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Ballet Talk for Dancers
balletsky

Just don't see it

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balletsky

i am just a mom of a 14 year old DD that has been dancing since she was 2 and a half years old. She has changed schools once to get better training at the age of 9 and is now embarking upon changing schools again at age 14 to get better training. She will be entering high school in the fall. I am just scared. She gave up the opportunity to go to private school so she could train more. We just couldn't afford both private high school and all the dance. She has given up a normal 14 year olds life. All for dance. I have asked her time and time again if she wants to focus on school, she is a gifted academic student. But she always says no. I want to dance. I am scared. I see her dance and she's good but not a stand out dancer over the top. What she does have is determination to make it. But from what I have seen she doesn't have natural ability. She has to work very hard, take extra classes, and work at home just to keep up. With this being said I feel like I am failing her by letting her continue this serious path of ballet training. I don't know what to do and really feel at a lose. I guess I am just venting because I don't know where else to go. No one gets it because their kids don't give up their whole life for one goal. Mine does as your do too. That's why I came here. Just to vent. If she was some super star or even the best at her studio, maybe I would understand her drive more. But she isn't. She's just adverage but an amazingly hard worker and still willing to work. Dance just seems to be our day in day out everyday thing anymore. It's starting to drive me crazy. But she's happy. Very happy.

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2RussianAngels

I think I'm in the opposite position that you are. My daughter is also 14. She has been told by several teachers & professionals that she has excellent potential, but she has recently decided to "take a break" from ballet. It's breaking my heart that she's not dancing, and I pray that she's goes back in the fall. In your situation, I'd have my daughter take an academically challenging course load at the public school so that college remains a solid option, but encourage her to pursue her dream as long as she's happy dancing.

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vagansmom

Hi balletsky, you're expressing concerns that are natural for a parent of a dancer your daughter's age. MOST ballet students are "just average," yet have amazing commitment. That discipline your daughter shows for ballet is intrinsic to her nature. If not ballet, it would be something else. When she's finished with ballet - at whatever time and place that will turn out to be - she will turn her amazing focus to something else.

 

When I was that age, I was studying classical guitar. I lived and breathed for it. If I wasn't taking lessons or playing music with friends, I was in my room practicing endlessly. My sister was the same way with her art. Many teens are that way about sports. I think that teens who are inherently prone to be passionate and who also have great self-discipline are going to immerse themselves at levels that might concern parents, but that are very healthy. As a learning specialist, I desperately want my students to have a passion. It sees kids through the turbulence of those teen years.

 

I remember worrying terribly about my daughter at that age. She had "the look" and was highly musical, but one foot, due to an accident when she was 2, sickled badly. She too was an excellent academic student. I silently wondered if it was right to let her continue, and like you, I'd tell her countless times that I was fine if she wanted to quit; she didn't have to continue for her dad or me. I had this crazy idea that maybe she didn't know how to get off the roller coaster. She was very insulted each time and finally told me that she never wanted me to say that again because she felt like I had no faith in her.

 

I've been around ballet for nearly 30 years now and I've yet to encounter an adult who says s/he wishes their parents had stopped them from dance. This is despite the fact that most of the adults never went on to a professional career in their passion. I have met many other adults who hold a silent or not so silent grudge against their parents who stopped them from pursuing their dream.

 

I've learned that it all works out in the wash. Some kids spend a year or two after their dream ends (either when they realize they don't have what it takes or their auditioning for jobs leads them nowhere) at loose ends, trying to figure out what to do. They're not unhappy - in fact, many are quite happy at that point because a decision has finally been made - but then they work out a plan and set about, with that amazing intrinsic focus honed even further by the discipline of their ballet training, following through. These former ballet students are not the kids to worry about. It's the kids who lack focus and passion equally through their teen years that are worrisome.

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Balletwatcher

What a great post, Vagansmom! Thank you for your insightful comments.

