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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Getting caught up in the journey


Mousling

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Just as an aside - does anyone else find themselves having to really check-in with themselves routinely to make sure that their dancing child's aspirations remain their child's aspirations, and don't accidentally morph into "our" dreams? Even though dd is so young, I find it really easy to get swept up in this. One of my weaknesses is I am very susceptible to flattery, and now as a parent, I've discovered that my susceptibility to flattery goes double when it is aimed at my child. :D Besides being really firm with yourselves, does anyone have additional hints and tips for staying grounded, and keeping your kids grounded, while still encouraging and supporting them?Just as an aside - does anyone else find themselves having to really check-in with themselves routinely to make sure that their dancing child's aspirations remain their child's aspirations, and don't accidentally morph into "our" dreams? Even though dd is so young, I find it really easy to get swept up in this. One of my weaknesses is I am very susceptible to flattery, and now as a parent, I've discovered that my susceptibility to flattery goes double when it is aimed at my child. :blushing: Besides being really firm with yourselves, does anyone have additional hints and tips for staying grounded, and keeping your kids grounded, while still encouraging and supporting them?

 

*topic split from another so that the new conversation could continue.

 

 

I am personally NOT susceptible to flattery, but if you say nice things about my child, I do melt. It's called being a mom. :)

 

And regarding aspirations, the one thing I have always told my own DD (who in some very small way works with me, though mainly with our AD) is this: "the minute you decide that this is not your thing anymore, let me know and I will support you one hundred percent." If (when) she does hang up her shoes - either tomorrow out of lack of interest, or many, many years from now retiring after a satisfying and accomplished career (or any scenario in between) I know I can be true to my word, because I have trained myself over many years of understanding that she is not me. My job is love this beautiful human being and her job is to become who she is.

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What I have found, and obviously many more parents before me, is, if your child decides that they have had enough ballet, you are still invested in it. Sometimes through your child, your own love for ballet, or simply because you have invested so much time, money, thought and energy in the whole process. So even though we support their choices, not our choices, it is still a hard process for us when their dreams/goals change. In fact, there is a whole thread devoted to "Moving On & Letting Go."

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So even though we support their choices, not our choices, it is still a hard process for us when their dreams/goals change. In fact, there is a whole thread devoted to "Moving On & Letting Go."

 

I just read through that entire thread you mentioned. You are absolutely right, of course.

 

Whether it is ballet or basketball (you wouldn't believe the number of boys I know whose dads seriously believe they are training future NBA players and spend as much money and time as we do on ballet - same for hockey, ice skating, baseball - camps, clinics, traveling teams, personal coaching), there may come a time when a parent who has invested so much money and time in the dreams of one child (especially when there are others at home) will find it hard to accept and adjust when that dream changes Your life changes as much as your child's. I am not comparing it to death, but it is in a way. You have to adjust to a new normal.

 

I just find it better to file that thought in the back of my mind for later (or sooner - one never knows - but it's good to be psychologically prepared) while encouraging my DD as long as she wants and as long as we are able to financially.

 

I have seen dancers come and go - and also many, many who never get past the audition, so I know how real it is for many who have trained almost their entire lives for an end goal that remains elusive.

Edited by Mousling
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Guest coupe66
Just as an aside - does anyone else find themselves having to really check-in with themselves routinely to make sure that their dancing child's aspirations remain their child's aspirations, and don't accidentally morph into "our" dreams? Even though dd is so young, I find it really easy to get swept up in this. One of my weaknesses is I am very susceptible to flattery, and now as a parent, I've discovered that my susceptibility to flattery goes double when it is aimed at my child. :) Besides being really firm with yourselves, does anyone have additional hints and tips for staying grounded, and keeping your kids grounded, while still encouraging and supporting them?

 

 

I think it is VERY important to keep a realistic perspective when it comes to separating your child's dreams from what at times may seem to be morphing into your dreams. I think when you have a child who indicates an intense desire to do a certain thing and follow a certain path, any small indicator or encouragement along the way to fulfilling that child's dream makes us - as moms and dads who love that child - feel a sense of hopefulness and and at times satisfaction for them and their achievements. That said, I think one of the best ways to keep a sense of perspective is to read as many threads at BT4D as possible, including those that you may think are not directly related to your dk's current experience/age. It is by reading those threads that you will encounter the larger ballet world, and what happens there.

 

I think one of the most important things I have learned as I have traversed this path so far is that talent often is not enough to ensure a professional ballet career. I wish that it were, but it just isn't that easy. I had actually started a thread here several weeks ago regarding YAGP and the success of those who win at that particular competition. Ironically, since posting that thread, I have become aware of several dancers who did well at YAGP over the years, but are currently unable to find jobs. It has been a real eye opener for me, to say the least. So, while having an instructor or other knowledgeable person tell you that your dk is talented is a wonderful thing to hear, but it isn't going to guarantee that dk a contract anywhere down the line.

