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artsRus

Am I about to ruin her chances!

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artsRus

Hi,  I’ve been so impressed by the knowledge on this board and frankly the writing ability. I’m a little worried my writing needs work to be up to par with many of you. I’ll do my best. 

My DD has turned 16 and will be a Jr. in the fall at a competitive public high school where she excells academically. Upon starting high school she started a new ballet school where she has thrived. She wants to be professional and works hard and is very dedicated. I don’t believe her training was that great until her freshman year but she still got into summer programs such as Kaatsbaan and Bolshoi. She was even waitlisted for SAB. We just figured she would plug away and maybe find a job in a small company and her academic skills would help with a second job. However my daughter has said all along that she is not going to college because she is going to a company and is very serious. 

She auditioned since she was 8  for ABT. She attended Young Dancers Workshop two years in a row and ABT North Carolina but she really wanted to go to ABT NY. Somehow she has many friends who attend or have attended JKO and attending the SI has been her dream. 

Last year she went to Boston but still did not get jnto ABT NY. She worked her tail off this year with a new teacher teacher was finally accepted to her choice program and somehow placed in the Aqua level with the JKO kids and a studio  company member or two.  She is receiving great corrections and applying them. I have a feeling she has a lot to be corrected. She is learning  lot and being challenged  I think she is rising to the challenge.

It is very clear that her year round school has been training her well and it has been exactly what she needs. She also received a scholarship to continue to study there next year and financially we need that. But here’s the catch. She will be in the top level of the school for a third year in a row. We are losing a lot of kids. She will be the most advanced dancer. 

What are questions I can ask the AD?

If she stays at her year round program is she missing the sweet spot in her training to get a job?

Is there a way to make her small school work to prepare her for auditions as a 17 year old for junior companies or upper level pre pro schools?

Am I ruining her chances by allowing her to return to a school that is losing its students although it has demonstrated good training in the past?

Basically we can’t afford to send her to the big city to train this year, nor has she been offered, nor has she auditioned. Is another year as the top student In her shrinking home studio going to set her back? What can I do to prevent that. Thanks!

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Momof3darlings

You wrote very well here.  It sounds like your home school is doing it's job well based on what you have stated.  The questions you have are valid ones.  I would simply ask the AD those things and express that you would like to see what can be done to help to overcome any of the issues that may arise from being in the same level for 3 years and also with less students.  Less students may mean more hands on, but you sound as if you need to hear that.  

I would not mention going to the big city unless they bring it up.  Focus on the concerns you have at this point and time while also letting them know that you believe in their training but just these are the things you have concerns about.  You may want to also ask if there are extra opportunities for classes or training opportunities that they are willing to offer to make up any slack in her training they feel may occur due to loss of students and a 3rd year at the top level.  That is certainly not ideal in general, but it really comes down to the teachers themselves if that matters at all.  

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artsRus

Thank you! She already receives very hands on attention and extra classes (competition training and such). I’m wondering if they will actually have to combine classes with the lower level this year due to the small upper level. I will certainly speak with her and hope she offers some real solutions. For instance we don’t have partnering. I’m not sure when that becomes a problem. Another concern is that we may not have enough advanced dancer to have a proper corps for Nutcracker. 

Do you have a suggestion as to WHEN I should have this conversation? Sooner or later in the summer?

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dancerdancer

I can't really give advice, only commiseration, as my daughters have been in a somewhat similar situation the past couple of years. There's often a lot of angst when you get to the point of needing to decide when the dancer needs to move to the next level or opportunity. This falls into the "many roads to Rome" category, so I think is best taken on a case by case basis, taking all of the factors into consideration.

