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Ballet Talk for Dancers

How to discuss end of year evaluation with DD


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My DD (who is 13) just finished her year at her pre-pro school, where she concentrates on ballet, but also does one jazz and one modern class per week. She has struggled with hip pain during the year, but made most of her classes, with the help of PT and Celebrex.


She has been strongly considering stopping dance, to pursue other things, for next year, but will be doing the 6 week SI that is coming up shortly. When I asked her how she thought she did this year, she said that due to her hip problems, her turnout has worsened, and her turns are not as good as they once were (though this may be due to her 3 inch growth spurt).


My question to the group is how to handle her year end evaluation--it came in the mail yesterday, and the jazz and modern evaluation was really quite good, but evaluation from her two ballet instructors was very negative, not mean, not unfair, just negative. More negative than I had really expected.


They said she had multiple issues with alignment, and that her technique had suffered because she had to sit out so much. They said that the summer program would benefit her to "bring her back up to the level of her classmates". She has been a strong dancer up until now, and has been cast well consistently, and was invited to the AD special summer session last year, so this represents a really negative progression.


I am not questioning the evaluation, these people know what they are doing. I need advice on how to present it to her--I am worried that if she reads it prior to her summer program she will be very discouraged. Of course she needs to see it, but it is so bad that I am concerned about how this will impact her dancing for the summer. There is probably no easy answer to this, and likely she will take it in stride, but I would appreciate your input.



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Dear Myers, I don't have any answers for your situation, unfortunately, as my DD hasn't had the same set of circumstances. However, she did have a small heartbreak a few years ago when she turned in a form for her homeschooling physical education to be signed with a letter grade by a ballet teacher at her residency. This was simply a Phys. Ed. form and grade, and she danced many more hours per semester than the average high school school student would dance in 4 years of Phys. Ed. classes. She worked very hard but was not one of those superstar "born for ballet stardom" types (at this residency, though, most were). She thought it was just a formality, but the instructor signed it and gave her a 'B" for the semester; we assume that this was by comparison to her amazing classmates. She was really disheartened, and I remember how it felt. In addition, it lowered her GPA. Since it was not an evaluation, but just a letter grade, there were no comments given to explain.

I don't have any advice, but I feel your pain, and I would just say to present the info with many hugs and lots of encouragement. Good luck!

Edited to add: This sparked a discussion between DD and me about why the teacher would consider her a "B" student, and although we attributed it partially to the high level of her classmates, we decided that it meant that she must either work harder (that really wasn't possible!) or smarter, which she tried to do. It just changed the way she approached her classes with that teacher. Later, an evaluation from all of the ballet faculty mentioned her strengths and weaknesses, and she had been working hard on them all along. She did not choose to return to that program but decided to take a fresh approach elsewhere to working on her weaknesses. It served as a painful wakeup call that she needed to improve more noticeably and quickly.

Almost every dancer will have areas to improve. I hope that your DD can work on hers in a very supportive environment and view this evaluation as one that might reflect what she is currently going through but not necessarily as a predictor of future progress and evaluations.

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I'm so sorry to hear that she has had such problems, Myers....:flowers:


Is this really a physiological issue? In other words, has she just got little to no natural rotation? I guess I'm a bit surprised that her ballet teachers haven't discussed this with her previously so it wouldn't be such a surprise.


The 3" growth spurt will take quite awhile for her to adjust to- that is normal when a dancer endures such a change. Even a 1.5" growth spurt can throw you off.


I guess you know her best- if she is likely to ask about her eval, perhaps it is best to simply hand it to her, and say matter-of-factly, "I'm sure you already know that your progress was hampered this year in ballet by your hip issue and growth spurt, so take it with a grain of salt", and see if she doesn't do just that.


I think if you hand it to her with sadness in your eyes and voice, she may feel as though she has let you down in some way, which we all know she hasn't- but the teenage brain works in mysterious ways. Probably best not to let her dwell. Just be sure she knows you're not phased by it, and try to encourage her to move past it.


Good luck. We are here for you!

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I agree with Pointeprovider - when giving it to your DD (or simply summarizing it for her, and hoping she doesn't ask to actually see/read it), I would give it positive spin. "They are happy about your summer program, because it will bring you back up to where you want to be, now that you've adjusted to your growth and are over having to sit out." Also, "I am so happy that your hard work and ability was recognized in your other dance classes. Obviously, dance means a lot to you and you are putting a lot into it." What SHE wants to hear from you is that you recognize her work and her dedication, that you expected and are not dishearted by the evaluation, and that you (and her teachers) are looking forward to her being strong, happy and well on the way to a good dance year after the SI. And an evaluation, pshhhh, those change from teacher to teacher and year to year. It didn't say "quit", it just said, "growth and injury made it hard to compete this year." Those two factors, in particular, happen to every dancer and throw them off periodically. The year my daughter grew so much, her teachers could fairly have said "wasted year" and put her back multiple levels. They didn't (thank you, Ms. Christina!), but it would have been a fair assessment at the time. It will be great fun for both of you to see how new teachers look at her over the summer. New eyes see strengths that a home school, particularly a longterm home school, can have looked over. Hang in there. I think it's sometimes tougher for a parent to hear the evaluation than it is for the kids. After all, they KNOW where they stand in the class. We just know they deserve accolades for their work and ability.

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Dear Pointeprovider, Clara 76, and Dance1scocer1:


Thank you all so much for your kind words of support, and your very helpful suggestions. I appreciate you sharing your DD's experience with getting a grade she didn't like, pointeprovider, as it is somewhat similar to what is happening to my DD and this evaluation. It is certainly true that this evaluation may not by a predictor of future progress and evaluations.


To answer Clara 76 question, they have never commented on her lack of turnout before, so I think this is probably due to the pain in her hips, which limits the amount of outward rotation she can achieve, particularly in second position. Your suggestion not to let her dwell on this evaluation is really spot on, and I will present it to her in as upbeat a way as I can. I think you are correct that she is as worried about letting me down, as she is about what the teachers think. How I present it to her is probably more important than the content itself.


dance1 soccer1 really reiterated that point so well--I will make sure to comment on the good things in the evaluation (they were positive about her work ethic, and her jazz and modern), and not dwell on the bad stuff. I had to laugh at the comment "wasted year" as that seems to have been the case for this year (as I now learn!). I hope she can refocus and get some pleasure out of the summer program, no matter what she decides to do next year.




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