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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Ballet dancers behaving badly = self separation from dance?


nynydancer

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Let me know what you think!

 

My DKs go to a lovely school. We love the teachers and my DKs are treated very,very well. They are sometimes featured and receive private coaching. Both DKs want to dance professionally.

 

Our school is admittedly more rec than prepro, although they do churn out professional dancers, and maintain a very rigorous prepro type schedule. But everyone who walks in the door gets a part in Nut (even though this is agonizing for the directors to make it fit). Everyone who walks in the door gets amazing level of training. No one is asked to leave, ever. The school is bursting at the seams. It's a good, special place that prides itself on being nurturing and caring, and I think they succeed mostly.

 

The issue is in DD11's class. The average age of the class is 13. They used to be this amazing tight knit, hardworking class, but over summer things started to unravel. Now it's just bad. There is drama in the dressing room, and in class they've been told off for not supporting each other, for sitting out too much, for moping post Nut casting, or for not taking rehearsal seriously.

 

It's getting very disheartening to DD, and some of her friends who take dance very seriously. And when I say serious, I don't just mean the kids who want to dance for a living, there are also some very serious students who have no intention of dancing pro.

 

The AD is beside herself and very annoyed with the class, but I can't see the school doing anything about it. They will get mad, have a few more talks to the kids as a group, but everyone will still be treated the same and no real consequences. So we have to accept it or leave. Yesterday, after a very painful dressing room episode, we really thought about leaving. But we'd also be walking away from great teachers who put a lot of care into my DKs training. So we accept, at least for now.

 

So here is my (maybe optimistic) theory: most of the kids who are starting to slack off and who are acting bad are really trying to self separate from ballet, and we just have to wait them out.

 

Anyone been through this before? Do you think my theory is right? How long do we gotta wait?? Does it get better?

 

(I do see the senior level dancers are a nice happy group-- I pray that's what awaits our poor little group!)

 

 

 

 

 

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Putting myself in your shoes: if it were affecting my dd personally (bullying her in the dressing room, or disrupting her during class), I would have a meeting with the school director. Otherwise, I stay in my own lane.

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You mentioned the average age is 13, and that is about 7th or 8th grade. These grades are the peak of middle school weirdness, when otherwise nice, normal children behave badly. Fortunately, they grow out of it....there are lots of brain development reasons, but trust those of us who have been through this age, "this too shall pass".

 

If you want further reading on this, I recommend "Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood" by Dr. Lisa Damour.

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Does your daughter want to leave the school? If so, I would inform the director of that and let her know the reasons. If they care enough to squash the drama in order to keep her, they should at least work toward reigning in the middle school antics. Otherwise it's not worth staying, in my opinion.

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I used to feel so lucky that my DD's class was a tight-knit group; all friends, very little drama. The group above theirs was well known for having lots of issues amongst the girls. Fast forward a couple years, and now my dd and her cohort are 11-13. The group above is in high school. Now my dd's group is drama-filled and the high school group are lovely people who treat each other well. I came to realize that it wasn't that particular group of girls...it is the age. Just coach your dd on how to remove herself from the drama while not isolating herself from her friends - it's a tough balance. Good luck!

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It's inherent in the age group. Prime time for "mean girls" . That fact does not make it right, but it is rare to escape that stage totally. Most of the girls will eventually grow out of it and come out okay on the other side more wise and thoughtful. Some will stagnate in "mean girl" mode for an extended period.. All you can really do is model good responses/behaviors, offer a good strong shoulder, and help your middle schooler navigate the waters.

 

As far as changing schools go, the Dear Abby test works best: " Are you better off with them or without them?"

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Yes, very much a part of middle school, unfortunately. But what is the physical environment like? Is there a way to come already dressed? Is there a way to avoid the dressing room altogether? When drama begins, can there be a quick exit to go stretch elsewhere?

 

It sounds like instead of talking to all the students, it might be time for those who are serious and not acting in this manner to be rewarded for their behavior.

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Yes, I agree with this theory. My DD has had much drama with several mean or jealous girls in her journey through the years of ballet. And most of the girls who have directly caused her problems either quit or burn out and leave ballet for good. I believe these dancers do behave this way because they are insecure and just can't handle the rigors of serious ballet. One girl blamed my daughter for her own choice to quit! Over and over this is a pattern. So teach your dancers to "stay the course" and how to navigate appropriately through the drama. Eventually they will still be in ballet when they graduate and the others will not be dancing anymore.

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So here is my (maybe optimistic) theory: most of the kids who are starting to slack off and who are acting bad are really trying to self separate from ballet, and we just have to wait them out.

 

Anyone been through this before? Do you think my theory is right? How long do we gotta wait?? Does it get better?

 

(I do see the senior level dancers are a nice happy group-- I pray that's what awaits our poor little group!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone quits everything at 13. As a mom of a boy and girl who have both hit this age, I have noticed that a lot of kids will quit beloved activities at this age. My own Dd quite vocal lessons. My son left behind an activity. I think that it is natural due to higher interest levels in peers and socialization, assertion of independence, and waning interest in an art form that gets more and more demanding.

 

So, yes, my thought is wait it out and you will likely see an exodus. But don't put up with bullying.

