danceintheblood Posted November 29, 2011 Report Share Posted November 29, 2011 When I first discovered this board dd was 11, had been identified as 'very talented' and I was deperately trying to find answers to a million questions. Many times moderators expressed the hope that parents who had been through it all would come back and share their experiences, so I thought I would. When I first found this board I was a real regular. I was "oh my gosh, oh my gosh, my daughter is so talented - what should I do?" I can laugh at myself now, despite my good intentions at the time. I loved the good advice and also the many robust conversations that took place. So, I followed (most of) the advice given - "get the best training that is available - x y and z classes are optimum etc etc". Dd became 12, 13 14, 15 and was taking classes three days, four days, five days, six. She remained at her school where she was given good training. While she loved dancing because 'it made her happy' she was not ready to make a commitment to this as a career - as she said "I'm only young - I don't know if this is what I want to do forever". And she didn't make this decision until she was almost 16. We really had no idea of the bigger picture. She had for some time been the most talented dancer at her school but we really didn't know what was out in the bigger world. At 16 she left home and moved interstate to attend a full-time vocational (pre-pro) school - one that had great respect and had a reputation for turning out wonderful young dancers. And there were incredible young dancers there! Some had been in full-time training since the age of 13 or 14 and they were technically and sometimes artistically well beyond what we had ever seen. Dd had to remind herself constantly that it was not about getting there younger, faster etc but about bulding a long lasting sustainable career. But it's not always easy when you're in a big pond of talent. Within two weeks of arriving dd had her first major injury - a disc problem caused by hypermobility of the lower back. Eventually it resolved and she began to make great progress. It wasn't only her back that caused her problems initially, but having to adapt to a completely different posture, approach, five and a half days a week that required a greater level of stamina and the dreaded comparisons to students who were 'so much better'. Toward the end of her first year dd had more injuries - the muscle that warps around the achilles for three months, then hip flexors, then a major back injury again - herniated disc. By June this year she had spent 10 of the 17 months in the full-time ballet program injured, dealing with pain, limited capacity and a level of depression. This wasn't how it was meant to be once you 'made it' into such a reputable progam. Everything falling apart. Besides all of this, we found that there was always a small select group of students that fitted the principal's preconceptions of who 'had it' and who did not. Those not in this group tended to be either ignored or insulted - and if in the latter group this could be very cutting. Yet the school continued to put out good dancers. Dd had teachers who were very supportive and believed in her, but it was difficult for her to rise above the principal's attitude, and 18 months into her training I saw a dancer who had less confidence than when she had first arrived. There was also an issue with insisting that she continue to prticipate in classes at some level, when the medical and physio advice was that she did absolutely no training for at least two months. So after much soul searching she moved to another school, a new semi-pro program, capped at 12 students and completely attuned to bringing her back very slowly from injury. It has been the best move, many small issues have been identified and remedied and I am seeing dd's confidence grow again and her technique really solidifying. So my big lesson out of this is, despite your child having everything going for them IT IS NOT ALWAYS EASY!!! Anything can happen, even though you think it won't. All the talent in the world can be beaten down despite your best efforts as a parent - and you might not even see it happening! Because all things going to plan you will have got the hell out of the driver's seat by then! And your child WON'T always tell you what's going on, because they want to deal with it and 'tough it out' and not complain. And let's not even go to how on earth am I going to afford it! I now live with my mother (who has frontotemporal dementia) in her house, and as awful as it is, I couldn't afford to support dd's training otherwise on a single income (as her father passed away in 2008). It is currently costing at least $30,000 a year and I pray for the day she gets that first company contract (or frankly, any job that pays money!). Despite a very tough year, dd still wants to dance and I figure her resilience has been tested to the limits. Her new teacher is very excited about her future and is incredibly supportive. And most importantly dd is excited again. I just don't believe there are many careers that are so tough and at such a young age. My advice to parents of young children now is "as soon as thy start to get good at something - pull them out - say you're broadening their experiences"! Tough, costly, heart wrenching - and yet, perverse though it may seem to some people, I can't think of anywhere I'd rather dd be than in the studio and on the stage. Because ballet has captured her heart in a way that's impossible to describe. As she once said to her father "when I dance, it's like I'm not there anymore, I just become the dance". Quote Link to comment
Join the conversation
You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.