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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Help! DD is quitting dance for good


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Many thanks for your testimonies and experiences.


I take a day at a time. Yesterday was good, DD said a few things about her having to distance herself for a while from dance. She watched the DVD from the end of the year show and noticed that "she was not so bad after all". I realized how much damage to her confidence she must have gone through this year being looked as uncompetent by her teachers.


Today, piano music makes me cry.


It is not just a "mom" thing, it is a ballet thing too.


My son quit martial arts some years ago, at about the same age, and although it was a bit hard to accept, it was OK.


And it is not just the investment in $$, time, emotions, etc. It touches something deep which is the capacity of artistic accomplishment of my DD. It will take time for her to find another channel to express herself, and succeed in it. She is trying so hard to find it!


Dancing was my childhood dream. Artistic expression, notably through music, writing and painting are very strong in my family.


By failing to reach the standards required by this ballet school (and the school is guilty of having not helped her at all to solve her issues), DD has put herself in danger of doubting her own capacities for whatever activity she undertakes.


My priority now is seeing that she gets back on her feet confidence-wise.

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  • isadora


  • Taradriver


  • dancemaven


  • pointy_ears


Hello, My dd has a chronic injury that was diagnosed again this winter and has interfered to the point of putting her in limbo for months while being required to rest. We don't know what the future will bring and I can empathize with your feelings. I wanted to send you a pm, but you aren't eligible yet. A few things to remember. They see things as black and white while still young. The ballet context for a student is highly controlling and your dd's understandable feelings are likely relieved by being able to hold onto her own decisions herself right now. All these things coming together add up to burn-out and the best school AD's understand what that is. If the decision to return is made and she is a year behind, that is not a bad thing. It would just strengthen her skills even more. Time away will give her more perspective. Yes, you have been part of her journey and no you are not a bad mother for yearning to see her dance and thinking about it every day. It is the anticipation of a loss, which cannot be denied. If she leaves, yes there will be wonderful new gains. Yes, her desire to be associated with dance will return, because it is part of her and brings her joy. It just needs time. No, she has not chosen to kill it. If you don't have all the clinical facts about her condition that you can get, get them, so that you have them to put in her back pocket, should she want to pick up again. Be patient and admire your daughter for her courage and fortitude during this time. Celebrate her interests that were always there and you used to wish she could have time to develop. And give yourself a hug, daily.

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Thanks a bunch Marigold. Your words are very comforting. Lately, may be because of the help I find here, and time passing by, I think I am healing. But just like with a heartbreak, I need to be cautious. Avoiding everything that could remind me of a not so far away past with used ballet slippers, sweat-smelling leotards and piles of tights with different shades of pink and greyish pink to be washed.


That you said Marigold is very strong right now: "The ballet context for a student is highly controlling and your dd's understandable feelings are likely relieved by being able to hold onto her own decisions herself right now." :shrug:


This is a typical 16 years old reaction.


How old is your daughter Marigold? How is she coping with this?


Mine has decided to throw the bucket with the water.. She is all for a fantastic future (she thinks) with no dance (I am sure) and so many interesting things to discover.


And thanks for the hug. Much appreciated.


I did some research on the forums with "quitting dance" and got some very interesting threads, with stories similar to my DD's and mine. So many factors have interferred with her dancing and they apparently seem to be pretty common: 1st the injury, then the depression, the loss of motivation, the school AD's lack of support and interest and favoritism, the stress, the competition and the teenage years.


Too much to bear for a 16 years old I guess. I wouldn't have had her courage to finish the year!!!

Edited by isadora
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I am sorry about your daughter's pain and injuries. My daughter has had 2 ankle surgeries and has chronic hip pain, so I do understand a little of what it's like to have a dancer doubt her ability to recover or continue to dance. My daughter hasn't stopped dance cold turkey, but one of her peers did. Her peer was at the top of her game, attending ballet school full time, competed in YAGP finals in NY, did the last school showcase, then stopped ballet forever. She is now attending college and couldn't be happier. I saw her not that long ago and she was glowing, beaming. She said she absolutely loved the years she had danced, but that she just knew it wasn't the career she wanted. She just realized she wanted to go to college and have a normal life instead of pursue profesisonal dance.


I am sure it is very emotionally difficult for parents when their child stops the pursuit of a goal she's had for years. They had visions of their child "making it" and seeing their child perform in front of large audiences, reading reviews of their child's performances in publications, and knowing their child was doing what she loved. I know that if and when my daughter decides to stop dancing I will be in for a shock. But, I will also know that she has decided to try other things, and to find fulfillment in other ways. As long as your daughter is happy, then I'd be happy for her.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I wish I had seen this thread earlier. It has been almost 7 years since DD hung up her pointe shoes forever. She was a freshman in a college ballet program, doing well, but had an epiphany - and changed her major.


