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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Where to go from here?


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So, DD is graduating from High School and her dance academy in June. She's applied to and auditioned for several college dance programs to continue her training. She was accepted to the universities but not the dance programs. My heart breaks for my lovely DD who is seeing her dream die. She wants to be a professional dancer, but knew that would be an uphill battle as she does not have the crazy thin body type or crazy flexible joints or crazy archy feet. She's been working on her turns and has struggled to get her triple pirouettes consistently. But, she has made strides. There are areas of her technique that need work but other areas that are very strong. She' s been working really hard to improve her stage presence and her "danciness." What she does have is an intense love of the art form, an amazing work ethic, and drive. We both know she has a long way to go before she can join a company (though I know that may be a stretch). But, we (meaning DD, myself and her dance teachers) all thought she would make it in to a college program. Her resume is not stellar, meaning she has not been given a lead role in any of her performances, but she was given some solo dances; she's attended local and residential summer intensives, just not the big name ones due to financial reasons. And while I've had some complaints and reservations about her studio, I though she had received strong enough training to make her competitive for college programs. Obviously, I was wrong.


Both DD and I knew there was always the possibility of not getting in, but we did think she would get into at least 1 school. But none?!?!?!


So now the question is, where do we go from here? I suggested DD consider taking a gap year, defer her college admission, train intensely for a year without the competing stress of AP and Honors classes and try again. Does anyone know if this is actually an option? Will the university dance programs allow her to re-audition? Or, if she does start college, is there a chance the departments will allow her to take classes and join the major midyear?


I realize that at some point DD may have to face the possibility that dance is not in her future. I just think that 17 is a little young to lose one's dreams. I also think it's a little to young to find that hard work does not pay afterall. She's read several stories of professional dancers who were told young they did not have what it takes to make it, but managed to overcome their obstacles. Perhaps, she will find out she doesn't have what it takes, but I feel she still has a chance if she were given a chance.


Anyway, this is the painful crossroads DD is facing. She is terribly sad about not continuing and never performing again after June. Ballet has been a huge part of her life for nearly 15 years. She gladly gave up other activities and her free time to pursue her dream. I just can't believe it's ending this way. I think I would find it easier to accept if DD chose to give up dance on her own. But, this is very painful to watch...the tears, the incredible sadness and the loss of confidence...and the loss of control of her life because others made this decision...not her.


So, where does DD go from here if she wants to continue? I guess, I'm really asking, what options are available? Since she was not accepted into a college program, it is highly unlikely she would be accepted into a company trainee/apprenticeship program. Also, she is facing the added obstacle of aging out of summer intensive programs. Most of those programs have an end age of 18, which she will turn this summer. So, is this really the end?


Thanks for reading this and letting me vent. I must admit, I'm in tears as I write this,



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"So now the question is, where do we go from here? I suggested DD consider taking a gap year, defer her college admission, train intensely for a year without the competing stress of AP and Honors classes and try again. Does anyone know if this is actually an option? Will the university dance programs allow her to re-audition?"


DD has a friend who, as a senior in high school, narrowed her options to such a degree that she, too, did not gain acceptance into any dance program that year. I believe it was devastating at the time, but she pulled herself together, got a job, attended community college and continued to dance the next year. She researched more programs and broadened her options. I am unclear whether she reapplied anywhere, but she ended up with many choices the following Spring and is set to graduate from a renowned program this May.

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Hugs to you and to your daughter! :flowers: I know this is a tough time and tough situation. A time for reflection, re-grouping and unwavering support. She has many, many options ahead of her. You have already outlined some of the things that might have been limitations for her. Now take time to determine if that is simply because she auditioned for highly competitive programs or if those limitations might be too much in general and then take a deep breath, dig in and work toward working her dreams in her way. There are many, many colleges where she can dance. There are many, many programs where she can continue to work to dance professionally. She can train another year and try again or attend college while continuing to train. Or she can go to college and dance on the side. The world is her oyster right now even though it may seem like the shell is closed.