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napnap

Life lessons to share! At 14, DD loved ballet and had amazing potential. YAGP awards, scholarships, year-round acceptance to SAB, etc. etc. and the decisions to move away from home to train seriously and at a specific school with which she hoped to be a part of the Company. She is 18 now and has chosen to attend college -- a non-ballet college at that! I have to say that she followed her dreams and was always happy, until this final year. We supported her every step of the way! She does not regret the path she took, nor did it limit her college choices! She received merit scholarships and acceptance to many fine universities. I think the commitment to ballet actually helped her in her college applications! She wants to help people and make a difference in this world, and this is her chosen path. Stay the course, it's does all work out in the end!

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harbordancer

Thank you, napnap and Vagansmom! I appreciate the words of wisdom and experience. My DD is a new teen, and I feel I need all the advice I can get ;)

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AdagioMom

Great discussion . . . I have these conversations with myself (and sometimes my dd) often. She does well, has moved up the ranks, teachers say she has career potential . . . but there's always that nagging doubt that we are supporting her in something with such a small chance of actually happening. This is the 1st one that seriously wants a ballet career (others have done it at various levels for the passion/pleasure, but not necessarily to make it a career), and I have no idea what I'm doing. :) So, thanks for the asking the question . . . and thanks for the thoughtful replies as well! :)

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Drivingtodance

...

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cat11

Thank you for starting such a thoughtful thread, this is something I have struggled with as well. I admit that I forced my own dd to do a lot of the high school extras this year, school dances and football games- and it was a struggle because she really did not want to go, but I wanted her to know what it was that she was "giving up". I thought back to my own high school years, and wanted to her to see what fun it could be. Turns out, it was My idea of fun, and not hers. Her idea of fun is to go to class, see her ballet friends, look at ballet videos when she is home, etc. I do sometimes worry that there may be something else out there that could have been her "thing" if only she had the opportunity to try (she was approached by the track coach at her school who looked at her long legs and tried to woo her onto the team), however I have learned to stop myself when I go down that path- life is full of us making choices to try or not try something- and that is not exclusive to our dancers. The one non-negotiable in our family is giving her the best education possible. Even those gifted dancers, for whom all the stars seem to align, will need something to fall back on someday when their career is over at the age of 40ish (if they are so lucky). I personally know of a very talented young dancer, right on the verge of an apprentice contract with a wonderful company, who tripped over a tree root while on vacation, and sustained a career ending injury. Nothing is certain. I believe that the best we can do as parents is encourage their passion, but balance that with an understanding that this is a fleeting time in their lives and there absolutely needs to be a Plan B, C or even D.

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firedragon0800

Many times in ballet I've heard hard work, determination can trump natural talent. I think at the end of the day your dd will know what it takes to be successful and will be at anything she sets her mind to. That's a lesson worth the angst you feel.

 

Dd is also 14, and I felt we went through this 2 years ago. I'm content to see how the next 2 years go before saying its a crisis.

 

We try not to focus on the destination just enjoy the journey.

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Mom'sJoyOfDance

Thank you, balletsky and all parents who have contributed to this discussion. This thread has helped me realize that I don't need to have all the answers for my child right now. I am right there with all of you. My dd is also 14. She has a natural grace that lends itself well to ballet among other areas, but she also has physical attributes that are less than ideal for ballet. I'm glad that she has found something that brings out a passion in her. How many people go through life and never find that? On the other hand, I was feeling like it's time to buckle down and figure out a game plan for high school and beyond. I was worried that so much of my dd's identity is wrapped up in dance.

 

In many fields, I've seen that success comes to those who are the hardest working and most dedicated. These stars are not necessarily the ones for whom the journey is effortless. The dancers who work to improve their dance skills knowing full well that they don't have the best feet, flexibility, etc. develop a valuable ability to push beyond obstacles. This will serve them well in college or whatever career path is in their future.