Needless to say, I was devasted. I loved to watch her dance and I hoped she would get to dance professionally. But that was not her hope or her dream. So I had to let go and watch her fly in a different direction. Not easy. It was only in the past year that I finally got rid of most of her ballet gear and that was because we were selling the large family home that had become, seemingly overnight, an empty nest.


DD did well in college and grad school and is very happy in her chosen career. She takes hip hop classes recreationally (still makes me cringe) and her ballet training is obvious.


Life goes on. Ballet was wonderful and DD recently said how much she lived it and loved it. I am glad I did not miss the experience of having a DD or being a ballet mom. 7 years later - I am not on BT4D as often as I used to be, but I am still here. Stay in touch, Isadora.

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I appreciate everyone's comments on this topic. My DD, 15 1/2, suffered a foot injury almost 16 months ago. Correct diagnosis, healing, recovery has been painfully slow, to the point where I, the parent, was ready to throw in the towel, though I supported my daughter-- physical therapy, private Pilates, swimming for cross training, etc, in letting her make her own decision of persevering in her recovery. Some of the longevity of recovery was due to initially an incorrect diagnosis (months), then the classic case of too much too soon, and then still, time for healing for an injury that didn't have a set healing time.


She is now at a place where she is dancing, strongly, doing turns, leaps, releves, everything but center pointe, the last hurdle. Her technique in some areas have amazingly improved as she has had to relearn, so she is the strongest she has been since this ordeal started, and in many ways, stronger than where she was before she was injured (both physically and mentally). But still these last 16 months have taught me to take one day at a time. Nothing is a given. Where her healing/her dance will ultimately end up, is still to be decided. It wasn't till I saw her dance one day in a community ballet class this summer, after 14 months of not seeing her dance, that I realized even after all she had been through, she has been blessed with a special gift in ballet; you can see her love for it as she dances, and I understood why she didn't want to give up earlier.


As previous moms have posted, we do get attached to the dance world because our daughters (and ourselves) have devoted so much time and effort (years) in pursuing ballet perfection, that of course, we would like them to succeed, whatever success in ballet really means for each of our daughters/sons. But I have to admit, my daughter's injury and long recovery has also given us glimpses of what it would be like to be without the super intense commitment to ballet, by simply giving us time for other things in life -- like spending time with extended family that don't live near. The word balance....comes to mind.


With each individual situation that I have read about on this board, I only wish the very best, and you all are in my prayers. You all have helped me by sharing your struggles/wisdom.

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  • 1 month later...

Small update on my dd. It's been over 3 months since she quit. I tried to get her to go to a drop in over the summer when we travelled, but that was a no go.

Since returning to school, though, we gingerly talked about her decision to quit. Before it was a pretty much forbidden topic. We went to yoga together, and I asked her if she wanted to try a ballet style exercise class with me, for people with no previous experience. We went and of course she got positive feedback. I could almost see her heart melting.

The end result is, she has decided to go to a once a week ballet class, and maybe do a drop in once in a while.

I am happy, if I only for the fact that she won't be finishing on a sour note. She will never be a professional, but I want her to have good feelings and memories of something that was such a big part of her life for so long.

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I'm so sorry for the struggles that your DD has gone through. I can relate in my ways. At the age of 15/16 my DD had two labral tears due to FAI and had two surgeries two months apart. It was so awful watching her struggle. She opted for the surgeries due to pain and knowledge that it would allow her to dance again. But she wasn't prepared for the months of PT, missing a dance, missing her friends, and also doubting that she'd ever get back. She did everything by the book and did get past it - so much so that she was accepted to the SI that she had to turn down and instead go through surgeries. She was also accepted to a year round program. We thought at that time that it would be best for her to move forward and past her surgeries. But the program wasn't at all what we thought. I feel as thought it actually made things worse. Her self esteem wasn't even close to what it was before she left. Teachers paid no attention to her. She repeatedly had to ask for guidance. She never had many corrections in class etc. she was bound to stick out the year, but knew before Christmas she had no intentions to stay past the year. It even showed in her dancing at the year end performance. I almost cried watching her. She wasn't at all the dancer I'd seen grow up. I can totally understand all the emotional feelings that go along as a mom. As parents, we invest so much in order for them to acheive their dreams. And along the way, they become ours too. And now, at 18, my DD has moved past her toughest year(s) and seems to be in a good place. She is really liking where she is dancing now, and is now finally moving forward.


I'm truly sorry that your daughter was treated the way she was. I can also understand her wanting to give it all up. But I also understand the sadness for you too. The first time I watched a performance when my DD was injured, I wasn't even able to watch my DD's best friend, as it reminded me of my DD not being able to perform. (I cried most of the time in fact.)

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  • 4 weeks later...

