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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Are your parents supportive of your dancing?


blaise

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I'm at the older end of the spectrum for this forum and in a few months, I'll be out of the age range but I still feel like I have more in common with this group than the adult students (not knocking anybody . . . it's just a matter of personal experience. I have nothing but admiration for the adult ballet dancers on this board).

 

I've been thinking about this subject a bit lately since I'm at a crossroads in my life right now. I just graduated from college and I'm currently working at a 9-5 job I hate just to help pay off my student loans and I'll soon be moving to Japan as an English teacher. I got my degree in art but I'm not sure if I want to pursue an MFA in painting/printmaking (my concentration). My father asked me what I saw myself doing with my life and I didn't feel that I could be completely honest with him because I just didn't want to hear any snide comments about my choices or desires. I haven't really talked to anyone about this and it's been bugging me for a long time so I guess I just need to share it with some people who might understand.

 

I started ballet when I was 8 and my parents were really good about getting me to class and making sure I had everything I needed though they were never really involved deeply. Once I hit that crossroads where you need to decide if you want to dance ballet seriously or just keep at it as a hobby, they were suddenly against it. It would get in the way of me going to college, it took away from the time I spent studying. I once made the mistake of telling my dad I wanted to be a professional dancer when he asked what I wanted to be when I grew up and he said, "Yeah, but in reality?" and it still kind of smarts. I had to go through all the auditions for schools and intensives by myself and I even had to pay for most of it on my own (not easy when you're a full time high school student but I made a killing by overcharging for tutoring lol). Once I got into Yale, the discussion was officially over. Telling your parents that you got into Yale and want to turn them down is not a conversation that ends well. In this case, it ended with me being miserable at Yale for four years.

 

While injuries and spotty training during really important years in my development as a dancer have pretty much killed the pro ballet dream, I still dance every day and I've choreographed my own works for small festivals in New England and New York. I may have gone to a snazzy college and received a degree in art but dancing and choreography are the only things I'm truly passionate about and it bums me out that my father (I don't have much of a relationship with my mother anymore so she doesn't count) thinks I'm throwing everything I've worked for for the past 8 years away for some stupid life choice he refuses to refer to as a career.

 

I really just needed to get that off my chest. I'm interested to know what the dynamics are like in your families when it comes to your dancing. How do your parents/siblings deal with you devoting so much time and energy and money to all this? Do you think you'd try to keep dancing anyway if they were totally against and called it foolish at every turn?

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I am very forunate that my parents are 100% supportive of me in choosing dance as a career. They know very well how little experience I have, but they also know how much I love it. They are willing to do anything for me when it comes to dance.

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I definitely know what you're talking about. I hear about kids whose parents are always telling them that they can do anything—be a dancer, an actor, take over the world, whatever. Having that parental blind faith in your talents is something I just never experienced—whenever they know I really want something, my parents' reaction is "Well, WE think you deserve it, but let's just talk about what will happen if you don't get it." Which is realistic, I guess, but also exactly the opposite of what you want to hear going into an audition.

 

I think my parents are kind of acclimating to the idea that I want to be a performer, if only because I've admitted that I can't imagine what else I'll do.

 

I think I really hit a turning point last year when I had a big dance part in a musical—my godmother told me that my mother was crying in the audience because she "didn't know she could dance like that." Honestly, I think before seeing that, my parents just didn't think I was talented and now they have a little more faith.

 

Still, though, when my parents talk about my dancing it tends to be about how glad they are that I'm so active and that I'm building strength and good posture and things. They never talk about it in terms of a career. So I guess the answer to the original question is somewhere between yes and no, but currently tending toward yes.

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Wow! I completely know where you're coming from! I am just a freshmen in college, but it's but so hard to decide if I should major in dance or art. I have done Ballet since mid high school and art for 9 years. I love both but ballet is my passion! Sadly, my dad is not nearly as supportive of ballet as he is art. Also, since I started formal ballet training later than most, I have to worst super hard! It's worth it, though, I think. I am in a slump right now and don't know what to do... But I mainly wanted to say that I know how you feel on the parents thing. I am not going to let their dislike of dance influence my decisions. They are not totally against dance, but they really don't understand the way I feel about it.

