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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Difficulty leaving a dance studio


Amylynn

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I have been struggling through taking my daughter out of a studio she has been training in for a year. My husband and I made the decision with our dd (16 this month) for so many reasons but mostly because she was losing her joy and we knew she needed our help to find the courage to leave. When we found the ballet studio after we move here from the south we were glad to find a small place where she could take classes- she was recovering from some difficult situtations at her last large company based school and needed a breather.

 

The teacher we found at this studio was amazing and extremely gifted and told us she wanted to train her and that our dd could be a professional dancer if she really wanted it. At the time I don't think my daughter really knew what she wanted but we decided to let her study with this woman who was passionate and attentive to our daughter. Our dd agreed to train for the Grand Prix competition for next year. She has improved her technique and beauty as a dancer and it is truly amazing how much stronger she has become physically and emotionally. She is a very respectful, hard working girl who does love to dance and has a gift for it. She works hard. The problem is sometimes the teacher has been tough and her intensity was questionable but it began to feel like a job for my dd and she never wanted to go...the last 6 months it has gotten worse because she was cast to play the lead role in Cappelia (forgive me if I spelled it wrong) and the school is small and I am not even sure how they were going to pull it off.

 

They booked a large theatre in a nearby city and the date was set for October. This is still 4 months away after working on the same performance for the last 5-6 months! My husband and I were planning to meet with them and let them know that we really needed set breaks in the school year- our daughter was burning out. They run the studio month to month billing so there is no summer break or much of any for that matter! Its nuts when you think about it?! We decided after much prayer and talking with our dd that it was not a healthy/good situation for her any more and we knew she might just quit dancing altogether because of all the pressure. I just wanted to see the light in her eyes again from dance!

 

One thing I was led to do before our decision had been made to leave was to take her to another school for an audition. I wanted to see how she would do and to remind her there were other places where she might find the joy again. The girls there were so kind to her and just being around a bunch of girls did her a world of good! I did not even realize that she was auditioning for a professional training program! She was asked to join the school's professional division program. It is every day 12:30 to 6:30 with 3 performances a year. We are very proud of her and she was pretty excited about her accomplishment- she is not really sure if she wants to commit to it yet but wants to go try a class next week.

 

We decided to make the break with her current studio and they are very upset. I have been as gracious as possible and explained that we needed to give our daughter time to make some big decisions about her future and if she wants to continue ballet training. I explained how unhappy she was and needed a break. While I do believe her teacher is sad and cares for her it seems the focus is mostly on her performance in October and if she did this she would be stuck for several months still...and unhappy. No contracts were signed...no "student handbooks" ever given out-no yearly schedules for the school, in fact NOTHING EVER ON PAPER. I feel bad about letting them down but honestly isn't it about our daughter and her life? They should have laid it all out in the beginning and had understudies!!! To top it off they were billing us $1000.00 for a production fee out of nowhere!?

 

Forgive me for my lengthy post. I guess I just need to know if any of you parents have been through anything similar and if you understand or if I am missing something here....I know in my heart we need to take care of our daughter and she is asking us to. I just feel torn about it all.

 

Thanks ahead of time for reading this and if you have any advice I would love it!

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Amylynn,

 

I feel your emotion!!! I know, believe me, that it is NOT easy!!

 

Only you and your husband know your family's needs best - I cannot comment on that. What I can say is that from what you've written your dd does have some talent, and a drive to succeed. The road will be tough, and she is at the age that teachers will expect a great deal; the demands all around are significant - so I don't know that I would shy away from high demands per se, but again you know best how the situation was working for your dd.

 

I can't really comment on the fee situation, as this isn't something I've experienced lately. Mine has been in a pre-pro school which has a yearly tuition rate, but then again mine didn't train for a competition like YAGP. This year she did have coaching sessions, which were considered part of the program.

 

I wish I had some wiser words for you. All I can say is that it's never easy!!

 

m2

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Amylynn, your focus is on the happiness of your daughter, and that is as it should be!

 

You are doing the right thing -- it can be difficult to move on, but you are right -- it has to be about your daughter, not the hurt feelings of the studio she is leaving.

