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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Competition between siblings


newsgirl

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It's been a while since I posted. DD1 (age 8) took a few years off from dance while she got the hang of school. She took ballet and jazz last year, and added another class this year. Younger sister (DD2 -- age 6) took Creative Movement in preschool and has two years of ballet and tap.

 

All though our studio has a pre-pro program, I'd say it is mostly competition. In a shock to me, BOTH girls decided to tryout for the competition team for next year. Both are talented. There is still a real possibility that they may only take one of my girls, and it could be baby sister because she has always paid more attention to technique. Older sister LOVES dance, but we've had a hard time getting her to focus on form. (Possible ADD)

 

Any advice? We'll know by the end of next week which kids made the team. My house will be a nightmare if one kid makes and the other doesn't. But if they both dance, this will likely happen eventually.

Edited by newsgirl
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Real ballet classes don't start until around 8. If you want them to learn good ballet technique you will (usually) not find it at a competition school. Look at your studios schedule, if you see ballet classes that are an hour or less, that's a good sign they don't have teachers who are teaching properly, and instead are focusing on the performance aspect of dance.

 

I highly doubt they won't take both your kids. Competition schools are businesses. And if they don't take your 8 year old, run fast, to a place that gives your kids a chance to train and grow. You CANNOT tell future potential at the tender ages of 6 and 8!

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Of course competition schools are a business but most do have standards for their teams and it's not based on potential like in the ballet world--it's based on current skill and readiness. (That's actually the one thing I really love about the competition world, though we haven't been in it in years. The ballet world seems to care nothing for what a child can do--only for what they think a particular body can eventually do. I dislike that mentality as it very often discounts current ability, hard work, and talent if not packaged "properly".)

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Both the girls are in classes, so it's not about whether they will be accepted to the school and the school does not push competition hard at all. I hope they both make the team because I think they can both gain different things from it. My oldest loves to dance, but right now she does not like to "train." A year on the competition team may open her eyes to what it takes and what is possible if you put in the time and focus on the details. We aren't going to switch to pre-pro unless she's willing to commit.

 

My youngest is the opposite -- she's all about the details, and since she's still a bit away from real "training" I'd like to give her a chance to find where her heart lies. (FWIW Our ballet program is reasonably good. Plenty of classes; all start at an hour at all levels.)

 

I worry a lot about the competition between the two girls. Right now they are very close, but it is clear that little sister really wants to make her own mark in the world. So we shall see.

 

Thanks for sharing.

Edited by newsgirl
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All I'm going to add is that if either of your girls become interested in ballet (you are on a ballet forum after all), look at the guidelines posted. Proper ballet training is not taught where schools have random one hour classes. I've had a comp school try and convince me otherwise, and this forum helped me a lot in that regards. Good luck!

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Let's not turn this thread into a for/against Competition School thread. We have several of those already. Every competition school is different. Given that this year's Male Pre-competitive winner at YAGP NYC is from a Competition jazz school (with good ballet), we need to be careful about absolutes.

 

Newsgirl--I encourage you to read our Age-Appropriate guidelines here concerning the amount of ballet you should be aiming for no matter what school you choose.

 

We are a ballet board here, so our answers will likely be more toward helping you find the best ballet instruction you can find. Your children are young still and there is plenty of time. In general, we don't discuss the inner workings of a Competition School because that is not our mission.

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I figured that the question about sibling rivalry would cross disciplines. Also, while you may have doubts about our studio, it is quite large and does both ballet and comp reasonably well. Our pre-pro students are attending some outstanding intensives this year. My children are young and finding their way. My youngest daughter who is six and as you say not quite old enough for real training is the more likely of the two to pursue ballet. The full-time pre-pro girls (mostly girls) are in the studio for several hours five days a week.

 

Didn't mean to cause conflict. Just looking for a mom's perspective on keeping the piece while the girls find their way.

 

Peace.