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blaise--

 

I literally am in the same situation as you are. It's not that my parents were/are UNsupportive of my dancing, they seem to think however that it is impossible to make a career of it. Granted in ballet you better have prodigious talent to even consider trying to make it, but I feel like there are a ton of avenues in dance that we can take that are possible to be successful in. I mean, in this economic crisis jobs aren't even a guarantee... I'm about to graduate college in a few months and the only thing I can see myself being happy doing is dance. I feel like I and you and others in our situation might as well go for it. I may just be an eternal optimist, but I think our parents are just looking out for us and trying to keep us in touch with 'reality'... but in the end hard work can create more than we can even imagine and I genuinely believe that it is possible to make it. My parents are worried that I will pursue dance and never get a full time job, but in the end it is our life and we have the right as well as the power to do what makes us truly happy, no matter what anyone says. I do believe, however, that if dance doesn't end up working out there is a time when one must come to terms with reality and pursue other interests, but until then, I plan on doing what I love.

 

GOOD LUCK! I really hope you go for it and do what makes you happy -- if you succeed, your father will be truly proud of you... all the best!

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Well, my dream is to one day start my own contemporary ballet/post-modern dance company (I think apples and oranges go so well together) so maybe I can cull talent from BT4D! Like you said, the way the economy is going, we're all going to be broke and jobless so we might as well be broke and jobless and doing what we love. I'll let you know when I'm holding auditions. Then, we'll show them. :)

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I never really thought about a career in dance until 4 years ago, before that I was talking about going into a medical profession because my mum did it. My parents have always tried to instill in us that we had to have a career that could support us and a family. I think my parents let me do more and more ballet each year because I was happy doing it, and even though I had told them I wanted to become a dance teacher they just didn't believe me.

 

I think my parents have finally realized that I am not budging on this decision. I really do appreciate them for letting me do ballet and for my classes, but it's like they don't care at all when I'm talking about something ballet related. All I do is eat, sleep, think, and do ballet. I've made up my mind and I'm going to do all I can to make my dreams and goals a reality, even if my parents aren't totally there. I just hope that one day they'll realize that this is who I am and it's what completes me.

 

Best of luck in anything you do!!!

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  • 2 weeks later...

My parents say they are supportive of me but then when ever we are at family gatherings and someone asks me "so, what college do you want to go to?" or "what do you want to be when you grow up?" I feel like they aren't necessarily embarrassed, but kind of laugh it off when I answer "I don't know what college I want to go to, I want to dance professionally." One time we were talking about it with my aunt and she said "You need to be more practical." Then my dad pretty much told me that it's better to be unhappy with your job and making a ton of money than being truly happy and doing what you really want with your life. It just really disappointed me to have my dad one day tell me that he fully supports whatever I choose and then the next day(when we are in front of other people) he would tell me to "be practical."

 

Also, whenever I'm at family gatherings I feel like they just keep asking me cause they are waiting for me to grow out of my "wanting to be a prima ballerina" dreams. When I answer, even though I have told them many times before, they still look surprised at my answer.

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Wow. I'm sorry, but I disagree vehemently with anyone who says it's better to be miserable at your job making a ton of money than it is to be happy following your dreams. :)

 

To me, the former is the poor person......

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It really depends, I think. If you have no realistic way to make money off of what you truly want to do in life, then you have to choices: keep trying until you can't afford it anymore, quit and get a job at a convenience store because you never had a back up plan, or get into a job you don't like that pays well at which point you can afford to fund your passions as hobbies.

 

Not everyone has what it takes to be a professional dancer, and even if you do, many others do as well and the competition is very tough. If you don't get a job, you won't be able to continue to afford dancing anyway, and not only will you not be doing what you want with your life as a job, you won't even be able to pursue it as a hobby. In that type of situation, doing a job that yields money is the only way you'll be able to stay in dance at all, and thefore you may be unhappy on the job but draw your happiness from being able to fund your hobby, which is better than being forced to quit altogether due to lack of funds.

 

Outside of this logic, it also depends what type of person you are. Some people would be extremely miserable not being able to afford new clothing, a good place to live, a nice car, outings with friends...etc. It depends on priorities. Sure, some people manage to live completely happy lives without any money, but most things in life require money and without it I think most people would be very unhappy, if only because you need money to remain healthy in countries such as America that doesn't have government funded healthcare. There are also children to think about...if you want a huge family, you need a job to support that, as well. I don't think what your dad said is unreasonable at all.