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Our experience is that the exodus usually happens at one of two times: around age 13 when various activities start to demand more and more time and choices must be made, and in 9th or 10th grade when the academics of high school demand more and more time. But the "slacking off" and "acting bad" are typical behaviors of middle-school girls, regardless of activity or school. If your DD is being picked on or bullied, I would have a talk with the teacher. But if the other kids are just acting out, my experience has been that teachers know this happens, knows the kids grow out of it, and deal with the kids until then. My own DD would get very frustrated with dancers in her class who acted out and/or slacked off, but I also know through parent conferences and detentions that there were students and teachers in her academic classes who were equally frustrated with her behavior at school. This too shall pass (and thankfully DD has avoided detention this year).

 

NOTE: I have a 14-year-old. If the OP wants experiences from people who have been through this, it might not be a bad idea to move it to Cross Talk where parents of older dancers (and dancers themselves) can contribute.

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I am also the parent of a 14 year old and agree with not only everything said above but more specifically with Pensive.

I have seen the same ages leave dance; age 13 and then the start of 9th and 10th grade. Those are not necessarily goof off kids but the ones who love dance, just not enough to sacrifice everything for it.

 

Misbehaving is the norm for middle school aged girls and it should be nipped in the bud.

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Something bothered me about this thread so I came back. It was this:

have a few more talks to the kids as a group, but everyone will still be treated the same and no real consequences.

 

 

Not sure if you are able to speak to your ADs or not. But this is what bothered me. A "few talks to the kids as a group" is not really the answer. Nor is girls will be girls. While many times these pre-teens and young teens engage in poor behavior, it is during this age that they begin to recognize the behavior itself, it's ramifications and decide if they want to participate or not. Before this age, those "bad kids" were limited to one or two in their classrooms/dance classes, that "other" kid. It is during middle school ages that it seems to grab onto almost all of them in some degree. Usually all of our children will display some of the signs. Even if they are those subtle but not so subtle things like eye rolling and deep breathing signs, a door that never slammed but now they try it, etc.

 

In others words, "mean girls" (or boys) do not always know they are "mean girls" until someone one ups them or someone no longer allows their behavior to be without consequence. And those being around it but not liking it may still be participating. They are trying to save face in the group but coming home to complain about what "others" are doing. Usually those serious and mindful will pull away. But for some it really is unconscious behavior. So what I am saying all this is to say: group talks rarely hit the target unless they bring up the exact examples of what is happening. Then it is pointed out and even then sometimes that "can't possibly be me, someone else must have done that."

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Wow thanks guys, for this amazing feedback! I really do appreciate the experiences of the parents with older dancers too.

 

I let our AD know what happened in the dressing room. I feel like our AD might be a bit annoyed with me for raising this issue, because perhaps she is just tired of so many issues. I am going to lay low and see how this plays out. She did say she was pleased that DD powered through class after the last incident.

 

We did the excellent Dear Abby test, and we are better with them, but just need to mitigate.

 

My DD removed herself from the dressing room and did homework in the hallway while stretching. She removed herself from the group chat, and tried to be very focused in class and ignore the mean people. Our AD asked her quietly after class if she was okay, and she said she was. Actually, she had an amazing day. Just getting out of the dressing room helped a lot! A couple of other serious students have reached out words of encouragement and I pray they kinda band together to support themselves while they weather this.

 

Not sure this is the long term place for us, and we will likely go away for summer now, and hopefully come fall, will be with a better mix of kids.

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Usually all of our children will display some of the signs. Even if they are those subtle but not so subtle things like eye rolling and deep breathing signs, a door that never slammed but now they try it, etc.

 

 

Middle school is so hard for the kids, the parents and the teachers. I completely agree with statements that bullying needs to be addressed. Any school that is worth paying tuition has rules in place regarding bullying and parents have the right to expect whatever authority figure is responsible to enforce school rules.

 

Our experience was that arming our dd with coping strategies was the most effective way to help her through the nasty behaviors. One particularly effective strategy was to concentrate on friends outside of dance school if that was where the nasty behavior was concentrated and vice versa if the nasty behavior was at her academic school. Fortunately, it seemed that the intensity of bad behaviors wasn't always the same at both places. We helped our dd by telling her that her job at each school was to work and learn and if her classmates were not being nice to think of the joy she had at the other.

 

We also helped her understand that her usual group of girlfriends weren't the only people at the school and encouraged her to reach out to different people. At dance school, she learned that the boys weren't so nasty to her so she hung out with them. Also older kids didn't see her as a threat and they seemed to like her so that helped. She also changed clothes quickly and left the dressing room area to avoid the antics there. When it became apparent to the "nasties" at the dance school that our dd was avoiding them, they would glare at her in the lobby and class. She wore her headphones and listened to music during unstructured time and their glares caused her to concentrate more than usual in class. Our dd ignored them but it did hurt. The "nasties" had been her friends for several years and they no longer wanted to be around her. Their behavior actually helped our tenderhearted daughter grow thicker skin. It wasn't fun but she needed that thicker skin for the intense, competitive ballet world.

 

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Momof3.

 

I really agreed with your perspective. Part of what allows bullying to flourish are adults who are naive or don't want to deal with it.

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