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Ballet Talk for Dancers

family sacrifices


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Hi All,


My DD has been dancing for almost 9 years and is turning twelve. She's been on pointe for a year and takes several classes a week with an ABT trained teacher in our small town. We were recently told that she has "serious potential." My question for the families on this forum is, how have you decided how much sacrifice the rest of the family will make for one child? She has four siblings who all have costly activities which I need to get them to. I just don't know how I feel about putting all our time and money into one kid. Will the other kids resent this? Will I be available for them? Right now we are considering a move to a pre-professional school an hour away. I would have to drive down most days. If I don't give her the chance to do this when she wants it so badly, will she resent me? Relationships with these loved ones are more important to me than ballet, but probably not more important to her right now.


Thanks for you input and experience.



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Can't really give you any advice. All I can do is share my story. DD is 17 and haven't found the answer yet.


If she already "wants it so badly" I think you are really in a tough spot. I just spoke to a mom yesturday whose daughter, age 9, enjoys ballet but doesn't neccesarrily see herself doing it in high school. She asked me if I felt it was worth it to persue a full ballet schedule. I replied no and that she needed to help her DD explore more activities until she found her passion. Your situation is opposite. I have three other children. One hasn't found his "thing", one has a much less expencive passion and the last is old enough for grants and student loans. Our house is mortgaged to the hilt. We have two months of retirement left after the financial crash. DD is a trainee with a ballet company now. We can't afford for her to do any auditions now and are trying to figure out a way to do an audition video. We sold our house and moved for DD's training. I've often wondered if I would do it all again.


My DD still has "serious potential" and that's been validated by many people. (I would advise getting other opinions about your DD) She still needs our financial support and there's no real job security on the horizon. I often wonder if I were a parent company of a large conglomerate would I have re-tooled that subsideary? As it is we're looking more into plan B. DD could have a college degree for what we've spent on ballet. Other daughter will have her cosmatology licience for a fraction of ballet costs. Some may say it's too premature to make these considerations but when you consider the costs, age 12 is exactly the time to start thinking about the direction kiddo is headed.

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I tried to remember the thread of discussion that reflected on this dilemma a while ago. It is here on the board somewhere...anyone else remember it, and where it is?

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I don't really think anyone can answer that for you. Every family is different with different circumstances. You will most likely get a different answer from everyone.


We too, sacrificed a heck of a lot for our two dancing kids. No retirement. Mortgaged to the hilt. Yep. Can completely identify with vicarious. But both my children are happy professional dancers. Their younger brother gave up a lot along the way (although he has now found his niche). We have given up some of our own hopes and dreams. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. We built so many family memories through our sacrifices, through the many moves, through the decision-making, through the injuries, and through the ups and downs. For me, the satisfaction has come from seeing my kids work so very hard at something they love, and seeing their work come to fruition. I have also met some of the most amazing people through our travels, and have some very dear, dear friends that I would not have otherwise met.


I agree with vicarious that you should have a second opinion before jumping into a move. Also, is there any way the other children could be involved in their outside activities close to where she will be training? Before my ds started training in ballet, he was involved in soccer and martial arts. When we moved for dd, we made sure there would be options for him as well. It ended up that he wanted to try ballet, and that was all she wrote.


How do the other children feel about it? That was one thing that really helped. When we moved for my daughter, our middle son (who is now the dancer), was totally onboard for her. The youngest was too young to be involved in the decision-making.


I am sure you will get lots of responses. Wisdom comes from many counselors.

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Thank you so much for this perspective. This is exactly the kind of situation I'm concerned about. Also, good advise about having some other opinions. I have two scheduled next week. They are at other more serious schools. I've wondered if they would just tell me how great she is so that they will have our business. I'm not usually a cynic, but I was wondering about that. Is there a way to have someone with no vested interest tell us what they think, before we proceed with pursuing professional ballet?


Thanks again.

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Here is what I would do:

1. Have her audition for residency programs. This option allows you to see whether anyone will offer her full scholarships. If they do then that is clearly a sign that they believe in her potential. We have a list here of residency programs for further information.

2. If the school's that you are taking her to for evaluation are reputable, they will be honest with you. Take her to the evaluations and write down the feedback. Check with each school to see if they will be scholarshipping any part or all of her tuition.

3. Check with each school to see if there is anyone else from your area with whom you might be able to coordinate carpooling.

4. Once you have gathered all information, have a family meeting.


There are no guarantees in life- ever. There certainly is not a "master list" like Santa's, or a deck of tarot cards or crystal ball that we can consult to see if it's a definite for any child. I have seen kids who have all the "goods" hit 18 and decide it's not for them, and I have seen kids who have many obstacles end up with a job. I've seen the reverse as well. What is important to understand is that training to an elite level of anything, especially an art form, is a great thing! Each family just needs to know where their line is, and be sure not to cross it.


For some families that could mean taking up stakes and moving; for others, it's "get a scholarship or quit". There are degrees within those 2 extremes where a family might be able to work things out.

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Luckily we have not come to that point yet. My DD is 8 and in Level 2A at an excellent school that happens to be 2 miles from our home and offers financial aid based on merit and need. The cost is still high, and I feel (entirely self-imposed) pressure to volunteer for EVERYTHING to pay the school back somehow for the opportunity they provide her. She spends 8-10 hours/week between classes and rehearsals.


