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highschool and ballet


sousatzka

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My DD, 14 years old is a freshman in high school. She practices ballet apx. 18 to 20 hours a week at the local studio. But now she is going to be a sophomore, her schoolwork is going to be doubled and she does not want to reduce any hours of training than she has now. Just like everyone, she is dreaming to be a professional dancer and I hope she can achieve her dream. But as a parent I'm also concerned about her future. How should she prepare for college whether ballet related or non-ballet? She is not involved with any after school programs at her own school, has no any major volunteering experience (yet) all these tricks that one has to do for applying colleges. She is very academic and keeps her grade at A. Her teacher says she is placed in some AP classes but she refuses them to avoid more hours of studying. I have no heart to say that she can't be a dancer, but I can't to say she doesn't need any college education. Does anyone have insight to this? Since when getting into colleges became so complicated!

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Guest Christier57

DKs in high school have to have extremely good time management skills and make use of every second they are not dancing for homework. It can be done, but it certainly isn't easy. There won't be regular Friday or Saturday nights hanging out with friends, for example, because that is good homework time when not performing. No leisurely break right after school. If not straight off to dance, homework immediately, while snacking, in order to minimize the late night homework. Some of the kids get good at doing homework in the car on the way to or from dance, at least until they're old enough to drive and relieve the parents of that job :D . My dd brings her lunch to school and sits in the hall and works through lunch (I know, it's gross to think of them eating on the floor, but the cafeteria isn't big enough, anyway). Or she eats during class--some teachers allow it, some don't.

 

She does her service work being a demonstrator/assistant teacher in lower-level ballet classes, which is at least related and scheduled next to her own classes. She really enjoys that and is adored by the little girls. She isn't planning on going straight to college, although she has taken a tough course load and gotten good grades and test scores. According to our school's counselors, most colleges are looking for depth of extracurricular experiences, not "a little of this, a little of that." Who knows if that is actually true.

 

Additional challenges come in with technology, which led us to getting dd a laptop in ninth grade, because she might have time to do homework, but not be in the right location to do whatever it is. If the studio has wifi, that helps solve some of those problems, so long as they can keep their laptops safe during class. Laptops will probably be a required school supply any year now, anyway.

 

I'm sure lots of other people have other tips. In the end, it probably depends on the tenacity and passion and perseverance of each kid, and what they really want to do.

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This post really resonates with me as we have a child the exact same age and my husband and I are having this discussion is well. Here is where we stand...

1. We now homeschool to free up more hours in the day for training, actual education and sleep.

2. We have resolved ourselves to the notion that for our child dance is the goal and junior college or a university with a great dance program is the back-up plan. We do not think that Harvard, Stanford or Princeton for undergrad is a reasonable goal for the kid who is of average intelligence and who is pursuing this at a serious pre-professional level. Truthfully, those are our goals not DK's

3. There are more and more people that would argue that a college education at 18 is not necessarily going to produce the results that it will when offered at 22 or older. I myself have seen this time and time again.

4. As a parent, one of my jobs is to keep as many options on the table for as long as I can. At this point in time, certain doors have closed to DK, Olympic Swimmer, NBA or NFL star, Tennis Star but a college education and successful career is not one that is on that list. Nor will it be if DK waits until 25. It may take a little longer for DK to get there if the road goes through junior college but it won't be off the list. However, if DK cuts dance by 10 hours a week, Principal with NYCB, ABT, Houston, San Fran, PNB, etc. are most assuredly gone. They may not be achievable goals for DK based on talent, ability etc. but if they are dk's goals I want to encourage the decisions that place my child on the trajectory.

5. Lastly, my job is to be the voice of reason and objectivity. This is the hardest part as a parent. I have to be able to look at my child and realistically assess this longshot of a professional dance career. Where does my child stack up against his/her peers? Is he/she getting into the selective SI's are scholarships being offered. Where does dk stack up in class, what are the teachers credentials if the teacher is telling me that dk is talented and has the ability to go all the way, has the teacher taken a student all the way; has the teacher made it? What are my objective indicators that back-up the notion that this is the right path for my child and that I am not encouraging delusional goals.