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Real ballet classes don't start until around 8. If you want them to learn good ballet technique you will (usually) not find it at a competition school. Look at your studios schedule, if you see ballet classes that are an hour or less, that's a good sign they don't have teachers who are teaching properly, and instead are focusing on the performance aspect of dance.

 

I highly doubt they won't take both your kids. Competition schools are businesses. And if they don't take your 8 year old, run fast, to a place that gives your kids a chance to train and grow. You CANNOT tell future potential at the tender ages of 6 and 8!

 

SAB appears to believe that you can make some predictions with six year olds. They have opened the auditions to six year olds during the past few years reducing it from eight (which was the youngest age for many years) Of course you cannot tell if a dancer will succeed by looking at their dancing at age six but I would bet that many parents of professional dancers would say that they saw the potential at even a younger age than six.

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Please, let's get back on topic. :thumbsup:

 

The topic question essentially boils down to strategies for dealing with siblings who are involved in the same endeavor, with perhaps different perspectives and focus, and how to encourage each within their own ranges without snuffing the interest of either one and how to handle inevitable disappointments for each.

 

It's a mouthful and a challenge. But not impossible to navigate. :)

 

From our experience, it was a matter of personality that really defined and dictated the issue. Ultimately, while they were still pretty young we elected to find and encourage separate activities for them. The younger one was a perfectionist (of the most difficult type) and would beat herself up if she did not live up to her own expectations that she based upon her two-year older sister---whom, we pointed out to the younger one, would always be two years older and two years stronger and two years more mature than she, at least until they they were older. The older one was understanding about letting the younger one have her own activities, even if she, too, was curious to try it. There were activities they both did, piano, academics, soccer on different teams. Those were separate enough that they didn't seem to cause issues. We just made sure each of them had their own 'special' extracurricular where they had no sibling competition. Worked for us.

 

But I realize that is not your scenario, but I still think personalities is the place to look for your answers.

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Here is a suggestion that worked for one of our older members, diane (not Parent of Under 13):

 

This was a book I read and used as a "handbook" for years when my children were young (both are now mid-twenties, both dancing in same ballet company, living in same apartment, sharing a cat...so we went through a LOT of this!) and it did seem to help. Perhaps most folks know all of this already, but for me, it was a great help.

 

"Siblings Without Rivalry" - Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. (they also wrote: "How to Talk so Kids will Listen, and Listen so Kids Will Talk", which was also a sort of "bible" during those early years, by the way :) )

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I highly recommend Siblings Without Rivalry. My kids don't have conflicting activities, but that book has been my go-to handbook since they were toddlers (and they are 14/12 now). Faber/Mazlish are wonderful authors, have a great approach to raising kids and the books are an easy read.

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My DDs are 4 months apart in age, with the youngest one being adopted as a toddler. Being a twin myself, I endeavored to make sure my kids were never in competition with each other, no matter what they chose to pursue. We emphasize individual interests - one played the piano, one the mandolin, one took two years off of dance to pursue gymnastics training - while at the same time building on individual strengths. My DDs are two sides of the same coin with their strengths and weaknesses. They complement each other and make a great team encouraging each other and succeeding together. It also helps we do not view anything about dance as a competition, rather a journey. A journey is infinitely individualized and you cannot compare yourself/your progress to anyone else's because there are just too many variables that come into play.

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My younger sister and I both danced, and my sister had the body, the flexibility and more strength, so of course she was more successful at it. It was hard, very hard, especially when she was at the age to go to summer intensives and get solos in our producations, and neither of these were an option available to me. While it was very difficult emotionally, logically it always made sense to me, and I understood why she was more successful. I wouldn't say that it hurt our relationship (primarily because I got to see the world of ballet through her).

 

I think my parents were always careful not to make too big a deal out of our successes and they definitely put a lot of emphasis on encouraging me to figure out where I needed to improve, and to try again, and supported me that way.

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