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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Student to Pro Help: un-supportive parents


spazzerina

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I'm writing like a novel's worth of background information, so bear with me.

 

I started training when I was 12 at a serious school, but for the past three years I have seldom taken more than three technique classes per week because my parents deemed it as too expensive. When I started pointe 10 months later, I rarely had the opportunity to take pointe classes because they were often canceled for nutcracker rehearsals. This past March I took the Intermediate level RAD exam after only 2 months of studying and scored a Merit. I just came back from the Orlando Ballet School SI and was invited to stay year round. Unfortunately, my parents said no because there is no dorm program and they can't move and won't send me to live on my own. :) I have a good amount of natural facility and turnout, and a suitable body type.

I just turned 15 and I realize that this is a crucial year in my training; I have to catch up technically because once I turn 16, summer programs and schools stop looking for potential.

 

My teacher has a wealth of experience, having trained at the London Studio Center and holding diplomas from the Cechetti Imperial society and RAD. However, since she had kids she is around less often and we don't have classed 6 times a week for the Intermediate/ Advanced level. Also, MANY classes are canceled during Nutcracker season to make room for rehearsals. Although she remains an exceptional teacher, she has gotten much less strict and the studio only has another 3 dancers that are serious about a professional career.

 

Whenver I mention ballet as a career to my parents (well the theoretical notion of it) they say things like, its not a stable life, there's not enough money to live on, starving artist, your so smart you have to go to college, don't throw away school........ blah blah blah :shrug: I can understand that they want me to be a doctor, especially since I've always been at the top of my class and both of them are very practical and academic people. (Dad is engineer/buisnessman and mom is poli-sci major) I think the both see ballet as a nice hobby and good excersize but not a job or anything practical. I feel like they are prouder of my academic achievements than all the hard work I've put in ballet.

 

My best friend (who goes to my studio and wants to become professional also) is planning on leaving school a period early (completing those courses online) to further her training. I can't believe I didn't think of this sooner!

 

 

How do I convince my parents to let me have this more intensive (and expensive) training schedule? How do I texplain to them that this is what I want to do, that its where my heart is? Anybody have a similar experience/problem? I also need to talk to my teacher about how I really need to catch up this year and how I need daily classes. Help!

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  • Administrators

Spazzerina, it sounds to me like you need to educate your parents. You could start by trying to get at least one of them to start reading this board. They also need to be convinced by a respected teacher that you are talented and have the potential for a career, but that cannot be done without pre-professional level training. Yes, you are at a critical year, and if your training does not increase this year if will just make it harder and take longer. You really need to be at a pre-pro school where the other dancers are all serious about ballet, and where there is both quality and quantity of training. It sounds to me as if you have done very well with the little amount of training you have had, but there is no way that can continue. You need a new school this year.

 

If money is the main issue, then audition for a better school and ask if there is some way you can help out there in order to pay for some of the classes. If they want you in the school, they will probably try to find a way to help you be there.

 

Good luck, and keep us informed.

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Thank you Ms Leigh! Could I send you where I live so you could help me find a studio? Also, what should I tell my teacher? My friend has had a similar conversation with her complaining about the lack of classes... there is a chance she can do something for us... especially if I can leave school early. I'll try to get my mom to make an account, but my expectations are low since she rarely ever uses her facebook :) I told my teacher before I went out of town that we needed to talk... I'm supposed to have coffee with her soon.

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  • Administrators

Please do send me your location, spazzerina. Send it to Contact Us, and that comes directly to me. As far as your teacher is concerned, let's wait until we see what the other possibilities are. I'm sure she is very good, but she is just not offering enough training.

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I do need some advice about how to confron my parents, because I need their support to be able to get out of school early and help me with possibly switching studios... I hope my mom does become a member of ballet talk but it won't help much in the short term :unsure:

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First of all spazzerina, you don't need to think of it as a confrontation. A confrontation is generally one person digging in for a power struggle and this conversation should not be one or it will go nowhere fast. You should go into this conversation wanting them to listen to you, but you also must be willing to listen to them and hear them. Which means when they start sharing their perspective, you listen and respond. Not take offense and dig in for battle. A conversation with a parent to try and convince them of something should not be a shouting match or an angry interaction. It should be a mature one of two people (or three) sitting down to discuss and determine a family path.

