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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Talented but lazy?


pointy_ears

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pointy_ears

I love this place! :clapping:

 

If you will indulge me with another question.

 

I think I can safely say my daughter (who just turned 13) is a talented ballet dancer – and a dedicated one, too. She has never, ever wanted to skip classes, and dutifully got up super early every day for 4 weeks last summer for her intensive without complaint. She adores performing and is sad when she doesn’t have a performance for which to rehearse or a class to attend. She says it’s “her life” and swears up and down she could never think of doing anything else.

 

At the same time, she can be pretty lazy. When she is not in class, she never stretches, hardly thinks of dance. Sure, she watches videos from time to time, but she doesn’t seem to be the “live and breathe ballet” kind of person that some are.

 

Do others find this to be the case with their dancers?

Should the "push" always come from within the dancer, or - at this young age - is it okay to for the parent to push a little, too, when the potential is so great?

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Victoria Leigh

It would be best with self motivation, or a nudge by a teacher. Generally not a great idea for it to come from a parent. :wink:

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I am curious to hear responses to this too. I have one similar to you - although talented she lacks the typical ballet body and will have to work even harder than most to showcase her strengths. She is in a pre-pro school affiliated with a company (academics there too) so she truly does eat, sleep and breathe ballet during the day but at night it is a different story. So far this year she works her butt off in class and whenever she can get free time in a studio but at home watches netflix and Dance Moms. I pay a small fortune for the opportunity because SHE says thats what she wants, but at the same time I do feel the need to push a little so she isn't wasting her time and my money.

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Victoria Leigh

If she is living ballet all day, why not a little break with something different at night? Being dedicated and hard working is great, but one does not have to rule out other things in life!

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pointy_ears

It would be best with self motivation, or a nudge by a teacher. Generally not a great idea for it to come from a parent. :wink:

I see what you are saying, Victoria. I guess "push" isn't the right word. More like.... encourage with some force. ;o)

Like Bub'sMom says, to ensure there isn't a waste of time and money, for sure, but also - and more importantly - to ensure a fulfillment of full potential. Does the parent have no role in this?

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Victoria Leigh

Well, they pay the bills and become a ballet taxi driver! :wink: Seriously, if one needs to be pushed to do what she knows she needs to do, then she doesn't want it badly enough. But, at 12 maybe she does not yet realize that there are things she can do outside of classes to help her progress. And that is why it needs to come from a teacher, because it needs to be explained what she needs to do, and how to do it. If the teacher has never talked to her about what she can do at home, then you can talk to the teacher or the AD of the school, and ask them to bring it up to her. But definitely not a good idea for you to do it!

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TwelfthNight

DD, who is now 17, was similar to this when she was younger. I wouldn't call her lazy. It was just that she wasn't one of those who danced all over the place growing up, had to have everything ballet related, watched ballet DVDs, etc. However, she was and remains very dedicated. At one point when she was younger, I did question her desire to dance because it seemed like she wasn't the one who lived ballet 24 hours a day as many of her peers did. She has always wanted to dance professionally and continues to work hard towards her dream. If there was something she needed to do for a part in a performance, such as getting her splits down or strengthening specific areas such as her feet, she would work on them, but otherwise, she just worked in class. I will add that all the greater majority of the dancers we have known over the years that seemed to eat, sleep, and breathe ballet, have quit at some point. Some with amazing potential.

 

When DD turned 15, she went to a new studio and really, it has made a lot of difference in her as a person. She developed an inner drive. While the desire was always there, now it is a more mature desire, if that makes sense. She does the foot exercises she has been shown daily and reads books on how to take care of herself as a dancer. The new studio focuses in on artistry so they learn a lot of variations. There was no youtube when DD was growing up so maybe having videos so readily available now helps, but now if DD knows she is going to be given a specific variation or is looking for one for YAGP, she will go to youtube and watch different professionals doing the variation to learn it and learn some of the artistry that goes with it. Her instructors will usually tell her which style to look for, but DD also finds others to view as well. DD loves to read and she was given a few books on the background stories of each ballet when she was younger, but now she actually reads articles by professionals as well as the background of the ballet itself to get an idea of what the character is really like so she can portray them to the best of her ability.

 

For now, I wouldn't worry about it. Kids need to have other interests or they can get burnt out. Just let her enjoy her classes and let her decide what to do. If she needs to work on stretching, etc., she will see how she compares with others and be the one to decide she needs to work on it herself. You can remind her about them, but she needs to be the one in the driver's seat. If this is what she is meant to do, it will come.

