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Dance Mom With Questions About How to Catch Up


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Hello. I'm new here and posted a welcome, but the suggestion was made that I post here as well.


I'm mom to a 17yo dancer with a desire to continue dancing post high school with the eventual goal of having her own studio.


Unfortunately, I don't think she's had the training she really needs to audition and be accepted into any college or apprentice program at this point and I am only just now realizing it. She's been attending at a very small studio that she loves, but has never been encouraged to go to summer intensives or nor was required to audition for anything except their once-every-two-years production. Last month she auditioned for a dance conservatory program that her instructors graduated from and they nearly guaranteed her she was ready. She just received their letter of rejection. :-( The head of the dance department is very kind and gave us some encouraging words stating that while my daughter has "excellent facility for dance" and should "continue to dance and get more training", that she simply was not yet qualified for that level of a program.


Now we're trying to decide what she should do next. I have no idea how to ascertain if it's just THIS program that is too much for her and perhaps we should try another or if, as the director said, she just needs a little more training and can then audition again. I did note that she was by far the youngest and smallest in the group of dancers auditioning that day. She's not interested in leaving our metropolitan area and financially it would be better for her to continue to live at home, so our options are limited. There are two good post-high school programs in the area...at least if word of mouth is to be believed. But the word depends on the mouth I guess. :-/ I just don't want her to waste more time in one of these programs if they're not going to bring her to where she needs to be.


I hope to find some answers and direction here. Thank you in advance for any help that is offered and for your patience with my ignorance of the way the world of dance works.

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Thank you for re-posting this here, vaughanville. Just for the benefit of those reading this, who probably have not read the Welcome Forum, I will repeat my thoughts here:


At 17, it is very important to get some information as soon as possible. My suggestion is to immediately take her to the professional company school in your city. There is a very fine one there, and she needs to learn right away where she stands in terms of any possible college and/or professional potential. If they are encouraging, in terms of her facility, then get her started there now. Not later. Daily classes, 6 days a week would be optimal. Ballet technique and pointe. They also have a good SI program, so it might be possible for her to stay there this summer if she is already a student there, if she not ready to audition and go away.


She also needs to be prepared to need some training on a lower level than she might be at her other school. It depends a lot on the quality and quantity of training she has had, as well as her facility, but it does sound like she might be well behind her age group. But, if she has any hope of continuing in ballet and aiming for any form of employment in the dance world, she needs the very best training she can find, and she needs it yesterday! Good luck, and let us know what you decide to do.

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Thank you again. I believe I know the rather large, well known professional school you're referring to. When we began to suspect she was not getting what she needed (very, very recently...yes, I guess I'm just that obtuse) DD visited with a friend and was asked to come back for an evaluation, but upon further research she did not feel that the atmosphere there was compatible with her personality. She is very bubbly and outgoing and the air seemed to be a bit stuffy and uptight. Now, that's not to say that we're entirely opposed if it gets us the end result we need, but it's not something she's jumping up and down about.


If you know my area than may I ask if you're familiar with any other quality programs near us? There are two faith-based programs in the area that she has interest in. Do you to know of these?


I will tell you that she has only been dancing for 4 years and has risen to the top of the studio she is at. At first I was flattered for her, but then started asking myself if perhaps the reason she advanced so quickly was that the bar was simply too low.


Another thing I'm concerned about, if you don't mind me adding to my original post, is the rejection letter she got. Not having auditioned much and being a "star" in her studio, she's not really experienced many rejections and honestly, I haven't told her yet. She is easily discouraged and I am searching for a way to tell her that this is just part of the performance world. Sometimes you're the navy dress and sometimes you're periwinkle (I just read this GREAT illustration of rejection somewhere in these forums and am referencing it here :grinning: ). I want to have some other avenues to explore before telling her,


As you can see...she and I have much to learn and I'm reading here like a college-kid cramming for finals! :dizzy:

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vaughanville, I admire what you are doing now to help, but I must also add that I think it is very important for your 17 year old to do some of her own research in this area. If she is the one who wants to dance, then she should be reading everything she can find about what it takes to do that. Especially in terms of classical ballet.


