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Ballet Talk for Dancers

School Sports Requirements and Ballet


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Burker, I believe there are a number of threads here that do talk about a similar issue (several linked below, but there are more). What I remember most was the suggestion that you get the school administration on board with your DD's effort. Educate them about what goes into training, hours, fitness, etc; Offer tickets to her performances so that they can really observe the physicality of ballet; and perhaps have her write a letter explaining the importance of dance for her physical and emotional well being. There can also be an issue of PE activities being at cross purposes to her training which is something we ran into last year. Good Luck!


Physical Education & Ballet


When is it Necessary to be excused from PE?



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My daughter just started attending an independent high school that has an after-school sports requirement, and she has been excused from that requirement due to her dance commitments (although she is not excused from the twice-weekly PE classes). We knew that we would be changing schools after 8th grade, so part of our decision-making process included making sure that she could be excused from the after-school sports requirement. I brought it up at the first Open House I attended, during the admissions process and again when we were choosing her classes. This school does have a number of other students who are excused due to ballet, so this was not a new idea to them - however, I made sure that I understood the process for the exception and started the conversation early, so I'm sure that helped it go smoothly. Luckily, at this school sports is important, but not all-important! I am not sure I would have enrolled her at a school that wasn't going to budge on this.


If you are breaking new ground with the High School I would start the dialogue now. I would imagine that they would probably adjust the requirement for a student who was a competitive gymnast or ice skater; if so, make the analogy between ballet and those activities that are more obviously "athletic." You may also want to get your daughter's teacher in touch with the head of school so that they understand the rigors of her training and the lengthy time commitment involved.


Good luck! I hope all goes well for you.

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Thank you djeowmom, I did read those posts a few months back and will review them again, DD actually had an excuse for the first month and a half of school because of achilles tendonitis, but it didn't last forever. BUT...The issue was also one of time. She needs time to get her homework done because of the long commute to dance class as she doesn't get home from dance until almost 10 some nights. This was what I had to explain to get her extra study halls this year.


Next year she will definately need the time after school (which is when the upperschool does sports), before the hour long drive to dance class. I am able to make my case for her getting enough physical activity but it is the case of substituting ballet for a team sport that is an issue. The problem is that they want all freshman to take a team sport. How can I make a case for ballet being a worthy substitute to a team sport?


DD's biggest fan...thanks for your comment. I have just started working on it. I am trying to put my case onto paper before I talk to anyone so I am well ready.

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I am able to make my case for her getting enough physical activity but it is the case of substituting ballet for a team sport that is an issue. The problem is that they want all freshman to take a team sport. How can I make a case for ballet being a worthy substitute to a team sport?


Find out what their specific intention is for having all freshmen participate in a team sport beyond physical activity. Is it to build class spirit? If so, find other ways she can connect with her classmates in collective activities that might take less time, like debate team or school plays. Is it to learn to play on a team? If your dance school does Nutcracker or other performances with a ballet corps, that has many similarities to playing on an athletic team. Or ask if a team activity at school that is not sports could be substituted.


I totally agree that our teenage dancers need to manage their time carefully. There is even more homework in HS than middle school, and they don't need any more stress!


Let us know how it goes.

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Just throwing this out there as something to keep in mind when dealing with the athletics department.... My DD only spent one year in a traditional high school before switching to a residency program. Like most DKs, she would outperform the football team in the physical fitness tests, so she was constantly pressured to participate in team sports. The coach in charge of women's athletics was VERY resentful that my DD could not and would not participate in sports outside of the required phys ed classes.


Did I mention she was VERY resentful? Be prepared for the response to be a "rule"-oriented one, and not necessarily a logical one. My request that my DD should not be required to go skiing a day or two before a major performance went nowhere.

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I like the analogy of the corps and the team...thanks DDSbiggest fan I will use that. I think their concern is about being on a team because students may substitute being in the musical for the winter sport or being on the robotics team for the fall sport (if they have previous experience with robotics) I really want to get her out of it altogether because it takes too much time. My daughter makes the honor roll but she works hard for it, I mean she needs all the time she can get. The cut off is a B+ average with no grade lower than B- last semester with all her dance classes and sports she just made the B+ average (thanks to Art)....She needs the time. Thank God she got it this year with the new long commute. My other fear is her getting hurt. She is not very good at the sports and always is twisting her ankle or getting hit with a raquet or something.


Lovemydancers I hear ya I am collecting ammunition because I expect that the "rule oriented" answer is just what I will get. I was told right to my face by the deane of the middle school that they don't substitute sports with studyhalls on more than two days per week when I know for a fact that my DD's best friend gets sport studyhall every day because even though she is in the middle school she is on the varsity team (because she is good) and does her sport after school with the HS. Isn't that the same thing as doing ballet every day after school? I believe my daughter spends more time in ballet than those at soccer practice. I did get 3 study halls so I am happy, but they are still making her run cross country on Mondays. Now I am collecting all my ammunition for the High School. I really don't want her to go to a residency program. She loves her day school.

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