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Ballet Talk for Dancers

highschool and ballet


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During her high school career she took honors courses, 1 AP course, sang in an honors choir, went to the prom, etc... At the same time she danced 6 days a week (7 during performance weeks) and had many, many late nights. Her choice was to have good local pre-pro training and the high school experience at the same time. She was very tired, but also successful!


Maybe I should edit what I said earlier-- instead of 2 out of 3, you can only have 3 of the 4: Pre-Professional Training, Strong Academics, Active Social Life, and 8 Hours of sleep every night.


I had an experience with sleep deprivation in college that messed up my life for a couple of years. Because of that, I am a "Sleep Nazi" and insist on 8-9 hours of sleep each night for my son, even if that means unfinished homework. I'm just weird that way :)

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My 14 year old DD hangs out with mostly (99%) dance friends. She does not have as much in common with academic friends. This is sad (?) because she has several academic friends that go all the way back to pre school (but none of them dance as high calibur). I used to worry that she needed a more normal life outside of dance, but decided that as long as she is happy, it does not matter if she only hangs out with other dancers. I guess what I'm trying to ask is, is it healthy that DD only wants to hang out with other dancers? BTW, I too am having a difficult time deciding if we made the right choice for DD to attend a very exclusive and challenging high school academic program. Especially when all DD wants to do is dance :unsure:

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Not to turn this thread into a different topic but careful about the "99% of friends are at dance" thing - that can turn on you quickly. It looked like we were headed in that direction but the older they get the more difficult the social situation can be at dance. At 14, DDs just finished a very mixed year at their studio - dance-wise it was great but the social environment became very toxic. Soooo hopping off that tangent...


I'm very glad to hear that others have found the same need to balance the "do it all" challenge. DDs have been homeschooled since the end of seventh grade - a mix of academic and dance reasons but dance keeps us on this path because I just don't think we could give up the flexibility and the sleep. A life outside of dance is important especially since they aren't in a brick and mortar school. They have a close group of non-dance friends from elementary school that they try to see as frequently as possible. This group is truly a blessing to have in their lives.

My kids are bright but they want to dance so I'm trying to prepare them for as many paths as possible but I'm being realistic that the traditional high school to 4 year college route is not their desire. DH is actually more on board with this than I am but I'm coming around to it more than I thought I would. I have a degree (two, in fact) and a job that I'm good at that pays me well but I'm not fulfilled by it. How wonderful would it be for my kids to try to pursue something they are truly passionate about?


So the planner in me tries to keep as many doors open as possible but they have to decide which door to walk through when the times comes.


And we are a very unhappy bunch on little sleep!

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My DS attended a residental preprofessional school for the past two years and spent most of the summer at SIs. So, most of his friends are dance friends. During breaks at home he spends time with non-dance friends. This has worked out well and he has made some very close friends.

Academically we homeschooled him and he graduated a year early but his home schooling was not exactly college prep. This is what we decided we needed to do so he could pursue his dream of dancing professionally. Everyone's path is different, we did what seemed right at the time.

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Guest Blossoming ballerina

We homeschool too.

We are doing the bare minimum at present. Can't fit anymore in with ballet hours. Although we are tailoring her program to include dance related subjects.

Dd isn't interested in uni or college. We are still evolving with this one

She too has her non dance friends which ar her grounding and her dance peers.

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I homeschooled DS when he was young, but since junior high he has attended a small private school (very small-- just 90 kids in grades 3-12). It has regular school hours M-F, but the school caters to competitive athletes and gifted kids, so there is a lot of flexibility and wiggle-room in the schedule. No one bats an eye is he has to leave early for a private lesson, miss a week for YAGP, etc. As long as the school work gets done, everyone is happy.


I share this because if a dance family wants the flexibility of homeschooling but homeschooling isn't a good choice for the family, I would recommend searching out very small private schools. They are not as easy to locate as the large schools, but they are out there. A lot of the things people homeschool for (individual attention, flexible schedules, etc) exist with these schools, so they can be a great middle ground between school and homeschool for many people.