 

I just saw this link yesterday and feel it actually reenforces my point. Although I hope that my dk will eventually go to college...

 

http://finance.yahoo.com/tech-ticker/james...2CSTRA%2C%5EDJI

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Welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers, sousatzka!!!

 

I have a few thoughts, but the first thing is to just breathe!!!! Take 10 deep breaths and relax for a few minutes.

 

Getting a degree has never been easier, actually. There are many paths to college, and one of those is your local community college, so no worries there- she can always do school!!! It sounds to me though, that you're thinking about getting her scholarships to "a top" college, which can be a different thing. Before we get ahead of ourselves though, let's sort through a few things:

 

You mention all the "tricks" for applying to colleges; do you think that colleges that demand that type of student would be a good fit for your dd? Perhaps she views volunteering as something she could see herself doing when she's older, and can choose a good area of volunteering where she feels she could make a difference.

 

Personally, I wouldn't want to go to a school where the acceptance was based on faking it in, which I believe many parents/kids do. I know of a father who wrote the entrance essay and did the application himself for a kid- and the child was accepted. :D

 

It's all a house of cards and the simple truth is unless she wants to be a doctor, lawyer, scientist, politician, CEO, or professor, it doesn't matter which college gave the degree. Perhaps ask her where her interests might be if she couldn't have a career as a professional ballet dancer? The answer may surprise both of you.

 

Beyond that, if she is interested in dancing professionally, then now is the time to sort through whether she has the potential or not. Have excellent ballet teachers (those who have a record of training dancers who become professional ballet dancers) told her she has the body, musicality, talent, training, dedication, commitment, passion, and mental fortitude to have a pro ballet career? If she does, then why wouldn't we look into homeschooling or having her do some courses online?

 

Many professional dancers have degrees, or work towards getting their degrees while they are dancing. I personally know of 2 who recently did so here. Having a professional ballet career is not the kiss of death for college either. Many dancers applied to colleges and took a deferment, so that is another option.

 

A college that supports and looks for the type of dedication and commitment that dancers must have is the type of college where a dancer would be happiest. :D

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So let's say they do have potential, then what? Even with that potential declared by a qualified professional as described above, it seems hard to sacrifice the full high school education based on a chance or possibility of a career. Assuming that my dd stays at her current studio and is promoted each year, she will have to be at the studio by noon each day by the time she is beginning her sophmore year of high school (the year she turns 16). From what I can tell there aren't any schools in the area that will work with that schedule. So then what? DD is in 7th grade now and we are starting to look at high schools (as the application process starts in the fall).

 

Sousatska- you said that your dk is not doing AP classes, that already puts her on a differnet track.

 

I like this :

"As a parent, one of my jobs is to keep as many options on the table for as long as I can. At this point in time, certain doors have closed to DK, Olympic Swimmer, NBA or NFL star, Tennis Star but a college education and successful career is not one that is on that list. "

The time managment part seems key to keep the important choices available for as long as possible. I'd like to hear even more of these suggestions.

 

I am intrigued with the possibilty of a dance career maybe with a year of jr college and then transferring to a "notable" college when they are 30-something and done dancing....

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Why do you look at it as giving up the full high school education if a child opts to do courses online, homeschool, or take classes through their local college? I have a high school senior in one of my classes who is president of her senior class (in a regular high school), does classes through our local community college during the afternoons, and dances in the evenings. She will be attending a good college in the Fall, then intends to audition for companies after graduation.

 

She is but one of many examples I can point you to who has found a path in high school that enables them to dance at an elite level, but not forgo the college path.

 

One of our current dancers (professional) did their entire college course and received their degree while dancing fulltime. Was it easy? No, but nothing worth doing is.

