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LiterateGriffin

Evaluations are in...

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LiterateGriffin

...and despite having great technique, she did NOT advance from Ballet 1 to Ballet 2. Rather, she moved to "1B" (a category that did not exist this past year).

(Please note: when we auditioned, she wasn't quite ready for Ballet 2, but they thought she could probably catch up.... meaning techinque-wise, she was almost there.)

The issue isn't technique, conditining, musicality, artistry, or attendance. (She got great marks in all of those, and the only critiques were the same ones I saw -- needs to hold her head up more, needs to work on back-strength).

The issue is discipline and focus. 

I completely agree with her teacher. Heck -- during Parent Observation week, she had to leave class at one point to use the bathroom. When she came back in, the students were in the middle of doing running leaps across the room. My daughter started to just wander across the floor, willy-nilly, paying no attention to what was going on. I broke the golden rule and barked her name, to snap her out of her daydream before disaster happened. 

Just to give ONE example. 

We're working on things... and I'm trying to work WITH her, as much as I can, on her focus, on paying attention, on listening...

It just kinda kills some little part of ME, to see her not advance. So I'm supporting her instructor 100%, and coming and venting here, a little bit, where "no one" can see, and it doesn't undermine anything.

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Mdballetmom

Its been a few years since my dancer was under 13, but I wanted to reply. 

In my opinion, focus and discipline are equally, if not more important that ballet technique, artistry, musicality, etc. And I'm assuming that your DD is still pretty young... age 7, 8 or 9?   There's a lot of growing and maturing in her future... and things can change very quickly. And maybe, not advancing will ignite her... and maybe not. But it may turn out that ballet is just not for her, and that is ok, too.  I often half-joke that if I could do it again, I would have put a lacrosse stick in my DD hands at age 5 and never looked back! 

But it sound like your DD is right where she needs to be... with good teachers. 

 

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Amie

I also wanted to chime in, even though my DD is over 13.  I'm right there with you on the "kills a little part of ME" feeling.  I've definitely felt that more times than I can count.  I have realized over time that I usually feel it worse than they do.  Kids are much more resilient and way more easily distracted than we are.  

I would also suggest that you and your DD should look at this from a different more positive angle and think of it as a movement up a level from 1A to 1B.  DD's studio did a similar change creating levels like 1A and 1B and later 2A and 2B when they had to restructure the levels due to varying abilities and/or an increase in numbers of certain ages groups and abilities.  At first it may seem that the studio is unfair by adding another rung on the ladder to get to the top, but it just prevents overcrowding in classes, too many differing demands in one class, and gives a better environment overall to teach and learn.  It is good that your DD's studio does evaluations.  Your DD knows the parts of dance that she is excelling in and also knows what she need to work on more to be promoted again next year.

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LiterateGriffin

She has just turned 11, last week.

And I KNOW how important focus and discipline are.... I'm just frustrated.

She joined the new studio in January. It wasn't until March (Parent Observation Week) that I discovered how much of a problem she was being, when I saw it with my own two eyes. Her teacher had occasionally mentioned a "bad day", but hadn't conveyed the depth of the problem. And she got so much praise from him, that the little bit of critique he threw in didn't seem as heavy... until I saw her in action.

During class, she danced beautifully. But when she wasn't dancing..... she was over twining her body between the barre and the wall, or climbing on some objects stacked off to the side.... She was contoring herself, and amusing herself, instead of standing, looking at her teacher, and paying attention. When it was her turn, she was never standing there, ready. There was always a short wait, while she extricated her body from whatever she'd been doing and ran over to be in line....

It was shocking for me to watch.

We immediately began "corrective procedures" at home.... This looked like talking, very frankly, about what we'd seen.... 

There is one girl in the class she really dislikes. This girl displays behaviors similar to my daughter's, but more extreme (and she lacks my daughter's technical skill). We discussed that as much as she disliked Annoying Girl, and found her behaviors annoying.... that's how much her behavior was ALSO annoying and problematic. I pointed out that when Annoying Girl misbehaved... so did she. In the same ways. And I used the "Teacher's Pet" girls as examples of how she should behave instead. (Sorry, I know my names sound pretty charged.... Trying to paint with broad strokes, to give "type", while keeping all children anonymous. There's not actual judgement.) 

