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Ballet Talk for Dancers

How do you make time for everything???


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In thinking about your son, perhaps it would be 'fair' for him to have the option of public school when he begins HS.

Our daughter is currently in 8th grade and we homeschool so she can dance. Our son goes to public school because that is his preference. Next year we are going to try public school for DD, we'll see how it goes. If it works out for her that's great, if it doesn't we'll figure it out then-we aren't looking at it as an all or nothing scenario. To complicate matters further, we have 'choice' in high schools because there isn't a HS in our town! Good luck.


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Sorry, this is long.....


Our DS is a freshman in high school. At this point, he says he is not interested in dancing professionally (although that could always change, and it seems to be less impossible for boys to postpone that path than for girls). Of course, there are many opportunities to enjoy dancing without becoming a professional - this seems to be his preference for now. We are fortunate that his studio is less than a mile from our home, and he often just rides his bike to class. There are 5 classes a week for his level, but one is a pointe class, so, really, there are four that he can attend.


He is also a very good pianist, and he has always loved sports, and he is a straight A student.


We chose the local public high school over a smaller Catholic high school for several reasons, one being the academics for top students (the academic environment for average or below average students is hit and miss, but it is fantastic for strong students), but also because the time to get to school is only about 5 minutes. This provides a lot of flexibility for doing things and going places.


SF Ballet School called the spring before he started high school and invited him to join the school. When we looked at the class schedule, we figured out that it would actually be possible for him to go to school as planned, and then zip over to a BART station and into the City for classes. But it would require him to not be on any sports teams and probably drop piano, too, to allow enough time for homework. So he was not interested.


He decided to join the cross country team in the fall and then continue on the track team in the spring. That has been a great thing for him - he enjoys the hard work and competition, and it provided him with a couple dozen instant friends at the new, gigantic (for him) school spanning all ages. It's worked out that he ended up going to three ballet classes a week - not as much as we would have liked, but he really wanted to continue with piano (which I do believe makes him a better dancer) and be on the sports teams, so that was the compromise. Actually, now that track is over for the year, he is going to all four each week. He has gotten straight A's so far in school, so that is working out.


Next year, his academic load will increase somewhat, and he has hinted he might want to drop ballet. We feel that he's old enough now that he can decide which activity to drop, although we will lobby for him to continue all three, since he really didn't have to study all that hard to get straight A's this year (i.e., he would likely have to stay up until 10 instead of 9 - not that intense compared to many high schoolers).


A few people have noted the PE requirement for high schoolers. This is something that really irks me. In California, you have to take two years of PE, period. I believe this requirement was put in place to ensure that we don't have a bunch of obese couch potatoes coming out of our high schools every year - a noble goal. But wouldn't you think that kids who are either on school sports teams or doing physical things like ballet (or both!) are probably not headed down that path?! Everyone is looking for ways to cut costs in California - how about not requiring PE for kids who are clearly active enought to accomplish the same goal as requiring the PE classes? Duh! (On a funny side note, DS was asked to come back to his (private) middle school to be on a panel to provide info to 7th graders about the various high school options. One of the things he said about his school, in response to a question, was that PE is a complete waste of time. Little did he realize that the head of his school's PE department was sitting in the front row, as he has a daughter at the middle school! Oops!)

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My DD attended public school, including a very academic high school, through graduation. She didn't sleep much, didn't get to go to all the ball games, and occasionally had to attend truant hall before school during audition season for missing too many days (my 13 year old ballerina in with the smoking 19 year olds got to me, but she thought it was funny!), but if we could do it again, we would. She loved school, loved her non-dance friends, loved have a "real" teenhood and hugely enjoyed her challenging AP and honors courses and fantastic teachers. It's really, really, really hard. We didn't use the bus, but drove both ways to school because that extra half hour twice a day made a big difference in homework time and time to eat before dance. She did homework at lunch and in her easier classes and in the car and backstage at performances, etc., etc.


We contacted the school in writing and then in person, the guidance counselor, the principal, the School Board chairperson AND all her teachers before every school year to explain her hard work and crazy schedule. We bought about 30 tickets per show for friends, teachers and staff, we had her demonstrate to the entire student body (4000+ kids) at pep rallies each year, took different friends to watch dance class each week, and we encouraged her AP classes to take field trips to her shows.