There are a couple of things you mentioned that stood out to me. One being that your dancer is making good progress in her recent training. And the other being that you cannot afford to send her to the big city this year. You cannot afford what you cannot afford - we were in that situation last year for sure, and we did turn down an opportunity for DD's to leave for training in a full time all day program. They made lovely progress this year, and I have absolutely no regrets about them staying local to the end of high school.  They were not ready, and we couldn't afford it, and we were lucky enough to be in a situation with a very good teacher, despite it being a very small program (the upper level classes were combined with the lower level for four days, and then they had their own classes on two days).  The performance opportunities in a small program are very different in scale...but I personally think that the training opportunity is a more important factor for a high school age student.  So, if your daughter is receiving good training and making good progress, I agree with Momof3darlings about discussing your concerns with the AD and asking about how the smaller class will be handled. In my opinion, earlier rather than later in the summer.  You could maybe broach it as your daughter is so happy to have finally reached her dream intensive, and she's doing well there and is very happy with the progress she's made, and she is very inspired to try to make the most of her next year to continue her progress.

You didn't mention why they were losing students, but it seems that isn't necessarily uncommon at that age, due to graduations, shifting interests, the need to focus on academics, or moving away to train. If they are losing students, I would assume that they would be interested in how to ensure the students who are remaining are best served.

In my experience it can be really, really challenging to decide when the benefits of moving to the next opportunity outweigh the benefits of staying with training that has served you well.  I personally have always felt a good bit of second guessing whether the ultimate decision is to stay or to go. And I think that's pretty normal. But I would say that if you have found a good training option locally, even if it isn't perfect, that's a pretty nice place to start from. So many dancers really don't have access to that to begin with. So it sounds like you're ahead of the game from that standpoint!

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artsRus

Thank you DancerDancer. This is very encouraging. People are leaving for all reasons. Some to city schools some to stop dancing. 

It is good to hear it is possible to continue to improve. I imagine she will have to enroll in Pilates or private lessons. I’m hoping the AD will recommend what types of extras she may need. 

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cat11

I concur with what Momof3 and dancerdancer have said. It sounds like your DD is getting excellent training where she is, given how well she is doing this summer.  My DD's observations, after having spent years in a company school, is that sometimes it's not all it's cracked up to be; and some of the best dancers she has met in her summer courses have come from smaller studios.

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labrador

I agree with cat11. Company schools have a reputation for good training, and in general, this reputation is well deserved. Nevertheless, it is not rare to find among the company members those who received excellent training at other studios.

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Pinkytoes

It sounds like your daughter is blessed with lots of wonderful options. I think that is very lucky for her and your family. My DD is a rising senior and we have felt many of the questions and pressures you pose throughout high school. You mention that your daughter attends a competitive high school and she does well there academically. It would seem to me to be important to consider the academic side of things when contemplating the going away vs. staying home options for ballet. Freshman year, our DD really wanted to do online high school and go full on ballet. We resisted. She has attended our local public high school. It has been a struggle at times to balance the pieces, but she has come along very nicely in her academics. She took an online course one summer and could see through this experience that this would not have been a good pathway for all of her high school work. I think we, as her parents, knew this all along. You also mention a dwindling group of more advanced students at the studio, but not the social scene among them or at the high school. To me, at least, this would also be important to consider. In making decisions for our DD, we have been looking for a well-rounded high school experience that fostered age appropriate social development. My daughter's pathway in high school has been atypical at some moments, but as a rising senior she has a couple of circles of school friends that help keep her feet on the ground when the going is not smooth at the ballet studio.

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artsRus

Pinkytoes. I could not agree more that school has helped to keep her well rounded and we are very happy she has had the opportunity to attend some great schools. She does have trouble getting home at 9:30, eating and starting homework and has lightened her school load some for her Jr. year. But she is really fizzling out of school interest and wanting to focus on ballet. We actually don’t have options to send her anywhere else right now but would find a way if it meant it would ruin her dream by staying. It is just so important to her. We looked Into having her graduate early too. It seemed like it was an uphill battle with the administration. So we stopped pursuing that. We have moved a lot so she is lucky to have a handful of friends scattered throughout. Personally I’d love to see her go to prom!!!  So hard to try to do it all. I’m just following her lead for now and crossing my fingers she doesn’t have major regrets when all is said and done. 

As are we all I suppose. 

