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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Casting fair and unfair

BA2's Mom

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I like Mnemosyne's perspective. I know that every studio is different, but I think it does often happen that dedicated dancers come from dedicated families. They've learned their work ethic somewhere, eh?


Actually, the people I have lots of respect for are the parents who cheerfully spend hours ironing costumes and painting sets -- so they can watch their equally cheerful daughter dance her heart out in the third row of the corps. THESE folks are the salt of the earth, and the real backbone of any small studio.

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This forum is so informative!


I think it has saved me from sticking my foot in my mouth several times now. And also has helped me avoid a few land mines.


Our AD mentioned to me a while back that her perfect school would be all orphans! :) She loves all the help from most parents, but there are always a few....


I think roles are given fairly at our studio. They bring in an outside auditioner for Nutcracker. I'm not sure how it all works, but it does make me feel that there is a certain level of objectivity to the whole process. I have seen a mother throw a royal fit :( this year because her daughter didn't get enough roles! I also saw a girl get a role that until I read this thread, I didn't really understand. She DOES have a great sparkle in her eye when she dances though, and now that I think of her role in that way, she will be perfect!

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I think helping where you can with sewing or painting is wonderful. There is so much that goes into a production.

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Well, there is a study that reinforces the fact that children of parents who are involved with their school, (PTA, class parent, class aid, ect..) are more apt to succeed.

.............shoot, my kids are doomed.


No, but really, I'm truly as involved as I can possibly be with each one of my kids activities. I try to disburse my time equally. Unfortunately, not always successfully, but I try. It's my obligation (and joy!) as a parent to help out when possible and not peel rubber out of the parking lot every time I drop one of my children off.


Well getting back to the original subject, I suppose it can be a perception issue. Maybe a skewed veiw. Or maybe just a little bit of guilt on my part because I can't help as much as I'd like. (Dear oh dear, how therapeutic this has been!)

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We have had many discussions in the past about "fairness" and casting with DD. DD is now at a studio where this is not an issue any more! :angry:


Everything that each of our children have earned has been because of their own talent, hard work or merit. Of course we help and support our children in all of their activities! We do volunteer but our motivation is not "political"!


DD (like most dancers on here) would rather not have a part than get one that was awarded because of something we had done or given as parents.


Dance has offered our family the opportunity to discuss many life lessons. Long term what are these parents who volunteer and help to win parts teaching their children? Are they really doing them any favors? I am not denying that political connections exist and are in every aspect of life. But the day will come when these parents can't pull any more strings and then where will their children be?

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Guest Watermill

I would also like to add a comment regarding endurance. Or patience, if you will. My dd is 14, been dancing since 5. To say it's been a roller coaster ride is an understatement. That's nine years of disappointments, triumphs, jaw-droppingly strange casting, But looking back on it now, I see how important it was for her to learn to deal with the disappointment and roll with the punches. In a word: endure.


As always, an analogy: the dancer is adrift in a swirling, some times raging river of emotion, hopes, disappointment and dreams. Occasionally they need a rock to hold onto in order to gather the strength to keep swimming (especially those swimming upstream). If we as parents are also flailing about in the mad current, how can we be the rock for them?


I know how hard it is for me as a parent to not get caught up in the emotional ups and downs, but I try to remember what my daughter most needs from me: stability, comfort and unconditional love.


And 52 pairs of Freeds a year...

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Guest Cristina



You are very correct on all accounts - including the 52 pairs of some kind of shoes a year!




One of the things I find is that over the course of years with dancing, school, other activities....sometimes we have more to give than others. That's just the way life is. Also, in some areas we have a particular expertise to lend that we may not in others. When my daughter was young, the last thing I needed to be volunteered for was to be in charge of a school party. I could show up, bring cookies, pour drinks, etc., but don't ask me to think of cute, creative things for the kids to do - it's just not in my vocabulary.


In the ballet world, needle and thread are not my friends. I don't need to help backstage - I would just get in the way. However, I do have other types of expertise that can come in handy - helping with fundraisers, and looking for resources for our ballet company.


The bottom line is that I cannot do it all, all the time. I think in most circles what we have to offer is appreciated. And when we have nothing to offer, that is ok, too. It is enough to have our children where they need to be when they need to be there!


