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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Has this ever happened to your DD


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SCB - maybe she can try another studio? Our son just went through a change of studio and he tried out 3 before he found one that he liked. If you have any other options - it's worth a try.

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When we first started discussing her departure from her old studio and possibly dance all together, my husband and I said she could choose whatever felt right for her but she had to have a plan for her to do something active. But maybe, if she does want to quit dance, she doesn't necessarily need to have a plan – maybe she should be open to what the universe shows her as her next path…



When my youngest chose to abruptly leave dance due to physical (and likely emotional) reasons, we told him he needed to have something physical to do. We tried to push that envelope for a while and I believe it did not help. In fact, I'm pretty sure it drove a wedge between him and me. When we finally just let him be for a while it looked like he was brooding and grouchy most of the time. It was at the start of his teen years. I have always tried hard not to attribute behavior solely on age...but with hindsight...lots of hormones and angsty stuff going on, so maybe? He sat and atrophied quite a bit. It was physically painful for us to watch. But we chose to accept where he was, held our breath for a while and waited.


Anyway...once given some room to breathe he seemed to go through a sorting out period and a year and a half later just as abruptly as he chose to leave, he chose to go back.


I have a totally different dancer these days. His confidence has increased. He is making friends where he didn't before. He looks like there was never a break in the dancing. And I am grateful we are enjoying a new and more positive chapter in our relationship.


Long-winded way of agreeing, sometimes a plan isn't the best thing, at least for a while.


Best of wishes

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SCB, you sound like such a great mom--wanting what's best for your daughter, with or without ballet, and so open to input from others. That is such a hard situation. You have gotten an incredible amount of really excellent support and advice already here, I really just wanted to share my empathy and to say a huge THANK YOU to you for starting this discussion and to everyone else for sharing their experiences and insight. My daughter (14) is going through something similar. I have been sharing this thread with her all week, and the stories and advice here have really buoyed her spirits. trythis, your reminder that each kid is different and will go through periods of rapid improvement as well as lulls is so wonderful and timely. I, too, really wish that more teachers were sensitive to this, especially in the tween/young teen years. These passionate kids of ours are so hard on themselves, it seems like occasional bits of encouragement--and real advice on how to work on trouble spots--would go a long way. Communication is so important but unfortunately not always there. Once again, I'm so thankful for this site and all of the amazing parents who post here sharing their "lessons learned" with such honesty. Giant hugs to you, SCB. Sounds like your daughter will do great, no matter where her path leads her, with your love and support.

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My heart broke reading your post. My DD is 14 , almost 15, and she has had so many difficult periods in her dancing journey already. When she was at her first studio, she never quite fit in with the other girls and was very excluded socially. The teachers loved her, which just made some of the other girls dislike her even more. It got so bad that she asked to be allowed not to perform in the Nutcracker one year because she couldn't face being backstage with her group. I told the AD that she needed to be allowed to do that because she was going to quit ballet altogether rather than face that horrible backstage atmosphere again. After that time off, things seemed to improve between her and her classmates, and we had a good year the next year at that studio. But something in DD had changed; she no longer viewed ballet with the sweet innocence and joy she had started with; she began to take on a very professional attitude, even though she was only 10 years old. She became much more guarded and less trusting.


DD left that studio when she was 11 because we felt she could get better training at a larger studio, and she began to find some of her joy again as she found a new environment where everyone was positive and encouraging. The other dancers welcomed her as if she had always been there, and her dancing improved exponentially. We were so happy to have found the new school and felt that it would be smooth sailing for DD from that point on....


...and then puberty hit. DD grew 7 inches in about 15 months. She went from being the shortest in her class to being the tallest. She was eating all the time but was unable to put on any muscle. She lost her turns. Her arms and legs were wonky and out of control. Her flexibility and amazing turnout, once such assets, suddenly became a liability because she was no longer able to use them adequately. Her teachers were not unkind to her and recognized what she was going through, so at least we had that going for us, but at the same time she was growing, her group of friends became somewhat fractured and cliques began to form. DD began to feel like she was back at her old studio all over again. She was constantly worried, sad, and anxious. Her SI audition results were not great in her mind (actually, they were fine, but they were not up to her standards), and she began to worry she was not going to make it as a professional. Spring concert was a struggle because half of the girls in her group choreographed a piece for themselves that left out the other half. It was a litany of disappointment. I seriously wondered if she wouldn't just quit.


