional dancer. I'm kind of flabbergasted, but I told her that she may need to take a look at it and do some soul searching. Luckily we were texting and she couldn't see my face or hear my voice. I doubt I would have been as nonchalant in person. I am guessing it has turned into "work". Who knows?

 

It is depressing, but not entirely surprising, I guess based on how many kids end up leaving dance this late in the game. After having been a ballerina for so long, I have to wonder what pain she will go through trying to redefine herself. Maybe it's only a momentary glitch... or maybe we get the easy path - college!

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I just (within the past hour) got a text message from my late teen that she thinks she might be over ballet. She has been saying she wanted to be a ballerina for 13 years and has been pursuing dance with a mind to becoming a professional dancer. I'm kind of flabbergasted, but I told her that she may need to take a look at it and do some soul searching. Luckily we were texting and she couldn't see my face or hear my voice. I doubt I would have been as nonchalant in person. I am guessing it has turned into "work". Who knows?

 

It is depressing, but not entirely surprising, I guess based on how many kids end up leaving dance this late in the game. After having been a ballerina for so long, I have to wonder what pain she will go through trying to redefine herself. Maybe it's only a momentary glitch... or maybe we get the easy path - college!

 

Funny, but I got a similar voice message from my late teen a couple of months ago. She is in college, mind you, a BFA program. In the end, it all worked out fine. College isn't necessarily the easy path, though. :yucky:

 

Hang in there & good luck to both of you.

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2dancing - sometimes 13-year olds just need a safe sounding board. My DS went through that stage. I know other kids that did the same. We evaluated the situation through our own eyes - we watched how happy he was in class. It helped us realize that his words were just a way of expressing frustration. There were days he was forced to go to class, but he honestly didn't look terribly unhappy when he got there. I have another son that plays football. He hates practice, but loves the games. Would he like to give up practice? Absolutely. Well, at least the running part of practice. But he knows this is all to his game. Doesn't make him stop complaining about it though!

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We've had some similar discussions (mine's 14), and I think her problem is mostly around wanting to do it all. (When she's got a break from school, she begs for extra ballet classes...but also insisted on doing the full honors curriculum...so she has very little free time). However, I think what's been helpful for her this year has been to see that the band kids, the sports kids, etc at high school are just as busy as she is, AND she gets that nightly reprieve to juse enjoy being at the studio. In fall (Freshman this year) she struggled with wanting to dance 5 nights AND do the certamen (Latin competition) AND academic club AND honor choir.... I just sort of sat back (NOT EASY) and let her know that the schedule she chose was one she'd have to cope with. She tried a lot of things this fall, but has scaled back, and her enthusiasm for ballet is high, as she's realized that she has some control over how much she does. She's had some very positive summer intensive audition results, and that's really helped her feel good about her choice to do all those hours of ballet. (Summer is magic time for her -- as she says, "I just get to dance, mom. How cool is that?") One thing she's added to spring is the high school musical, but the rehearsal schedule (right after school) shouldn't impact ballet much at all until production week, AND it's a dancing role (imagine that). This seems to let her feel a part of school, to be connected with a common goal w/her school friends, and she gets to do different types of dance. But these struggles are NOT easy for the kids -- they're trying to figure out who they are, we're trying to let them figure it out...they're not kids...but they're not grownups...and some of the time, they're not rational beings! :(

 

Support...listen...support...listen. Then go take a long bath!

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I'd let her dis-enroll in classes (at an appropriate time) but not just skip whenever she felt like it. That's not fair to herself, her teacher or her class mates, particularly if they are learning choreography. An appropriate time may be at the end of a term or after a performance.

 

I've been there to and like Cheetah I would insist that she went to class. I would tell her that if by the end of barre she still wanted to go home I'd take her. Never failed once class started she was glad to be there.

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I have this feeling that if I let her back off she'll fall behind and hate me in the future.

 

This is such an interesting construction. I understand the feeling really, really well, but take a look at it. If YOU let her back off, she will hate you? If you LET her back off, she'll hate you?

 

Try saying it this way: "I worry about how she'll feel in the future if she decides to back off."

 

I agree with whoever recommended a talk about what different goals might be, and what it takes to reach those goals. I'd try to keep my own judgments out of it; just "this is one option, and this is what it takes to achieve it, and this is another option, and this is what that takes." Then sit back -- I know how hard that is! -- and let her decide. But I also agree that she should honor any current commitments.