Turning the corner on 40 really helped me wipe the word guilt out of my vocabulary. I don't mean that in an evil way. I simply mean that I no longer beat myself up for not being Super-Woman. And, I try really hard not to let my own guilt cloud the way I see things. I don't know if this makes sense - it is a bit difficult to articulate.





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(sgmca): Glad to see you are getting settled in in you new home state I thought it was more the whining and parent tantrums that were getting the roles in your former location. Was it the studio further north or the one south that you thought money was buying roles?

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When my daughter started performing in the Nutcracker, she was often cast for all performances. I wanted to watch her each time she performed, but two or three weekends of 4 shows per week at professional company prices, was more than my budget could accomodate. So, I started volunteering in the Ballet Boutique, where I got in free to that performance.


After a couple of years of helping in the boutique, the AD asked me to take over the responsibilities for the boutique, as the previous manager had a daughter graduating that year. I naively did so :clover:, as I figured it would give me the ability to get in free to any and all performances in which she was cast and because her interest and commitment to ballet was becoming very intense and I wanted to do my part. Later that season, my daughter was cast as Clara in the Nutcracker. There was lots of talk about the "coincidence" of her casting.


My daughter has had some wonderful parts in the Nutcracker and in other company productions, (although she does not always get the role she was hoping for or that I think she deserves). The gossip about her casting successes being tied to my work in the boutique has subsided over the years - thankfully :sweating: ! Having a child who has at different times felt both slighted and "blessed" where casting is concerned, I don't think either position is particularly comfortable, unless you live in that perfect ballet world where everyone else thinks that YOUR child deserves the featured role, instead of their own! :flowers:


I've overheard the AD and school director talking many times about various casting decisions and irate parents, from my perch at the ballet boutique desk. I've come to understand that what parents do or give to the school has little affect. How much they gripe after casting, has an even smaller affect (except perhaps in the opposite direction of making the AD angry). I've also been surprised sometimes to find that the reasons that a particular dancer is chosen for a plum role are rarely the ones that disgruntled parents assume.


It is very hard to keep perspective where you child is involved :flowers: . But, in a good studio/school, the casting decisions should be equitable. When you look at the big picture, over several years (rather than one isolated incident), you should see a pattern of casting that highlights those who work hard, do the best work and are right for the parts they are given. If not, it is time to move on! :angry:

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mnemosyne: Thanks! We love the new state and the way things are run at the new studio. Very professional and filled with incredible dancers. It is so nice to have an AD and Choreographer who give roles based solely on talent and merit not on money or "whining".

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When my dd was still very small, there was a another student in the advanced level of our little studio that went on to NCSA. She was an exceptional talent and an exceptional physique for ballet. When ever I bumped into the girl's mother in town I would always ask how her dd was doing. One time she told me that her dd was upset during their last phone conversation. Her dd had informed her that yet again a favored student got yet another leading role in a piece. I asked if the student was that talented to be continually getting lead roles. The mother replied that she didn't know.....but her last name was Dupont. Since then the conversation had stuck in the back of my mind that what ever you do in life, you will always come up against something like this from time to time. I'm glad that in my dd's current studio, the limelight is pretty much shared by everyone.

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driver of a dancer

Many years ago and_____?___pairs of pointe shoes and tights later. Love it Watermill 52 pair a year.

First week at new studio, observation week. Father sits with notebook. Taking notes of his daughter's corrections. In a red pen he is writing something different. i said casually to him are you a student? "no I am writing the corrections the teacher is giving my DD, the red ones are the ones I will give her on the way home that the teacher missed.


I decided then #1 since I knew not too much about ballet I would remain that way. Still to this day have a mimimal ballet vocab.

#2 Just be the driver.

#3 Be a good listener on our drives home, as DD got older Ballet alert has helped us a lot. Educated me enough to be able to question something when daughter was needing my "back up"


I agree with Victoria

"Technique alone won't cut it"


I help because I want to help, DD's life is going way to fast. She has been cast in many great roles.....sometimes I question what others have received. Everyday is a lesson in the BIG picture of life. Unfair things go on everywhere in schools, work places, nothing is untouched Enjoy what comes along your way.


Sorry I need to go and order more pointe shoes.......and yes tights.

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