 

With that said, if I were you I would confront him privately as to his inconsistencies toward you, and ask him why he changes his tune when he is in front of others, and try to share with him how that makes you feel.

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Beatlesballerinette, I'm in the same boat as you...

 

My parents claim they will support me in whatever path I choose, but they are definitely disappointed that becoming a professional dancer is my highest aspiration at the moment... especially my father, who seems to think that I'm far to intellectual to "waste" my talents on ballet. *sigh*

 

To make matters worse, he's materialistic and loves money, which adds considerable problems. Not only does he think that I will be terribly unhappy as a far-from-rich ballet dancer, but he is extremely unwilling to fork over his hard earned dough for my pointe shoes and summer intensives.

 

And it doesn't help that my dad doesn't even like ballet. After dragging my parents to San Francisco Ballet's Program 2 yesterday, Dad turned to me and said, skepticism and disbelief dripping from his voice, "This is what you want to do with your life?" (Obviously--unlike me--he wasn't too impressed with William Forsythe's in the middle, somewhat elevated)

 

*sigh* Still, at least they grudgingly support me, and my dad does seem to enjoy being the official photographer for my studio's small Nutcracker production every year...

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My point is that college and higher education can still be there, at the same time or after following ballet dreams. Why is it that we as a culture are obsessed with children going directly into college after high school?

 

And furthermore, why are we so delusional as a culture that we all mindlessly believe that having that college degree is going to equal big bucks?

 

Yes, it does occur that people do graduate and go on to make their millions, but I'm afraid that is becoming less and less the case. Most people are struggling from paycheck to paycheck, just like dancers are.... they may have a 'beamer' in the driveway, but they have just as much cash percentage-wise as a "poor dancer" does, and a hundred-grand in college loans. :thumbsup:

 

If your dream is to make (and let's face it- millions won't cut it anymore) billions, then you'd better hope you have a daddy who went to an Ivy, and has his own company you can automatically have a job in when you've got that ultimate little rectangle.

 

The funny thing is, I'm not against college- quite the opposite- what I'm against is mindless following of any kind, and forced-college. I am all for it if a person has a wish to accomplish a degree, and they have the freedom to choose whether they go or not. I think that everyone should be able to follow their dreams, and that will include higher education for many. I just think we all need to go into things with our eyes open; no path in life is guaranteed, so I think it's important to understand the entire picture, whatever direction a person chooses.

 

I also don't think that higher education must occur between the ages of 17-21....

 

Now, if college were tuition-free for everyone, and everyone was treated equally, then why not go? But I still think it could be accomplished at the same time as a professional career in ballet. :)

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My point is that college and higher education can still be there, at the same time or after following ballet dreams. Why is it that we as a culture are obsessed with children going directly into college after high school?

 

I think it's mostly a momentum issue. It's easier for most people to just keep forging ahead as it's very easy to get sidetracked if you take time off. That being said, while I'm glad I got my B.A. out of the way and never have to worry about it again, I had a major burnout at the end of college. I definitely would have benefited from some time off.

 

And furthermore, why are we so delusional as a culture that we all mindlessly believe that having that college degree is going to equal big bucks?

 

Beats me. I just graduated from Yale and I'm barely making ends meet. :D

 

]Also, whenever I'm at family gatherings I feel like they just keep asking me cause they are waiting for me to grow out of my "wanting to be a prima ballerina" dreams. When I answer, even though I have told them many times before, they still look surprised at my answer.

 

That happens to me all the time. I once got so irritated with it all that I just fired back, "Yeah, it's hard to understand if you've never had enough talent or skill to go after something." I certainly do not recommend that as a response but I think the person in question finally got the message. :sweating:

 

Now when they ask, I have no qualms saying exactly what I want to do with my life. If someone tries to tell me that it isn't practical, I have the experience to prove that taking the "practical route" (college, stable job) hasn't benefited me any more than a more creative trajectory would have. Sure, I got a degree, but I also got a mountain of student loans, four years of misery at a university I hated, a job I absolutely detest, and a salary that can barely keep my afloat.

 

In summation, follow your dreams. :wink: Nobody wants to be miserable and jaded at 22.

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