But we had decided to let her go away to an SI, and she was looking forward to that, so that was her lighthouse. Her growth spurt finally ended during the summer, and she got to experience a really positive environment where she was valued as a dancer. The other students at the SI were incredibly supportive, and DD found her joy again. It's a more mature joy, less innocent, and probably more realistic about what to expect from people. I guess it has to be that way if she is to survive. I am surprised sometimes by the bitterness she still harbors about the way the girls at her first studio treated her, and I wish she could let it go. But that is not my decision to make. I have had to learn to back off and let her feel what she feels.


I have also learned a few other things. I no longer expect things to be smooth sailing. I know DD will face more challenges, both with her dancing and with her peers, but I also know that if she wants to dance, she will find a way to navigate those waters. Sometimes she will need my help, but usually, she won't; she'll just need my support. If she wants to keep dancing, she will learn to find her lighthouse no matter how much darkness surrounds her, like she did last spring, looking at the SI and focusing on that so she could get past the feelings of exclusion and frustration. I didn't have to tell her to do that. She figured it out on her own.


With my DD, at least, I have had to let go and let her figure out whether the price of dancing was too high for her. She has never yet found it to be. I hope your DD can regain some of her joy and trust. She is certainly lucky to have you there to love and support her.

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Oh gosh, this community is so heart-warmingly amazing and everyone has shared such fantastic advice!


I had a good discussion with my DD where she stated most emphatically that she is not dancing for anyone but herself. In fact, she said it with such ferocity that I was reminded of the silver lining for all of our DDs who have gone through this experience: they will now be able to recognize when a person or situation is being toxic to their psyche.


My DD wants to give her current studio four more weeks for her to work on feeling more socially integrated, then is willing to try a different studio; something I wasn't sure I should even suggest until I read your posts so thank you! I love the imagery of "finding her lighthouse" - and am going to use that as a reminder whenever I start to get too anxious/worried :)

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Just another voice chiming in and saying that you are not alone!!!

DD went through something very similar (she was never the favorite, but she was well regarded) a while back. We "only" waited a little more than a semester before we made the difficult and painful decision to switch studios. During that semester, DDs self confidence went down the drain and it affected her so much more than I thought at the time. She felt unwanted, worthless, hopeless and talentless. So much of their self worth is tied into their passion and/or friends at this age! Watching her joy for dance die a little every class because of how ignored she felt was torture...


In DDs case, it didn't take very long for her joy of dance and confidence to come back once she started at the new studio. The new place has been wonderfully welcoming to both of us and I know without a doubt that they care for my kid, both in the studio and outside of it. She has been at the new place almost 2yrs now and I can honestly say she is a much stronger dancer AND person now. She is happy and confident, and have her spark and passion for dance back 100%. I only wish we had made the switch even sooner!


I truly wish your DD will find her spark again, whether it's for dance or something else. I am so sorry she had to endure that sort of exclusion and cold shoulder. I hope in time her confidence and joy returns!!!!!

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  • 2 months later...

SCB - what happened with your daughter? Did she switch studios?

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I must know the ending of this chapter of your DD's story, SCB! My heart breaks from hearing your pain over what your dd has been going through. I hope she has found a new dance home. After changing studios more than once, I can tell you that the social aspect often takes a year to settle.


Your distress over the why, I hope, is gone. Why? Because sometimes people are not who the once seemed to be - sometimes they're jerks! That's it, plain & simple. You're a great mom for staying dialed in to your DD's emotional journey and efforts to keep communication open.


I hope that, most of all, what parents & dancers take away from this is that you can't be afraid to change studios. You just can't. It's never best to remain in a toxic environment.

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  • 2 weeks later...

There is so much wisdom here. Thank you for sharing your concerns, SCB, and thank you to everyone else for responding with your own experiences. This world is new to me and I am so grateful to have this community to lean on and learn from. Best wishes to all!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Don't under estimate the power of change. Institutional ruts, self ruts inhibit personal growth and awareness. Kind of like kids that were in high school end up being completely different out of that environment, grow and flourish. Unstuck.


Hopefully it's not too late to recapture that lightning in a bottle.


DD fessed up recently, after 1.5 years and told me she really wasn't really happy in ballet as well, from her previous school. She felt the instruction didn't suit her. They told her what to do without imparting the "understanding" of why she had to to it. It was very frustrating to her. New school, new instruction process, one that suits her.


Switch in schools completely different kid. Excels in school, never misses a class. Light hearted funny1 Just a huge difference.

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