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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Teachers showing favoritism, how to deal?


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1 hour ago, Eligus said:

So... "huzzah" for the "non-favored" ones... at least they know they truly earned whatever they receive, and they learn grit, resilience and work ethic along the way. 

The wisdom being offered in this discussion is absolutely priceless. I wish I could bottle it up and release the "scent of it" during those times when DD is overwhelmed or in tears because she is consistently (and laboriously) searching for the crumbs...

I have so much empathy for the "non-favored ones" who are so hungry, but are rarely full. Who are always going to extra classes, hiring coaches and taking privates, giving up time with friends in order to strengthen weak muscles. Always striving and barely reaching. Seeing others get ahead even when they go against contracts or break the rules. The hints of success lingering at their fingertips, but often JUST out of reach. However, Eligus is absolutely correct in saying that these are the ones who will be stronger for it, they will build up callouses where others have soft skin. They will come to know the value of hard work and appreciate the success even more... they will not expect a trophy when they know they haven't put in the work to earn one. These are the future leaders, the innovators, the empathizers, the teachers, the directors. *Huzzah*

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On 4/26/2018 at 5:31 PM, Eligus said:

But now that she's out of her pre-pro school and into a trainee position at a fantastic company, she realizes that NOT being the favorite was actually better training for the real world of professional ballet.

10000 times this. 

Not being the favorite. Not getting the leads. Actually, not even getting to dance in the corps while all her friends did. All these things made dd a stronger dancer physically and emotionally and prepared her for the roller coaster ride that is the professional world. 

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But it's much easier to look BACKWARDS on those years and struggles from a (relative) position of strength and talk about the perceived value of them now that those lessons have been learned.  I worry our thoughts about the benefits of not being a favorite runs the risk of sounding nostalgic and romantic.   

I just had another parent remind me of how it feels to be looking up at the mountain to climb and wondering whether the effort is worth it....

I can only say that it was for my DD, but that didn't make the climb any easier as it was happening.

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Yes to all of this!  Looking back does feel nostalgic but my mama bear snarl still come out when the conversation turns to "reminiscing" on those rough days. I think now at 19, DDs have a very good perspective and peace with it but it took years to shed that baggage. I'll probably always resent the situations and people that made my kids feel less than.  DDs are bigger people than I am, I suppose. 

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49 minutes ago, mom2two said:

I'll probably always resent the situations and people that made my kids feel less than.

Ditto -  when she was younger it was hard to watch but it's made her a stronger person and made her resolve even stronger , now at 18 she can see how it all didn't matter and how ignoring what I call the "noise"   works.   Ultimately, each dancer can only control their own growth and figure out who the right teachers are for them etc.  That doesn't mean a teacher that lavishes praise all the time , lol, it should be teachers that are hard on her to make her better , push her, believe in her and be honest with her - when the praise does come it is genuine and hard won. That's what has worked for her.  She really never got caught up in the "who's the favorite thing" because she knew that it would take her focus off of herself and these dancers need all the energy the have to focus on what they need to do.   

I also always pointed out all the opportunities she did get that others didn't - when they are young that helps put it in perspective - they sometimes just see what they "don't have"  - so MEWdancer, I think you will see as your dd gets older this too will fade....

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I'll probably always resent the situations and people that made my kids feel less than. 

It is possible for both resentment and understanding to co-exist.  Whenever I think on the time where I was not favored growing up or when one of my children was not favored, I am reminded that this still happens to me today.  Heck, I even had one of my 3 who didn't favor Mom so much as a teen. Everyone else's Mom was the Bomb.com  :crying:  We can try and shield them, we can try and protect them.  But we all face it in some time and place in our lives.  It's how we choose to handle it be that ignore, raise sand, or find other options.  They all come with lessons, possible enlightenment, consequences, etc.  


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momof3darlings, yes - maybe resentment is too strong a word - for me it's more of that sadness you feel when your child is left out etc.( which we have all felt in all kinds of situations not just ballet ) but I tried not to put that on her because ( getting a little a self aware here) some of those feelings may be from when I was young or felt a certain way.  Because I know what auditioning and performing professionally is like,  I coach her through all that in a positive but realistic way. Bottom line of this thread for me is that "not fair" or "favoritism"  is part of life and you can stamp your feet about it or teach your child to deal with it.

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I agree ballet 1310.  We can teach them to deal with it.  We can also teach them when to know when the line has been crossed.  I don't mean to dismiss that sometimes favoritism does in fact go to far.  But in those cases, we still may not be able to actually do anything about it even though we can, for our own sanity give it a good try.  

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4 hours ago, ballet1310 said:

but I tried not to put that on her because ( getting a little a self aware here) some of those feelings may be from when I was young or felt a certain way.

YES! But I think it's not just that your own feelings get tangled up, it's also that it is SO MUCH HARDER to watch someone you love go through hardship than it is to go through it yourself.  In ballet, in particular, I'm reminded often of the quote attributed to Elizabeth Stone:

“Making the decision to have a child - it's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body”

And I agree, Momof3, sometimes the favoritism is like what Learningdance, Dancemaven and others were discussing and requires more than "just" discussions about life lessons (as important as those are).

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Just checking in again, and as I read new posts am thinking maybe there was too much focus on the word ‘favorite’, because that is not really what she cares about.  She doesn’t want to be a pet.  When a teacher rarely gives hands on, specific corrections in a class, but when they do it is only to the same two people, it gets frustrating.  She loves tough teachers, ones who push hard and expect a lot.  Is it really that hard for a teacher to do that for all in a class of 12?  There is a lot of good advice here, and I appreciate this discussion!

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Yes, MEWDancer, for the sake of good dance pedagogy, a teacher can make it a habit to give some kind of feedback to all their students.

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I have enjoyed reading through this thread and identify with much of what has been written here. It’s hard not to be concerned when one’s child is receiving almost no personal attention in her classes. 

My dd spent ages 9-13 at a very reputable pre-pro ballet school where she was often overlooked. As a former dancer, I was confused. I thought I recognized great potential in her. I was full of doubt and wondered if, as her mother, I was unable to be objective, probably true to a degree! I agonized over whether  we should continue to make the sacrifices necessary for our daughter to be a pre-pro ballet student, when her school treated her as if she had very little potential. Because of dd’s treatment at this school, we came close to insisting that she become a recreational dancer. 

I say “close” because we decided to get a second opinion from another pre-pro teacher. This teacher believed in my dd’s potential and lavished attention on her. Within a couple of weeks, the transformation was startling! Dd opened up. She began dancing with more attack and artistry, and her potential became fully evident and undeniable.

My dd DID gain much in the way of inner strength, resilience, and humility from her years of being ignored; however, she lost a great deal too. She lost confidence and began dancing smaller and smaller as a result. This of course created a downward spiral: they paid even less attention to her, etc..She developed the tic of opening her eyes really wide, as if she could make them see her by doing that.

Thanks to that teacher who DID see my dd, she ended up studying on full scholarship at a ballet school that produces many pros. She is now finishing up her first year as a professional dancer at a small company and hoping to move up the ladder to a larger one this next year. Very few of the “favorites” from the old school are even still dancing. 

I guess what I’m trying to say is that we walk a line. There is something to be said for stoically bearing a difficult situation, and a dancer must be able to do some of that to make it in the ballet world.  I believe though that ballet students must also have at least one teacher who believes in them and gives them attention.

Added on 5/4: Even on full scholarship, dd had plenty of opportunities to continue working on growing her thick skin. She didn’t always get the part she coveted. She wasn’t always cast! And that’s fine. I believe though that being seen and receiving attention are fundamental in the development of a dancer.


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