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Ballet Talk for Dancers

When they want to quit


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Moderators, maybe :) here, but Therese, I see that you have no pm privileges yet. I really feel sad about the fact that your son has these mixed feelings at his SI. My ds, same age, is in his class, but is a commuter. I got the impression that the boys did get along very well in this class. I just wanted to reach out and let you know that whenever your boy wants to go out for dinner with us (I have two dancing boys) and talk a little that's perfectly fine with us! Just let your son tell my son your email address or number, so I can contact you. My son is the tallest commuter in class.

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Therese, my DS is also at the same intensive and is in the dorms. I really hope he is not one of the ones being mean to your son! My DS tells me he only hangs out with one other boy there and spends all his time with the girls - he said the other boys are nice and he gets on with them but he somehow gravitates to the girls. He also spends a lot of time with the RAs, hanging out with them. He is a year older than your son and I know that had he been in a single room situation at 12 he would have found it really really hard. I think part of the problem is that the boys all have their own rooms. I wish, and so does my DS, that there had been a dorm situation for the boys. At night my DS has to go into his room, close the door and that's it. I don't think any of the boys like it. I know the loneliness magnifies things at that time of night, and it is about the only time I ever hear from him as he is so busy the rest of the time.

My DS has been LOVING the classes and the whole experience, but he is a bit older than your DS. A year ago he had a very difficult time at our old studio with a teacher who was quite mean. He almost quit and we switched studios to a better environment and now all he wants to do is be in class.

So I'm sending you lots of kind thoughts and know we'll both be on the phone with our sons again tonight when they're in their rooms on their own!

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My son's musicality is very good. His main dance interest is more on the modern lines. However, I have insisted that to be a good dancer in other forms, he needs to be trained in classical ballet. After talking to many, many dancers, I remain steadfast to that idea.


He does love gymnasts, although all he's done is recreational level. He begs to do martial arts. There has never been time. So, maybe this is the time.


The downside for me, and a whole other issue is that neither our gym nor our dojo offers financial aid. I am a single (with help) parent of 3 kids, of which he is one, who were adopted from foster care. Its a long, long story. But I could not live the life we live without help from the community. The ballet school has been fairly generous because he is a boy. He is also biracial. That helps too.....so this opens a whole other can of worms.......

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My son decided that he wanted to quit ballet as soon as he entered middle school. We later realized that the stigma attached to men in ballet is what prompted his wanting to quit. We let stop ballet. (He has a twin sister that continued). After about 2 weeks he could not stand it anymore and went back. He started taking lessons with a male professional dancer when he went back and that changed his enjoyment of ballet into a true love of ballet. He is now almost obsessed!! I feel that having those lessons with an excellent role model (on many levels) is what helped him continue throughout middle school.

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Therese, one of my ds's best ballet friends is an older boy who was adopted, with 3 sisters, from a difficult situation and has few financial resources. He loves dancing but is also very aware of all the doors ballet can open for him as a male - scholarships to college with a double-major etc etc.. I know your ds is young but there are avenues that can open to him if he sticks with ballet that may not be as available to him otherwise. Maybe that is something you can suggest to him.

Waiting for all the evening phone calls .... :blushing:

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I am the parent of a dancer and of a boy, though not the same kid! My DD was one of the "big girls" in the studio when we were lucky enough to get a few young boys. She noted that at middle school (11-13) those boys struggled socially, both in the dance class where the girls tended to exclude them, and in their academic schooling, where other boys teased them. As she has a little brother herself, she made it her mission to befriend those boys. She made them very obviously her "pet" at dance, making the girls in their class see that to be cool with the big girls, they had to be friends with the boys. She also made it a point to visit their school or at least text them at school or speak to them in public when they were with school friends/school groups. It's stunning how being friends with a high school girl can INSTANTLY up a young boy's social standing. One particularly small guy took to carrying a post-class picture of he and DD in his wallet. I am now a strong advocate of asking an older female dancer at your son's dance school to look out for him/befriend him. Little boys like other boys who know girls - plain and simple - so it works well. Once your son gets positive feedback at school and at dance for being a dancer, it may change his feelings about dance.

