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Ballet Talk for Dancers

curious


inbetween2

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This is just more curious then anything, but I was wondering at what age do you look at a child and say "gee I really think you have what it takes to take it futher?" l am guessing in their teens. By then you can see their committment level but in general their ability to dance.

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Gosh. Isn't that the million dollar question on all of our minds. I wish there was a realistic way to answer....most of the parents on this forum could sleep better if there were. :(

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I think this might be better placed in Cross Talk where the members with older and professional dancers could share their wisdom.

 

As for my own child, I have no idea. She is good but not great. She is extremely hard working and dedicated but she is young. She may or may not have a body suited to classical ballet as she grows up. For right now, all I can say is that at the moment dance makes her happy and that is reason enough for us to support her dreams.

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I'm not sure how far my daughters will take this or if at all past high school. I am curious to see how people answer though.

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This is just more curious then anything, but I was wondering at what age do you look at a child and say "gee I really think you have what it takes to take it futher?"

 

I think it depends on what you mean by "take it further".

 

We take it one year at a time, that helps me to keep my head on straight and keep from driving myself crazy. Each spring, after evaluations, we discuss the schedule options for the fall, what she 'should' be taking and what she wants to take. So far the two jive, she is 11 and asked this fall if she could add a 4th technique class. Our school requires 2 classes to stay at a rec. level, but suggests 3 for those who are more serious at her level. My DD is has a great facility, although she will be tall...probably 5' 9-10".

She loves dance, loves the studio and her friends & instructors there. It is part of who she is. IF her passion waned then we would proceed accordingly. At this point we just take it as far as she wants to each year.

 

If by 'further' you mean making it to a pro level...then I guess we all just have no way of knowing! If only there were a giant crystal ball!

 

I will say this, we have a few 'older girls' who have recently graduated from our studio (from high school) and are off to college with no plans whatsoever to dance professionally. These girls were two of the bright stars at our studio, in the school company and extraordinarily committed to dance. They will continue to dance just for the joy of dancing, so for some DKs that is the perfect definition of taking it further, just dancing because they love it.

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I have no clue. I looked at dd last year and I, along with everyone else, would have put her towards the top of the class excluding pointe work which they just started and she clearly wasn't a natural at. Lo and behold, she (along with a few other girls who everyone could have picked out because they were older and simply do not take dance as seriously) was NOT promoted to the next level. Turns out she had a physical reason and we have since started PT and she's working hard on it, but it was a huge blow to her self esteem as a dancer and a shocker to everyone watching this group of girls.

So, my answer now is totally different than it would have been 6mo ago..! Then, I would have said she had a somewhat decent shot at it. Now, it could happen but it's going to take even more than the huge amount of hard work she already expected. We have learned that working hard, being passionate and wanting something isn't enough. The universe can throw you curveballs that really force you to reconsider. 6mo ago having a dance career was all she ever wanted (since she was about 2!). Now, she has been forced to reconsider because it may never happen for physical reasons, no matter how hard she tries. She just turned 12 this fall.

She wants to dance, has always wanted to dance. If somewhere down the line, she still has dance in some capacity in her life, that would be wonderful. Right now, it doesn't really matter.... As long as she loves it, I will continue to make sure she has the best training available, regardless of whether it leads to anything or not. If she were to no longer be passionate about it, or sustain another injury that would make it impossible, we would reconsider. I would still let her dance if possible but we would choose a more recreational track.

 

I have seen girls that were obviously quite gifted go on to be hired by companies straight out of (or while still in!) high school. I have seen girls in the top tier of our student company completely stop dancing after senior year. I have seen promising young ladies, favorites, quitting long before senior year. I have seen girls creep up from relative obscurity as younger girls and become fabulous dancers as teens... All in the past 4-5yrs I have truly paid attention to the higher levels of our studio. :)

I couldn't say whether my daughter or any of her peers have "it" and will make it. Only time will tell, and as long as my kid is loving dance and enjoying herself, it doesn't matter.

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DD12 started at 3 years old at the Dinkle-est of Dinkles! I remember noticing she had more ability to focus and remember combinations more easily than her peers. At 6 she moved to a serious pre-pro school where she was placed at front in class and always cast well in performances. She took any extra class available and progressed quickly despite going through a difficult "chubby phase". Throughout, she has been generously supported by scholarships at her school (not a huge, famous-named school but feeds a professional company in the US).