It was a nutso life for all of us for the four years of high school. Up at 6:30, school at 7:30-3:20, dance from 4-9, then eat in the car, get home, shower, homework, bed, do it all over again the next day. Brother went to a (different) private school and played sports and did quiz bowl, so one parent drove one child. We would swap out on weekends, with dad doing all the ballet driving and me doing some games and competitions. People asked if we were divorced, because we were never seen together.


We did let her forget chores. It seemed pointless to add that stress onto "get all A's, be a great dancer, be a super sister, and love your parents", but that didn't seem to harm her. She's helpful, loving and industrious to this day.


She graduated with a 3.75, got scholarships to fantastic colleges, was on the court at Prom, and generally made the most of her high school experience, before going on to a dance grad residency after high school graduation.


She enjoyed the options (social and academic) that public school gave her, and really encourages younger friends to try school.

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BowlderMan - in our state PE includes Health classes, they switch off every few weeks. It also includes the classroom portion of drivers' ed in the sophomore year, which is required for a drivers license for anyone under 19 in our state. So while it seems worthless to some students (like my DS) others, like my non-dancing son, find it quite valuable. Ironically, there are exemptions to the classroom portion of drivers ed IF a child is homeschooled in our state. The parent can even do the behind-the-wheel training, avoiding the time and cost in the summer of having to go to driving school. If the child attends a private school, however, that provision is eliminated. DS homeschooled for 9th grade, but was only 14. Not old enough to get his learners and therefore have us do the training. Once he went to residency, there was never time to attend the classes OR the driver training. So if you foresee driving as part of your teen's future, especially as it provides flexibility in getting herself or himself to school, public high school provides benefits in this area. While it seems trivial, it really isn't. Our DS still hasn't been in one place long enough to qualify for a license. So we're still playing chauffeur.

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DD is finishing her freshman year of public HS. She is in 3 honor classes, other freshman requirements and takes band. She has one 20 minute study hall each day. We are fortunate that two days a week she can take the HS bus down to the dance studio for her 3:30 classes. On the other days she rides the bus home, sometimes doing her homework on the bus. It's a 1 hour ride, despite the HS being only 15 minutes away! To give her some more rest time, she does not ride the bus in the morning but I drive her to school. She's highly organized and has had only a few nights this year when she was up until midnight doing homework. She hardly does any chores at home, but will help out when she has time. Weekends are often packed with rehearsals for two different ballet companies. She rarely complains about the busy schedule. She has made friends at the HS but rarely has time outside of class to spend with them. I'm not too worried about her sophomore year, but I think Junior year will be the most difficult.


As far a PE goes. It's a state requirement in Maine and no one is exempt from the two year requirement. They take PE in their freshman and sophomore years. DD had team sports this year and we worried she'd get injured during a contact sport like soccer or ultimate frisbee. Turns out she did fine until the last day when while playing badminton she twisted her ankle. It happened the Wednesday before SI auditions but she was able to take part of the classes and was accepted to both SIs.


Good luck with your decision!

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Thanks for all the posts. And to think - I wasn't going to post the question!!! I am SO glad I did.


I ams till researching and taking all your suggestions in... but I did HAVE to post and say...


Consider yourselves lucky if you only have a 2 year requirement - our HS requires PE EVERY year, twice a week including swimming1 or 2 quarters each year (yes, in the pool, wet hair, middle of the school day). I think I only had 1 year of PE in HS and no pool, thank goodness. Well at least I don't have to worry about swimming comflicting with ballet.


I will keep reading and weigh in again over the next couple days as I continue to collect info. I have to say that BT4D has been and continues to be an invaluable resource. Thank you all.

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Cheetah, They eliminated funding for driver's ed years ago in CA....


They do get some "health" instruction, but it's extremely rudimentary - nothing you couldn't pick up on your own in about a half hour of reading....

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There are so many different options and family variables that go into these decisions. Isn't it good to know that so many of us wrestled with the same issues, but all of us are still in the game. Our daughter attended one of the private Catholic girls schools in our city. It is considered the most challenging of the 10 or so Catholic ones in our city. That turned out to be a major mistake because they were not understanding at all of DD's schedule. For four years we drove 45 minutes each way to school (car sick so she can't do homework in the car, but could eat a quick meal after school.) Then it was 45 minutes each way to dance. We left home at 6:45 in the morning, and if I picked her up at school, she wouldn't get home until 10pm at night to start homework.


