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How to keep up motivation when there is no performance opportunity


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Hello. Our 9-year-old (soon to be 10) son is in his second year of studying ballet. The idea of taking ballet came from him after seeing Billy Elliot the musical. During the first year, he was enjoying the classes very much, which were at a well-regarded all-round dance studio. Following the recommendation of others, he auditioned for a serious pre-pro ballet school and was accepted. He started classes there this September, and has been struggling to stay motivated for two main reasons: 1) they (rightly, we think) emphasize getting the basics right, so they don’t get to do anything “fun” (our son’s words); and 2) the first year students do not have any performance opportunity.


Many of the school’s students perform in the affiliated company’s productions, but the first year students cannot audition for those opportunities. The school has a year-end performance in June, but only intermediate and advanced students perform. As our son really enjoys the performance aspect of ballet as well, we’ve seen him get demoralized and de-motivated. We contacted the school to see if they had any tips in keeping him motivated, but while they are happy to hear his interest in performing, there’s not much they can do.


My husband and I believe that it may not be such a bad idea for him to go through a period like this, as he often seeks instant gratification. On the other hand, we’re starting to get a little bit worried about how discouraged he’s getting. The other day, for the first time since he started ballet, he said that he doesn’t want to go to class anymore. Any tips on how he can stay motivated?


My husband and I have absolutely no dance/ballet background, and we were kind of blindly following others’ advice regarding auditioning for this school, but now we wonder if we made the right choice…


Sorry about the long query and I hope this was the right place to post it!

Edited by sandsmom
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Guest coupe66



My dd began her training at a school that offered no performance opportunities for the dancers. The instruction (at least at the younger levels) was very good, but once they got a bit older and wanted to do a Nutcracker or just an end of the year concert - well, there was nothing offered. In our situation, we ended up finding another studio. Ballet is after all a performing art, and eventually, the dancers will want to perform in something. I don't know if you are in a position to move to another studio or even want to do that, but that is what happened in our situation.

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As difficult as it is for a DKs of that age to swallow, remind him his school is 'teaching him HOW to dance', not 'teaching him A dance'. Any Dolly Dinkle can teach a little routine. We also went through this period when my DD was 8. I tried to point out the older students she looked up to and remind her she'd get there. I do think it is too bad your DS's current school offer's nothing by way of performance opportunities. Sadly, I've seen with a few pre-pro schools all the emphasis seems to be on the advanced students, forgetting the younger students are their future. Good Luck!

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I cant imagine not being able to perform when you have worked so hard.


We have 3 major performing oppertunities this season, and then we do an end of year show. Every 2nd year we do Nutcracker.


My kids would be off putted not to be able to perform at least 1x.


Sorry, no advice.

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What about taking him to an event or a dance that will remind him why he wanted to do it in the first place? He was interested after seeing Billy Elliot, then take him to another show. Also perhaps there are some backstage volunteer opportunities for the company where his is dancing. If he could help with the props or the production in some other way, watch rehearsals, etc. He might see what he gets to do next year.


I, like you, don't think this is a bad thing. My dd had to play an Angel for three years in our nutcracker. Usually dancers play this part once, maybe twice. She cried when she saw the cast list. But she found that she could be a leader for the others who had never done it before. There is always a lesson in every dissappointment. And once this "first year" is over he will have performing opportunites a-plenty!

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Thanks so much for all the helpful responses. Since he just moved from his first studio to the new one this year, we're not very keen to move him right away to another school at this point.


I love the idea of taking him to more performances so that he can remind himself of why he wanted to start in the first place. Helping out with the production would also be great, so I'll ask about that.


Thanks again for all the suggestions! We'll see how it goes. I'll report back to let you know how it's going!

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At our dance school, there are also no performance opportunities for the first year. It really made the kids feel like they had earned it by the second year.


Also, are you sure that they don't have some type of in-class thing for parents one or two times a year? It is common for there to be classes that are open for parents and then they have a sort of mini performance. Most pre-pro schools have these in January and then at the end of the year. Maybe it will be enough to tide him over.


I also second the idea of seeing another production that is inspiring to him.

Good luck!

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