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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Help?!?!?!?! My daughter is miserable at her SI


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My dd who is 12 started her second SI today. She went to one last week that she really enjoyed. Well, today was the first day of a 3 week intensive that she will be commuting to. I texted her during a break to ask how things were going, and she texted me that she is miserable, the classes were boring, the teachers were mean, they have no sense of humor, it's stupid, she can't imagine going for 3 weeks, she wants to come home, she hates it, she really hates it, she was in the bathroom crying because she is so miserable... These were all statements in her text to me.


I was supportive, I asked to be specific, I told her she had to make the best of it, stick out because we wont get a refund, etc. She had to go to another class so we had to stop.


Anyone go through this? Did things improve? This is a strict Russian program, and I guess she is not used to this. She is a pretty flexible kid, who is pretty good at adjusting to new situations. I don't know what to do.


Any ideas? This is so depressing. I feel like all of my research was in vain. I feel awful.



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My 12 DD is away at her first big SI and at the parent meeting they warned us that in the first couple of days one of the huge complaints we will hear is unhappiness with the level, that the level is too easy, unhappy with class, and to basically soothe but ignore. My own DD called me that first night and said the tech class was "too easy" and pointe was boring. I repeated to her that they go easy the first few days and to give it a little time. As soon as the next day she was much happier. If your DD is at the program I think she is at (I have a good friend who's DD started today as well) it is an excellent program and give it a little time. The class is probably stricter than what she is used to but the staff is caring. Sometimes that gets lost in the Russian to American translation. Hope this helps!

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Thank you so much for your response. I just got other texts saying she lived through pointe and still hates it. She said, her "friend who she had met at the audition" hates it too and doesn't want to come back. She said her friend is going to pretend she is sick to get out of there. Oh boy! I was just happy she at least made a friend. That can sometimes make anything tolerable.


I had asked her if she wants to get into a more advanced level, since she is one of the older ones, and she said,"No". Hmmm... that makes me wonder if it's harder than she is used to.


Anyway, I'm glad your dd is enjoying her intensive. I truly think intensives are better when the kids are living together in a dorm. It makes it more camp-like and less school-like. That's what we'll do next year if DD hasn't given up on ballet by then.


Again, thank you so much. I wish we could talk at some point. You seem so knowledgeable about the NYC dance world:)

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Things have changed so much since my kids were that age, and it seems like just a minute ago!


When my youngest went to her first 4 week SI (not that far from home, but she did stay in residence) there were no phone calls allowed - in or out - for the first week. At some point near the end of the first week kids were allowed to call home, and this is how we knew the "ban" had been lifted. Then the race was to find a time when everyone else's parents weren't also trying to call! Our dd didn't have a cellphone back then; I think it was unusual for the younger ones then.


So I guess one of my points is that easy communication with home can be a really good thing - but sometimes it means kids have an easy route to complain about something. My suggestion would be to tell her you want her to hang in and to avoid communication during the day. If she is texting then this is time away from social conversations she could be having during the breaks.


You mentioned that she said the teachers had no sense of humour. Is it possible that she said or did something that a teacher she doesn't know didn't appreciate, or misunderstood? if she hasn't had much experience with teachers beyond those at her regular ballet school, perhaps something like this happened and she's embarrassed?


hang in there manhattanmom!

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Thank you! DD has been at sleepaway camps in the past and they have done the same thing with no phone calls. I think kids need to work things out. I also did exactly what you suggested and told her she should use her break to bond with others and that we will talk about it later on. Her response was, "NO", but I haven't heard back.


As for her joking in class. That would never happen. She is soooooo serious in ballet classes. Too serious. However, I can see her getting upset if a teacher made her feel stupid or made fun of the way she did something. That's a possibility.


Again, thank you too. Love the feedback and support. It helps.

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I'm so sorry you are going through this. It is so very hard to know how much stock to put in the angst that comes with a kiddo being away from home and in a new environment.


I'm with the others that suggest you be willing to listen, but not to buy in too much to her misery. Misery loves company and if her newfound friend is vocal in voicing her dislike for the SI, your DD may be buying into that.


I would encourage her to make additional friends and maybe limit her time with Negative Nell. I've seen one miserable kid set the tone for everyone's experiences to also be seen in that negative light, but once the other get a little breathing room and respite from the miserable kid, it's amazing how their outlooks change.


Also, as your DD just came from a 1 week intensive that she really loved, perhaps she's mourning a bit for not having stayed there longer. One week is just about the time the young ones get their 'camp legs' and start feeling comfortable and enjoying their surroundings and their new friends --a lot! She may well have been disappointed to be moving on and when the new SI is different than what she's used to---and with all new friends to make---it could maybe be a little more overwhelming than usual.


