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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Help! DD is quitting dance for good


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Hello all,


I need help from moms who had to suddenly quit their status as ballet moms.


My DD, aged 16, is quitting ballet after 7 years of intense dedication, and this happens as she had finally reached her goal.


Last summer, she was accepted in a ballet school after many unsuccessful attempts (auditions and SI evaluations). She had to move in a different city, stay in a boarding school and adapt to a new life, with a lot of pressure and stress.


First impressions of her ballet teacher were enthusiastic. She said she adored her, her grace, musicality and said she was working 200 % of her capacity. So much that she jokingly said she was concerned she would injure herself. Everything seemed fine until she started developing a tendonitis of her hip flexors. From then, everything went in a down spiral. At the same time, she got a hard time grasping choreographies in the contemporary class and was extremely stressed out. She had to see a psychologist. Then she had to restrict her ballet movements to rest her hips. We saw chiros, osteos, acupuncturists, name them. In January she was prescribed a month of rest from ballet. In class, she had to do abs, and a whole range of exercises to increase her strength and stretch her flexors. Her ballet teacher started to yell at her, showing impatience.


At the end of February she started to dance again. She was seeing a whole bunch of health practitioners to help solve her hip problem. Little by little the pain decreased. I was hoping for the best. Didn’t see what was coming out of the corner. Early March, the school AD informed her, during an ‘interview’ of a few minutes with two other teachers that she didn’t have the required level to pass in the class above next year. Everything was said through allusions, nothing really direct. I had to call the AD to get explanations (lack of strength, tendency to get injured, blah blah blah). DD was devastated. It destroyed all the remaining motivation she had.


Rest of the year passed like a nightmare, like when you know deep inside that whatever happens, nothing will be good again. She was rejected at some auditions for the end of the year show roles. Her pain re-appeared because of these auditions during which she had given her best. In ballet, she had become a shadow of herself.


She did a few parts in the end of the year show. On the day after the last show, she wore her bun for the last time. When we arrived home, I put her dance stuff away. She decided not to attend the SI or any other SI in July. She told her friends she didn’t want to dance ever again.


That was it. My DD is presently in wild phase of teen age. I cannot even pronounce the word “dance” without her being mad. I know that she is probably still trying to heal and prefers to erase everything in order to survive and put her energy elsewhere. I am not contradicting this. She may go back to dance recreationally in the coming year but something tells me she won't.


I am having an extremely hard time coping with that loss, this brutal exclusion from a world that I knew was full of flaws but made me dream. No more ballet slippers or pointes to sew, no more classes to watch, no more auditions, tutus, make-up, no more piano, ballet shows, this world has shut up for me forever (probably).


If someone here has experienced this before, I would be very grateful to get your testimony. I didn’t know these feelings of loss would be so extreme.


I am in shock.

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I am so sorry to hear of your DD's difficulties. I would think that injury would be the most difficult and frustrating problem for an athlete. My son has played high level football, and he knows of incredible athletes that have had their football career cut short by injury. It must be hard because it is something outside of your control--you can't just work harder or longer anymore, even if you are willing to. Your body won't let you. And then there is the pressure the athlete feels, real or not, from the coaches to get back in the game. The athlete sees his position go to another player while he sits on the sidelines--and still his body won't cooperate with his great desire to play. And there is always someone waiting "in the wings" for their opportunity, and it comes because someone on the first string becomes injured. And all the incredible, injured, player can do is watch and wait his body out. Sometimes they need to sit out a season, learn how to manage their new limitiations and reenter the game. Other times they need to go to plan b or c.


Sounds like your daughter needs time to heal physically and emotionally. She needs to know that she is a valuable, loved, and talented young lady whether she dances or not.


From experience, I would encourage you as her mom to realize that dancing professionally has to be her dream, not yours. She has to find her calling in life, and you get the great responsibility and privilege as her mom to walk beside her as she figures it out.


I am so sorry for this difficult time for you. I am pretty sure you know all this, but I just wanted you to know you are not alone.