Just like there are dancers who take a Trainee year or two and then re-audition and are admitted to their dance college of choice, there is a possibility or re-auditioning and admittance later. Should you bank on it? Well, that's up to the two of you. We have several threads on deferring College, Plan B, Plan C, etc. While they might be more slanted to those who auditioned for Trainee positions there is a wealth of information in them about how to turn a corner when the road has a roadblock. They might give you some additional suggestions and stories about how others have weathered storms in their way.

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:flowers: and hugs to you both. It is very hard to walk away when it not on your own terms. I empathize with you both.


She now has choices to make: Either enter one of the colleges she was accepted to in another field she's interested in and refocus to find another passion/interest (can be done) or figure some way to keep dancing, either a college minor program or a post-grad training program.


Yes, college programs do permit one to re-audition the next year. We've known several students who did that and were admitted the second year. I don't remember, however, whether they started at another college or just sat out a year and continued training.


Whether it is possible or advisable to begin college in a dance minor or other major and re-audition the following year into the dance major program may depend on the school. Your DD will want to investigate the odds of that happening. It may be more of a possibility at some schools than at others. Some schools may state it is possible, but in reality it almost never actually happens that a student makes that jump. So, check with the admissions folks--but also ask the dancers currently in the program. They are more likely to tell you the straight odds, like if anyone in their class or ones they know about have actually been able to do that.

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I have a friend whose dd chose to minor in dance because she wasn't accepted as a major. She worked hard outside of those classes with her dancing at nearby studios. She reauditioned for the dance major program when the time came, and she was one of very small few who were accepted. Hugs to you and yours on this tough journey.

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First of all, hugs to you and your daughter. Regardless of ambition or goals, being 17 and a high school senior, is a super emotional time of life. And taking a gap year is not a bad decision for many kids, as long as there is a plan for the year and attainable objectives.


Is her goal to dance professionally? Then, quite honestly, based on your post, it might be time to seriously re-evaluate. Or not. I don't want to get into the odds of becoming a professional, or the pros/cons of a degree in ballet/dance or a BFA. You can certainly read enough here and other places to make your own decisions. Even dancers that seem to "have it all" are advised to have a Plan B, and Plan C. You just don't know what the future may bring.


As to what you can do? Show her options that she may not be aware of and that will allow her to apply her "... intense love of the art form, an amazing work ethic, and drive." to other areas. These include non-profit management, Arts Management, teaching, fundraising, etc., All these things support the ARTS and are necessary and vital to a vibrant arts community. Ballet is a great teacher of those so-called 'soft skills' that can easily be transferred to other areas....

But whether or not she should re-audition or take a year off, or attend one of the schools pursuing another degree, etc., is a decision that she should make knowing all the options.


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I'm so sorry that your dd and you are going through this. It's so hard to watch our kids suffer when they've tried so hard for so long to achieve something and then not live the dream. I don't think any of us can give you a definitive answer about where to go from here but please know, that whether or not your dd ends up dancing in college, professionally or not at all, her hard work has not been in vain. The characteristics and qualities that ballet students learn (focus, perseverance and grace under pressure, among others) give them an incredible set of tools for their futures.


You and your dd have already done a good thing by having plan B activated and ready to go. After your dd has had some time to let her situation sink in, spend some time together exploring different scenarios. There are really so many ways to tackle this and help your dd to understand that this is just a bump in her road. Let her know how proud you are of everything she has done and how special she is because she's willing to put everything on the line every time she auditions. (even if she doesn't get the role or the job or the dance major).