 

As much as you have a desire, also go into this instead of with a "blah, blah, blah" thought process the realization that everything your parents say is actually correct about the dance profession:

not a stable life, there's not enough money to live on, starving artist, your so smart you have to go to college
They are not saying these things because they are not true. They are true! Your charge it so convince them that even if they are true, your passion and desires are to try it because you want nothing less for yourself.

 

From this conversation, what you have to stand on is that you do not attend to "throw away" school. Rather that you will use school as your Plan B if you can get the proper training and that even with the proper training you would like to try to both apply to school's with good dance and if the time comes audition for companies to see if you might be able to fulfill your passion just as they have fulfilled theirs. And you can agree up front that even if you do get a chance to dance that you will work on a degree by at a minimum taking classes online. You also need to research and be ready with groups of companies/colleges that do have these type of setups in place. I believe someone who is a doctor, becomes one because they have a passion for helping others and that is something you and your parents share. If they did not have a passion for medicine and helping others, they would not have gone through all those years of schooling. You are not at odds with each other on the passion for something issue. So you try to get them to understand that you'd like to follow a multi-faceted path these next few years. You'd like to train the hardest you possibly can to give you a chance at a dance career. You will work as hard as you can at your grades and education to give you the best possible chance at your Plan B. And you will apply to both dance companies AND colleges in the future and look squarely at the facts in front of you at that time as to which is best for you.

 

Now with all that said, it is still your parents decision what they feel is best for you. That is every parent's charge in raising their children. It does not mean we get it right all the time. In fact, many times we don't get it right but what is for certain is that we do what we think at the time is best. I remember my mother not allowing one of my older sister's the chance to dance. I also remember her thoughts that they were taking something away from her she loved. When my daughter wanted to dance, I determined that I would not take that opportunity away from her but would support it. Mainly because I saw the pain my sister felt at the time. I will tell you though, many times along the way as a ballet parent in all that happens along the way, I sometimes wonder if my mom was the one who got it right in the first place. I would not suggest my daughter walk away from her path because of it. But every day, more and more. I do understand my mom's decisions and see her reasoning.

 

In the meantime, do talk with your teacher again about offering a more structured program for those of you who are serious. That to me, seems to be your saving grace so to speak. That is where you will be able to satisfy both your own needs and those desires of your parents. If that does not work, then since you still have school left to go, you will need to convince your parents that even if they don't desire a career for you that you still want to give yourself the best opportunity towards one. Even if that means two years later you have to have this conversation again.

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Sorry confrontation was too strong a word. The scenario you described is quite the opposite of my teperament. I'm a "people-pleaser" by nature so I'm dreading a conversation that goes against what they want for me... I hate asking them to make more sacrifices for me. I guess I meant I have to confront myelf and pluck up the courage to talk about how I feel. Thank you for those words of wisdom Mom of 3.

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  • 4 months later...

At 14 you are legally allowed to have a job. Your parents are paying for 3 classes per week already (thats pretty generous, if you ask me). If you wanted to add to that, you could always pay for some yourself. Working just one day a week could probably add 1-2 classes more per week (depending on what your classes cost. Here they are around 20$ per class ... so about 2-3 hours of working for someone on minimum wage [this is Canadian dollars :P] I know this is going against you wanting more time for ballet, but it's just a suggestion. Might just take a little time management.

 

As far as explaining to your parents, momof3 has a lot of really good suggestions. It can be hard to get people to take you seriously at your age, and it's very important that you remain calm and have all of your information ready, so they know that you know what you're getting into, if you know what I mean?

 

 

Edit:

-Oops did not realize this was from August. Sorry :blink:

Edited by shy.mouse
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That's OK, it's a lot better than people who answer threads which haven't been active in, say, five years!

 

The child labor minimum age changes from province or state. In the US, the minimum age for employing minors is rather restrictive up to age 16. Even then, local and state law may make the kinds of labor a teen can do more controlled.

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