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I went thru this with dd over the past year. If you look up some of my posts - you will get the details but short version is that dd tore her acl, spent 9 months rehabbing but never really returned and decided she was done. I went thru the emotions you are experiencing - actually found myself tearing up when talking about it. Tried different things because I wanted to be sure she wasn't quitting for the wrong reasons. I was surprised by how upsetting the whole thing was to me. It took a few months but once I saw that she was OK and trying different things and that she doesn't regret the decision - it started feeling better and like it was the right thing.

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What she said ^^^ I an still here as well


Although our stories are not extremely similar, our daughters are about the same age and seem to have given up on a dream that just a short time ago was a very strong desire.


In my dd's case, because she got serious so late, catching up and training was very difficult. After a year away, she moved back home to take advantage of more personalized training, but along with living at home came the desire to have an active social life and no dance peers to speak of. Combine it with some depression and behavioural issues we should have seen it coming. Like you, we can't even say the word dance.


Right now she hasn't danced for 3 weeks and says she's definitely taking a break this summer and has told her friends and dance mates that she is done. I have left the door open for her to do a 2 week august intensive, but I'm not hopeful. She had said she feels that she's no good and that she's not getting any better.


I really feel the loss. It was a huge part of my life, and I may have made the mistake to allow her dancing to become part of my identity. I go in my sewing room and look at the tutus and costumes and pretty much grieve. However, with no summer intensive to pay for, and possibly no more tuition and gas for the hour + we were driving her daily! my wallet is much happier.


You are not alone!

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Thats very hard for both of you! Must be really hard for her as she is young and hasn't had this kind of thing to process before. We have a very wise teacher who danced with Royal Ballet years ago. She had gone through the ranks, finally made it to principal and got her dream lead in Giselle when she was in a car accident that ended her career. She always says it is a lucky dancer who gets to pick when to end their career. Most of the time, life chooses it for you. One of those very hard things that most teachers don't talk about.

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Hello all,

I am so grateful for your comments and testimonies. It goes right to my heart!

`I may have made the mistake to allow her dancing to become part of my identity…’

Well said Iceberg*lover. This is probably a big mistake we all made. But how could it be different?


SI is starting tomorrow at her ballet school and she won’t be there. I don’t blame her! She got so much negativity there the whole last year that I can understand she doesn’t want to go. But still.. It is very difficult to digest.


Clementine, I don’t think I will be brave enough to continue posting on Ballet Talk! Instead I will try to forget if that is possible. Already I have deleted many Facebook and Twitter ballet pages I use to follow.


Which dreams did my DD kill? What was so fantastic about watching her in ballet class? The music? Sure. I am a classical music fan. Especially piano! (There are some pieces I cannot listen to right now. Too painful). The beauty and grace of movements? Sure. The discipline, the dedication, the soul? Yes. It strikes me that a ballet class unfolds a bit like a ritual. It always follows the same routine. They are silences, and the voice of the ballet teacher. There is the music. Intense moments and moments of rest. How will I ever fill the gap?

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To me, it sounds like you raised a strong daughter who is aware of her limitations and isn't going to compromise her health - mental or physical - for anyone or anything. This isn't a bad quality. I wouldn't think of her as "quitting" as much as giving up an activity that she has realized is making a negative impact on her life.

How will I ever fill the gap?

So how do you fill the gap? I can think of a couple of ways. If YOUR heart is still truly in ballet, I'm sure the school and/or company would love to have you as a volunteer in some sort of capacity. I also imagine that your daughter will find her bliss somewhere else, and that will also create an opportunity for you to enjoy her new endeavors as a cheerleader and/or active volunteer. Or, maybe you can find something new to fill your time through an activity you've always wanted to try.
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I am so sorry for all three Moms experiencing this, and the daughters as well!!! Because it's something our daughters are so passionate about, it does become a huge part of our lives (us, as dance moms, or any other intense sport moms!). It's completely natural to feel loss and grieve when a large part of our life is no more, and also to mourn the loss of hopes and dreams we have have had for them (and they for themselves!!!).