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Momof3darlings

I see two different issues in your post. First, your daughter's happiness should first and foremost be your priority. If she doesnt' want to go back, then let her walk away. Be sure to tell her that if she wants to return to dance at any time you'll take her but that her happiness is more important than anything else in the world.

 

As for the studio, I don't think I've ever heard of a production fee to that magnitude being charged for a dancer to participate in a production. A $50-75 costume fee certainly. Sometimes a $250 company fee or monthly company dues as well, but a $1000 production fee for a student is just off the radar. Even if your daughter decides to return to dance, in my opinion, it's time to look elsewhere. Now if instead of a true production fee you're talking about a YAGP fee, then I have heard of studios who charge a good bit for choreography, entry fees, teacher travel, etc. But I'm not sure which you're talking about so won't comment further.

 

At the end of the day, you want your daughter to be happy, healthy, and a whole person. If dance is sucking that from her then it's time to put dance in perspective and a good life back on the forefront.

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I feel bad about letting them down but honestly isn't it about our daughter and her life?

 

Yes. 'nuff said. Trust your instincts.

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Thank you all for your responses...it really helps to talk with someone about things. I am very glad I found this board!

 

The ridiculously large fee was only for their planned production in October- they were going to charge us to rent costumes already owned by the studio- $300 more on top of that. The one hour a week spent on competition work was already paid for.

 

My dh did tell my daughter that he would pay the fees if she really wanted to continue there and perform in the fall. She does not.

 

I know we are doing the right thing. It IS so hard when they do not want to let her go.

Thanks for listening,

Amylynn

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dancemaven

If her dance situation brings her no joy any longer, then it is time to change the situation. Period. With or without dance. As you understand, we parents are not charged with raising dancers; we are charged with raising happy, healthy, responsible citizens.

 

Typically, I would encourage one to finish what they started in terms of performance obligations, but jiminy christmas! There are still 5 full months before the October performance, so she's leaving no one in the lurch! That is a looooongggg time to be rehearsing the same thing anyway. Rehearsing the same thing for that long just leads to stale performances. And I won't even touch the $1000 'production' fee. Seems to me they rented a space beyond their budget . . . .

 

Follow your instincts and do what you feel is best for your daughter. That truly is what is important. Continue to be gracious with the current school/teacher and leave the explanations to the "Bull Durham" 'I-just-want-to-play-baseball' sentiments: "Our daughter needs a break and we must think of her welfare".

 

Best wishes to you all! May she re-discover her joy, whether it be in dance or elsewhere. :)

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Momof3darlings
The ridiculously large fee was only for their planned production in October- they were going to charge us to rent costumes already owned by the studio- $300 more on top of that. The one hour a week spent on competition work was already paid for.

 

Ummm, nope! They have lost their ever loving minds in my personal opinion and any other opinion I have. Run sister, run!

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Thank you all for your responses...it really helps to talk with someone about things. I am very glad I found this board!

 

The ridiculously large fee was only for their planned production in October- they were going to charge us to rent costumes already owned by the studio- $300 more on top of that. The one hour a week spent on competition work was already paid for.

 

My dh did tell my daughter that he would pay the fees if she really wanted to continue there and perform in the fall. She does not.

 

I know we are doing the right thing. It IS so hard when they do not want to let her go.

Thanks for listening,

Amylynn

 

 

Is she leaving the school or moving to another pre pro school? I am not sure I quite understand the end of your post.

I am surprised there is not double cast or has an understudy but with a small school, a very caring teacher loosing her lead in Coppelia that might be difficult if she does not have anyone of a high enough level to take the part.

However I do agree that you must listen to your childs messages and not burn her out. If she wants the summer of, it could make or beak what goes on in the years ahead.

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Memo-

 

She is leaving the school. I feel badly about the performance but felt we were giving them plenty of notice to fill her role (4 full months). I also know that one other dancer there was cast to play the same role (lead) on one of the two nights. I had hoped she could play it both nights instead of my daughter. We do not like to pull out of commitments like this but as we progressed there were serious problems with the administration side of things as well as the lack of joy in rehearsing for 6 months so far for a show. The focus should not be all on one performance, should it? I know performing is important at this level but with the lack of organization and crazy fees it does not seem right to me. I still feel badly, but I must take care of my daughter and do what I think is right. I did post here to find out what others would think and to hear from you is very helpful, thank you.

