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Ballet Talk for Dancers

The journey


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Twinkle Mom

Mobadt, you are not alone. When reading your words, I wondered if you were speaking of my DD. Except for the family life issues, the words articulate exactly what I have been thinking. It is indeed, "extremely difficult to walk that fine line between encouragement and pragmatism."

Thank you for sharing. :flowers:

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Mobadt, I just have to agree, and comment, as well, that at these advanced levels of dance training, so many types of variables for outcome at a given time arise that it seems the more we learn, the less we know. That is so worrisome for parents who just want their children to make choices that will bring them joy and validation. And as we see them growing up before our eyes during these training levels and be so soon beyond our grasp, it takes quite a leap of faith and adds a lot of sleep deprivation to our existence! For all who see their children through something they love and work so hard for, here's a pat on the back and a high five for continuing to support it while being unable to see through the always thickening fog! :flowers:

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My dd at age 13 was in a classroom where the teacher was asking the students about their future plans. The teacher knew I was a lawyer so she said to my dd in front of the class, "oh your mom probably wants you to become a lawyer." (She is a very good reader and debater.)


She piped up immediately, "no, she wants me to skip collegeand teach kids ballet in China." Dd said the teacher wasn't quiet sure what to do with that and moved on to someone else.


I often read job posting on-line and this one caught my eye. I shared the information with dd just a few days before this episode so it was fresh in her mind.


I do want dd to have a good education but I do worry about high college loan debts. Even with scholarship money and savings, it will still be a lot of debt. Tuition is crazy. We are preparing her for SATs and she will apply to colleges. But I do agree sometimes with the old adage "youth is wasted on the young." To be a young dancer without debt (rent is tough, rent and a student loan is tougher) sounds like a grand adventure. If she truly loves to dance, why not dance for as long as possible?

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Mobadt, we are struggling, too. I don't have any words of wisdom to offer, and others have already done so well with their words, so I am just sending a cyber-hug. It's so hard. People who don't have children in ballet will never know how "needle-in-a-haystack" getting a ballet job is. I'm grateful for those of you here who do know and do support.

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Thanks so much Twinkle Mom, Marigold, and pointeprovider for all the cyber love. :wub: I give it right back to you. :flowers:


I think the best we can do besides being able to speak frankly on this board! and talk it all out, is to not overreact. I have sat a few more days and let my emotions calm. Everything that happens, does so for a reason. It is good to have so much feedback to go on, rather than none at all. It only serves to confirm that it is a subjective world and as such, we should remember one opinion is not everyone's. Also, feedback is just that. It's what you do with it that is positive or negative.

So thanks all for participating in the continuing grooming of dancers and their families. There is no better therapy! :yes:

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I've been off-line for a few days but see that this seems to be a successful audition season for many bt4d families! As I read through, I couldn't help but feel that there were folks out there who are struggling and I know it's hard. It wasn't until about this time last year that our dd received the contract that she was looking for so for those still looking, please know that spots do open late in the season and sometimes, they are the best. For those who feel that the struggle is just too great and filled with heartbreak, I also send you a cyber hug. I think that each dancer has their own threshold for moving on (and eventually, they all must move on from performing). For some economic reality hits, for others it's injury, and for some they just want to do something else. As hard as it is for the dancer, it seems harder for parents. After all, we have nurtured not only the dream, but the person. So, no matter what part of the journey your dancer is on, be proud that you've nurtured such focused individuals who have music and artistry in the very fiber of their being. Celebrate the person and the journey!

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This thread should be packaged and sold - it is so excellent! Thanks to all who share the experiences, thoughts and feelings of their own unique journey.

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swanchat, you are so right. Thank you for the reminder that sometimes, even at this seemingly late point in the season, good things are still possible. I don't yet know (and, believe me, I thank God often that we haven't yet officially had to discover this firsthand) whether the end of the dream is harder for the dancer or for the parent, but you might be right. I think it's just that we love them so much, and no matter who else ever loves them or doesn't love them, we loved them first and always will, and it hurts so much when others don't. But, it's probably the most subjective field there is, except maybe acting or modeling. That makes the victories very special and precious, but it makes the heartbreaks and rejections so bad, too. I am very grateful for all of you here, for the understanding and advice, and for just knowing that others do understand. I hope we have many more happy reports in the weeks and months ahead.

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There are many thoughts and feelings I can relate to here. My DD, like so many, stepped onto this path and discovered a "need" to dance, and years later she is still saying that. Many days I can't figure out how or why. I think it is safe to say that all dancers, by the time they are into their high school years, have experienced ups and downs, and as I observe those I wonder how they have found the strength to handle them. The ups and downs I have dealt with in life have at least been and felt tangible because nearly all of them have been what I consider to be black and white situations. I have two other children who've always been heavily engaged in sports and yet I find it easier to stay emotionally disengaged even while remaining alongside them as they experience wins, losses, frustration, injuries, disappointments. In fact, somehow I never feel challenged to monitor my responses to their athletic ups and downs. Soccer, tennis, basketball, swimming, baseball, paintball, and MMA are more relatable for me, and where my comfort zone is.