Momof3 is right, at 17, the world is hers to conquer. She may need to adjust her sail to the winds but it doesn't mean that dancing or performing have to be absent in her life. If she chooses to attend college, there are drama courses and usually club opportunities for acting. If there are local Nutcrackers, there might be seasonal roles during Christmas break. Ballet is the basis for dance, maybe she could start a tango, ballroom dance or some other fun dance club at college. There are just so many options. Or maybe a gap year could give her a year to train further if you have the resources. If you opt for a gap year, be honest with your dd about the resources that your family would be willing to use for this and ask her to have goals and ways to evaluate whether she's meeting the goals or not. If not, when is enough, enough? None of us here can give you that answer because we all know stories of dancers who persisted year after year with very little encouragement and finally snagged the opportunity to become a professional dancer. We also know dancers who tried year after year and weren't so fortunate. It's helpful if your dd and you as a family can decide what your endpoints are and how to deal with the various consequences.But first, just hug each other and know that it will be ok. Sending you a big cyberhug!

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Big {{{[[[((((HUGS)))]]]}}}} to you, cluelessballetmom. I have only a couple other suggestions to go along with the very wise counseling you've already already received from everyone else here. If your daughter chooses the gap year route ( which I think is ideal), I would want to hire a ballet professional completely unattached to your daughter's studio to spend an hour or two with her isolating exactly what she needs to work on to get into the kinds of programs you'll be considering. I'd also want that person or someone else, again unattached to her current studio, to help your daughter determine where she should take ballet classes to achieve that goal. Her current school may not be the best place for her to do that. Fresh eyes are often a very, very good thing.


Also, I wonder if you could contact those college dance departments to ask for feedback as to what your daughter needs to improve in order to be considered.


While my daughter was in high school, we hired someone to work with her for a few lessons. My kiddo had a technical problem that wasn't being resolved by her training at a very fine pre-professional school. We consulted with someone, then hired a professional dancer and a dance PT to work with her. Those fresh eyes were very helpful. It took her a few years to remediate that problem. Interestingly, for her, it resolved AFTER she started taking some classes at a pay-per-lesson studio where there was no pressure. She said that she was at peace simply working on her problem without worrying about what her teachers would think.


The other suggestion I have about helping your daughter's danciness is acting classes. They often help dancers become more expressive.


The best of luck to you and your daughter! My heart goes out to both of you. I heartily agree that 17 is too young to give up on a dream.

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I know of a dancer in a similar situation- kind of. She had to stop dancing because of a really bad injury. It was a terrible way to realize the dream wasn't going to happen, but she had to come to terms with it. She got into acting and musical theater. The ballet training made this an easy transition. In fact there are many, many working actresses who have ballet backgrounds. Maybe you can encourage her to try other kinds of performing arts too.

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I am so sorry to hear this. I don't have advice; I'm not sure of the possible alternatives. But my DD has also been auditioning for college programs this year and we were shocked about how hard it is to gain acceptance to the various programs, even after doing tons of research. Only after arriving at the auditions did we learn that they look for such small incoming classes as a dozen dancers (combined male/female!) and have up to 1000 dancers auditioning - lower acceptance rates that some ivy league schools! DD's results were not what she had hoped for, but she does have some options. It was an eye opener for us. If I could do it differently, we'd add some less presigious programs to the auditon list. There are some no-audition dance major programs. Is it too late to apply to those colleges? Lots of hugs for you and your DD; I, too, would be lost.

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What a heartbreaking scenario. I'm so sorry. The one thought I had reading your post, is have you gone back to the ballet departments, and told them that you gained admission to the university, and ask again if there might be an open spot for her to major in dance? I'm sure some of the accepted dancers chose other colleges or even trainee positions, or didn't get accepted to the university (My DD let one program know that she wasn't going to accept just one day before the deadline). Just thinking that showing that persistence might be a good thing.


When my DD auditioned for her college programs, we had a contact in the department. This person answered lots of questions for us along the way. If I was wondering about re-auditioning, this is the person I would call.


I know of two dancers who spent their first year out of high school in ballet trainee programs. They found that company life wasn't the best fit for them. And then they went to college. These girls both developed so much maturity from that year on their own. They are excellent students now, getting honors in college and very happy with where they are.

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