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More disappointment...


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My 12yodd has been dancing ballet since 5. She dances at a well-respected pre-pro type school that sends grads to well respected intensives and college programs as well as professional dancers. She started intermediate level w/pointe this year, and we thought that would never happen because of evaluations she received in the past. Last years evaluations were all 10's with comments about how improved she was and how hard she works. When she was younger, she struggled with motor planning (trouble with combinations) and core strength. Those areas are much improved with a lot of work and muscle memory kicking in over time! But, she still greatly struggles with turnout and other anatomical issues that she has no control over. She has femoral anteversion. She was diagnosed by an orthopedist and she is pigeon toed still at her age. She also has moderately severe c-curve scoliosis, but has finished her growth spurt and won't be in a brace for it. In the frog position on her tummy she can barely get her feet down at all. She has two length wise splits and almost her straddle, but her knees aren't facing the right way. She has trouble getting her knees straight over her toes, which to me means she's forcing her turnout from her feet. They waited to put her on pointe until she could pass that evaluation, so she must be able to do that some now. Her turnout on pointe is much worse than her turn out in flat. She also has extremely long, thin, flat feet with unusually long toes, but Russian Pointe shoes have helped with that... And her feet/toes are very strong and she can pull up a nice arch. Anyway, I feel like she's destined for disappointment all throughout high school and I'm not sure what to do.


The latest disappointment is the recent Nutcracker auditions. Her class mostly received pointe roles for beginners except for three girls were placed with a lower level class in a character dance role. I still think it is a good role and involves a lot of dance and stage time, but she says it isn't "ballet". She felt it showed that they think she is the worst of the worst because of who she is dancing with. Lots of tears! The artistic director emailed back and said that my daughter really needs to work on her turnout (as well as many kind words)... I think she'll hear this for six more years. She loves ballet and I see the benefits in her fitness level, strength, improvement in coordination, time with girls with similar interests (she is homeschooled with all brothers), perseverance, discipline and dealing with rejection, and love of beautiful music. She really is a special girl in so many ways, I hate to see her sad so often about this.


Can anyone give me any feedback if we are crazy or not to continue on with ballet. She goes for 2 or 2 1/2 hrs.a class 3x week now with several hours of rehearsals a weekend. It will only increase in high school. She doesn't have a goal of dancing in college or professionally - but she does want to progress with the school to dance some of the older pointe roles on stage before graduation. She would never want to quit...

Edited by LNC
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My heart hurts for you and her. My 11dd has some similar challenges and I can see us facing similar struggles in the future. That said - if I am honest with myself - I dont wish a career in dance for my dd and will encourage her to dance for the love of it (and the exercise and the friendships) for as long as she wants - to me end game would be that she can have dance as an activity that will help her get into college one day and maybe dance there. Have you had the conversation with her that it may always be harder for her? I know that to a 12 year old that just equals life isnt fair but maybe it will sink in somewhere and make her more determined but not as discouraged?

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My 13yo dd has had a similar experience wiith one exception - she wants to be a choreographer and open her own dance studio some day.


So her goal is not to be a prima ballerina. That's great because her turn out is not perfect and she is not the best in the class.


But she understands she is 13! She has never been the best in her class, but if she just looks at herself, her progress has been amazing. Who knows where she will be in another 4 years when it is time to audition for dance college or a dance company.


In your daughter's case, her goal isn't even to be a dancer so I see no reason why she should quit something she loves. I understand how horrible it feels to see others advance, but that just means that when she does advance, she will appreciate it even more. And she will advance if she just continues to do what she is doing - taking classes working hard and loving dance.

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I feel for you, I really do, but I have to say I'd like her to think about all of the children who did not get parts in Nutcracker.... even if your school happens to be one that casts all children, she needs to be proud of the fact that they felt they needed her for whatever part she won.


Disappointment is a part of life, and the earlier children learn how to handle it the better. Perhaps have her read this sticky: Coping with Rejection


Now on to her rotation issues. True, dancers who are "pigeon-toed" probably will not make it as a professional Classical Ballet dancer. But, all dancers need a good foundation of ballet, so if dance as a career is something she's remotely considering, then it would be a good idea for her to go as far as she can. We don't know what the future will bring and she may end up really wanting to be a Modern dancer, or a vetrinarian!

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It sounds like it's a wise move for her to not have a pointe role for Nut this year. Slow boil will help her to be safe and sure. Rehearsals as you know can be very draining and it's probably best not to push her pointe to hard yet. I've seen many dancers that have stronger talent for character and those that really do not. It may be a vote of confidence in your DD's expression and musicality that she's be selected for this role. She may be sharing that role so that she can "carry" it if the other dancer is less talented. I know it sounds Polly Anna but try to see the positives. As long as your DD enjoys ballet and you can support her in it, keep going.

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Sometimes it's just important to breathe in, breathe out and repeat. I'm not sure how somewhere along the way we, as parents, got caught up into ballet as being a career goal before it's a career goal. With other activities, we seem to understand that they have cycles and as long as the child enjoys them and they provide an outlet that there's nothing wrong with this activity being the one of choice. Let's say for a moment, that your child was a boy and he loved playing basketball, but the doctors had told him he would be 4'5" at best. Would dad automatically dis-enroll him from the rec basketball team or would he allow sport to be an important part of the child's life simply because it's a good idea to have a strong outlet? Sure, dad might secretly hope for a HUGE growth spurt. But he wouldn't throw the baby out with the bath water.


There is alot to be learned from participation in ballet even if there is no career path in one's future. There are many things to be learned from participation in Nutcracker even if one never gets to perform the role of Sugar Plum. So, best for us to leave it up to the child. In most cases, they will guide us on which direction to take. If casting and such begins to play games with confidence, then certainly a detour is desired. But a different child may love ballet all the way through high school without having aspirations of becoming a dancer and there is nothing wrong with that either.

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