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Ballet Talk for Dancers

The fine line of pushing too hard or not enough


RRballetmom

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A little background, my daughter is 10 years old and has been doing ballet for 6 years, I see a lot of potential in her and so does her teachers, she loves to dance, aspires to be a professional ballerina, how do I know if I'm pushing to her too hard or not enough?

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Tawanson, I don't think you need to be pushing her at all! That would be up to her teachers. Just support her, encourage when she seems to need it, but the drive to do this has to be hers. The most important thing right now is to be sure that she is getting the best training that you can find for her! :)

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Thanks Victoria, I guess don't really push her as more as I do encourage her. I do see things she needs to improve on if she really wants this, which she truly does. things like flexibility, she has all Of her splits but wants to be able to go beyond them. she has a lot of extra stretching classes coming up so I guess that's where she will see improvement. she is also going from 3 hours of ballet instructional week to 6 on top of rehearsals and jazz, all classes add up to 11 hours a week which is advised by her teacher.

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Tell her that classical ballet does not require splits at all. They are just a stretch for flexibility. Going beyond a split is totally unnecessary and potentially dangerous. I hope her teachers are not encouraging that.

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I'm only a parent. My daughter is 11, nearly 12. My thought is that any pushing has to come from within the dancer herself. There are so many young dancers out there with professional aspirations, mine included. It is only the most diligent, who will press on through adversity, hours upon hours of tedious training, rejection, physical pain and injury, and often near-poverty as well, who will go from beautiful student with potential to professional ballerina. My job is to find her the best available training, provide transportation and other support, find ways to finance the expedition, and insist that she get a good education along the way. Even the principal dancer at NYCB eventually retires and goes on to another life, and most of our dear dancing daughters will not be making a living on stage and need to be prepared to pursue other careers. Oh, and I clap, loudly, and enjoy the ride. There is nothing better than watching my "baby" pursue her passion and perform on stage.

 

I've found the experience of those on this forum to be very helpful.

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tawanson, I admit that I have wondered the same thing! My DD fell in love with ballet at about age 9. She boldly declared at 10 that she wanted to be a professional. almost 3 years later that is still her goal.

 

It is important to remember that what what we see as important for our kids, as adults, is a higher level big picture thinking. It is sometimes hard to see the difference between guiding in the right direction vs pushing them to achieve. They need us to guide them through this maze, to learn all we can on their behalf to make sure we are making the best choices for them....but in the end we must remember that it is their choice.

 

I always remind my DD that this is her journey. I am here to support and to guide but if at anytime she wants to shift gears that is just fine. I believe that as long as you have that conversation (repeatedly! LOL) with your DD you will stay right on track :-)

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Well said, Noodles. I've actually spoken with both of dd's teachers this weekend we all agree that she is doing enough to push herself I appreciate being able to ask questions here and get honest answers.

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I also believe it has to come from the dancer. If the pushing, or too much encouraging, comes from outside themselves, they will probably eventually resent any input. I try to NOT give input, unless it's positive. She has excellent instructors and it is their job to give the corrections and advice. It can be a fine line though . . . :)

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I think that while the dancer is a younger student, under the age of 11 it is ok to 'push' a little. By that I mean teach a good work ethic. There is a conversation on the teacher's thread about students who complain too much and don't seem to apply themselves. I make sure my children are at class on time, they don't miss class, they do not give up once performance season is over and it's time to prepare for exams. There is a glass window and I enjoy watching a few minutes of the class and 'checking' on my student. I occasionally see one of mine starting a habit of leaning on the barre and yawning, looking at the clock, chatting too much, and I make sure they know that that is disrespectful and not appropriate in class. I will also remind them to pay attention and apply corrections. I don't watch every class but I do check in.

 

I absolutely nag them a tiny bit. When they are 12 and they enter the half day pre-professional program I am so happy and relieved to finally 'gift' them with being responsible for their own training. At that age they can communicates with teachers on their own, practice for exams on their own, apply corrections or not, etc.. They are entirely responsible for anything good or bad that happens and by that age they are ready to embrace that.

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My DD10 (nearly 11), like so many others her age, has also proclaimed that she wants to dance professionally. My position is that I will support that choice until she decides otherwise, emotionally and financially (to the best of my ability.)

 

As a non-dancer, I cannot "coach" her in dance, and leave that up to her teachers. But I can coach her in life and teach her skills and good work habits. I let her know all the time that this choice is hers, and hers alone, that I am proud no matter what she chooses. But I also let her know that there are thousands of other girls her age with the same dream who are working hard to pursue it, and that if she wants it bad enough, she needs to work harder than everyone else. With that knowledge, it is up to her to decide what to do.

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WannaPrimaMom, that is similar to my approach. As I wrote earlier, we have that big picture thinking and we need to share our view. 'If you are here and you want to get there...this is what needs to be done.' However that is on the kid to do it!

 

I started this journey knowing nothing about ballet or dance in general. I knew that if my child was going to have even a tiny chance at achieving her dreams, I needed to know how to set her up for success in any way I could. This can not just be left to chance or talent. There is just so much more involved!

 

I do my best to guide and map out next steps...she is just happy to be dancing. We routinely have the "remember this is YOUR journey, you can change direction at any time' conversation, she never waivers in her determination to go pro.

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Thanks everyone for your replies! I have spoken with her recently and let her know that if this is her dream that she needs to work hard, she has potential but it is up to her to practice and work hard for it. She never wants to take breaks throughout the year so I don't worry about that, during exam time she practices like crazy, she is also practicing daily at home for YAGP in 2016 she has a classical and contemporary solo. All of these things excite her so she doesn't complain about working hard on those.

 

Last week she had her first Grade 5 class and a stretching class and she was sore the next day, she had already committed to helping in a class the grade below her but said she didn't want to go because she was sore. I had to remind her that she committed and that she wasn't really "taking" the class she was there to show to do a dance so she needed to keep that commitment. She also started her Intermediate foundation classes this week so things are getting harder.

 

I told her that I won't ever make her go to class, especially if she might be overworked, but that she does need to keep commitments and that there are times she will be a little sore it just means she worked extra hard!

 

I think with her, she has times she just wants to be lazy and lounge around her room LOL! Sometimes that's ok.

 

Thanks again!

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