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Thanks Zampa.


I guess his difficulties have been more with the kids in the dorm leaving him out. He is an extra sensitive kid so I take it with a grain of salt. The girls have been super supportive with him...which is usualllly the case, and seems to be in his comfort zone. I will talk to him about finding your son. My son is the smallest resident, dark skin, curly hair.


Despite all this, he has asked me why we never moved to Boston so he could dance there. Go figure.

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:sweating: So I am not the only one! I have assured my DS that the other boys struggle with the same issues that he does. He assures me its really all about Ballet, as in the method of dance that he doesn't love. He IS young and this has been a stretch for both of us.



I can see we have some talking to do, and right now is not the time. He needs to come home for some mothering, rest, and god-knows, something to eat besides pasta and candy!!!!!


Again, thanks so much. Each of you has given me so much to think and talk about. I am not sure where I would be without you. Yesterday was very tearful. I am sure my co-workers think I am nuts, but who cares? :wacko:

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This is from dancersteven:


-Random thoughts from the ether, not from a parent of a boy, but professional dancer, RA and recovering 12 year old boy-


To answer a question from an earlier post, yes, he will be perfectly fine if he takes some time off now and decides to come back to ballet later. He will have some extra work to do to get caught up, and it is possible that he will have lost some flexibility that can't be regained, but that effect should be minimal.


I am so sorry that your son's summer isn't going as well as either of you had hoped. I think that you are right on track with the idea that the idea of quitting ballet should be held when he is home, sleeping in his own bed and eating real food. It is entirely possible that once that happens all discussion of quitting will fade away. If it doesn't, one thing you may want him to think about is: Does he want to quit:

because that is what he, himself, wants OR

because of how someone else made him feel.

IMO, the first is a very valid reason to move on, while the second is surrendering control of his life to other people. People he doesn't even like very much.


Shooting in the dark, I would guess that the whole "why didn't we move to Boston" thing is his perception that if you had, he would; be a better dancer, have friends among all of these guys, be able to go to this great school and sleep in his own bed, ect., ect., ect. Hey, even as grown ups how often do we think "If I could just go back and change one thing, my life would be perfect."?


One last thing; to all the RA's out there (none of whom are reading this tread anyway), summer is coming to the end, you have worked hard, but don't you dare let down now. . .

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Please thank dancersteven for his insights. They are quite thought provoking. He has had VERY little exposure to other boys dancing. That's exactly why I insisted that he go. I thought this would be a great thing for him, not something to make him feel bad about himself. I wish there was more emphasis put on the middle school years for boys at our ballet school. But, their big thing is in the pre-pro/high school division. Don't EVEN get me started on their lack of effort at recruiting and KEEPING young boys. Well, I have discussed that topic here before and I am sure it will come up again.


Anyway, thanks. I will discuss all of this with him in a couple weeks.

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One thought, Therese, is to really do lots of research on SIs if your son decides to continue with ballet and wants to go away next summer. The program he is in now has just opened up to boys this summer, I believe, but other programs have individual threads in the SI forum. Knowing his personality, likes and dislikes, things he struggled with at this SI, etc., will help you when you search for next summer. Not every SI is a good fit for a child, so make sure you tell him that. If you do look for programs next year, try and get thoughts from other parents of boys about what their sons liked and disliked about the summers. Hopefully you'll have PM privliges by then and you can connect with other parents one one one (since we don't compare programs on line.) Also look through the various on-line SI threads. Sometimes the right program - like the right school during the school year - can make a big difference. It did to my son. I can now pretty much guess which programs will be a good fit for him - and which ones will not. A good summer plan/goal can make it easier to get through the year.

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Another thought, Therese, have you talked with your son's RA? He is a fabulous young man, is very available to the boys and has been a great help and friend to my DS. Maybe he hasn't realized your DS is unhappy and a quick word with him might make all the difference. He could keep a special eye out for your son.