 

The opportunity at the pre pro school is a separate matter. I really wanted her to see there was another world outside of one small studio and she may find joy somewhere else when/if she is ready.

 

Thanks again,

Amylynn

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Momof3darlings

Amylynn--is it possible (studio aside) that your daughter has just decided that there is a huge difference in wanting to dance ballet and finding out how much you have to give up to dance ballet? I noticed from an older post that she had a little trouble in the early weeks of moving to the new school but you were advised by members to wait it out a bit. Were things okay between then and now? And were there productions before or this is the first? I'm a little confused on that.

 

Would you be willing to let us know besides the $300 costume rental, what else this production fee was supposed to be for?

 

I hope you are able to figure out the best thing for her and that she is happy with what is figured out.

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Pasdetrois

The only times I've heard of such a huge amount even close to $1,000 for a performance was a fund-raising situation where each dancer was expected to raise a large amount of money. It was never expected to come out of a parents pocket. The $300 for costumes is high also but can be explained if this is a small organization and the costumes have to be cleaned and maintained, both elements can be expensive.

 

Regarding leaving the school after casting and rehearsals are in place, well, it's sadly really bad timing isn't it. I have always insisted my children fulfilling their commitments no matter what. We always had the attitude that no one should let the co-dancers down. The only time in my experience a child left before a performance resulted in giving the child a very negative status with those remaining. At least you have a few months for a replacement dancer to be rehearsed! It's the only part of your scenario I question and it's not to do with letting the schools owners down, it has to do with letting fellow dancers down.

 

We did flee a school once, we did make an exit that was noticed and I will never regret it. I was doing what was best for my DD's and I know I was right and will never regret the break we made. When we left I wondered if my girls would ever dance again but they did and they still are.

 

Is it possible that no matter how talented your daughter is that she want's to dance for the fun and love of it and really doesn't want the intensity of being the kid heading for a career. Just because you have a gift doesn't mean you have to use it. Just because you could have a career doesn't mean you necessarily want it. Maybe you and your DD just acquired a very important bit of information? Only time will tell but it's something to look at!

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Could the $1000 fee be for extra rehearsals? private coaching for the lead role? If not, I'd run from the studio. I've never heard of such a thing.

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Amylynn--is it possible (studio aside) that your daughter has just decided that there is a huge difference in wanting to dance ballet and finding out how much you have to give up to dance ballet? I noticed from an older post that she had a little trouble in the early weeks of moving to the new school but you were advised by members to wait it out a bit. Were things okay between then and now? And were there productions before or this is the first? I'm a little confused on that.

 

Would you be willing to let us know besides the $300 costume rental, what else this production fee was supposed to be for?

 

I hope you are able to figure out the best thing for her and that she is happy with what is figured out.

 

I went back to see my old post- oh my goodness that was almost 4 years ago! That was when she started at a very reputable school in the south. We moved here a year and a half ago and the school she has been in here is small and not in any way like the other one! While I do think she is questioning her commitment to dance her recent experiences at her school have caused her to feel stressed and unhappy due to the intensity of her teacher's personality and what I believe to be inappropriate expectations placed on her alone.

 

I did not find out specifically what the fee was to cover because the teacher's husband kept the books for her and he did not answer my dh's many messages. I am continuing to talk with the teacher and do what is best for my daughter.

 

I appreciate all of you help- I think maybe this situation is to sticky for me to be able to explain some things while trying to remain respectful to her present dance studio, teacher, etc. It is hard to explain in words all that has led us to this decision but I felt drawn to post here in hopes of connecting with others who may have insight/understand how I feel. I am thinking through all everyone has shared!

Thanks again,

Amylynn

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Gee, I wonder why they didn't tell you about the fee before they gave your daughter the role. Am I missing something here? :rolleyes:

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