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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Is it time to go recreational


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My 15 year old DD is away at her fourth SI. She has always in past been with her age group but this year got into a more prestigious SI then in years past and is now in the lowest level. Is this a sign that it's time to start looking at ballet less seriously and more recreationally. She wants to be a dancer, trains correct amount of hours, but at this years SI is placed at the bottom. Don't want her to know how I am feeling. It would crush her to even think I am questioning her dream. Her current Ballet Mistress feels she has a great deal of potential. If that's the case then I would think she would have not been placed in the bottom level. I guess what I am asking is at 15. If placed in the lowest level at a big name prestigious SI. Is it time to reevaluate. Feel horrible for even thinking this.

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Maybe I could email or ask for advice at the very end of the program. I know my DD has already asked her teachers at the SI. So maybe after the SI is over she could ask again.

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I see two things of note. First, you mentioned "she got into a more prestigious SI". If the SI is more prestigious then it could be more competitive or could simply have more levels. The other part of that to consider is her age. The 15-16 year old group is where many stop getting scholarships or even acceptances at places they were accepted prior. It is the end of the "potential" stage and is the beginning of the "more than potential" stage. Simply use it to know that she still has work to do and dig in and do the work!!!!


The 2nd thing is that her "Ballet Mistress feels she has a great deal of potential". So, know that she is still showing potential and this summer may help her get over the hump of potential versus being more than that! Check in with the Ballet Mistress after her return and see if she had improved and if the SI allows for conferences or evaluations ask for one prior to her leaving.


In other words, don't throw the baby out of the bathwater just yet.

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Thank you for your wonderful words of wisdom. Where would be be without our great "mom support group". I feel so much better. Thank you so very much. You are exactly right and really good to have someone give a different prespective. Sometimes when you are in it deep, you don't see the obvious. Again. Thank you.

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I have felt the same doubts many times. My daughter is a few years older. She has been accepted to many SI's but she has never felt that she was one of the "favorites" at the SI so I have also questioned whether she really has what it will take to make it professionally. The fact is, almost none of the dancers will make it. I think I have read around 2% will be professionals. So I decided to just let my daughter take the lead and keep training as hard as she wants. This involved letting her do online high school for her sophomore, junior and senior years which I had a lot of doubts about! She graduated this year and did apply to college but she decided to defer for a year and see what happens. I asked her the other day if she had any regrets about not going the traditional high school route and she said no. She has had opportunities to travel, dance in professional ballet productions, make friends from all over the world and continue to do what she loves. So I don't know if this helps but I just decided not to worry about it as long as she got a good high school education. All dancers will eventually come to the end of the road whether they dance professionally or not but if they are loving what they are doing, it will be worthwhile. (I don't feel like I am expressing what I mean to say very well!)

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No. You are expressing yourself very nicely. I feel like we are sitting in my living room having a cup of tea together chatting about our dancers. You are right. My DD is extremely happy and loves dance. It's her life. Guess I need to not worry about anything as long as she grows up as a good girl with morals and strength. Thank you as well for your friendly words.

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I just want to say the I treasure these conversations! Thank goodness for those with more experience who are here to share their wisdom!

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I would let your DD take the lead on this one. If you suggest she "go recreational" because you don't feel she has what it takes, she is going to pick up on that. Dancers are always assessing themselves, and I'm sure she knows where she is fitting in the puzzle and what she needs to do to realize her dreams.

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Thanks for starting this thread. It's helpful for me too. My daughter, around the same age, was questioning her own path in this way herself during audition season, and chose to take an opportunity to go away to more intensive year round training to see if that exposure combined with hard(er) work can help her break through. I saw it as a good sign that she is looking for where her gaps are and how she might fill them, rather than continuing the same training and hoping for different results. She is not a phenom, and this is a new level of maturity in pursuing her goals, and at least she will be able to say she tried her hardest. If at any point her goals change that's fine with me too, but I'm leaving that up to her... (although I am requiring that she also pursue college prep academics so she has multiple paths open to her).

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It took a while, but dd and I learned over the years to put less stock in levels. In her years of SIs, she has been placed both lower and higher than she thought she should or would be.

The most difficult was when she went away to an SI with a scholarship and was not only the oldest in her level, she did not feel comfortable in that level at all. This was an SI where, during a certain period of time, dancers were permitted to discuss placement with the head faculty member. She noticed that anyone who asked to be moved up a level, was indeed moved up a level. She considered doing so herself, but instead asked what she really wanted to know. She wanted to know why they had placed her in that level. What she was told is something that I think every dancer who finds themselves in a lower level than they'd prefer should think about. She was told that they could have easily placed her in the highest level and she would have kept up, but she would have left the program as the same dancer. The faculty member had observed that there were certain details that were lost by the end of class. The feeling was that if she were to move slower, these details would become more deeply ingrained.


I hope you can guess what happened next. She did leave there as a changed dancer. When she came home, her teachers commented on her increased strength and artistry. Artistry was something that she needed to make the transition from classroom dancer to a more professional appearing dancer. It was slowing down (a dreadfully slow pace per the text messages and phone calls that summer) that allowed this to happen. I have seen others complain that artistry is something their dancer was planning on working on but they were placed in such a low level that this can't happen. I am reminded of the Suzanne Farrell quote that says "a plie is the first thing you learn and the last thing you master." Improving is not a;ways about moving faster or in more complicated ways.

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MelissaGA, wow that is really powerful. DD has received that feedback ("you could keep up, but...") before, but how you wrote it made it click for me. I will show this to DD.

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I agree with nynydancer. Melissa GA, I will keep this and share with any dk who happens to be in this situation. Wonderfully explained.

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