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Ballet Talk for Dancers

helping dancer get through rejection


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Looking for some help, my dd recently received 2 of 2 college ballet program rejections. They were the only two she auditioned for because her AD said she should get into one of them (both are very selective schools). DD had decided on the least selective after receiving acceptance letters academically from both but the least selective offered her a substancial academic scholarship, too large to turn down. Today the rejection letter for that school came and now I have a girl who is a mess! She has put all her eggs into the one basket and has no other real interests besides ballet. She attends a conservatory style school so everything revolves around ballet. She feels as though her heart has been pulled from her chest. She has 26 days left at school and now doesn't even want to be there at all. She is a mess! Help!

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First - enormous hugs for both of you, as this is a huge disappointment, I'm sure. It's a little late in the year to look at other college programs, but it wouldn't hurt to call around and see if anyone has any spaces left. But, it's a GREAT time of year to look at post-high school "grad" programs for dance. She may want to look at some of those and see whether there is one that would be a good fit dance-wise for next year. Most of those are in cities with many colleges and she can take online or in-person college classes around her dance schedule. With another year of training under her belt she can re-apply to colleges next year. My DD did two years at the grad program at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, and each year multiple dancers from that program were offered spots in selective college dance programs. It also looks great on the resume and gives her some "real world" dance experience. She is so young, you have time. It's hard to believe that now, in the aftermath of this initial rejection, but it will be fine.

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Oh, cyber hugs to you and your DD! :wub: That is heartbreaking!! And shame on the AD for not encouraging her to apply to more programs. There is nothing 'sure thing' about any of the audition-based college programs. But that's water under the bridge for this year. So, what to do?


First, let her grieve: she'll be shocked, embarrassed, sad, then will get good and mad, and then will pull herself up by her boot straps and decide 'what's next'. That's what our dedicated DKs do. They figure it out. Your job is to be there for support, love, support, love, and to remind her that she will not disappear in a puff of smoke. Tomorrow will come and she will figure out what is best for her.


I believe in earlier posts she even had a 'Plan B', i.e., going to one of these schools with a different major and taking what classes she can. I also recall she is very interested in the sciences--which, at least at one of her selected schools, have very good departments and is very hard to do as a double major with dance. So, perhaps she'll choose that path and find she's really happy there.


Or, perhaps she'll do as dance1soccer1 suggests and consider a year at a post-grad program and re-apply to (more) college programs next year.


Or, she could start at one of her accepted colleges in another major and consider re-applying to other college dance programs next year.


Bless her heart, she does have options. But she probably can't see them right now. Let her be sad and go through her process---just prod her enough that the doors that are open don't close before she can really start thinking again.


Hugs to all of you!!! It will be all right in the end.

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I'm so sorry to hear of her struggles. I know it's heartbreaking for her and incredibly stressful for you! Is it possible to schedule a weekend away (or a mommy visit) to her school? Hugs from us all!


Dance1 has given you some good ways to begin looking at options. Making a list of all available options is important. Her brain power is probably pretty fuzzy right now so keeping it all "up there" won't work. But beginning a list of ways to make things happen for her and then starting to work on that list might give her the encouragement she needs.


Is there quality instruction in the area of the college she has been accepted to? Has there ever been anyone who attended the college and took classes locally with the intent of auditioning again? Are there other colleges where it's not too late to audition and apply? Will the post grad option described by dance1 work for her? How quickly can she gather the necessary things needed to audition in that realm? What is she wanting to do with her dance degree? Can that be accomplished at a college that is not one of those two with a side of very strong instruction?


Recognize that she is not alone. I fear that many a dance teacher has not kept up with how difficult it has become to get into the top dance colleges. As there have been more students trained well, just as it's been harder to find a company contract so has it become harder to gain entrance into the top dance schools. Their input is important but it's also important that their input is correct. So as the paying parent, later a conversation about encouraging any student that entry is a given these days is bad advice no matter what they feel about the dancer.


Also help her to understand that up to this point, her entire life has been determined around large chunks of time. Elementary school, middle school, high school, yearly committments and even committments for several years at a time.. As a budding young adult, she is entering the time where she has a bit more control in smaller chunks of time. So doing things for a semester and changing course are pretty normal. So allow her that a year of working toward a new plan happens to many people her age. People attend college and don't end up liking the college they attend....switch courses. People chose a major and then find it's not for them......switch course. Dancers go to college and determine if they have to dance for a grade, they'd rather dance for pay...change course. Dancers in 2nd companies decide if this is what dancing is like....switch course. Life as she's planned it is not "pulled from her chest". It's just time to figure out how to switch course and get what she wants in another way. But also a time to learn from mistakes in thinking anything in life is a given in this day and time. Always have Plan B in your pocket.

