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Ballet Talk for Dancers
Graceful711

Just like that....it's over

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Graceful711

DD has been dancing since she was two, she is now 15.  It is all she ever wanted to do.  We have wholeheartedly supported her.  The last two years she has worked so hard. We had private lessons , pilates,  we have given her every advantage we could.   She has been striving to improve everyday  but has not seemed happy the last year or so.   I thought it was just determination, focus. She got into her dream SI again, and placed in a high level, higher than we had expected....this is what she has worked so hard for , yet she has been sad, not at her placement, just sad.  After days of talk and soul searching she realized that ballet doesn't make her happy anymore, it  fills her with anxiety.   As it turns out, she kept thinking if she just got better,   the joy would come back but it hasn't.   She decided this morning, once intensives are over, she will take a break and go back to regular high school and not dance.....at all.  I'm so unbelievably proud of her for making a very difficult decision.   Neither of us know what life is like without  auditions, nutcrackers, classes everyday, private, Pilates, etc.   I am writing here because  I don't think people in the "real" world really understand profound impact training to be a professional has on a family and then you wake up one morning and its over.  I am not saying she will never dance again....who knows what the future holds but wow..... I have never had a "normal" daughter who goes to school and does "normal" things.  She doesn't know what its like!   We talk about who is she without dance; she is funny, smart, creative, great at science, ....  I guess now she will have time to explore those untapped parts of her.   No one saw this coming.....not even her.   I have so many emotions churning up and needed to get it out to those who would understand.   Thank you for reading. 

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Noodles

Graceful711, I am sorry. I can't imagine how one (not the dancer...the parent!) turns it all off, just like that! BUT the good news is that your DD knows what she wants and needs and that is a wonderful thing! Good luck with the coming changes, I hope that your DD finds what she needs right now :-)

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popsicle1010

I understand your feelings and I'm glad you shared them.  I bet your daughter will discover things that she doesn't even know yet she loves!  Thinking of you!

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Fouronlychildren

What a brave, mature decision. May all our children always strive to identify what makes them happy and relentlessly  pursue it, even if it wasn’t part of ‘the plan’.

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nynydancer

Thanks so much for sharing!  She sounds like she really has it together-- what a brave thing.  Sounds like she was doing so well too and it makes her decision (and your loving support) so much more powerful.  This sure is a crazy journey, isn't it.  We've been at this for 9 years now, and I have seen many kids leave the path (and a very few "make it").   It's the ones that quit while they are ahead with truly supportive parents who seem the happiest and well adjusted and doing other great things.  It's always great to see these very vibrant non ballet lives!  On the flip side we've also known plenty who left NOT on their own terms and it was very sad and took a long time to mentally recover.  I hope I can be as cool a mom as you when we hit the end of the road.    

She may come back to dance-- I have read that happen a couple times on these message boards.  Who knows!  She's sounds like a great kid and she has great support from you.

Again, thanks for sharing.  

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gasguzzler

It was nice to read your perspective with such a positive twist to her ending her ballet journey. Reading comments on this board from many parents in your shoes it seems that they often experience a type of mourning when their child has left ballet. I was anticipating maybe some of the same when DD ends her journey. Your post has given me a hope for more of a renaissance. 

 

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Graceful711

Thank you so much everyone.  I really needed the support.  This is almost surreal.  She climbed into bed with me last night because she couldn't sleep.  As sure as she is of her decision, she is still scared.  She is struggling with the question of, who am I if I'm not a dancer?  We are both feeling scared, relieved, sad, happy...and yes, I am in mourning a little bit.  This is going to take time to process.  Yesterday there were times when I actually saw the light of happiness in her eyes as we talked and laughed about non ballet subjects.  Seeing that light again, even ever so briefly, assures me that she is doing the right thing....but I am still in disbelief.  My husband still cant wrap his head around it, my son didn't believe me, I am hoping her friends will be supportive and he public school kids will welcome her back with a smile and not whispers.  A friend on facebook posted a quote this morning,  "You are one decisions away from a totally different life."  Boy, is that true!   

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learningdance

Hugs Graceful711 and there but for the grace of God go any dance parents. 

Bravo to your DD for making a decision. 

And you know your DD and it's likely this is a permanent decision. But I would not be surprised if time away did not have some impact on her and if she did not want to try going back in some modified fashion, but perhaps with more balance than is possible for a pre pro dancer. 