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TwelfthNight

I can't seem to figure out how to quote or copy/paste, but basically what Ms.Leigh said is true. As parents, we become the taxi drivers and bank. :) Still, it is a beautiful thing to see your child grow and take control of what she wants in life and become the beautiful persons they are. At 13, you can gently ask if they have done such and such a stretch, but otherwise, they need to be the one who sees what they need to do to succeed. Even at 13, they can gauge how they measure up compared to others in certain areas..

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learningdance

Thanks Twelfth Night. It's so nice to hear the stories about how a dancer develops.

 

I have talked to DD (12) about the ways expectations change at her level. Basically I said, it's not enough to go to class and listen and work hard in class, you need to take responsibility for stretching, some core work, sewing pointe shoes, and maintaining your body. And, I see her doing these things and I compliment her on it. But what I have realized is that my expectations for the kind of drive that I expected her to show was not age appropriate. That may be evident in some unusually mature 12 year olds but that's not who my DD is. In terms of maturity she is middle of the road. I do wish that I could get her talent, intelligence, and other gifts wrapped up into an highly mature individual but it is not so. So, I have to help her grow but accept that she is doing all that she can in her 12-year-old way and applaud that.

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Lazy is the last word that comes to mind when I think of the schedules of our dancing children.

Crazy, tiring, expensive - yes.
Lazy - no.

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dancemaven

We parents have to be careful that WE don't become more invested in their dance than they.

 

Pushing the 'talented' dancer who has 'great potential' is like leading a horse to water. You can do it, but you can't make them drink. And given how dicey the chances for a professional career is, why would a parent want to focus their child so narrowly. I do understand the parental feeling of 'but with a little more, she could be sooooo much better', but honestly, it IS their journey and they have to make that commitment.

 

Twelve and Thirteen are awfully young to do that. Sometimes, it is much later before the dance student can really understand what it takes in terms of commitment and focus. Our jobs, as parents, is to provide the opportunity----and then keep our own desires, ambitions, and starry eyes in check. There is SO much our kids get out of this serious training---with or without a professional contract at the end---that there is no way we should ever feel that we 'are wasting our time and money'.

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I have 3 kids who dance - DS 16, DD12, DD11. DS is very serious about dance and due to being one of the few boys around our area, he gets a lot of work from places outside of his studio. He sometimes dances 7 days a week, sometimes two different places in a single day when it gets really crazy. That said, he needs some downtime. He needs to be able to lay around in his sleepwear and play video games or whatever and be generally lazy. He doesn't need to stretch or practice at home - he gets enough of that at the various places he is rehearsing at. DD12 dances constantly - she dances when she does homework, when she watches tv, in the store, walking down the sidewalk - you get the picture. She does it unconsciously - its how she relaxes. Is she more dedicated to dance than DS? Not in the least. They simply do what works best for them. DD11 is another story. She is a power tumbler who switched back to dance a couple of years ago. She cannot practice at home (save the lamps!) and has to be told constantly to cool it. Over the weekend she gave herself tendonitis in her landing foot because she was working her aerials on concrete too much. Is she more dedicated than the other two? No, she just has this obsessive nature and a "just one more time mama" mentality that usually results in her being extremely sore. All have interests outside of dance which I have made sure to encourage. I think putting all of your time, energy, and talent into one thing can have devastating effects later down the line. What do they have to fall back on if they can no longer dance?

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dancemaven

What do they have to fall back on if they can no longer dance?

This is it exactly! I have found that what I enjoy most as relaxing activities or interests are things I learned/took up early as a child---knitting, sewing, reading, exercise, etc. Childhood is a time to explore. Yes, our dancing kiddoes who have aspirations of professional career need to put in the dance hours (which, to them, are never a chore), but they also need the time to do other things, do nothing, to develop interests outside of only dance. Otherwise, they run the risk of being dull, one-topic people.

 

And as dinkalina reminded, "What will they have to fall back on if they can no longer dance?" Keep in mind, sometimes that 'when they can no longer dance' may come waaaaayyyy earlier than they themselves would have chosen. Having a more rounded personality and set of interests can help weather that transition.

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pointy_ears

Very good insights and feedback so far. Thank you!

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love to see you dance

My DD works very hard in class, now in college and dancing all the time often working ( and being paid) by studios and small companies in the area. She has never been a 24 hour dance person. She has always worked to have a balanced and what she calls "normal life". When she gets pushed by anyone other than herself or her dance instructors she has pushed back. We have felt our job is to support her efforts, and help her to determine where the best place to train, go to school etc may be for her. She feels that having a life helps her bring more to her dance and she is definately a person who needs down time. I don't think it reflects at all on how serious she is about dance. We are willing to fully support her no matter what the outcome because we feel the arts are just as important a career path as any other field but one that must be pursued when one is young, I don't want her to regret not following tht path. There will always be time for another career

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