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Alliebug13--Major cyberhugs to you! This is a very hard place to be in as a parent. As a mother who just finished the college application process for child #4 ( the DD), I can tell you nothing is ever a given. I've seen way too many puzzling acceptances and rejections.

Since my daughter will not be a dance major, I can't speak to that aspect. But, if your daughter decides to try something else for a year, please look into the option of deferring her admission, not just turning it down. I suspect if she presents a plan for a valuable and enriching way she plans to spend that year, they might let her take a "gap year" and she would not need to reapply. It would at least keep a plan B on the back burner as she navigates the next year.


Best of luck to both of you.

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Everyone has given such good advice I don't know that I have anything to add - but wanted to send my cyberhugs along!


After you have taken time to breathe and think about next steps, please keep us posted.


And hang in there - you are not alone!!



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You have gotten good advice here but just wanted to send a cyber hug to you too! Almost similar situation as DD only auditioned for two programs but knew in October she had been accepted to one. She was rejected by the other in Dec. We talked about auditioning for other schools in Jan. and Feb. but the academic scholarship at the school she had been accepted to was just too good to pass up.


Our DD's are determined and focused. She will find a path and follow.


Again, hugs to you and DD and keep us posted.

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Greetings alliebug13, I am so sorry to hear of your DD's problem, my heart breaks for you both. My DD was accepted to all 4 of her college choices academically, however rejected from 3 of the 4 ballet programs (she is a college freshman right now.) She did decide to attend the school that accepted her into ballet,but before doing so, we really researched the ballet schools in the areas of the other colleges. Would it be possible for your DD to attend her college of choice, dance outside of school and reaudition for next year? That was our plan B and the plan of several of our friends that weren't accepted into the programs they had hoped for. Best wishes and hugs to your DD.

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My heart goes out to all dancers involved in this process. We are heading into this in DD's junior year, and are taking nothing for granted. This is a hard transition for "civilians", and an even harder one for girls who have given up so much for their dedication to the art of ballet. The transition to college is one thing, but the transition to the next step out of a preprofessional school is going to add a whole new dimension to the change. It seems the competition to get into these ballet programs is way tougher due to the number of students not following a professional career, for whatever reason. Best wishes to all!

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Alliebug, there is a lot of good advice here already, so I just wanted to send a cyberhug to you and to your dancer. Dealing with rejection is never easy, and my heart goes out to both of you.

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Alliebug, there are several good college programs in ballet that I believe do not require auditions until after the student has finished a semester or their freshman year. I think University of South Florida is one of them. Also, it might be worthwhile calling up some of the strong programs, that might not be as selective - University of Cincinnati, UMKC - come to mind and see if there is a possibility for auditioning, if not in person, then by video.

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Alliebug - my heart goes out to you. My DD is a graduating senior, and when we started auditioning for the college programs, I was surprised by the number of dancers auditioning for these top selective programs that were not coming right out of high school. I feel some of these dancers are not getting company spots and are turning to these top college dance programs. Its tough as a 17 year old HS senior to audition along side a more seasoned twenty something! My DD made a DVD and sent it out to a number of graduate training programs and companies with trainee programs as a back up. Her thought was if she didn't get a spot in one of these top programs, she would take a gap year to train hard somewhere and then try again. We were surprised to have her not get accepted to programs that we thought she was perfect for and then get accepted to programs we thought she really didn't have a chance at. I think the key is to throw your net as wide as possible because you just don't know where your DD will actually be seen. Rejection is hard for the dancer and the parents!

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Cyberhugs to you as well Alliebug. While rejection is hard, this turn in the road may lead to a new, undiscovered path. The discipline and focus she learned from ballet will always be a part of her.


And I'm sure it's the work ethic of a dedicated dancer that may have influenced the judges who awarded her the academic scholarship.


Give her a bit of time and she'll ultimately find the right stage.



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  • 3 weeks later...

Alliebug, hugs to DD. I just saw this posting, we have been on this journey with you both! My heart is breaking for her! DD is a beautiful dancer, hard worker, wonderful person and great friend to my DD and she is also a GIFTED student! I know things will work out for her. I'll email you, we can talk!

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I encourage both of you to not give up. Your D is still young and has this coming year to continue training and seek out more options for next year. There may be year long dance training programs that she could still apply to, if not a strong SI would still be beneficial. Keep looking at this as a learning experience and a continual journey. There are lots of rejections in the dance world and hopefully this setback will give your D a stronger resolve to carry on. She will probably have more time this coming year to focus on more opportunities and researching programs/colleges she could apply to.


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