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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Rejections and Frustration


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Firedragon, I wanted to ask how your daughter is doing? I can imagine this must have been especially hard after dancing at her school for 7 years. Did you feel somewhat more prepared, if that's even possible, having watched others go through this over the years? All the best to you. It sounds like you have a very healthy perspective.

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Felicity, thank you for asking! Next steps were a big part of our discussions today, getting a short list of alternatives. The School also provided some guidance as to other schools she should continue at and they were already on our "Bug Out" list. She already has auditions lined up for next week. One thing you also have to keep in mind that since this is a pre-professional track these dk's are built with a pro/set mind and are tough. Her having to keep rehearsing and taking classes for a good two months knowing full well it will not lead to anything more here, has to be akin to a dancer not getting a new contract, and having to work under the current contract and look for a new opportunity. Dd is treated like a professional.


One thing that she was able to reconcile which is different for your dd, is that there are literally less than 1% of the dk's that manage to start-finish at The School and end up on The Company stage. You could almost say that they are the outlier. Your dd can take away that she got in at a very competitive time 14-15 is when the influx of new dancers come in and she managed to be there for two years, in other word's she's great and she'll be fine.


My dd is also very resilient, every year around May we held our breath, because you really don't know, due to the capricious manner in which the invitation to stay seems to be made. Amazingly strong and talented dancers are let go, as are not so gifted ones too, but many of the latter stay on which makes it almost random. We prepared every year for this eventuality, but it hadn't come until now. When dd started at The School, there were roughly 100 girls in her level and class, 7 years ago. As of this year there were only 3 left including my dd, which is now down to two, as far as I know and there are still four more years left in training.


Lol, it's true that you never hear the bullet that gets you, I would have put big money on the cut happening next year for sure.The reason why I thought that is that dd had the best year ever, a great start, lots of accolades, she received far more criticism the last year than this. Perhaps the fact that she will be 14 at the beginning of class in the fall had something to do with it, perhaps they have a strong class of resident dk's coming in and they wanted to make room, etc. etc.


We discussed options two years ago when she was hurt, erroneously thinking that having an injury would be the end. One thing I will advocate strongly for this school is they don't seem to cut a hurt dancer, they always allow for a come back, and then some. Perhaps that is how it was for my dd, but last year would have that moment. Actually when you are on the short end of the stick everything makes a difference and could have played a role. I am sure this will be a process of acceptance and reconciliation over time, for that I am certain.


All that being said, when I started to bring up Schools with a more classical pedigree she wistfully said no I want to stick to what I know, in case I can go back...

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Wow! Good for her. Perhaps attend the schools SI in a year or two? It would be interesting to see if she still even wants to attend there. As with most things- we get a better understanding of them once we have some distance- time and objectivity.

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Wow! Over the last few days I learned that over a third of dd's class, close to half of the 20+ girls are not being invited back next year. This is a shocking amount, not sure what is behind the big shift, as in many years past there has never been this deep a cut at this level. Dd is as shocked as am I. I thought at these levels we were past the days of these 50% cuts, but this is apparently not the case.


So I am certain there are a lot of bewildered and frustrated dk's and Parent's right now!

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Yes, the bewilderment and frustration are huge. For me, it's because there are so many unanswered questions as to why these decisions are made. Cutting a full 1/2 of your daughter's class, Firedragon0800, must really leave you wondering. It leaves you to fill in the blanks, conjecture, fantasize, and still come up short handed. I suppose it's best to eventually realize we'll never know and just move on. I, for one, am not there yet.


I talked with my dd last evening and all of her written evals by teachers were stellar except for the one by the principal. It's so maddening that this one person holds so much power to make these decisions.


I am curious to know how others respond to not being invited back to pre-pro schools. Is it ever appropriate to ask for a meeting to gain further clarification? I certainly don't want to jeopardize my dd's reputation. I've already suggested to her that she approach the principal and set her feelings aside for 2 minutes to sincerely thank him for the opportunity to dance at the school. The ballet world is a small one and I think leaving on a good note could serve her in the future. But, I wonder if I started asking more questions it would shine a negative light on her. I think it's so frustrating because it seems the school holds all the power and there's really nothing you can do about it. I've always felt I was walking on egg shells there because of the authoritarian rule. I'm afraid dd is handling this better than I am!

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As a matter of course we don't get anything written as far as evals go, it is all delivered verbally. I did follow up with the AD for the girls division, to review my notes from dd's early conference and she affirmed that they were in line with her notes, which I have shared in another thread. But the response was very black and white and guarded. I think we are all looking for some color, something to soften the image we are left with, but they just seem to want to avoid any color, and leave it at either you are in or you are out.


Perhaps at your dd's level they are written, which I suppose is more helpful. I told my dd to finish strong, leave on a high note and make sure not to go negative on the school or others. After all it is such an extremely small world.


She still has rehearsals and she is an understudy, so she's really had to step up and keep focus, and it is getting close so she does less dancing in these rehearsals if at all, so it's really harsh.

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Oh, man. How tough for a 13 year old. She must be a really strong girl. Like you are doing, I've tried to help my dd with the psychological pressures of ballet training because it can make or break you. I wish you all the best in finding the right school for her where she can shine.


Truthfully, I think the reason behind it all is body type. Maybe I am wrong but when I look at who gets promoted, at least in the upper levels, it boils down to that. The schools are not able to verbalize that because it could be damaging to the girls esteem, and perhaps it opens a door for legal issues? Not sure but it certainly has crossed my mind.

