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Ballet Talk for Dancers

should 6 yo boy audition for SAB


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My DS didn't do a single ballet class until he was 10. He then went for fun for a few years, one half hour class a week. He started taking it more seriously at 12, did a year with 2-3 classes a week, went to an international SI and was accepted to the school on a 100% scholarship. His current teacher thinks he is a little behind where he would have been if he had started seriously at a younger age but considers by the time he is auditioning for companies he will have made up the difference easily. The drive to go to vocational school came entirely from DS and at 14 he had a really good idea of what it meant and the life he was aiming for. The good thing about DS coming to ballet relatively late is he had the opportunity to try many other activities whilst younger (he was a county swimmer and high board diver, tried gymnastics and fencing for a while, played guitar in a band and generally had an all round fun time).


I only say this to point out that if it means a great sacrifice in time and effort for the family it is quite possible to leave it a few years- granted maybe not as late as we did but certainly not starting at 6 won't be a career ending decision...

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  • Clara 76


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Thank you, Thyme and CeliB, great points from both sides of the coin. I just had a conversation with DH. WE live not 55, but 80 ml from the city. DS at this point is wonderfully adjusted in his school here (to its credit it did produce few of the very prominent male dancers who dance with the top ballet companies of the world). However he also wants to take fencing (did the intro 8 classes and was , no surprise , quite good .) When I mention that there is a scheduling conflict, he said without blinking, "Or, I just will take one less class of ballet" So it is just fun for him now, but not soo important to give his life to it. So what I am trying to say.. He is truly good ... But probably we as a family will burn out, I am getting a glimpse of it every Saturday when we drive to the city to his class, and have fun afterwards. It is still good time but tiring. By the beginning of vacations kids were fighting and crying all the time.

Edited by ezhinsky
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hi eshinsky- I think your last post is eloquent on the question 'by the beginning of vacations kids were fighting and crying all the time'. As I have already written I feel I allowed DS (even encouraged him) to over do it. He is a sunny cooperative boy who likes to please adults plus he enjoyed his new found talent. If he had been more rebellious perhaps this wouldnt have happened (meaning he could have kept the brakes on). I found it hard to find the right balance between my parental instinct that kids need lots of free time and the pressure of the ballet world to get those hours up and grab opportunities for holiday programs. this was added to by the feedback that my son has a special talent- teachers seemed to feel I would be negligent if I didnt push him. This has all collapsed for the time being as you know. I regret that but I also know that he has time up his sleeve and that life is long. All I can say is dont make my mistake. There are many stories on this forum of people who have 'gone for it' and it has ended in tears. Several months ago there was a very moving post by a father who told us of the suffering his family went through by supporting a DD- harrowing stuff but well worth a read. Good luck with it, in many ways it is impossible to ever know if you made the 'right' choice. You will know if you make one that works though.

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Hi, Thyme! I keep thinking about you and your DS. It can be me. My DS likes that he is good at dancing, even started using it to divert attention from some naughty things he would do , because he knows how everybody reacts when he dances. So that alone can kill all the spontaneity of his passion. We are close knit family, and like just to hang out, going to the beach, watching cartoons, baking, reading and other simple staff. However even though everybody is talented in some or other staff, but only the youngest DS has this extra gift, and the mystique and reverence of that is partially responsible for my desire to push for its development. I probably forget that he does not see it this way, he just likes to dance and happen to have a body for it. Thank you for putting things into prospective, I hope your DS will find the best path for him in life. Can you please send a link to the post you've mentioned. Thank you in advance.

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hi again ezhinsky- gifts are funny things. I have had several discussions over the past few months about people with gifts. Are they obligated to use them? What if they dont want to? Should they do it for everyone's elses pleasure? Interesting stuff. Anyways the discussion you are after is in Dancers 13-16 and is called 'The Journey'. One of the fathers posted somewhere in the middle of it but I think this entire thread is worth going through. As I said, it is abit confronting at times- particularly for those of us with DS. I wont ruin it for you but let me know what you think after you read it!

