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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Do you ever just want to throw in the towel?


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My 11 year old dd has always wanted to dance. She started at 2 1/2. To that end I have worked very hard researching dance, finding the best places for her and getting her to the best opportunities. She still wants to dance and any suggestion that I make is usually greeted with an enthusiastic "YES" but when it comes to working, and specifically working to correct some early training issues, she doesn't seem to want to do the work.

Have I entered into "stage mother" territory? This needs to be her thing, it has just taken so much of my time for so long that I want to make sure she is learning it right and making the most of the opportunities she gets.

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It seems to me that if you've got her in the best training you can find, it's up to your DD and her teacher(s) to do the work of training. I know it's hard when we spend so much time and money supporting our children, but they really do need to be the ones to take charge of their training and figure out how hard they are willing to work. We can't make them do it.

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Welcome, danceshuttle!


I think it might be time for a talk with the teacher to find out if she is working in class or not. Extra work at home is generally not recommended for this age group, but if she is working hard in class, that is fine. If not, it's time to find out why. It's possible that she really does not have the drive or passion to do it.

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Welcome, Danceshuttle! My dd is also 11, turning 12 next month. It is very common for children of this age to go through a "spacey" period in their lives when it becomes more difficult to focus. The Giselle Institute has a series of books on child development, and they describe years of equlibrium, and years of disequalibrium. Ten years old is generally a year when the child has control of her body, mind, and emotions. It's generally a happy age, when life goes more smoothly. Years of equalibrium are usually followed by years of disqualibrium - enter age 11, when limbs start having a mind of their own, emotions become heightened, and puberty, and growth spurts start kicking in in earnest (even if puberty is not showing on the outside, there are hormonal changes going on on the inside which can really effect a child's ability to concentrate and take in new information).


My dd was also challenged by focusing in class during the middle of the school year (at 11 1/2 years old). Her teachers were mystified since she had been able to focus prior to this time. After talking with my dd, I realized she wasn't remembering the corrections she was being given in class, and so wasn't applying them consistently in subsequent classes. The remedy was to start a corrections and complements journal which she would fill in on the way home from each day of ballet class. On the way to her next class, she would read over the corrections and complements she had written down previously. Very soon, her teachers saw an improvement in her focus, and her skills started to take off.


The second thing that has helped her to grow in her maturity as a dance student is to have participated in a summer intensive at a different ballet school than her home school. My dd's teachers at her home ballet school were excited for her to go to her summer intensive, because they knew she would hear corrections in a new way, and from a variety of people, and this (they hoped anyway) would help her to assimilate the skills in a new way. Her teachers were very wise, because it is clear that she has made great strides in her skills this summer, and she is more mature, and listening in a deeper way. Summer is almost over now, but if your daughter was able to take a master class or two, or some kind of workshop elsewhere, even that much input can spur new thoughts, and generate enthusiasm in the student. I sometimes think when children have been with the same teachers for so many years, they begin to listen to them just like they listen to their parents - which is not much! :lol: They get so used to hearing the same old thing from their teachers, that they subconsciously tune parts of the message out. Hearing the same information from a new source can make the information itself seem new.

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I agree with Ms. Leigh that a talk with the teacher would be helpful. I have also learned that my dd's respond much better to comments and/or suggestions made by someone other than me, and their teachers have a completely different perspective than what I am seeing.


I sometimes think that, when it comes to my children, I have just enough knowledge of dance to be dangerous, so I make a concerted effort knowing that I have provided the opportunities for the best training I can find for them, but making sure that I let the teachers take it from there and stay clearly "in the wings." It's definitely difficult sometimes, but I think worth it for them to make better, more independent decisions in the long run.

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I am going to go down a different avenue here.


Sometimes what children see and hear are so much different then what we as parents see and hear. What I mean by this is maybe this child does want to dance. You ask most 10 - 12 year olds if they want to be a ballerina and the answer is yes, but how many of them really know what this means. It is very possibly that your child does want to dance, but for different reasons, maybe she likes doing it, enjoys the social interaction, maybe she sees your enthusiasium and doesnt want to see that enthusiasium end.


We as parents want to give our children their dreams- we all do it- we look for the best instructors, the best SI for our kids, we drive un-godly distances to ballet schools, and ALL of those things are positive actions. So pat yourself on the back for being a good parent! As long as you arent pushing your child, making her take extra classes she doesnt want to, or she isnt sitting there crying when you talk to her about dance- I would imagine your doing OK! ;-)


But sometimes kids just want to dance, and maybe they don't care to be the best, or have the cleanest technique in the room, they just want to be there "taking part". And there is nothing wrong with this it is actually wonderful, because she is doing what she wants in the WAY that she wants.


She is so young and maybe she just needs time to develop her ideas about dance, and what directions she wants to go in.

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I agree with Small Slipper's sentiment that sometimes our children feed off our enthusiasm. If you have a child who is eager to please, that can make it difficult to get an accurate picture of how much they really love an activity. I'm not suggesting that is what's happening in your case, danceshuttle, but it sure has happened in our family. My younger daughter watched her older sister dance, but more importantly watched ME watch my older daughter. And I made no secret about the fact that I really wanted 2 ballerinas! That was a mistake and I realize that now. She went to classes and had fun but her heart wasn't in it. So horses it is! She is much happier and so am I. I'm curious to know, danceshuttle, if your dd is involved in any other activities? I'd also like to hear if she's attended an SI or classes at a different studio and what feedback she received.


It's tough, I have to remind myself every day that my dd, who is 12, is the one who needs to make the decisions about her desire to dance. I take my cues from her.

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I'm curious to know, danceshuttle, if your dd is involved in any other activities?

Given that she had such an early love affair with ballet and it seems like dancing quickly takes over your schedule, I did make her stop for a year. For one year she did soccer and gymnastics. We attended the Nutcracker that year and she cried, because she wanted to dance.

But sometimes kids just want to dance, and maybe they don't care to be the best, or have the cleanest technique in the room, they just want to be there "taking part". And there is nothing wrong with this it is actually wonderful, because she is doing what she wants in the WAY that she wants.

I think this is very good advice. There is so much to be gained from dance even if she doesn't have the best technique in the class.

I think it might be time for a talk with the teacher to find out if she is working in class or not.

She does work in class. The teacher actually wants her to work on stretching more at home. But the child is rarely at home with school and class and rehearsals, so when she is its not a surprise that she doesn't want to work when she has some down time. I think my feeling of being a stage mom come from the conversations I have had with the teacher. I feel pushy and meddling.... but would a stage mom feel that way? :yes:

This has been very helpful. She is young and she may be getting a little "spacey" and you know I have gone to work out and just gone through the motions because I am tired or my mind is on something else...why should it be different for her?

She is at a local SI this week and I have been hearing "my teacher said...." quite a bit and I saw her working with her theraband last night. So I really appreciate all of you and your advice.

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