 

If your definition of success is related directly to income, then how much income do you want your children to earn? Millionaires, billionaires??? What will suffice? Have you spoken with them about whether they define success in that manner? Does every millionaire or billionaire have a college degree from an Ivy league school? Or is it that you all want guarantees that if they become dancers, they will only be famous/rich dancers? Does fame and money automatically equal happiness? How many rich people do you know who are still unhappy and trying to live vicariously through their children?

 

How about rich and famous celebrities? Lindsay Lohan, Charlie Sheen, any NFL player, most of your heirs and heiresses- are they happy? How many dancers who are earning a living, not a rich one, but a living, are happy? Most, if not all.

 

That's what I want for my child- fulfillment. If that means he drives a garbage truck, then so be it.

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I think so much depends on where your child is at school - is that system or that pariticular school going to be flexible enough for your needs. There are so many valid options - home school, residential dance program, regular school with some flexibility, or to stick it out in "regular" school as long as possible. There are many options and you just have to do what makes your dancer happy, try to keep the options open and be realistic (as much as one can when dreams are at stake). There is, as everyone always says on this board, no crystal ball.

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I couldn't agree more with Clara's post. Ultimately, we all want fulfillment for our kids. In my opinion, fulfillment begins today. If the child is happy, great - the future will work itself out, whatever that future is meant to be. If the child is not happy, then things need to change. I believe the child, with the parent's guidance, is in the best position to determine what will make her fulfilled. We parents can help the child learn to listen to herself. If she is stressed and unhappy, well, her body and mood are telling her something - what's going on and how can she correct it? If she is happy, that's a sign she's on the right track for now. As I tell my daughter, it's not my job to make a dancer - it's HER job if that is what she wants. It's my job to guide her in an ongoing quest to be a happy, fulfilled human being.

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Welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers, sousatzka!!!

 

I have a few thoughts, but the first thing is to just breathe!!!! Take 10 deep breaths and relax for a few minutes.

 

Getting a degree has never been easier, actually. There are many paths to college, and one of those is your local community college, so no worries there- she can always do school!!! It sounds to me though, that you're thinking about getting her scholarships to "a top" college, which can be a different thing. Before we get ahead of ourselves though, let's sort through a few things:

 

You mention all the "tricks" for applying to colleges; do you think that colleges that demand that type of student would be a good fit for your dd? Perhaps she views volunteering as something she could see herself doing when she's older, and can choose a good area of volunteering where she feels she could make a difference.

 

Personally, I wouldn't want to go to a school where the acceptance was based on faking it in, which I believe many parents/kids do. I know of a father who wrote the entrance essay and did the application himself for a kid- and the child was accepted. :yucky:

 

It's all a house of cards and the simple truth is unless she wants to be a doctor, lawyer, scientist, politician, CEO, or professor, it doesn't matter which college gave the degree. Perhaps ask her where her interests might be if she couldn't have a career as a professional ballet dancer? The answer may surprise both of you.

 

Beyond that, if she is interested in dancing professionally, then now is the time to sort through whether she has the potential or not. Have excellent ballet teachers (those who have a record of training dancers who become professional ballet dancers) told her she has the body, musicality, talent, training, dedication, commitment, passion, and mental fortitude to have a pro ballet career? If she does, then why wouldn't we look into homeschooling or having her do some courses online?

 

Many professional dancers have degrees, or work towards getting their degrees while they are dancing. I personally know of 2 who recently did so here. Having a professional ballet career is not the kiss of death for college either. Many dancers applied to colleges and took a deferment, so that is another option.

 

A college that supports and looks for the type of dedication and commitment that dancers must have is the type of college where a dancer would be happiest. :thumbsup:

 

 

She has everything you asked as a candidate to be a professional, teacher(s), training, dedication, passion, body and talent. But I have no idea if she stands on a good chance. I don't want her to be locked in a situation when she decides to go to college, but at the same time I don't want her to give up her dream knowing how dedicated she is.