 

Finally, because the career of a professional ballet dancer is relatively brief, it is important for that young person to have some other skills, interests, and/or education in order to be able to transition into another career during their early to mid adulthood. Very few professional ballet dancers are able to dance professionally into their 40's, and many stop or are forced to stop due to injuries or other life circumstances in their 20's or 30's. Keeping that in mind also helps give a more realistic sense to all of this.

 

Hope this helps!

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That was a wonderful post coupe66, thank you!

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I agree with all that others have written on this thread, especially coupe66. Because I am also in the arts, I find it hard in some ways to separate myself from DD's dream, and easier in other ways. Because I know how competitive the arts are, and how hard it is to succeed, every outcome for DD, whether good or bad, is magnified in my mind. Fortunately, to this point, she has had many more examples of the good outcomes, but I know that that can change at any time.

I also teach many adults who have come back to study the arts after "giving up" on their dream when they were at the age (late teens/ college age) where my DD is now. I see the regret and the passion for it, and how hard it is now for them to catch up and succeed, but they often do. Due to physical constraints and aging, I don't think that dancers could go back at a later age and have a career. So, this causes me to support DD as much as I can now, while it is her dream and she is at the age where things are still possible. But, I also see the people who have the career in the arts and have grown tired of the effort for low pay, the politics, the competition and cattiness, etc. For those reasons, if DD no longer wants this for herself, I will understand and let my dreams for her follow her own new dreams for herself.

Edited to add: coupe66 pointed out that she knows YAGP participants who did well there but now can't find jobs. While we know many YAGP participants who have found jobs, I would add that we know many who have never done YAGP and are finding jobs, so, at least for now, while YAGP is not yet the expected norm, there is hope for those who don't participate, and hope for those who do but do not win or place there.

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Very helpful and very much along the lines of my own thinking.. . It's so hard to work so hard as a parent to try to forge the way forge your child and then as a child he/she legitimately will change and grow. . . As soon as you figure them out they grow and develop and dang it that's the way it's supposed to be.

Exhausting and exasperating. . but richly rewarding ;)

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I'm kind of the opposite. In addition to ballet, DD is gifted in science and my dream for her would be to stay near home, go to university and pledge the family sorority, and become a world renowned surgeon. But, we don't get to pick our kids' passions. I'm just now starting to buy into her dreams to become a ballerina. (But secretly I keep thinking that she can channel her dance interest and become a world renowned orthopedist specializing in dance medicine or such.)

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I think one of the most important things I have learned as I have traversed this path so far is that talent often is not enough to ensure a professional ballet career. I wish that it were, but it just isn't that easy. I had actually started a thread here several weeks ago regarding YAGP and the success of those who win at that particular competition. Ironically, since posting that thread, I have become aware of several dancers who did well at YAGP over the years, but are currently unable to find jobs. It has been a real eye opener for me, to say the least. So, while having an instructor or other knowledgeable person tell you that your dk is talented is a wonderful thing to hear, but it isn't going to guarantee that dk a contract anywhere down the line.

 

Finally, because the career of a professional ballet dancer is relatively brief, it is important for that young person to have some other skills, interests, and/or education in order to be able to transition into another career during their early to mid adulthood. Very few professional ballet dancers are able to dance professionally into their 40's, and many stop or are forced to stop due to injuries or other life circumstances in their 20's or 30's. Keeping that in mind also helps give a more realistic sense to all of this.

 

Hope this helps!

 

Thank for this, coupe66. It is a good and sobering reminder.

 

Your mention of encouraging other interests in the dancer, reminded of something I have recently started doing, which so far seems to be helping me gain distance between my daughter's dreams and my own. Dd's passion for ballet has actually rekindled my own love of dance, and I have started taking classes of my own (not ballet), at an entirely different studio while she's at class.

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I find that once or twice a year I have the conversation with my daughter - where she sees herself going. If this path is still the one she wants to follow, etc. We have had this conversation on a regular basis probably since she was 10. In the beginning it would come up when she seemed frustrated or dissatisfied and I would ask - "this is still YOUR dream, right? I don't want you making decisions based on what you think I want you to do. This is YOUR dream and you need to direct it where YOU want to go." And she really HAS. Her dreams have taken her farther than I could have even chosen for her at this point. Now she is almost 15 and the conversation comes up in a different context - like when we are weighing options for summer or for the next school year. But I always end the conversation the same way. That if she ever decided that this is not what she wants to just let me know. I do not mind the sacrifice and expense while she is following her dreams - but I have let her know that it wouldn't be worth it if it came to the point where it was no longer her passion or something that she loves. I think the conversation works - she did approach me last year and ask to attend public HS even though she was really nervous about asking and afraid I would be upset (we were cyberschooling at the time). But I was totally fine with her decision and I think my reaction (or lack of) paved the way to make it easier to approach me. Mind you, dd decided to NOT go to the local public school in the end - but again - that was a decision she made in light of changes and opportunities that arose over the summer. It is very rewarding helping a child to direct their own life in a way that makes them happy. I wouldn't have it any other way. ;)