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Mdballetmom

I understand your feelings completely! I have a feeling that I too, am soon to be headed down this road. My DD has achieved so much in dance... top Intensives, YAGP finals, and casting in solo roles, but she is on the verge of college and is leaning that direction... and in an entirely different career path. She says that she cannot imagine not dancing, but ....  


No decision has been made, but I'm preparing for it. She may very well decide to continue in ballet... but may swing the other way... odds right now are 50/50. 
Just know that you are not alone and your support of her decision is the MOST important thing. Hugs to you!  

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nynydancer

Big hugs Graceful711.  Definitely chase the joy whatever it is, and wherever.   I think we all joke about how amazing our lives will be without Nutcracker, etc, but seriously it's gotta be a big adjustment.  I really feel for you.  Your child is so much better for this journey--she's cultured, knows a lot of classical music, probably walks with more polish and grace than a graduate of a Swiss finishing school.  They don't lose that, or the grit that comes from this journey (amazing Ted talk on that btw if you google it). 

The fact that people are incredulous and shocked by her decision may lead her to think she is doing something "wrong" so just watch for that.  Or the comments "but you are so good with so much talent".  I've seen/heard that (and probably even said myself -- whoops).  

Also big hugs to you too MDBalletmom.  Sounds like you are doing the right things and letting your DD have the space and support she needs!

My good friend is going through this but NOT from a position of power, but more like leaving kicking and screaming and angst and overload and "why not me".   

My take away is that the professional ballet path is just crazy.  I don't want to say it's hard-- which it is-- but saying it's hard almost seems like a challenge to many kids and parents-- as in, work harder!  I say it's just crazy because you really to have to sacrifice so much and for every post I've read on this board about kids doing 5 AP classes and full pre pro schedule by just being organized and stuff, I know many more who have collapsed or are collapsing.  Others like mine have given up altogether on traditional schooling and that isn't so fun.  The odds are SO bleak and so much beyond their control -- body, health, access to great teaching, money, luck, and yes even sponsorship (a nod to that other lively topic now on BT4D).   When a kid takes all the good that they can from this journey and leaves on their own terms, I think it's freaking AWESOME!

 

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gasguzzler
8 minutes ago, nynydancer said:

 When a kid takes all the good that they can from this journey and leaves on their own terms, I think it's freaking AWESOME!

 

Hear, Hear! :clapping:

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cat11

I think your daughter has shown a great deal of wisdom, courage and grace for her age.  The one thing to remind yourself is that dancing ends for everyone at some point, and I think any dancer who has dedicated so much of their lives to this art form will feel that loss. However the fact that she is choosing her own path, and in her own time, is wonderful. We have watched so many of my own DD's friends go though this journey this year, as were faced with college decisions vs pursing dance, and it was a struggle for everyone.

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JKK

Graceful711, I deeply appreciate that you shared this vulnerable time in your family’s life, and wish you all the continued courage and future joy possible! 

Candidly,  I read your initial post and then purposefully avoided the thread due to dreading the inevitable uptick in my ever present ballet-as-a-career-choice-at-<insert ridiculously young age>- anxiety.  Nevertheless, your initial post compelled me to broach the subject with my husband. We had a much needed, heartfelt and soul searching discussion, concluding that we both live with an ever present anxiety about all of this (and probably more that we haven’t even realized :blink: ), and the toll it can take on even the best days. Always a win when we are on the same side of an issue, even this one :P.

Following the discussion with hubby I am so happy I revisited your thread and caught up on the many and wonderful responses.  So much wisdom, generosity and empathy in a community brought together by one of the most competitive endeavors ever (I often think of composing a Top Ten List of “Becoming a professional ballet dancer is less likely than” becoming a Supreme Court Justice, winning an Oscar, going to prison for insider trading, etc). 

This particular thread is Chicken Soup for the Ballet Parent Soul!

Thanks again to you Graceful711, and all of the responders!  

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ballet1310

Graceful711,  thank you for sharing ...at the risk of sounding cliche , I won’t say anything except enjoy the new journey you are on 💗

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nynydancer

JKK,

2 hours ago, JKK said:

(I often think of composing a Top Ten List of “Becoming a professional ballet dancer is less likely than” becoming a Supreme Court Justice, winning an Oscar, going to prison for insider trading, etc). 

This is awesome.  I wish you would :) 

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