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In my family, I have always had control on whether I want to dance or not, yet I have never not wanted to dance so it hasn't been much of an issue. In my opinion, you should give her the decision. If she takes a few months off, she will have time to really think about what she wants to do. I few months won't ruin her ballet career...especially since she is only 13. If you put the decision in her hands and make sure she understands the results of both decisions, she won't get angry at you or at herself even. She needs to use this time to learn about herself. If ballet is something that you have always known yourself to do, how do you know whether or not their is something else out their that will suit you more. For her, that could be being a normal teenager while continuing a lighter dance schedule, or she could learn that ballet is her true passion; and she is willing to devote her life to it. I hope this helps

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She is in college, mind you, a BFA program.

I was just looking at BFA programs for dance earlier today... just as a fall back in case her "plans" for the professional path proved elusive. :wacko:

 

As Treefrog said, sitting back is not easy, but I see no other choice. I just hope she doesn't make a rash decision about something that she has worked so hard at for so long and then regret it later. I have no real idea how long one might expect for a dancer to be able to take off, then realize they want to do it after all and be able to.

 

It scares me for her that it's who she has been for so long and that she hasn't planned for anything else in spite of advice. It's not as if I have thought it would be the best career someone could choose, but it has been great that she's always known what she wanted to do and pursued it so unyieldingly - I do love to watch her dance. *keeps trying to remember it might just be a phase and even if it is not, things will be OK - breathe breathe breathe* :wacko:

 

Guess she can work at Starbucks for a while and try to figure out something else. Lord knows I certainly lived without a plan for a large part of my young adulthood...

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To 2dancing and eridink -

 

As a parent of an older teen who stopped dancing at 16, take my advice and let your dd's ease up on their schedules or stop dancing if they want to. My daughter admitted to me that she wanted to stop sooner, but kept dancing because she thought it made me happy. She ended up in a depression which was partly caused by the fact that she no longer was progressing in dance at the same pace as her peers. She stopped getting into SI's at 15. Other factors in her life at the time contributed to her depression. She's fine now, and graduated from college just this year. She took dance classes once in awhile in college just for fun.

 

I'm not saying your child will never go back to dance or will become depressed if she doesn't let it go for awhile. It is just from my experience that it is not the end of the world if your child lets it go forever. If your child is saying this, there is a reason. If she thinks she has to keep up her pace because you want her to, it's not the best situation. So what if she gets behind. It would be better for her to want to be in class and working to catch up than to stay there and be miserable.

 

My youngest daughter still dances, and has always had a different attitude about dance than her sister. She is a bit more carefree, and not such a perfectionist. She works hard, but doesn't stress about everything like her sister. Maybe that's why she is still training. I think it helps to not take it all so seriously. Good luck to both of you and take care.

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It's usually around 13 / 14 that parents start allowing their children to go shopping/ movies / sleepovers etc with less parental supervision. Girls especially at this age find their friendships become more defined by the things they do together. If your child spends not only after schol but also large chunks of the weekends dancing then they may feel they are missing out when their friends at school are discussing their social life. I think you just have to just go with the flow, but keep the opportunities open for later. I agree that cutting down the hours may work, so there are some free times especially at weekends.

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It's the right age for this complaint. At DD's old studio, I would give my patented lecture - you lose a bunch of kids in 4th grade, when academic workload increases, you lose a bunch at 13/14 when boys and social life get more important, a bunch when high school starts, and a bunch when the college planning/dance job idea surfaces (17 or so). If she really wants to cut back on ballet let her. This is a difficult time of year for her to do that, so she'll get to test her disinterest right away. Everyone is auditioning for SI's. If she doesn't want to, she's making a stay home this summer decision right now. (Although, as a mom well aware of the changes in diretion a teen that age makes at the drop of a hat, I might go ahead and register her with the home school's SI or with CPYB or some other non-audition SI "just in case"). Perhaps you have casting for spring show? Well, that will test her too. Encourage her to speak to her main teacher and explain that she wants to cut back hours. Depending on where she dances, the teacher will either tell her she'll miss this performance, or cut her role way back. That's a good reality check too. And frankly, she's 13. If she wants to take some time off, she'll catch right back up. So many kids miss 2, 3, 6 complete months for injuries at this age, and they are right back and competitive a year later. She's young enough to try this now with pretty much no harm, no foul. Dance is tough. This is most assuredly NOT the path I would have chosen for my daughter. If they are not 100% committed to it, please let them try other things. We spent the years of 4-14 forcing my daughter to have a wide variety of other activities while she begged and pleaded for more ballet. Now she's thrilled she did those, because as her friends look back and say "I wish I had done swim team, basketball, ice skating, cheerleading, etc." she did them and knows they weren't for her. My DD has had many friends who took some time off dance at 12-16, and never came back, but just as many who took some time off at the same age and came back wild to dance to the utmost just a few short months later.

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