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Hi, Thyme! I read the post of this poor man bewildered by absurdity of art rules, or lack of thereof, What can I say. Life is not fair. I have an MFA degree from NYU . I did not make it the way I would have wanted in business, family took the priority. However I would never blame the world I left for my lack of achievements. My husband is a prominent working scientist who tortures himself every day if he is good enough. Welcome to hell of small esoteric "creative" professions. We just had a discussion that all the creative jobs are a very small niche in the society that have enough creative people to fill it in. It takes enormous amount of faith and work and a lot of luck to get anywhere. My teacher, Tony winning artist was once for a long time on welfare, and even after she got work for 10 years she was making less than a janitor. (she is fine now!)This is art and it does not take anything into account like being nice and fair, take it or live it. I like what one of the theater patriarch (almost 90 yo) said just recently "I don't come to the theater interested of what kind of husband and father an actor is, I don't care. I want gutsy interesting work, not a church charity concert". It is hard life when you make it and hard one when you don't.If one wants fair he should never consider art as a profession. Perhaps his sense of injustice also comes from sports background were one can measure success by the length of your jump or the speed of your run and you maneuver your players by what they can do and not by the sheer hunch.

However the point he made about one part (dance) devouring the rest of the life is very good and worth considering, It is very important for the health of the rest of the family to open up the focus of life, and its different angles.

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yes I think there were several issues he touched on that arent really central to our discussion. The bit that stuck in my head was about sacrifices made by the whole family to support one member. That concerns me when I hear of people putting all their resources into one child- sort of like refugees who send the brightest chlid on the boat. Anyways that is abit dramatic -just a metaphor. I think the decision you have asked for comment on is about 'family' and what we want as parents for the whole family. Nobody can decide that but you. The bit I was commenting was more on over doing it too young and the price that can be paid. I know this is a contentious thing to say but my experience of boys is that they are delightfully vague (not so delightful at times!) and unfocused when they are 12-13 while the girls can be so focused it is scary. My son seems to have lost his focus and ballet is like a torture for him now. I actually think there is a cognitive element here (developmentally and hormonally) and I am extremely glad he is not in some vocational program when this is happening. I worry about young people getting a vocational 'stamp' on them when they are young. I am in Australia and there are not alot of ballet pre-professional programs but there are performing arts high schools where kids go 'who want to make it'. I wonder about that kind of decision when you are 8. I dont know. I think that is a big decision. In my rehab work I met a young man who everyone had decided was going to be the next big football star. He was hit by a car one day and had a bad leg break. Will never play professionally. The rest of his physical performance was fine, a good recovery in most terms. He and everyone around him however were devastated that the Big Plan wouldnt happen. I was shocked at the lack of parenting wisdom in that family- that no one had allowed for this in their future planning (he was 14). He had no concept of any other futures and I feel at high risk of never doing anything. Seems to me that us adults need to keep a handle on that kind of thing. I am just free wheeling here, ezhinsky. Not trying to suggest you are doing any of those things- just reflecting on how we start labelling kids and getting all 'career' focused because they like to do something. This dance world is a funny place! thanks for listening. :secret:

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(simply refused to live the theater until they let him join other 2 casts).


Really? Were other dancers allowed to do this, too?

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HuckleberryDawg, hi! To answer your question: actually the principal who was dancing at the second act "invited" herself to the party (as you can imagine my little one is in the party scene) when she learned when my little one is going. They were the last 2 shows of the season and nobody had asked as far as I know. Kids were pretty exhausted by the end of the run, and I can't imagine a parent in his right mind to ask for another show for a 6 yo, they were all too happy to go home. I think at this point since he is a smallest and the only boy of this age group in the school everybody treats him like a an adorable brother, he is also extremely friendly and social, loves everybody. So hopefully no jealousy there yet. He was not doing any real dancing yet, and was easily restructured as an extra member of the same family . Dear Thyme! Point well made and well taken! Did you watch already the movie "First position"? Strongly recommend it. It is about kids in ballet. (together with a delightful movie by Miyazaki: "Kiki's delivery service", which despite the girly name is a whole family movie and you may sneak it so you son can be sucked in into watching it. This one is about gaining your wind back. Beautiful and philosophical anime about the nature and nourishment of our gifts) In my case there is always a temptation to push for perfection and uberachievemnt, and I am grateful to this forum to put things into perspective. (And my DH, who says "over my dead body" few times a day)

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What an interesting thread!


ezhinsky, I though I might add a teacher's perspective: It sounds to me as though you have a child who is very well-coordinated, intelligent, and physically gifted. That is wonderful and what it means is that he will likely be quite good at any physical skill- like fencing! I do have to question whether the person teaching fencing is doing the right thing for his/her students by beginning fencing at such an early age......typically fencing is not taught until a student is much older- 10-12.