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Hi - I have been lurking here for a few months and decided it was time to chime in as this thread struck a chord. My dd is about to turn 11 - she started ballet about a 1.5 years ago. She is in an RAD program. She started with level one at 9, took the level two exam last month and takes levels 3 and 4 during the week - her instructor has indicated that she may elect to take exams 3 and 4 next spring if she wants to and to go to level 5 as her reach class so long as she also takes level 4 during the week and the RAD 3 and 4 classes on Fridays. Depending on the time of year (RAD exam prep class now over for the year) - she takes 2-4 classes per week. She absolutely loves it. Her instructor is wonderful with the girls but is hard to read as far as how dd is doing I am assuming since my dd is progressing class level wise (her goal is to catch up with her peers age-wise) - she is doing well. I am hoping her exam eval will give me some more insight.

 

Back to topic matter - dd is currently obsessed and I feel like I enable that somewhat (and join her in it). I ordered her Pointe magazine which she devours along with tons of ballet fiction (based on recs from these boards) that reads in her free time. She and I started surfing summer intensives and we actually went to one late audition to see what it was like - she did not get in which was disappointing but not at all surprising given her limited training. I asked for feedback from the audition and was told that she did not have the vocabulary or experience level where she would be able to thrive but that they hoped to see her in future auditions (now they may say that to everyone but it seemed like a positive thing).

 

I am torn between fueling her interest versus trying to redirect. Given that we don't really know if she has potential (and maybe you cant tell at this point?) - I don't want to set her up for disappointment. That said - from everything I have read - persistance and love of ballet seem to go a long way. DD seems to have a "ballet body" though is not terribly flexible as far as I can tell. She and I were on the CPYB webstie the other day as that is a summer program I would like to see her consider for next year. When I came home from work - she had gotten her new Pointe mag and had torn the CPYB ad out and left it on the counter . . .

 

I know nothing about the dance world other than what I have learned from these boards - but there is a fine line between educating yourself so you can be a better parent advocate and joining your dd in her obsession. Trying to find that balance!

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Welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers, Wolfsb! It sounds like you have a daughter who is quite involved, but it's good that you are trying to find the balance, while also enjoying her selection of ballet. :thumbsup:

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I am torn between fueling her interest versus trying to redirect. Given that we don't really know if she has potential (and maybe you cant tell at this point?) - I don't want to set her up for disappointment.

 

Wolfsb - Personally I think as parents it is OK to "enable" our children's interests as you put it, even if the road ahead is bumpy. It sounds as though your DD is aware of the struggles ahead and still wants to pursue her dream. As long as she has a supportive family to be there through the triumphs - and the tears - she should be grounded enough to make the decision for herself. As for redirecting her intersts, just let her know that it's fine with you if she doesn't succeed in her dream and you will love her no matter what. Even if she never becomes a principal, she will be happier doing something she loves and being good at it than doing something that she's ambivalent about and being great at it.

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Interesting thread!

I agree that finding a balance is something that needs to be looked at on a regular basis. I'm still at the other end, trying to figure out what it means to study dance seriously, such that I can best support my DD. When I skim the other parent board (for dancers over 13), it frankly overwhelms me the extent the dancers and their families have to invest in terms of time and money by that point. I really just want for my daughter to enjoy dance right now without the worries about what comes down the road later in life. For the moment, she is the one pushing me for more classes and such, leaving my husband and I to outweigh the costs and the benefits.

I also think it is fine to foster an appreciation of dance. My daughter has started to attend performances of professional dance companies with my husband and I. Earlier this month, we went to see the Joffrey Ballet touring company and she adored it. I think it is great to appreciate the arts, regardless if you are on the stage or in the audience.

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  • 1 month later...

Can't help but add my two cents! After two years as a parent of a SAB student, I can say that balance is very hard! One of the reasons I love this school is the program is designed to step up involvement slowly. For example, first year was twice a week for one hour, second year was three times a week for 1 1/2 hours each, and next year they add a day. Chances to perform are based on age and technique. The school actively discourages SI for students younger than 12, they feel that young bodies need to grow, play and develop. You hear out of the teachers "it takes many years to make a dancer". Having said that I see everyday parents who have lost complete touch with reason! Pushing to have their children placed in higher levels, signing them up for more classes at other schools and putting immense pressure on their children. I mean, is it ever a good idea to sell your house, move your whole family just so your child (under age 12!)MIGHT get a better role in Nutcracker?! What if that child has an injury? What if they change their mind? My daughter knows that I will help her with HER dream, but I remind her that there is a huge world out there and any time this is no longer fun she can change her mind. In some ways the long commute to class is a godsend, it gives us the opportunity to talk and figure things out. Having a talented child (I think) requires the parent to park the ego at the door! I am happy to be in her shadow, but I think this is harder for some. :)

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