It was only in the past year that I finally got rid of most of her ballet gear and that was because we were selling the large family home that had become, seemingly overnight, an empty nest.


Taradriver it might take me as much time as you to decide that these things have become useless... I cannot get rid of them now. I still need them around.. It's been 5 months now that they have been left untouched.


Nothing has changed. There is still no word about dancing and the topic is still taboo. I cannot help thinking that she is still hurt about what happened to her, the rejection, the pain, the feeling of being not good enough. I have tried to tell her that she should not feel that she failed anything. I don't believe I convinced her. My worst fear is that she might think she was a failure.


Today she is happy, she is living a new life, with new horizons, friends, activities. No sports, no dance.. she has grown bangs. We went to watch a contemporary dance show recently (we had free tickets). She said it was a bit sad to see a dance show now that she wasn't dancing anymore, and that she would have certainly cried had it been classical ballet. And then she forgot all about it.


I went back to my adult ballet classes, with more fervor than ever. The irony of it is that they take place in the dance school where she spent her first dance years. I feel that if I can endure that brutal exposure to her dancing past, then I will be able to endure anything.


Everybody tells me not to talk to her about dancing again. To just wait. So I am waiting... hoping that she will eventually go back to it, naturally.


The end result is, she has decided to go to a once a week ballet class, and maybe do a drop in once in a while.

I am happy, if I only for the fact that she won't be finishing on a sour note. She will never be a professional, but I want her to have good feelings and memories of something that was such a big part of her life for so long.


I wish it could just be like you, iceberg*lover: this is fantastic! and gives me hope.


Thanks to all for your feedback, experiences and help. Much appreciated.


Will keep you posted in case something new happens...

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Isadora, in the summer, when I mentioned that she take a drop in class at a large centre in the city, she got mad at me and cried. Now, she is going once a week, also at the school where it all started, but with a new teacher. (and I have to say she had her leo and tights and gear ready the night before and does her hair perfectly, but we're not allowed to compliment her on it!) I also attend a drop in adult class and she joins me on occasion, although it's very easy for her. Honestly, I basically forced/bribed her to take that first class back. Right now, I dont know if she plans to continue past the Christmas break, and I'm not asking her about it.


I am not saying that this is what your dd should be doing, but this has been our path. Deep in my heart I know I want her to return to dancing full out, just because she seems so lost without it. The better grades and more active social life she was going to have without dance in her life haven't materialized.


But I ma please with where we are right now, and it was with a nudge from me.

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I just want to empathize with both of you and comment again that it just takes time. Being stalled for whatever reason, in limbo or choosing to leave such a passion for an alternative dream is a beast to wrestle with for a dancer, from my observation. Daily. Couple that with this going on in the late teen years and their natural yearning to be free and develop themselves in other ways. The decision making process would be harder than any physical challenges they have ever had. The challenges we mothers have to face in this context are HUGE - they test patience and acceptance and require re-assessing our roles in the journeys. And worst of all, most of that thinking has to be done in silence, should you disturb the beast!! In my observation, a dancer does come around and embrace their love of dance eventually, no matter what. I think when they have to slow down and the "callouses" soften up, everything hurts a little more and falls a little apart. The structure they're used to is lost and all that goes with that. It's a lot of work to pull it back together again, no matter what form they decide on! Remember, all that type of work had already been done for them before and had all been in place. One class a week after a bribe... haha - glad that worked, iceberg*lover! And isadora, all the best to you. And yes, your taking class back where she began? - you CAN survive anything! She sounds like she has done a great job gathering herself into a new format for now. That should help her get her self esteem back. And you sound like a great mother! Sending a hug!!!

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My perspective is much different years down the road. Instead of looking at what was lost, I look at what my dear daughter, who was 26 yesterday, has gained. She is an excellent middle school teacher and an uncommonly poised young woman who faced personal tragedy earlier this year with courage and fortitude. The self-discipline she gained from ballet has helped her tremendously in many aspects of her life. Am I glad she took the ballet journey? Yes, I am. She is, too. It was her journey to take; I was just in an ancillary role.


I still have a pair of her pointe shoes, a new pair of Grishkos, nestled in their box, ribbons sewn on.


Sometimes it's not the destination, but the journey that's important.

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Very wise words, Taradriver. :)


I would venture to add that it could, actually, ALWAYS be the journey - every single minute of it - which is important.

We are only alive one second at a time.


Thank you all for such wonderful, wise thoughts.



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Such great, thought provoking words Taradriver. It is wonderful your daughter is thriving and continues to appreciate her journey in ballet. ☺

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Hopefully, those parents who are trying to cope with their DK's deciding not to dance can gain a little comfort and reassurance from what happened in my case.


And did I mention my very talented 4 year old granddaughter? What's the abbreviation? DGD?

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