It's quite difficult to tell aged 6 if a student really has what it takes to make it in this career (or any, really). I have seen some really "talented" youngsters reach puberty and discover that all the talent in the world will not make them tall enough/short enough/uninjured enough or fill-in-the-blank enough to make a career as a professional ballet dancer happen.


It's really wonderful that you are so supportive of your child, and of course, I am not saying that he will not end up being a professional ballet dancer when all is said and done. The future cannot be told, so all we can do is follow our instincts as parents, and you sound like you are doing just that! Kudos to you and your family!! BUT, what we are here to offer you is a sense of balance so that the possible regrets might be minimised for you and your family, and so that we can help be your guides on this strange and wonderful journey.


As you read more of our threads, you might catch yourself rationalizing another's situation as having no relation to yours and your child's situation; rationalization is a tool we all need at times, but it is a good time to stop and ask yourself if another's experiences did end up being yours, how might you feel? How might your other children and your husband feel?


It's so easy to get caught up in the myths of the performing arts that it no longer resembles the realities of the actual world. "Famous" teachers might compliment and offer verbal guarantees of successes for your child. He may go to YAGP, and "win" every solo, and receive all kinds of accolades. Bottom line is NONE of that matters, and NONE of that can guarantee a career. For every single dancer who says they got the start of their career at age 2, won every competition, and took 5 classes per day, I will show you thousands of kids who did the same and nothing happened for them in terms of their future. Nothing.


So many families get caught up in the whirlwind that they lose sight of the actual reasons why their children want to dance, and in doing so, the child can no longer see things clearly for themselves.


We do not wish to discourage you or any other family from placing your children in dance, nor do we want to discourage you from finding the best possible training; far from it. What we are here to do is to remove the rose-colored glasses that we once had on ourselves, so we can help you and your family to negotiate the hills and valleys so that if a career in ballet is meant to be/written in the stars for him, your entire family might remain intact with your dancer having both a happy career, as well as a happy life.


This thread might be interesting to you:



And this one:


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Dear Clara76, As the father of our little dancer and the husband of ezhinsky I really appreciated your post. Even my untrained eye of a scientist can discern that my son has a real gift for dancing as well as urge to do it all the time. What will happen to his gift in the future: will it flower or shrivel, nobody knows. My artistic wife can sometimes get carried away and try to get "too much of a good thing". It is my responsibility in our family to try to prevent this from happening. They keyword here is try. Your post as well as several other posts with the same message make my job a lot easier. I am pretty sure that with little help from the "ballet talk" community we would be able to find the right balance in our family.

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I totally understand. I think every parent who has a child in any activity where the child excels feels the same as we do. We all want the best for our kids, and we want them to be happy, well-adjusted individuals as they find their successes in life. Those are pretty much every parent's goals! It is also very, very easy to get swept up in the "phenom" thing. Thankfully, most phenoms end up with parents who have good heads on their shoulders, and who recognize that the first job is to develop the person inside of the "dancer".


I am glad you and your wife are here reading, communicating with us, learning, and offering your own experiences!!!! This community would not be the same without people like the both of you!!! Only one thing: we do require that every member have their own account, and there are instructions on how to do so at the top of the main page! We look forward to you choosing your own screenname and account, and continuing to chat!!!!!!

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I am relatively new to ballet, but my son has been dancing ballroom for five years already. For myself I learned that it is time to adjust his workload when he stops dancing at home, which means he had too much of it and his soul is not "flying" anymore. I do like to give him a bit less classes than he asks for to make sure he has some extra time for other activities or his friends.

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What a good way to put it, bluemountain!!!!

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yes bluemountain this is wise advice. It is so easy to get over excited by our children's joy and talent when they are young. Speaking for myself, the thrill of watching my DS dance both in class and on the stage has been addictive. Before he found dance, he wasnt particularly good at anything (swimming, soccor etc) but when he found dance it was like finding the motherlode of joy and happiness. He went from mediocre to a prodigy over night. Teachers were calling me about his talent blah blah blah. I can say now that as a parent it did go to my head. I fought hard to stay sensible but it was tough at times to not get swept along with it all. So if you can keep a clear view and resist the pressure, focus on the signals at home you will be doing better than I did. I thought I was good at that but it still caught me by surprise when the switch was flicked and the lights went out. Hopefully with time and rest DS will find the love again. I am mostly fine with it all now but it took a week or two for me to get over myself! If he never dances seriously again I can live with that. Maybe he will find salsa classes one day and have a great time being beautiful again. There are worse things! :wink:

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