My son's school uses traditional classroom instruction, but I've seen small schools that use online instruction. If you're considering online schooling but you work full time or your child would prefer to work in the company of other kids or with a live teacher facilitating the experience, then you might want to check out such a school.

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In my community, I see a large number of kids pushed into AP classes by their parents. It's almost a social status thing. Personally, I think AP classes are over rated. Kids in our schools have to make the top 10% of their classes to get into the top colleges. You have to be a near genius who is totally devoted to academics to make it into the top 10% at one of our high schools. My DD is very smart, but she is not interested in academics. If we forced her down that road, I think she would be unhappy and resentful. When our kids were little, we decided that we would support our children in whatever career that they wanted to pursue. It's not easy now that we have a DS pursuing film and a DD pursuing dance. Like any other parent, we worry. That being said, I wouldn't have it any other way. There are many routes to success and happiness, and our kids have chosen to take the path less traveled by. Perhaps it will make all the difference. DD is going into her junior year, but she is leaving our local high school in order to attend a charter school. This will allow her to get to her studio by noon. After sitting down with the school director, we even mapped out a plan that will allow her to graduate half a year early (just in time for audition season). If she doesn't get into a trainee program or land a contract out of high school, she will continue training at her studio and take community college classes, or go into a dance program at a college. That's the back up plan. So be it. If it takes her several years to get a degree while pursuing dance, then it takes several years. As long as she is happy and fulfilled. There are many options in dance -teaching, choreography, owning a studio, etc. She would like to become Pilates certified which is another option. I hate it when I see parents push their kids in a direction that suits the parent more than the child. DD might never become a professional dancer, but I won't have her live her life with regrets because I tried to force her to be something she didn't want to be. I will do everything in my power to give her the training she needs to have a crack at success. College entrance doesn't require you to be 18. You can attend college at any age. You can only dance professionally while you're young and strong.

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I find this entire thread so refreshing, supportive, and empowering. Thank you to all who have taken the time to post, your thoughts and advice are most helpful.

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So, for those whose children are homeschooled/doing online schooling, do you find that there are times when your DK is not 'keeping up' with the normal schedule of brick and mortar? I stress myself out thinking my DK may not be able to start the 'next school year' in line with the brick-and-mortar school calendar. I don't want him to fall behind timeline-wise, but then I think since you can do the work in 12 months vs. 9 mo (regular school), it should all work out in the end.


There are times when it's just too hard to complete schoolwork--too tired/exhausted from ballet, so I can't push for too much. I get the feeling others are in similar situations.


Just looking to 'commiserate!'

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My DS is switching this year as a Part-time high school dancer (half-day at an arts high school, half day at the ballet), to a full-time dance student. He is finishing his senior year in a public online high school in our district. I have allowed him to do this because he is and never has been a strong student academically. His talent lies in dance. His plan is to go on to conservatory. Where he goes from there is up to him. I refuse to put pressure on him. he gets enough of that at the ballet. His friends are mostly dancers, either from school or the ballet. Although they are pretty much all girls. I am happy that he seems well-rounded.

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It is most definitely not about pressuring these dancers to head down some pre-conceived parent-driven path. Each student is different, and what works for one will absolutely not work for another. As a parent you know your child, and you already know "what makes them tick." Actually I love the fact that there are many paths to the same destination! How uninteresting life would be if we all had to be identical!


My role as DD's mom has been to become and remain knowledgeable about all the options open to her, so that she can then make the best choices. We have spent a good deal of time researching academic options along the way, as well as researching SI's, ballet companies, new cities, other dancers' career paths, etc... all of which has helped her choose what is working for her currently. We look ahead to what lies before her, but we also have learned to take it a day at a time.


Stress from either comparisons to others' academic choices or their ballet choices will NOT help your child make good decisions. Calm, informed parenting will, or at least that's how it has been for us.

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Great to hear and excellent advice! Sometimes it's hard to ignore the 'noise' around you (or in your own head). Thanks for the added wisdom Mom2DCEC!

