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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Lonely at the top?


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My DD 13 has been with the same group of girls since she was 7. She's always been a bit of an underdog - the youngest and smallest in her level. She has recently come into her own and is being noticed by the AD. She was made Clara last year and is being put in the spotlight increasingly. Girls who have always been in the spotlight have a sense of entitlement that she is lacking. No one seems to resent them for it, but boy are they resenting her! She feels guilty and uncomfortable. Her friends are upset. I would love some advice on how to help her navigate these changes. She has worked so hard to be the best that she can be, and is thrilled that this hard work is paying off, but she is sad that her friends aren't happy for her. It's like only the girls who have always been the best are allowed to be the best. How do I help her trust that she deserves this? How can she own the spotlight but still keep her friends?


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Hi namaste. This is never pleasant and I don't have any magic advice for you. Sorry. One observation I can offer is to remember that being at the top in any studio is a very liquid and transient experience. Hopefully all of our dancers get to enjoy this heady experience at some point but it only takes an injury, new SI or a new fabulous dancer joining the studio for the one at the top to be jostled back into the crowd. Clearly we can't do anything about 'the others' but we can coach our own dancer on how to behave when they are the one on top. They need more humility, kindness and wisdom at this point. Learning to handle it with grace will reap them many rewards in the years to come. I try to remind DS that this is not a team sport, everyone is doing the best they can along the way and that he needs to extend himself to his friends. That when he is on top it is his turn to extend his friendship to the others and not appear to being perceived as thinking he is better than them. His natural reaction to their slights is to withdraw with hurt feelings. I encourage him to fight this response. It seems to help?

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And as a parent with a DD that was in this position do not let them only consider that others may replace them but show confidence and let others realize she deserves to be in that spot. My DD was always worried about the others dancers feelings and ended up with a confidence problem. Although everyone kept telling her she is beautiful and has it all she doesn't always believe it. She's a nice girl and doesn't want anyone to feel bad. It's been an ongoing task to convince her that the other girls are competing with her and she needs to show everyone that she has what it takes

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Use this as a learning experience for your dd. It sounds like she has an innate sense of awareness of those around her and continuing to encourage her to be kind and gracious at all times is always good. Share her success and happiness but remind her that this is one role in one moment of time. Encourage her to do her best in the role and focus on her effort and work ahead. If she is kind and gracious and focused on her own work, the issue of others feelings will fall into place. For any friends or parents of friends who continue to harbor resentment- this too shall pass. If they actually speak of the issue to your dd or you, tell them that your dd nor you did the casting and that like every other role your dd has been given, she will work as hard as she can to do a good job. If your dd continues in this field, there will be many moments of joy for a role and also of disappointment when a desired role is given to someone else. Your daughter has now had the experience of both: her ability to empathize for those at the top and those with disappointment will be stronger. DD's mentor used to say that when disappointment happens, it's just "not your time....right now." Congratulations on your dd's reward for hard work!

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Namaste, you have gotten some great feedback already. I just wanted to share our experience.


DD has been dancing with the same group of girls for many, many years. It is funny how they are all best pals until someone gets a special role, then some members of the group get upset and grumble. It is hard for young girls to realize that it is ok to be happy for their friends and that just because casting did not go their way this time, does not mean they are washed up!


DD has received a few special roles, and she has had her heart broken when she didn't receive a role that she desperately wanted. Having felt the pain helps her to be a more supportive and humble dancer. It sounds like that describes your dancer as well.


All you can do is to encourage your DD to work hard and prove to the AD that she deserved the role, no one else's opinion really matters in this.In time everyone will accept the situation and move on to focus on their own roles. It really does blow over.

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Thank you all for your insight. I took a lot from each posting, but the issue of confidence seems to be at the forefront, and your post Wannabe particularly resonated. I think the other girls will respect her more if she stops acting like she doesn't deserve it. She also has to learn the lesson that when you get something that someone else wants, they might be mad at you! Always being kind and gracious swanchat is excellent advice., and not withdrawing with hurt feelings thyme. i don't think she's worried so much about someone else stealing the limelight. She feels pretty comfortable in the shadows, because it's where she's been up until the past year! Thank you all for responding to my post. It's been very helpful to hear the different perspectives and to sort it out in my own head so I can be supportive to her in this journey.

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Her confidence may not come until she has performed the role and gets the accolades from her peers that she deserves. Until then, she will probably just be very nervous about it all..the performance as well as what others are thinking of her. Hugs!

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