AG has to be called, when it's her turn. TP never does.... Be like TP; be standing in place already, ready to go.
AG gets bored when teacher is talking... TP watches attentively. Be like TP...

 

By her reports and her teacher's, she's doing better since we started going over the expectations before class every time. But obviously not better enough.

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ParentalPerson

The beauty of ballet is that it really demands attention and focus -- but it also teaches these qualities!

Positive peer pressure will go a long way, and as long as the expectation is there, all will be well. However -- it seems a bit odd that in a class of 11 year olds, the teacher isn't demanding real etiquette. Maybe that's an angle for discussion? They teach etiquette so every student can walk into any ballet class, anywhere in the world, and know how to behave. 

It's like table manners, in a way! Good luck, LiterateGriffin!

Edited by ParentalPerson
Punctuation!

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LiterateGriffin
2 minutes ago, Amie said:

I would also suggest that you and your DD should look at this from a different more positive angle and think of it as a movement up a level from 1A to 1B. ...At first it may seem that the studio is unfair by adding another rung on the ladder to get to the top,...

Here's the "thing":

First, I would much rather her spend more time in a lower "rank" than advance too quickly. There is no such thing as "too much" time getting fundamentals solid. 

At her old studio, she started in Ballet 2. She danced out her first year, and started her second still in Ballet 2.... but there was a new Ballet 2B. Her teacher expected her to move up to Ballet 2B after the Nutcracker madness was over... but I got burned out, and we switched studios. (A trip to ballet and back went from 72 miles to 7... I got a lot of sanity back!)

At the new studio, she auditioned for Ballet 2, but... we were warned. Classifications were different, and she wasn't quite ready. She went into Ballet 1.

And now, once again, at the end of the year, there's a new "mid-way" level. 

Irrational on my part, but it feels like going backwards. (My rational brain knows it's coincidence.)

I'm a little confused, too, because I'd been told, already, that almost the entire Ballet 1 class was advnacing to 2... which makes me wonder just who else is going to be in 1B? They can't hold an entire extra class for 2 girls.

And finally, that audition, when she got a "sneak peek" at a class just-slightly more advanced than where she is, was a huge motivator. She got to see some of what's coming, and that was a motivator.... 

My personal background are academics and martial arts, not dance. I excelled at one, and worked my butt off (literally) in the other. In academics, I advanced each year as a matter of course. In martial arts, I advanced when my technique was ready. 

The idea of having the technique, but not advancing... It is just so foreign to me.

I UNDERSTAND. I approve. 

I'm just not sure what to do, how else to help her with this problem. 

(If  you're hearing mixed messages, you've got a clue how I'm feeling. And on why I'm talking this out here. Her teachers are her teachers, and deserve 100% support and backing from me. IRL, support the teachers.... go online, to work out personal angst over the decision.)

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LiterateGriffin
18 minutes ago, ParentalPerson said:

However -- it seems a bit odd that in a class of 11 year olds, the teacher isn't demanding real etiquette. Maybe that's an angle for discussion? They teach etiquette so every student can walk into any ballet class, anywhere in the world, and know how to behave. 

And I think it might be "better", except....

There is one girl, who is much worse than my daughter.

She's a terrible dancer, has no focus, and clearly has some behavior issues... she's also clearly from a much lower-income bracket than a lot of the students, and doesn't understand what's being asked of her most of the time. 

And with all that said? I think dance might be just what that girl needs.... she just also needs a couple private sessions, so she can learn what's expected of her better... I think she would benefit from that on so many levels, but that she isn't likely to get it. 

This girl was already there when my daughter joined. 

It's much easier to deal with one misbehaving student than two. 

It's not the teacher's fault. It's my daughter's.... I'm just not sure how to get her to focus....

 

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ParentalPerson

Hi again!

Summer is a funny time -- it's possible the studio knows they'll be adding several kids over the summer, or starting in the fall, and have had to rethink numbers. 

If it's any consolation, we're waiting to see what's going to happen with our group, too. Our class has kids who are ahead of schedule -- but there are also some who are older and are catching up. They may be split out next year, they may not -- it all depends on numbers after the summer! It's all up in the air, and we are also waiting with bated breath! 