 

Last year, we were at a crossroads because my dd needed surgery if she was to continue to dance. Despite the fact that she has gifts as a dancer, we had to have the discussion about whether she should stop dancing and try other things or if we should go ahead with the surgery with its risks, expense, recovery and no guarantees. She had to think about how long she could see herself dancing, her college aspirations, her dance skills in general. It was a difficult decision to opt for an elective surgery on an adolescent kid for the purpose of pursuing an extra-curricular activity. It all worked out fine, and she has had breakthrough moments that have boosted her confidence. I can see that her growth as a person happens to be intertwined with her growth as a dancer at this point in her life. That's not such a bad thing after all. She has come to the conclusion that though she loves dance now, she may not dance in college. This may change several times before we get there, but I'm happy that she is thinking about it.

 

I share the same concerns that some of you have expressed, but I'm starting to see that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

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love to see you dance

What's your definition of success? , I have no idea what my college DD will be doing in 2 years when she graduates, she is a clearly gifted dancer, but there are many out there. What I do know is that to me there is no greater success than having followed one's dreams, DD is a gifted visual artist as well, and once had a dance instructor tell her, you'll have years to do that, the dance world needs dancers like you. DD has a back up plan and likely a back up to the back up. There will be times for other jobs and aspirations. What I know from her as a dancer is that she is a very hard worker. I don't know what the future holds, but I also don't know that for my other kids who studied for careers that they will easily find jobs doing.

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finallykf

When I was young I was almost as involved with musical theater as my son is with ballet - I went to school but hated it because my "real friends" we're my musical theater friends. 5 days a week after school I spent from 3:00-7:00 at musical theater classes and then from 7:00-10:00 if I had rehearsals for a show. Then I had classes and rehearsals all day Saturdays. There were shows during the week and and on the weekends. I was a very good academic student as well. My goal was to go to New York and end up performing on Broadway. Many people might look at my description of my childhood and say it wasn't normal and that I gave up lots of normal things because of musical theater. But here's what people forget. I DID have a normal childhood - it was normal to ME. To someone who went to football games and parties, and hung out with friends and did more academic school related social "stuff" I'm sure my childhood did not seem normal. But to those people, guess what? Your childhood didn't seem "normal" to me because I had no desire to do those things - I wanted to spend my time on my musical theater activities. It ends up that I did NOT have a musical theater career but I do not AT ALL regret ANY of the time I spent on musical theater. I have never looked back and wished that I had spent more time on what some others may consider "normal" childhood activities. I learned skills that helped me in college, in the workplace, as a parent, and in life in general.

 

Now I have a son who is 13 and who goes to a full time ballet academy. We are getting ready to make our second move for his ballet training. He does on-line school to allow him to train full time. He was thrilled when he left "normal" school so he could focus full time on ballet. He is super smart and on-line school works well for him. His social circle has improved since he has been able to spend 40 hours+ every week with other kids who feel exactly the same way he feels about ballet.

 

I have personally seen parents who are concerned because they forget that their definition of a normal childhood is not necessarily going to be their child's definition of a normal childhood. Sadly, I have actually seen some parents sabotage their child's ballet training because they had an idealized expectation of what their child was going to be like as a teen/young adult, and when their child isn't meeting that expectation they passive aggressively do things to undermine their child's training and confidence to the point that the child ends up giving up and giving in because it becomes impossible for them to successfully continue to train.

 

I wouldn't worry about it unless your daughter starts to share that SHE is beginning to feel like she is missing out on other activities she might like to try out. High school is a common time when many kids decide they no longer want to dance as seriously - and that's okay. We have always made sure to remind our son that ballet was HIS choice and as such he can decide to stop dancing anytime he wants. As long as your daughter feels comfortable being able to express if she would like to slow down or stop, I don't think you have anything to worry about.

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Thyme

hear hear!!!

 

I spent my time practicing my clarinet or piano for the school orchestras and bands. Never went to one party (not sure if that is all bad) but had a great time with the other musicians. Do I regret that? Not at all. From my point of view as a parent, I am so grateful that our 16yo DS is safe and absorbed by his passion. I have no need for him to be 'normal' by the usual measures. I never really cared what passion he found as a primary school aged kid, I just hoped he would find one that kept him busy and out of the mall.

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vrsfanatic

What a lovely post finallykf. Thank you.

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