I'd say give it more time and encourage her to find at least one thing positive to say about each class each day and about each teacher each day. Tell her for every negative thing she comments on, she needs to try to find a positive thing to say----even if it is that : "my shoes still fit." :)

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It's so hard to communicate this way at times I think!


I remember when my younger dd was in training teachers would sometimes draw conclusions from facial expressions. This used to drive dd crazy - she didn't realize I think what expression was actually on her face. In looking back, there were many times when a lack of confidence was interpreted as "dancer is lazy" or "dancer doesn't care." If your dd has a good vibe with the teachers at her regular school, someone different may be a jolt, and of course every teacher has a different personality too. Perhaps if this is the first day the teacher was overly dramatic about something to make sure a point is coming across (remember it's not easy on them either, with classrooms full of kids they've never met).


This isn't to say she should throw in the towel - it will be important in life (not just ballet) to handle these kinds of things. It can be uncomfortable at first, but it's a skill worth developing.


Good for you for telling dd to socialize! This likely won't happen instantly either, especially if some of the others already know each other. However it generally does happen eventually! :)

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No worries! A cup of coffee and commiseration is always welcome! My DD auditioned for the Bolshoi intensive (our only experience with a Russian school; her year round school is not really Russian) and got into the CT program but we couldn't afford it and I wanted her to have a buddy for that sleep away program. At that audition the teacher appeared very humorless and rather grim until my DD had to explain that because she was only 11 (at that time) they hadn't learned turns on pointe yet. The teacher's whole demeanor changed! She started smiling and was very approachable. I think the language barrier can be an issue. I had heard that their program is HIGHLY structured and my DD would have been unhappy with that unless she had a friend. I have also found that all you need is one DK with a negative attitude and the whole room can suddenly see a glass half empty versus a glass half full.

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Dancemaven, it would appear that we are of a like mind! LOL Sorry, I was typing at the same time! :wub:

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I'm sorry but this made me laugh. I have heard this exact same thing for the past year in a variety of contexts.. Then when whatever it was is over, she remembers it in a favorable light and complains about the current situation. Is this a common 14 year old phase?

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I think this is very common.


It makes me long for the days when communication was not so instantaneous!


At her first away intensive, dd sent a steady stream of negative texts between classes an during lunch that first day. I was heartsick. I thought we had made a big mistake, but I was positive and supported her, reminding her that she was in NYC, to listen the corrections in her mind from her home teachers, and so on.


Then, after hearing from her between every single class, suddenly that afternoon, there was complete radio silence. I heard absolutely nothing until late that night when I called her because I was concerned.


It turns out that everything had taken a turn for the better, a fabulous turn at that with regard to classes. She had made friends after class and was just too happy and too busy to update dear old mom.


It would have been SO much better for me had she not been able to communicate as freely. Had she had to write a letter or use a payphone (as in the days when I went away), I would have heard only the positives at the end of the day.

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Since she is commuting, could you possibly send her with some extra goodies to share during break time tomorrow? A large bag of m&m's or a dozen homemade cookies can really help to break the ice when trying to meet new friends.


Hang in there! Trials like this can sometimes be harder for the parents than the kids.

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I just want to say that although I don't know any of you, I love you and appreciate you all so much:) Thank you all for your words of wisdom. It helps so much. It's so nice when others get you, if you know what I mean? I like the snack sharing trick!! All the advice, in fact was good.


BuzzandMoo, we were probably at that same audition. My dd was 11 at the time, and probably the only girl without pointe shoes. She was also the only one not wearing a black leo. She auditioned with the younger group and then with the older group, but didn't stay for the whole thing. I think two back to back auditions were too stressful. Lo and behold she got into the prep program, but was waitlisted for CT.


Thanks again everyone!!! I hope I can return the favor.

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Ooo, snacks to share! That's a fabulous idea!!!! I'd forgotten that trick. It worked great on my youngest way back in pre-school when one of her classmates was on her nerves. They ended up being best buddies!!! I

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Oh I remember you!!!! That awful mom was telling you your DD was behind because she wasn't on pointe yet! I had words with that mom! I am so happy you are doing that program! Your DD is lovely! She will do really well with that program. My DD's best friend is attending the Prep program with yours. PM me and I'll pass on the info; I think the girls will get along beautifully! My DD got into CT and they would not consider her for the NY program, so she went to Boston. I'm so glad our paths have crossed again! :clapping:

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