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Ballet Talk for Dancers

A curious development re ballet/academics...


sam7

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My daughter had been taking about 9 hours of dance classes weekly at a competition school and switched to a pre-professional school about 2 months ago. She is also taking a couple fun classes at another studio - the total hours are about the same. However, her ballet hours have about doubled.

 

I have noticed a marked improvement in her schoolwork since then. The focus on ballet is probably a help, but I think that getting away from the stress of competition has also been a positive influence. Whatever the cause, we are happy with the effects! :grinning:

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My daughter had been taking about 9 hours of dance classes weekly at a competition school and switched to a pre-professional school about 2 months ago.

 

 

How old is she?

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My opinion is that many students who carry a strong work ethic into the ballet studio typically carry that into everything they do. We have found, for our DD, that it is important to know how to balance things so that she is not burning herself out in anything - or even coming anywhere near the edge of burning out for that matter. I think this is why it is so critical to view your child as a child first and foremost and to be careful to nurture them as a whole person without specifically identifying them as "a dancer," "a soccer player," etc. It may seem like simple rhetoric to some, however children are very sensitive to what we say and how we view them. If we are not careful then their joy quickly fades into feelings that they are EXPECTED (by us as their parents) to "perform" at a certain level - whether academically or otherwise. I think that if it is within a child's capacity to excel then they should be allowed to run with that - to a point - and as parents we cannot become so overly impressed with their abilities that we lose sight of nurturing that sense of balance. WE must also be o.k. with pulling in the reigns a bit to remain realistic about what is reasonable for a growing child in terms of their time investment in anything and be on the watch for exhaustion - whether physical or emotional.

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How old is she?

DD recently turned 11. Nine hours may seem like a lot, but since we homeschool, she has more spare time than many kids. As long as the class is positive, she loves it. Stressful/negative situations seem to really impact her attitude at dance, as well as her school grades. I guess this is to be expected.

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I've noticed a big difference in my dd's dance and schoolwork for the past two years. She has developed a strong sense of discipline that I think comes from ballet. She is able to carry that over to school--do things you may not like to do because that makes it all better in the long run, just begin somewhere and work until the end, and sometimes things hurt a little but you have to do them anyway. (By that I mean the training kind of hurt, not the pain of injury).

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Several of my dd's teachers have told us that they see ballet training as a positive influence on academic work. Most especially in the areas of self motivation, independent learning style, and ability to work hard without complaint! Hard to know if ballet breeds these skills or if those with these inherent skills are attracted to ballet.

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I have noticed a difference, but not necessarily in a good way. Ballet has made my dd a perfectionist

(about school - not about everything else). She says it is because every little thing is critiqued in ballet and there is always the quest for perfection - from fingers to toes. It has carried over to school, where not only does she feel the need to achieve an "A" in every subject, but it must be a very high "A". This means staying up absurdly late every night to do hours of homework, which stresses her out. Unfortunately, making her go to bed without finishing the homework stresses her even more. I keep telling her that I do not care at all if she does not get straight "A"s, but that does not change how she feels about her need to achieve. Is anyone else having this kind of problem - the too much of a good thing syndrome?

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This was true for my DD(15) both in homeschooling and public schooling until the age of 13 . At that point, the intensity of both the 8th grade year and more intensity in ballet, were more than we, her parents, thought was healthy for her. Brittle was the only word I could think of that really described how she was dealing with it. I can now see that another stress in that mix was her changing hormones. We decided we would bring her home and homeschool her again. She had mixed feelings about it. She felt a bit like she was a being quitter but she also knew that she really liked being homeschooled. She is relaxed and at peace with her lifestyle. She's not nearly as intense in her academics as she was when she homeschooled previously. I know she's not getting the same level of academics as her ballet peers who are taking all college prep, honors and AP classes and getting A's. She is however learning about a variety of things that interest her and a variety of things that I think will prepare her well for life on her own and to make her path. So I guess what I'm saying is that for her we felt it was important to remove some stress from her life. Also, that for my DD the academic intensity waned as she got older, but for some of her friends it continued.

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DD recently turned 11. Nine hours may seem like a lot, but since we homeschool, she has more spare time than many kids.

 

That doesn't seem like too much for 11. My 9 year old is doing 7 1/2 and is at a private school that has a lot of homework. Next year could be a challenge with even more homework and more hours dancing. But I do think the love of dancing and the discpline that it instills has a helped. The homework is sometimes trying, but the issue of going to dance is never. She is always willing to do what it takes to make it happen. The dance is not a stresser but a stress reliever. The homework is somehow easier to tackle because she is happy.

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My DD takes about 15 hours of ballet classes per week + rehearsals. Academically she is now in grade 6. Through grade 5 (same number of ballet hours per week) she was a straight A student. Grade 6 has brought alot more homework. Her grades have slipped and now she has received a couple of B's. At first she was totally devastated with the B's, but as hard as it has been for me to do, I've let her know that a couple of B's are okay. Ballet classes are about 1/2 hour away and on top of school, driving, ballet, homework it is often 11 pm before she goes to bed. Then up at 6 am to start the next day. She's so devoted to ballet and hopes for a chance professionally. Maintaining the schedule she does is really amazing for a 12 year old. It's wonderful that your child is excelling academically and getting all A's- but be ready for how you'll deal with an even increased ballet schedule and lots more homework!

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We have almost the identical situation here. DD was a straight A student through 5th grade (well, actually she got a B+ in PE last year, go figure) and now in 6th grade the academics and homework have really ramped up and the teachers have been less forgiving about late/forgotten assignments. She also brought home her first B's this year. For her I think, it is a time of adjustment: she recently moved from a recreational studio to a ballet-only studio, she has continued with her tap and jazz as well so her schedule is overall more filled. Then there's the added challenges of social dynamics in the 6th grade, a bit more stressful than last year. I'm hoping that this is a phase and that she will learn to adjust to the increased load, but I do worry about what 7th grade will bring!

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6th grade must be the year things change. The perfectionist dd I referenced is also in 6th grade. Between dance and homework, her typical bedtime is midnight, but there have been some 1:00 and 2:00 a.m.'s as well. At least she doesn't have to get up until 7:15 a.m. She is dancing less this year than the last two years - 12 1/2 hours of classes (six days) and typically 4 - 6 hours of rehearsals (weekends only). Seems wrong to be decreasing dance hours, but there is no way she could do more with her current school load. On weekends, she sleeps in like a teenager, but who could begrudge her that? :o

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