She will also need to learn how to prioritize in terms of what she wants. I don't know of any other school in the area that would be comparable to the one I mentioned, and if she is serious about dance, then she needs to go there and experience it herself, not make a judgement from one observation. She has to want it badly enough to go after it, 'cause it is sure not going to drop in her lap! Ballet is tough, and the ballet world is tough. It seems that she has done well in her 4 years with the other school, but I also think your instincts are probably right in terms of the level of the bar...and probably also the barre. :wink:


Keep reading, but seriously, if she really wants it, then she needs to do much, much more of the ground work herself. And I still say go there for a class and an evaluation ASAP. Do not wait for next summer. She is not getting any younger!

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Hi and welcome to Ballet Talk. As a parent you will find loads of great information but please encourage your DD to join and do the research herself as well . My DD finds all the information really helpful. As far as your question goes, we have been through something similar this year. My DD is 15 and we decided to move her to a big company school this year. She had spent ten years at her last studio and while the training was good, we felt that if she wanted to advance she needed to move. It was not what DD wanted at first but in the end it was her choice and I think she is happy with her decision. Instead of the usual discouragement surrounding the upcoming audition season she is more excited than ever this year and that in itself is worth the move. She has always loved auditioning but it is nice. For her to not feel the pressure to stay when she would rather go away. You are right to be concerned at her age. I would just talk to your DD and explain that even though she may not want a change May be necessary if she wants to go further in dance. If it is what she truly wants it she wll do what is necessary to get there. I feel like by the time they are in high school they. Need to make those decisions for themselves.


As far as rejection goes, this will be my DD's fourth year auditioning so she has just seen her fair share of rejection. Unfortunately that is just the way it is and your DD will just have to live with it. I would just be honest with her as soon as possible and encourage her to keep trying. Maybe have her try out for some SI's. There are so many that accept all kinds of dancers. Have her read through these forums and see if there are a couple she is interested in.

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I second what Ms. Leigh says about leaving much of the research, planning, and action to your 17-year-old. If she chooses not to do it, you have gained some valuable information.


Sir Ken Robinson (search on TED Talks or YouTube -- he is an entertaining as well as enlightening speaker) tells a useful anecdote about talking to an accomplished jazz pianist and saying, "I wish I could play as well as you." The pianist replies, "No you don't." Sir Ken says, "Huh?" And the pianist explains, "If you really wanted to play as well as I do, you would do everything it takes. You would practice incessantly. But you don't, so you can't really want to play as well as I."


I have a couple of kids who, as young teens, voiced their desires to dance professionally, teach, etc. etc. But when push came to shove, neither wanted to leave their comfortable (very good, but not excellent) neighborhood school and attend one of the other more exacting studios in town. That was around age 13, when Mom and Dad still had some responsibility for locating and providing training opportunities, and helping the kiddo understand what it takes for desires to translate into reality. By 17 and later, especially with my youngest (now 20 and a double major in dance and psychology at a liberal arts school), it was clear that the desire wasn't really there. She still talked a good game, but it was clear to anyone who looked at her behavior that she was more of a very dedicated dabbler than a pre-professional.


I found that it was sometimes hard to separate my desires and goals for my child from hers, or what I thought was hers. But I learned a very useful mantra from the college counselor at our daughters' school: "I trust my child to make the decision that is right for her." Her actions might not make sense to you at the time, but in time they will. I was surprised when my older daughter chose a college with no dance program at all to speak of, and then was distressed for her when she couldn't find a local studio that suited her. I needn't have been; she knew what she was doing, even if she couldn't articulate it. She found a happy home in the college's modern company, taking daily class with the company members or in whatever discipline/level was taught in the one dance class offered by the college that semester. It was indeed the right decision for her.


Good luck to your and your DD as you both figure out her place in the dance world.

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Thank you all for your wonderful insights, encouragements, admonishments and advice. Parenting...it isn't for the faint of heart is it? :wink:

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Just want to echo what others have said. It's important for your daughter to research things for herself at 17 (perhaps she is, but you have your own questions as well - this is often what happened in our family). I also think that at 17 your daughter needs to be able to experience whatever the dance world holds in store for her (that is, the good and the bad news). If her goal is to be a dance teacher someday, having this experience in whatever form it takes will only assist her in teaching others.


All the best to you and your dd - please keep us posted!

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