I completely agree that dance really does something for the kids without focus -- and it's a real shame when one kid, who could probably just use a little encouragement in the form of privates or boundary-setting, is setting the tone for the class. We have that issue from time to time as well in our class -- although the phrase, "we are paying attention, or we are sitting out" generally comes into play quite quickly. 

It's a hard thing, though -- to go your own way, as a kid. I hope your daughter has success with deciding who she wants to be (and if it's not a ballet dancer, that's OK, too -- I second that comment earlier in the thread!)

Could you (and/or your daughter!) talk to the teacher and explicitly enlist her/his help? Sometimes teachers are unsure how -- er -- clear they can be with 'reminders' -- but they might go a little further if they know the student is really on board.

My kid is having a quick chat with her teacher when she sees her on Tuesday. It's about her specific technique goals, rather than etiquette, but these kind of talks (whatever the subject matter!) can be really useful in bringing everyone together as a team!

Edited by ParentalPerson
Clarity

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Ballerinamom2girls

Ballet is a small world I really hope no one who knows "annoying girl" reads this.  I've seen ballet moms in real life who had no idea I could easily identify them online from the info they provided.  

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Elf Font

LiterateGriffin, I apologize in advance if you feel this is overstepping, but does your daughter have issues with being distracted in other areas of her life - such as at school, home, or other extracurricular activities? There's no need to respond publicly, I just wanted to encourage you to discuss this with her pediatrician if your daughter's distractibility interferes with her ability to function or achieve her goals. I certainly don't want to imply that her behavior requires a diagnosis, but there may be some good suggestions you might get from her doctor if you feel that it affects a lot of areas of her life. 

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LiterateGriffin
21 minutes ago, Ballerinamom2girls said:

Ballet is a small world I really hope no one who knows "annoying girl" reads this.  I've seen ballet moms in real life who had no idea I could easily identify them online from the info they provided.  

As I hope I clarified, I'm not casting actual judgement, and I like the girl in question. 

If anyone bothers to check my profile for my town, my daughter is easily identified from my few posts. (At least by anyone involed in the schools in question.) "Annoying Girl" would easily be able to be identified from there.

The point is, I LIKE "Annoying Girl". The label is to identify behavior that is distracting in class.... and my daughter's occasional attitude towards her. (Some days she hates Annoying Girl. Some days, they're inseparable, and we can't pry them apart after class.) And I needed "non-name" names to describe extreme oposites of the behavior-spectrum. ("Teacher's Pet" isn't particularly flattering, either, but -- again -- I was trying to quickly summarize behavior-qualites in a non-name "name", without spending forever going into detail)

 

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LiterateGriffin
30 minutes ago, Elf Font said:

[D]oes your daughter have issues with being distracted in other areas of her life - such as at school, home, or other extracurricular activities? 

In a word, yes.

This is just the most clear and extreme example of it.

I wish we had a better pediatrician -- one we had a relationship with. Right now, who we have, I never know who we're going to see when we go in... or even which building we'll end up in. (Yes, that's as weird as it sounds.) *sigh* We had one I liked, and then he retired to go become a preacher. ("Retired"... he was around 45 or so.) We moved around the same time, and the kids have been more or less healthy, just going in once a year for a checkup.

But I guess with her dancing, we're going to need a good pedi.... One I can trust to know what's going on, and going on with her in particular, as opposed to just saying, "Right. Healthy. Next...."

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fuddyduddy

I cannot imagine an 11 year old hanging on barres and not ready to go across the floor at our ballet school or our competition school. And certainly no such child would be given a promotion. 

I think you need to worry less about the other girls in class and continue to focus on improving your daughters attention. [. . . . ].  Your daughter cannot focus enough to advance in her training. While there may be ways to address it, you might first talk to her doctors and school teachers and get advice from them. 

Good luck! 

Edited by dancemaven

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Clara 76

LiterateGriffin-

I can tell that you are feeling hurt and frustrated. It can feel like it's our fault as the parent (even though we are totally working on behavior issues at home), and then, it feels personal. My oldest son was "annoying boy"!!!! It turned out he did have attention issues and in his case, when he began eating organic, fresh, home cooked meals without sugar and added salt, as well as a huge increase in activity, he became an amazingly bright, warm, and calm human being.