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Felicity I do understand what you are looking for. Even though it has been almost a year and the time I think about is less frequent I still don't fully understand if you are basically comparing talent and potential. I do agree it is at the final discretion of the AD. After that initial dreaded call where I believe I blanked on most of it after they said we can't offer a position for grade 9 I was lucky to have a phone meeting with the head of the Junior School. She also had a private meeting with my DD. What she explained to me was more rational and I understood it was more about something was holding my DD to fully let go in her approach to ballet. I knew this was an issue because all year she has expressed to all of us she was confused about her future plans. She was so scared of the AD so each time she came into class she completely tightened up. I do believe this was the main issue and that she was perceived as having a block. Most other parents and students would say we are shocked as she was always in the top quarter of the class. Again that is subjective but hard for us to rationalize the decision. What was told to us in that initial phone call was completely opposite to what was written on her final report. When we hung up from the phone call we felt that she was not good enough for any school. No future chance what so ever. When I finished my meeting with the Junior head it was more that this was not the right program for her at this time.


So I encourage you to get more info take another meeting as it might help. It did us. The speach we got on the call was the same speach that her classmate's parents got the next day. Just say the whole first conversation was a little blurry because you were in shock and you would like to listen with a more open ear now.

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Thanks for this suggestion, kernotmi. It's a good conversation opener. I think I still need to sit back with it all before initiating a discussion with the school. My dd will be going to this school's SI so I will have access to the teachers if I need to. Also, thanks to the support on this forum, I am letting go of what actually happened and moving forward with a bit of excitement for my dd's next step. I understand that my process has been different from that of my dd and because she is 17 years old, it's probably okay to let her deal with it from her own understanding. My need to get more information is really my own anxiety which has only to do with me. If she were younger I would most likely get more involved. Also, I am a dancer from a modern background where everyone is welcome so the 'in or out' reality in ballet has been tough to accept even with prior knowledge that this is how it is. I continue to remind myself that it's my dd's path and she's really doing quite well.


Your description of your dd's ambivalent signals in class reminded me that my dd also gave some signals of her unhappiness with the way things were at the school. There was a lot of pressure on her to smile more and she says this became a real issue with the principal hence his reason that she looked unhappy a lot. I think she actually was unhappy so in the long run, this is probably best...just as so many wise parents here have stated.

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Felicity you have to go with your gut and if you felt somewhere inside of your DD she was unhappy then yes in the long run it is the best. Each program is different. When you see the girls there that are not only talented but still so happy and passionate you know that this is a sign that is telling you to listen with your heart. Of course this took me almost 6 months after our rejection to truly understand. My DD program's like many out there is to strive for perfection but know you will never get there. So some this is the best motivation out there. To mine it just pushes on her doubts and confidence. We are still dealing with I am not perfect issue. I hope as the weeks pass things are getting better to process. These decisions I feel go beyond natural talent and potential. What does not make sense to us when you look at two side by side dancers will make sense when we start looking beyond what we see.


Please keep us posted. It has almost been a year and I we are still dealing with issues that come up because of the biggest rejection of her life. I love hearing how others are navigating through this transition even months later.

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  • 1 month later...

Update: dd is still trying to reconcile why she wasn't asked back to her school. It's still really bugging her because she felt she did so well and at SI she did really well in placement is definitely challenged and is still bringing it. I share this frustration, because after observing two classes this week I felt she was really strong and definitely in the top third if not the top quarter of a very competitive and challenging level.


Still haven't settled on a replacement as figured it was better to audition after SI, but i don't know what is worse not knowing why? or knowing why? Is it one man's "trash" is another one's treasure? Of course she's not trash just trying make a point!

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I know several girls that were not asked back over the years, one of which is quite good. However with this particular girl I can see why they probably cut her: her attitude, she seems almost like a goof off and "I don't really care that much". Not saying this about your DD just my observation of one girl I know. With the others they were all technically up there, but two simply didn't have the right look as they got older and the other she definitely looks like their type but she is weak in performance quality, expressionless dancing and zero personality put into it, like she is concentrating too hard on doing everything perefectly. Anyway those are just my observations of the girls I know.

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It seems like to make it at any of these big name schools these kids must be good. They'd be the shinning of stars of a smaller school. I know of so many kids 'cut' for my dd's program this past year- none granted conferences. Seems like everyone got the same reasons- like it was a theme for the year. I'm so sorry. The way this is handled is cruel and inhumane. It wouldn't be so

Bad if they had the professionalism to have a dialogue. I guess there are those who would not be able to handle that too well though (I've met some of those parents too). Your dd will find a wonderful place where she is valued for the dancer SHE is! And hopefully this gets put in the past. It's awful. If it were me- I'd chalk it all up to agency politics. Yuck.

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I've said it before and I will say it again....at the end of the day this is show business.....a performing art. It is by it's nature, seemingly unfair and arbitrary. It is up to the dancer (performer) to allow this to effect them going forward. I believe that no one school (or AD or teacher) has a crystal ball and is able to predict the eventual outcome for a 13 year old. As parents we owe it to our DK's to guide them to see the positive (and YES there is positive! LOL) and not dwell on the negative. I say to my DD everyday, concentrate about the things you have control over (herself) and don't worry about the rest. Perhaps this has been a bit easier for us because my mixed DD "reads" very ethnic on stage and I knew from the age of 8 that race/appearance would have some impact later on and have been discussing it with her from the moment she expressed a desire to dance as a pro someday. She has been aware that she would be cut/not picked/not hired someday simply based on her outward appearance.


Performinthestorm, I agree to disagree. Very often to "survive" at a big name school with a company attached has very little to do with talent or even hard work......it's all show business. For them it is a cut and dried process that is money driven. Period. Some kids are lucky enough to possess those qualities and to them all the best. :clapping:

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