Lots of honors and AP courses later, we figured out we should have just opted for the regular schedule in a Catholic school that was not as intense (the teachers say the girls are way too focused on their grades, classes, etc.) My DD is very social, so after she ate and showered, she would talk to friends, email, etc. That left her doing homework til 12 or 1 am. Then up by 6:15 the next day. It was grueling. She participated in some school clubs and social justice work, but could just not do as much of it as she liked. She'd try to get in a few dances each year, but pretty much had to drop the rest of her activities like chores. She did, however, manage to keep up with some Church youth group activities for a few years and lectoring at Mass.


In hindsight, I wish we had chosen an easier path for her. While she did well and received some type of scholarship to every college to which she applied, she would have been healthier, enjoyed her life more. and done better than the 3.75 GPA she achieved had we enrolled her in a school that had a better attitude about her needs. In addition, we still had two younger siblings at home - one with ADHD that required lots of school and emotional help - so it became extremely difficult to juggle it all, especially because my younger boys are involved in Select sports and time-intense activities like Boy Scouts. I was also trying to help out our older children and babysit for grandchildren when possible. They drove to dance sometimes too! Somehow we have survived, and she is soon to graduate. My husband and I are both grateful that we were able to do what we needed for her the last four years. However, if I had to do it again, I would try to find a way that was easier on the family.


One thing we didn't know before looking at each college's curriculum this year, all those AP classes might not help our daughter very much. Since colleges tend to have a core curriculum that is multi-disciplinary in its approach, and since the required classes in her ballet major must be taken in a particular sequence over four years, I'm not sure that the credits she received in very focused classes will count toward anything.

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Another item to add to your decision making process is whether your school district allows homeschoolers to take any classes at the public school. This was something we didn't know about the year we homeschooled. After a lot of pressure from the homeschool contingent (our county has one of the largest homeschool populations in the country) the district decided homeschoolers could take up to two classes at the local high school in order to get the types of classes they could not necessarily get in a home school environment, including year 3 and 4 of a foreign langauge, advanced math classes, and lab sciences. This information was not disseminated - we just happened upon it. Had our DS stayed home we would have used this option to keep him connected with his neighborhood friends, especially the junior and senior years. For our county it's a fairly limited program and, in my opinion, a bit of a hostile setup (lots of issues between public schools and homeschoolers). The parameters are pretty strict, including making sure the student is only on school property for the class instruction time. S/he must leave immediately following the end of the class(es.) So no sticking around for lunch, study hall, etc. And of course the student isn't really a real student - so no participation in homecoming, clubs, proms, etc. But it's still an interesting idea depending on what, exactly, you are trying to get out of the high school experience. We also would have considered having DS return to high school as a full time student as a senior since, by then, he would only be taking about four classes a day.


So - some more options for you. While doing your research keep in mind that not all information is easily found - you have to really dig for some of it. Since you have cyberschooled, hopefully there are groups, associations, etc., in your area that can share their experiences and what type of options they have found worked for them. And also point you in the direction of the difficult-to-find information!!

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love to see you dance

I am interested in hearing more from pointecutiemom, about how she managed to get PE credit . It is something I have approached the school about but haven't had any success in obtaining. Our HS requires 4 years of PE, it does include drivers ed one semester in the sophmore year. Any suggestions would be appreciated

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This will depend on your school district. We had a long thread about this a while ago, and you might be able to find your state/district referenced there. Some of the counties in our state allow it with documentation provided. Others (like ours) consider it nonnegotiable. You will probably have to make calls to your school board - even in the counties where we know it's allowed, there never seems to be anything in writing!