Of course, while we were in process, I dealt with teachers whom I felt blamed me. As I have more years on this planet, I have come to realize that there are many factors that go into the creation of a human being, some we as parents can control, some we can't. Our best course of action is to hope we can recognize that factors we can control, and then let go and accept our child for their uniqueness.

To address the other issue- levels are not consistent from one school in the US to another. If I could I would name levels "Bob", "George", and "Tom" so that parents could understand that I as their child's teacher of ballet, know best about whether he or she needs to spend more time in "Bob" or should be changed to "Tom" Please try not to think of it as "being held back", or "not moving forward", because neither statement is true. It is simply that where your child happens to be in her process makes it better for her and in her best interest to spend more time with Bob so she can be more successful later.

When all of the children in her age range are 18 nobody will know or CARE whether she spent 5 years with BOB or went straight to Tom. Does this make sense?

In regards to eligus- the post was fine, but the member no longer has a child in this group, and each group/forum has it's own rules.

To Ballerinamom2girls- be careful casting stones. It is the rule of Ballet Talk that we do not try to ID people from this forum. We are supposed to be a support group- not a posse, ok?

 

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Justinitforfun

I had an enormous deja vu moment reading your initial post. I had the exact same experience at basically the same age, and felt the same way about it. At the same time, I had also been having a couple years of nagging feelings about dd's school performance.

Because she is quite smart, she was still getting good grades. And because she is rather shy, she was quiet and not a behavior issue in class. However, it was clear to me that something was off, and she was missing a lot - not hearing or understanding directions from the teacher, not completing an assignment, only doing half of what what assigned, making "careless" mistakes.

At school, her teachers brushed these things off, because as I said, she wasn't a behavior problem, and she was still getting good grades. At dance, her complete lack of focus and inability to apply corrections or learn choreo in a timely fashion was interpreted as lack of interest or willful lack of effort.

After a really bad year of hearing from her dance teachers over and over that she needed to focus and try harder, with her saying she was focused and trying as hard as she could, I finally put 2 and 2 together and realized that it wasn't about her effort or work ethic, or that she needed to learn "etiquette". She really was doing her best. Long story short, she was tested and diagnosed with inattentive type ADHD.

I am NOT saying that is (or is not) what is going on with your daughter. But for mine, she eventually got treated, and the difference was immediate and impressive. Her dance teachers now praise her work ethic and focus. It breaks my heart that for so long they thought she didn't care or wasn't trying, and being told that over and over was starting to really affect her self-esteem. She had stagnated and was told she wasn't making noticeable progress, and is now progressing beautifully again.

I guess my point for you is that it may not be as simple as telling your daughter to focus, or her teacher telling her what class etiquette is expected. At this age, most kids really do want to do their best, and likely if she could focus better, she would be. 

If she really does care about dance, and she really feels she is trying her best, it is worth exploring whether there may be more at play. ADHD? Anxiety? Something else? Especially if you are seeing those issues in other areas of her life, better to figure that out sooner rather than later, right?

And even if there's nothing to really do about it, just having some understanding may help her teachers interpret her behavior in a different light. Who knows....maybe "annoying girl" has issues that prevent her from stellar behavior as well, and isn't really just "annoying" :) I definitely think it is worth discussing with a pediatrician (I hope you find a good one you like!), and her school teachers.

In the meantime, I can't take away the sting of not getting moved up (and I've been in that situation sooooo many times now). I can tell you though, one thing my daughter always says about not moving up that is a positive, is that getting "left behind" leaves you in a position of being the "top" of a group and is a great opportunity to shine, rather than being the "bottom" of the next group, and being generally overshadowed. She has come to appreciate being in that position.

Good luck figuring this all out! 

 

Oh, and one more thing. When my daughter was still in that unfocused stage, one thing that helped a lot was private lessons. Without the distraction of other students and a teacher that was able to keep her focus in a one-on-one environment, it gave them both a great opportunity to see that she truly was able to work hard and apply corrections when focus was not an issue. Even though it didn't affect her ultimate placement, it was a great experience. 

My daughter is now a little over 13, so I hope this is allowed to stay, since my experience was so similar at that same age. 

 

Edited by dancemaven
Edited to add paragraphs to make post a bit easier to read.

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