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I think there have been wonderful comments in this thread. I would just add that as hard as it is to see our children make mistakes, we have to let them make them sometimes. You can put your arguments on the table, try to point out the things he might not have thought of, help him speculate on the potential consequences of his decisions and their likelihood, but he has to make and own his decision. Dancing at a very competitive level takes too much out of a person to do unless it's really in his heart to do it. If he's going to dance professionally, he's going to give up a lot on the road to that dream. It's unfair for him to sacrifice other opportunities in the service of a life that won't ultimately prove satisfying to him. Yes, that might mean that his gift for dance is squandered, but it's possible that he has another gift that he's squandering right now that no one knows about (even if it might not be quite as flashy).


I do agree that there is a huge difference between quitting because he wants to, and quitting because someone else has made him feel bad about dancing or because he's having a moment of weakness or low self-esteem. When he gets back home, he may regain some perspective and be able to distinguish between the two, especially with a little talking (and a lot of listening) from you. Or, he may need to back off for a while to be able to get enough perspective. Ultimately, however, he won't be able to sustain a career as a dancer unless he wants it for himself. You can't want it more than he does.


I think the main thing you want to avoid is giving *any* impression that your love and support is contingent upon him continuing to study ballet, continuing to dance at all, or excelling at any particular field. I would be very cautious about the idea that he can only switch from an intense pursuit of ballet to an intense (and successful) pursuit of something else. One possibility is that this is a reaction to pressure, possibly coming from wondering if he can live up to your expectations now that he has a broader perspective on the competition. Sometimes knowing they can back off or quit and still be loved and accepted is all it takes to help some kids handle the pressure (pre-teens are not known for their rational, even-handed thought processes). I don't sense any intent from you to push too hard, but sometimes we concerned parents can inadvertently give that impression to stressed out, hormonal pre-teens!


My experience has been that the thing that sends mine skittering into resistance the fastest is any hint that I am invested in their success at dance. In fact, I tell mine every year when it's time to sign up for the next year that this is their chance to get out, no harm, no foul. Speak now, or hold their peace for a year, and they'd better not ask me shell out for training they're not darned grateful to get! They also know that getting to dance is a privilege, which they have to earn. If they don't earn it (with appropriate behavior, a level of dedication commensurate with their commitment, etc.), they don't dance. I sweat bullets anytime it looks like there might be a risk of having to pull them out, because I know it would greatly inconvenience the school and their partners, but I know in the long run they have to own this and want it bad enough to work for it whether or not I'm enabling it. There are days I wish I could stuff some experience and wisdom into their heads, but apparently it doesn't work that way....

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My goodness, all this wisdom! As they say, kids don't come with Owner's Manuals. It sure has helped me hearing it all from you. Even when its hard to hear, I know its the right thing.


No worries, my love and support are unconditional. I have gone out of my way to have kids in my life and I take them as they come. Sometimes that is very broken. This child has been a miracle from day 1 and he has forever changed my life. The last thing I want to do is ruin his with MY expectations.


I am also very grateful for each and every person who shares their experience, strength and hope with me on these boards. Thank you.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Guest cs1987

I did not read all the posts because if wants to quit your right he needs another acitvity. But you need to help in that, to think that gymnastics is easy you are so wrong. Gymnasts are very strong and work hard at this sport. My feeling you are living your dream through him. He needs a chance to explore dancing since 3 is a long time. There are things called burn out, it happens in sports when parents do not let there kids explore other acitvites. Who are you to say he would not be an great gymnast. Let him spread his wings. By the way my son dances and does tae kwon do if he chose to quit dance I woul quiz him on why, but he chooses to dance and he can choose to quit, when a smester is over.


Your son may quit and realize he misses it, could be a two weeks, two months or two years. All I can sya let hm spread his wings. Do not force him to stay in ballet. Please you can do more harm in the long run.

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