It doesn't make it much easier, but we must remember it's THEIR journey. As hard as it is, it's their choice and I'm sure it was not made easily. i can only imagine how difficult it must be to have to make that decision, especially because of injury. I know I would have a really hard time with it no matter how much I know that it's not "my" thing, I would still be really upset (and try my hardest to not show DD, as that would only make it harder for her!).

I feel for all of you, (((HUGS)))!!!

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Thx for your thoughts. I am (very) slowly beginning to heal. Today I thought of her camarades dancing for their 1st day of SI and it was almost OK.


Please keep in mind that stopping dance was not really her decision, it is the school who didn't accept her for next year. I still don't know up to this day which role her injury played into that decision. One of her dance class mates had a hip replacement during the year and was not able to do any step when she came back to the studio in May and they kept her! So it has certainly to do with her lack of passion (or her unability to show it during class), lack of physical endurance and confidence.


Declaring "I stop dance" was just her way to cope with rejection.


Things are so complex right now. I do hope that little by little, she will let me know how she feels regarding dance and be able to vent.

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You can let your daughter know that the dance door is still open - just at a more relaxed pace. If she truly loved dance she may enjoy joining a recreational group, teaching rec center dance classes or just getting season tickets to your local professional company. After she has cooled off she may even want to rehab her hip and work her way back up to her current training level. Or not. The important thing is that it doesn't have to be all or nothing.


There are many ways to still be involved with dance -for both of you- if you want it.


Make sure she knows that you support her decision (even if it is hard) and that while you enjoyed your stint as a dance mom it was the "mom" part, not the "dance" that made it special.


Best Wishes to both of you-

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... it was the "mom" part, not the "dance" that made it special.


Best Wishes to both of you-

I love this! So eloquent and what our children need to hear often.

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I don't know if this will help you - but I felt the same way last year when my son decided to stop gymnastics. I was a gymnast growing up - and then I was a coach and a judge. Our son became very interested in gymnastics when he was 6 and started on the competitive gymnast path. He was the State Vault Champ in his age group in two states. After 7 years, we moved and his new coach left something to be desired. He hung on but was not as motivated as he was in the past. He then broke a finger and had to sit out for two months. It was during this time that he accidentally discovered dance and then ballet. I guess my point is that sometimes when one door closes - another one opens. It will be interesting to see what door opens for your daughter. And then you can be a ??? mom.

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Like boydamcermom, my DD was a gymnast, since age 6. We moved to a country where only I spoke the language so I had to learn all about her sport, to translate. I sewed leotards, taped hoops and clubs, helped her stretch, it was a huge part of our lives. Then one day we finally got a referral to a sports doctor for a nagging problem I wasn't quite sure was a problem and...that was it. She was headed down a road of catastrophic injury if she kept on the way she was, and she was not at all interested in continuing without those movements, as it would mean she would never reach the top. She was instantly done.


I was pretty bereft- it was a big part of MY life, too! But DD found dance, and then ballet, and here we are now. She is not injured- and I know so, so many girls she competed with who are, some so badly it hurts my heart to think of. She is (arguably) an even better dancer than gymnast, and she is definitely happier. I think sometimes kids who find a passion at a very young age do not really understand if they truly love it, since it is all they know, while those who find it later really do. She thought she loved gymnastics, but she could never remember a time she didn't do it, so really, did she? She knows for sure she loves to dance.


Your DD may return to dance, or find another passion. Or just live her life, happily and injury free. No matter what happens, you too will find your way. It's very understandable to feel the way you do! But I know it gets better, because I lived it. I still watch gymnastics on the Internet, and keep up with what's going on, I will always love it (and I didn't even know what it was until DD started!). but I love having a DD that is happy and healthy much more, and now I can sew dance costumes and tutus so- hooray for me!

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I am loving all of the wisdom in this thread. It also serves as a good "gut-check" for me. I have a tendency to get pulled into my girls' ballet lives more than I probably should. It's just so hard to keep it at arm's length when it is something they love so much.


Eta: sorry, just realized this is 13+. Moderators delete if needed, please.

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