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Twinkle Mom

love to see you dance,

If you want to post your e-mail here temporarily, in the format suggested, I would be happy to e-mail you privately, since this matter doesn't really fit this topic. (Once I have e-mailed you, you can edit your post to remove your e-mail.) :)

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I am wondering where 'love to see...' is from as we have the same state requirement...and I would also like to hear from pointecutiemom on this matter. We are heading to the HS counselor on Thursday and I want to be prepared! It would def make a difference in scheduling and time if she could eliminate gym and get out early or at least have a study hall to get homework done. It would only be a couple days a week as she would have to do health - but it would still help - and I would worry less about injury. That's one thing I liked about home/cyber schooling - we could tailor PE to work with ballet. I am worried about what may work against her ballet and/or have her more at risk for injury in ballet or class.

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If the school is actually willing to talk to you about exempting your DD from PE, you might try recommending having her do an online health class outside of school that would cover the health requirement. At least it would be a counteroffer if they try and say that she needs a health class and since health and PE are combined there isn't an option. There are a lot of health courses out there. DS did one through Keystone which I actually thought was really well done with questions that were really thought provoking.

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My dd is finishing up her junior year at a private hs school, and we have pretty much the same experience as others. It is very hard to attend hs and dance at a pre-pro level. My dd's schedule is similar to others 4-9 during the week and 11-6 on Sat. We live about 30 minutes from studio, but dd's school is an additional 30 minutes away, so there is no time after school to do anything but get home, change and leave for dance. Homework is done after dance, so many nights she's up till midnight or later. Sundays are spent doing homework, her teachers have been good about giving her assignments early so she can get a head start on the week ahead.


I think if you do decide to do a traditional hs, then you have to be flexible with expectations. We don't require dd to do extra chores, just keeping her room clean and picking up after herself in bathroom and around the house. We allow her to go to school late a few times a year, and she does miss the Friday of performance weeks, and an odd "mental health" day as others have mentioned. It is stressful trying to do everything, and I think you will find even the most dedicated dancers will at times lament missing out on hs activities with school friends. Be prepared for some friends to fade away, and not be as supportive. Your dd will miss most of the hs events, and with the dance schedule, I think school friendships suffer the most. My dd still has good friends and she is always welcome at sleepovers, etc. but she is not as close to any school friends as she was in her freshman year. I think this is because as you progress in dance, you start getting larger parts in performances, which means more and longer rehearsals. My dd rarely has a day without rehearsal, so it is almost impossible for her to do any school activities anymore. Her studio puts on 4 performances a year, so they are always rehearsing a show! You just aren't available to go to athletic events, are always late to school dances etc. Her friends do come to performances and are somewhat understanding, but just become closer to the girls that are always doing things together.


We have been able to get 1 credit of PE waived (state requires 2), but we had to get a Dr.s note. Her doctor didn't like her running which was a lot of what was done in PE after a knee injury. My dd's hips are loose and so she runs kind weird, causing more stress on her knees.


Our state offers a program where you can take community college classes for high school credit, so my dd will be taking all of her senior year classes at a local community college. She will take Yoga and Pilates to fullfill the final credit of PE needed to graduate. All of the classes she will take will also transfer to most four year colleges, so she will almost have a full year of college credits when she graduates hs.


We decided to do this rather than enroll her in an IB program or taking AP classes. I am very glad we made this choice since AP has been brutal on dd's friends that chose to do them this year. One girl had to withdraw from performing so she could keep up with the course load.

The other girl, while keeping up with the classes, isn't sure she did well enough on the final tests to get the college credit. I don't think my dd could have taken AP classes this year. She has a 3.9 GPA so she had to go against all the teachers wanting her in those classes. I have found that if your child is bright and a good student you will get A LOT of pressure to sign up for AP. I would really look into success rate of kids getting college credit before making the choice. We found that only a little more than half the students scored a 4 or 5 on the AP tests last year, so many are taking the classes for no benefit.


I am very glad we went the traditional route of hs for her freshman and sophmore years. She was able to see what a "normal" hs school life was like and was able to see if she felt like she was giving up too much to dance. For her, it made her more dedicated to dance and she feels whatever she has given up has been worth it, for the dance experience she has had. I don't know if she would have the same feeling if hadn't had first hand knowledge of hs.


My dd would have been able to do her junior year at a community college, and have both a hs diploma and an AA degree from a community college when she graduated. I wish we had gone that route. It would have given her a much more flexible schedule, and would have made it easier to double major and dance in college should she go that route. She still wanted to attend hs, but now that she is almost done, wishes she had made the other choice as well.

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