DD came out of the womb spinning on her toes and so far it is her only passion. Her teachers and AD pay her a lot of attention, we're told she has great natural ability and picks up choreography instantly. I'm not sure she'll make a career of it (she's eight!) so we focus on schoolwork just as hard. Sometimes we have to stay up too late to get it all in. Luckily my son's multiple sports tend to be less expensive and time-consuming, and somehow we've managed. The kids attend each other's games, shows etc. and we try to keep things fair. My husband and I spend most of our "entertainment dollars" on the kids' activities. It's a choice.


There is a limit to how much I can keep spending on ballet, but for now I feel the discipline and focus DD's learning, along with the experience of dancing in real shows with a professional company at beautiful venues is well worth it. If it ever isn't, we'll stop.

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Clara 76, This is such truly great information and advice. I just joined this site and I already feel much less confused and overwhelmed. Thanks you so much.


I have no stake in her becoming a professional. Actually, a few years ago, when there was still hope, I begged, bribed, and tricked her into trying everything else under the sun. I didn't want her to be a dancer. I know it is so crazy and demanding and I wanted her to have a normal life. She told me that this was her passion and that she was 100% committed. We have never spoken of serious dance in our home and I wouldn't be in this mess if her teacher hadn't brought it up, but now it's out there and we have to decide. I want her to be happy and well adjusted. Beyond that, I really don't care.


I will look for that list of residency programs, though I don't intend to send her away from us, and try to understand how this can be done.


Again, most sincere thanks-



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Welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers, Sugarmama!!! And NMSarah, to you too in case noone got around to it yet!


My reason for checking out residencies would be to see what types of offers were made. Then, combined with the other information you received from more local choices, your family can make an educated decision. :blushing:


Some families do end up sending their children away very young, and that's ok. Some families determine that would not be in the best interest of the child, and that's ok too!

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Ha! You're right. There's no such thing as a "normal life." Also, I hope I didn't offend. I'm sure there are plenty of families who choose a residency program and it's a great decision for their family. Honestly, this is just so new to me that some ideas I haven't had the chance to wrap my brain around yet. Please excuse me! I have a lot of learning to do.


Like many moms whose posts I have read here, I would do anything for my kid. Thanks so much for all your thoughtful responses. I know we are going to have to really think about this.



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My question for the families on this forum is, how have you decided how much sacrifice the rest of the family will make for one child?


I'm sure most of the parents on the list had to ask these same questions when they first realized their child had "potential" I know we certainly have. Would I move my family to a different location in order to benefit the needs of my child? First you would have to explore just how good your child's potential is, and then decide if the other family member's lives are transportable.


I was told just recently that my daughter should "go away" to a residency type program, but I'm not ready to do that yet. As long as I think she can get the training she needs without doing that we will stay here. We may need to reconsider at some point, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

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This is just my opinion and really I don't know how much weight that holds, but between now and when big decisions are really going to have to be made, a lot can change. There is puberty, and school pressures, and other activities, and around middle school the social life definitely amps up, and then comes boys. There is a whirlwind of changes coming your way! And for some reason- it is my opinion that all of these things are tougher for children who are passionate about something- it truly is a balancing act.


To me, potential means, that right now a person (child) may have certain attributes that POSSIBLY someday they COULD become more proficient at their chosen art form than others.


Now sacrifices... we make many, more then you probably want to hear about, but here are a few; there are NO more family vacations, because that money is spent for SI training- and just because my daughter gets full scholarships- doesn't make it free, it's still thousands of dollars a year. My daughter wears hand me downs from friends or things bought from goodwill. Clothing money is spent on pointe shoes- which can run into several hundred a month. My daughter doesn't mind wearing hand me downs and understand because she truly wants to train and she understands that we have been hard hit with the economy. But I could go on and on about the financial struggles, but that is just part of it.


There are Family sacrifices of time, and driving, dinners together, not being able to attend church(because of Nutcracker practices and rehearsals),of giving up going places... I could go on and on. Is it worth it? Most of the time yes. Does my son feel slighted sometimes? Yes. I do not think you can equally distribute time between children in ANY situation.


Someone very wise on BTFD gave me some great advice when my daughter was around 10. She told me if the training at our home school was good, then there was no reason to run out and switch. I got the same advice again when she was offered a scholarship to a very selective year round residential pre-pro school. My daughter is now 13/14 and still at her home school- happy and working hard and still getting in top summer programs on scholarship. When she is 15-16 she will be in a yr round residency - I am sure- if of course she doesn't decide she wants to do something else. My point is- there is no rush, let her train and dance and enjoy.

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Since Clara76 brought up the good plan of auditioning for residencies to see if full scholarships might be awarded, I would like to ask if partial scholarships are helpful at all as an indicator? Those make it very hard to truly determine if potential exists, since some students get no scholarships but only a select few get full ones. Gray areas make this very difficult, so any thoughts would be appreciated. My guess is that they mean that the auditioners saw SOME things that they liked, but other things still need work. Then, the question becomes, will those other things keep one from "making it" , or can they be fixed?

Best wishes as you grapple with these issues. I agree with so much of the advice that you have already been given. As regards equal distribution to siblings, I can only say that ballet requires so much more than our other child's activities. It would be ridiculous and impossible to give DD's sibling the same amount, because it is just not needed for that situation. Every child is different. I am sure that DD's sibling does resent ballet at times, and is somewhat aware of the amount of time, money and energy that it has required for over a decade. But, we all give our children more than just money. We try to give that sibling more time and energy, now that DD is away for training. It can work out.

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In this economy, partial scholarships are definitely an indicator of potential! Residencies may have bigger reserves though than other schools, so absolutely any scholarship gives you information. :blushing:

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