Becoming a performing artist involves an entirely different approach and set of rules, and quite honestly, a different - sometimes seemingly opposing - manner of coping with other people and their opinions, input, feedback, etc. One of the most significant occupational necessities in this field is a tried and true thick skin. The challenge along the way is how to develop that without becoming embittered particularly given that your peers are your friends AND your competitors, and often paths are crossed several times over. Burning a bridge is out of the question, or should be, in life, yet in ballet the risk of that happening seems much greater due to how emotionally charged everything is. So much is based upon a "snapshot in time," and if one aspect is somehow out of sync in that moment, the outcome may be felt for days, weeks, or months. As a result, the path feels undefined, unpredictable, and jagged, and the dancer has to accept that the direction of their path may change in the moment of their next heartbeat.


It's all very vulnerable, and it takes the entire family to raise the dancer. As much mutual support is given among the members of the family, the family as a whole ends up invested in the dancer on many levels. Parents have to sort out how to achieve that without it tearing apart the family. Many sacrifices on the part of the family are required if there is to be consistency in the dancer's education, and daily communication is key. For any parent who's dancer is much younger, be forewarned that the daily commute should never be viewed as "status quo," as that routine is not always felt as a balance by the non-dancing members of the family. It is critical to make sure that effort is put into nurturing every member of the family. For me, this is challenging because all too often I leave myself out of the equation without even realizing it. Sometimes I approach a breaking point wherein I feel frustrated and wonder, what is this all for?? My parents were gifted ballroom dancers, and as a result of their attempting to "require" the same from me and my siblings, I ended up with a bit of distaste for dancing. The result of that isn't necessarily a good thing in the irony of raising my dancing daughter. At this point I feel exhausted, and although she is still fully charged to continue along this path, I wonder where I am going to find the strength to keep going. I have tried to at least recognize the upside to this which is that I am still her biggest fan, and still willing to support her goals, but perhaps even if the journey ended and I, too, experienced sadness for her, I am still at arm's length enough to pursue my passions and goals so as not to have lost myself along the way.

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I think that one of the most important things that we can do as parents is to teach our children how to handle negative feedback in a healthy way. When DD was little & felt she had been criticized unfairly by a teacher, I would always remind her that the teacher had her best interests in mind. Even if the teacher's approach wasn't helpful, they were trying to help her improve.


Fast forward to a young adult DD & the negative feedback that she hears isn't necessarily aimed at helping her to improve herself. Sometimes she is merely a pawn in someone elses game (drama). This is unfortunate, but she uses the same coping tools to deal with this that she learned as a young dancer with hurt feelings. She listens, analyzes, & applies or sometimes... dismisses.

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ceecee, sometimes having to just _dismiss_ the comments is a very important skill, and one which sure has to be learned, for most dancers have been primed to take everything which is said to them seriously and completely!


Of course, this is not always so in the "real world" of often insecure individuals who have been thrust into positions of power, and seem to sometimes use their employees as "scratching posts" or just something on which to vent their own frustrations and aggressions!


That is why it is so important for the young dancers (and all young people, of course) to have developed a good sense of self worth and, as you say, coping mechanisms to help them through these difficult times.



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Sadly we live in a world now where all criticism of a child (even that which is constructive) is frowned upon by today's parents while criticizing others (especially those you pay) is considered free speech and can be done in tones that would rival a shouting match. A double standard that drives me bonkers, but I see it every day at my job. One of the things I am most thankful for in terms of dance training, is that our children do learn the difference if we've put them in a strong, safe environment to begin with. It is a balance that we need to find soon in child rearing, or I fear we've lost all forms of honesty in dealing with our children. As much as the sky is always blue, the sky truly isn't always blue and those who reach the age of 18 and don't understand that sometimes you wake up and the sky is grey, almost black. They are the ones who have a hard time adjusting to adulthood (and their perspective jobs).


Ceecee is correct in that it is our job as parents to teach our children how to deal with criticism. But I'll add, it is not our job to completely build an environment where they are immune to it. We have to teach them the difference in someone who criticizes for criticism sake as described by diane. But, we also have to teach them that unless they are perfect, constructive criticism is crucial to their success and should not defeat their ego simply because their neighbor might live in la-la land.

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Yes, exactly diane! DD found herself in the midst of a power struggle between three people in positions of authority this spring. I respect these people still & don't even think that they had any idea the position they were putting her in with their antics. They were more concerned about "proving" things to eachother. In many ways it felt to her like she would fail no matter what she did. With the drama behind us now, though... it was probably a good experience for her to have here at home with support all around her as a "practice run" for when she is on her own.

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Thank you Danceintheblood for sharing your story. My DD is 14 but I can relate to a number of things you have touched on, particularly the importance of self esteem and joy in dancing. Injuries either from negligence or accident are very hard for an enthusiastic dancer to get through so all the best for the future!

Regardless of talent and ability and body type etc if the joy and confidence goes out of dancing there is little left that is worth pursuing. Maintain that joy!

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What a heartfelt post, Yankee. I share your feelings and couldn't have expressed them better myself.

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