I don't see home schooling or online is possible for he from the reason of money and family etc. She stays on the regular high school, no doubt that her workload will increase. Can she do it? Or should she cut back some practice hours for schoolwork? I've seen a few numbers of girls leaving ballet for preparing college. It was not easy for them. Heartbroken they were.

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Victoria Leigh

sousatzka, I really think that your questions have been very well answered in both Clara 76's post that you quoted above, and by the parents. Yes, her high school work will probably increase. Can she do it? I don't know. How good a student is she, and how well can she prioritize and manage her time? Should she cut back training for schoolwork? Not if her main goal is to become a dancer. That's it in a nutshell.

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I could say lots more, but will limit myself. You sound like yor are unsure if she can handle more school work and more dance. My DD, who is a strong, well organized, dedicated, but by know mean brilliant student, did her best when she was taking a solid academic load, dancing 20 hours a week, and working/performing in the evenings. the times her grades and dance dropped most was when she was the least busy and not forced to prioritize, make decisions, and follow through. Kids come in a variety of fashions, but for mine she did her best when she really had to focus on thinking things through, making decisions, and prioritizing ... which for me are things that are very important for success in life.

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sousatzka, your post brought back many memories of how both my husband and I felt about our own daughter, who also had to juggle a very challenging high school schedule and AP classes with many hours of ballet. One thing that her high school offered, and that may be an option for you, was a program which allowed an early release at lunch time, so that she could dance in the afternoons for her school's highest pre-professional level/student company. As a part of this, our daughter did have to take a few classes online, but these were free in our community and very well run. I just mention this in case your daughter's high school has some flexibility in how they deal with these issues.

FYI, our daughter always knew she wanted to go to college for dance, and she is now a junior at a college conservatory BFA program. However, we know of other dancers who did the same program and went to prestigious colleges (i.e. Stanford) and not as dance majors. So doing the early release for dance did not seem to adversely affect the ability to get into a highly competitive college programs.

Good luck to you and your daughter. It will all work out, even though it might seem unlikely at this time!

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concerned parent

You may want to investigate a high school for the arts. This option, of course, is not for everyone. However, it worked for us. Actually, in our case, my daughter's attitude towards her academics improved dramatically.

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I would have to say that my DD sacrificed a prestigious college (U of Chicago, Washington University in St. Louis, Northwestern) in the interest of ballet. But she did achieve her goal - acceptance at a very prestigious BFA program at a very highly ranked university, but certainly not one of the caliber of the Ivy Leagues. But I am unaware of ANY BFA, conservatory-type program that focus on preparing professional performers that is an Ivy League type school.

 

As we told our DD, that choice was made by her sophomore year of HS when she decided to pursue ballet as a career. She did go to an A-track HS and do Honors and AP work, but did not put in the hours to get straight "As" in that advanced coursework. Her "A" average would not have been good enough when all the students in the advanced coursework were getting averages of 4.3 or 4.5. You can keep college as your Plan B and work toward dancing as Plan A (her plan). But to expect to keep up two Plan As - Ivy League college and dancing in a pre-pro program each evening and weekend, is almost impossible for most students. I know it was for my DD as we required other involvement as well such as Church, Youth Group, volunteer hours. And since there are no Ivy League schools that focus on BFAs in ballet, why try to get there when that time could be spend on dance technique.

 

But I don't regret her choice (and I hope she does not either) as dance brought her great joy and freedom of expression. There are many college paths and they don't all have to be Ivy Leagues.

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Sousatzka - Your DD probably does not NEED the AP classes if she doesn't want them. Most colleges unweighted my DD's GPA anyway. But the classes are available if your DD wants the challenge. If academics and dance are enough for her without taking a killer schedule, there are still many colleges for her if she decides to take that route and not go directly to a company.

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