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I'm glad this subject got "bumped" up! I don't think I read this thread a couple years ago, but it is now relevant and very helpful. DS is going into his sophomore year and his future plans are definitely on my mind right now!!


I've often heard that when it comes to serious training, you can only have 2 of the 3: Pre-Professional Training, Strong Academics, Active Social Life. It simply seems impossible to have all 3! For my DS, strong academics fall by the wayside. He loves to train hard in ballet, but he is not willing to give up his social life (girlfriend, non-dancer friends, school dances, parties, etc). I have a strong academic background (I am a school principal!), so this was very challenging for me to accept. *My* preference would be for him to back off the ballet training or his social life; however, ultimately it is his life and I cannot make these decisions for him.


As a result of his decision, he is following a minimum high school plan-- one that will get him into a 2 year community college but probably not a 4 year university right away. This allows him to have a break period during the school day, so he can get as much homework done as possible. This is essential because he otherwise gets very little homework completed because of his afternoon dance schedule and weekend social schedule. It also means that he will only have 2 credits remaining his senior year-- an English and Social Studies class-- and if he finds himself in a full-time training position his senior year (trainee, 2nd company, etc), he will be able to complete those 2 credits in an online high school setting.


I find myself less panicky about his future when he and I both know the plan:


Plan A: He moves into a professional career (paid or last stages of training) right after high school-- he will put off college until his career is finished. Hopefully, he'll pick up some college credits here and there as he is able.


PLAN B: He is still training to be a professional but isn't yet ready right after high school. He'll continue his training while attending community college part time or full time as his training schedule allows.


PLAN C: He does not try to become professional (injury, changes his mind, realization that he doesn't have what it takes, etc). He will attend community college after high school for one or two years then transfer to a 4 year college to complete his degree.

Thank you for that post. I too am in the same situation. My DS is going to be a Sophmore this year and he has chosen the same 2 out of 3. I am loving your Plan A-C, I am going to adopt the same plan. My DS has expressed that he does not want to go to college, he just wants to go right into a company, Trainee, etc right of High School as well.


My question is how did you come to the decision to do the Minimum Graduation Requirement? What about Foreign Language? I have gone back and forth about doing the same. I'm uncertain about putting him through the extra classes to meet the Recommended Graduation Requirement, knowing that he is going to struggle and he's not going to a 4-year university right away, if ever. Our plan for him has been community college for some time now, even before Ballet.


Thanks in advance for any feedback.

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keep as many doors open as possible but they have to decide which door to walk through when the times comes.


This has always been my theme!


Dd has been homeschooled since grade 7. It started for academic reasons and continues for both academic and ballet related reasons. We started with an on-line school but now only use an on-line school for one class.


As far as keeping to a traditional timeline as Nymom mentioned, that has varied from year to year.


She was able to accelerate when we first started, condensing grades 7, 8 and 9 into about 2 years. It's fortunate that she was able to do so because she has one course that she will not finish in 12 months this year- the only course she is taking through an on-line school! I just called to get an extension. She has been working on it several nights a week during her current SI, but there is no wifi in the dorms at her next program. I was upset about her not finishing on time at first, but it is what it is. She likes to work in a block fashion, one or two courses at a time, and really did not start this course until the spring. Spring was very difficult between her first lead role and some paid work that took up several weeks (while still attending her normal dance classes). So, here we are. It's ok. It will get done in the end and that's all that matters.


Our college plan is a little unusual. She has already started taking on-line college courses (was thrilled to see a professional ballerina she has followed for a while in one of her classes) and plans to continue. (BTW, we have also opted out of the AP game.. it seems to be the norm in our area for kids to take AP everything all the time). Dd does not think she will be ready to audition for companies at the end of what would traditionally be the end of high school. We are pretty much thinking she will go with plan B above and continue in the college program she is now already in, taking 1-2 courses a semester.


It's hard to wrap my brain around the fact that not only has she "given up" the traditional high school experience, she is not going to have the traditional college experience either.

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