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Ballet Talk for Dancers

A rocky road


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Dd has had a rocky time over the past 18 months (since her Dad died). Her love of dancing never faltered but her performance in the studio was inconsistent – a lot of potential and talent, but not really consolidating. And because of the lack of strength in the senior level overall, she was able to get by, still the best in the class but only occasionally really hitting her true level of ability.


The first three months of the year were a shocker. She was hanging out with a new group at school, a group of kids who were lovely individuals, but disenfranchised, suffering teen angst and experimenting with alcohol. And dd was going along for the ride. She was hanging out after school with this group and as a result she was running into classes late still doing her hair, not focused etc. To bring things to a head, the day before her parent teacher assessment interview, on the last day of first term, she turned up to the studio obviously under the influence of alcohol and I was called to collect her.


Assessment interview was fairly intense. She was not asked to leave but was told that if she wanted to stay she had to show commitment, that as she was soon to turn 16, she was getting too old to be getting through on potential and talent that was not focussed, and that if she returned after the school holidays (she was asked to fully commit or choose to leave) she would have a very structured routine imposed, which included going straight from school to the ballet studio, signing in etc. The AD recognised that dd had been dealing with personal difficulties and offered her leeway for the past, but not for the future. If she ever came to the studio under the influence again she would have to leave and not return.


It was also agreed that she was should not undertake planned auditions, as the AD said her lack of discipline would be apparent.


The AD (who I swear to God is an angel in disguise) also offered an incentive – if she adhered to the disciplines imposed and showed a genuine commitment, the AD would give her a private class each week (private classes are not offered at her school as a general rule).


DD returned to the studio next term with a different attitude. She adhered to all of the rules that had been imposed. She started to work harder in classes. She saw a psychologist to sort through issues she had around her father’s death. She started to mix with other school friends. And most importantly, she seemed far happier and family and friends commented on how this was apparent, and how she appeared to be far more grounded.


Five weeks into term the AD started to give dd private classes. She collected her from school, took her to the studio, gave her a class and then left her to do her own practice for an hour until the studio opened in the afternoons. And this was offered at no charge to me. Dd started to put in additional hours, grabbing the studio whenever it was free and rehearsing, getting keys to the studio and going in on public holidays to run herself through a class and rehearsal.


The changes in dd over the past seven months have been nothing short of amazing. She could not be more committed or more focussed. The AD has continued to give her a private class once a week and has become a true mentor. DD has been attracting a lot of attention as her progress has taken her to a whole new level.


The real sweetener came recently when she was cast to share the lead role in their end of year ballet – as Titania – a part she won over graduating students with age and experience on their sides, who generally dance the lead.


Dd did end up doing one audition a couple of months ago. She received an offer this week to undertake a full-time ballet program with Tanya Pearson next year and is quite overwhelmed – suddenly she is leaving home, leaving her studio (where she has been for 10 years) and her friends to live in Sydney and to do what she loves most in the world – dance all day. And it has also brought it home to her, that she really has the ability to be a dancer.


I am incredibly proud of the way she was able to take control of her life in such a positive way. We all make mistakes, but to me what is more important is how we move forward from them and she could not have done this better.


Now I just have to adapt to the fact that my baby, the youngest of my four girls, is leaving home (oh and how I’m going to pay for it all!).

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And how fortunate you are to have such an amazing, wise and generous artistic director.

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What a lovely story with a wonderful ending. Your daughter is very fortunate to have been accepted into Ms. Pearson's program in Sydney. You are also fortunate that your daughter has been able to work with a teacher who was able to help her through a very difficult time. You can be very proud of the strength you and your daughter have developed and the ability to endure through hardship. Wonderful life lessons. :dry:

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for the kind comments. Not a path I would recommend. Dd was stunning in end of year performance and Mum was a bit of a blubbering mess watching her. She received so many positive comments she said it was a bit much and she felt 'flooded'.


Yes, she is very fortunate to be selected to train with Mrs Pearson and I know she will make the most of it.

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That is an amazing story. It is very uplifting to hear how your dd overcame her personal struggles. It sounds as if your AD is an angel in disguise. ;)

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So many trials for you to endure yourself in the recent past. You, as well, sound grounded and whole after all you've been through.


People often talk about "community" and villages raising children, but I find it is a rarity to have someone, such as your AD, step forward and make a commitment to a child in need in a constructive and loving way. Her students and families are very lucky to have her.


All my best to you and your daughter as you continue this journey. It sounds as if she's ready to take flight, and I'm sure you'll be ready to watch her soar.

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