 

Today her body is changing with puberty, getting taller (will probably max out at about 5'4 or 5'5). I wouldn't say she was a natural at pointe when she started at age 10, but it is coming along well. She is in class 5+ days a week where she is the youngest student by 2 years. Her school evaluates/progresses students once at the end of the school year. Since she has 3 different teachers any given week she may have personality issues with a teacher and the evaluations come too late/can be conflicting and it's difficult when that is all you have to go on. Her AD knows she intends to dance professionally and encourages her to that end. I should mention she has the additional challenge of being a biracial dancer.

 

I feel like we are constantly evaluating, not always with a mind to career-potential but due to cost of pointe shoes, transportation challenges, etc. This winter she will audition for a very ambitious SI at a nationally-known contemporary ballet company, and another one at a different school nearer our home. Due to family finances she cannot attend anywhere unless she gets a full scholarship. So this becomes our next set of benchmarks. Does she get accepted? Does she get a scholarship? If she attends the SI, how does it go? And most importantly -- Does she still love/want it?

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I think it depends on what you mean by "take it further".

 

If by 'further' you mean making it to a pro level...then I guess we all just have no way of knowing! If only there were a giant crystal ball!

 

I will say this, we have a few 'older girls' who have recently graduated from our studio (from high school) and are off to college with no plans whatsoever to dance professionally. These girls were two of the bright stars at our studio, in the school company and extraordinarily committed to dance. They will continue to dance just for the joy of dancing, so for some DKs that is the perfect definition of taking it further, just dancing because they love it.

 

This seems to be quite common. Many high school dancers seem poised, ready to take off in a dance career. But in college they dance, as Noodles stated, for the joy of it, just not professionally.

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It's not a specific age. That being said, if they are still slender after puberty, the chances are better. There are a number of factors that definitely play into it. Perserverence and having close to the ideal body type are huge factors. I used to be a professional and didn't start training seriously until I was 14. I saw girls that could dance rings around me, but never were able to get a professional contract because they were too short, or their feet weren't as good as mine, ect. I saw girls that were incredible at age 16-17, but were so burnt out, they never wanted to do it as a career, and went to college instead. I knew girls, myself included that only attended big name summer intensives their last 2 years in high school, but still went on to dance for companies. One of them danced for San Francisco in the corps for 8 years. Not the strongest dancer in the world, but had gorgeous legs and feet and was an extremely hard worker. I would sum it up as luck (being in the right place at the right time, when they need a dancer your height, look ect. to fill a contract), consistent hard work, sacrifice and perserverence. It is a crap shoot. Nothing can be guaranteed, but if they have the natural facility to begin with, you can swing things in your favor if the training is consistent and they work hard enough.

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I'm no expert, but from what I've observed, Yogi Berra's line seems to apply "it's not over 'til it's over." Even when a dancer has everything (facility, joy, work ethic) and gets the contract, I know of careers that ended before they began because of injury and lesser lights who made it to soloist, and sometimes beyond, on grit and an the ability to stay healthy. I think the only reason to do it is because you love it, because that may well be the only thing you can count on.

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I have another question on my mind lately, though related. I was told many times that we have a gifted child, that he has all he needs to be a great dancer. But teachers are saying that he doesn't dance up to his potential, that he is saving himself. Even though he works hard. And I have no idea if there is anything we can do to help him somehow to improve on it (besides talks) or should we just wait and see him grow...

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As a mom of a boy dancer, I think you have to adopt a wait and see kind of approach. Not knowing for sure how old your son is, mine went through a phase at about age 12-13 where he was at a crossroads. He had lost a bit of his passion for dance because of constant injury due to a huge growth spurt, hormones, and generally just not being in a good frame of mind. This age is tough, dancer or not, and they have a lot to deal with in every aspect of their lives. He hit a turning point when he went off for his first summer intensive and has never looked back. He came back with so much passion and drive for his art, it was unreal. It helped for him to be around boys who were older and way better than him to give him the inspiration to work harder. We had another boy at the studio at the time as well, a tad older than my son. He also had a rough year that year - had a poor showing at the competitions he attended, went off to a summer intensive he didn't enjoy at all, wasn't cast like he thought he should be. He was the type of personality in that everyone was competition and he could not handle not being the best. It did not motivate him, it defeated him. He ended up declaring ballet was not for him and eventually left the studio for a more rec/competition style type environment. The point is, you can talk until you are blue in the face about drive, attitude, work ethic, but in the end, it all comes down to them.

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