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Noodles

It would seem that your dancer is making good progress where she is and I think that a small school can be a huge benefit if all the pieces come together to meet the needs of the dancer. Perhaps a conversation with the AD about your DD's future goals, and what he/she thinks is needed to reach them, might be beneficial.

Best of luck!

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Eligus

ArtsRus,

You CANNOT "ruin" her chances.  Stop with the parental guilt.  I, too, have that in spades, but you must learn to see it for what it is  -- it's fear and worry... Those feelings are perfectly natural, but they are also something that must be seen and acknowledged in order for it to lose its power to control your decisions and allow you to truly HELP your DD.  Honestly, you have no "control" over life, anyway, and you wouldn't want that responsibility even if you could have it.  Such control would not be good for your DD or for you.

What you are doing -- what you are able to do -- is help your DD weigh all her options and help her find her own path.  That's it.  You know this -- underneath all the worry -- I hear it.  So, acknowledge the fear and worry (heck, I even talk about it with my DD and ask her how SHE deals with it -- she's better than I am), and then MOVE THROUGH IT (this takes awhile). 

And I apologize if this gets wordy or preachy, but I've thought about this issue of fear and worry and disappointment during this last year while my DD has been looking to leap from "training" into "profession."  It's been a difficult transition year as a parent, and I've needed to "look for the learning" in it, and I've come to this Board for advice several times.  The quote about looking for the learning actually comes from Louisa May Alcott, who said "painful as it may be, a significant emotional event can be the catalyst for choosing a direction that serves us more effectively.  Look for the learning."  That quote has helped me this year.

Adversity and hardship are scary things to contemplate.  In fact, I used to lament my lack of faith in the belief that things will work out the way they are supposed to work out.  At one time, my sister gave me a quote that literally TAUNTED me from the door of my refrigerator.  It said "leap, and the net will appear."  I HATED that quote and argued daily with its assumptions (which have frustrated and sometimes even angered me for years). 

But this year of watching my DD pursue her dreams (her act of leaping) has taught me a huge amount about courage and faith.  While it is not an experience I would wish on anyone, I have recently come to the (very slow and reluctant) realization that the fear and worry I have about the future and my DD's path has taught me a valuable lesson about my own sense of faith.  I have recently realized that faith is not some static belief that one "has" or doesn't... I thought that because I worried about the future I lacked faith.  But -- in reality -- faith is much more like Mark Twain's definition of courage -- "it is the resistance to fear, mastery of fear -- not absence of fear." 

You are asking excellent questions.  You are doing a great job as a parent thinking this through and figuring out the questions to ask and analyze.  Your life perspective is valuable and -- in all reality -- all you have to offer.  Your DD will need to make her own decisions, though. 

In the advice on life posts somewhere on this Board, someone else said that if they could have made different choices in their parenting, they would have offered LESS advice... or, at least, have waited until asked for advice before offering it, and maybe not even then.....  (huh).  That thought struck me hard in my heart when I've thought about my own parenting choices...  I'm not sure I'm at that other parent's point of "peace with life", yet, but I am getting there.  And (more importantly), I'm beginning to believe that's a better place for me to be and -- ultimately -- I'll be a better parent and person for it.

I will NOT tell you to "not worry."  That did not work for me and such advice (in my opinion) is like telling the sea not to move.  As I said, your questions are GOOD and valuable and helpful. But I will tell you that if you want to "help", you must work through the fear/worry and then allow your DD to make her own choices, you will both be better for it.  And one more quote that at first made me crazy to hear, but that I am now beginning to see the grace.... 

"As your faith is strengthened, you will find that there is no need to have a sense of control, that things will flow as they will, and that you will flow with them, to your great delight and benefit." -- Emmanuel Tenay.

I agree with the advice you have received in the above answers.... have these conversations with your DD and her current school, and have them early and often.  Ask these questions (and others) while you think about her goals and how to achieve them, and explore the answers.  It is GOOD to question and seek answers, although only your DD can decide what is right for her path. 

But rest assured that there IS a path for her, and discovering it is all part of the journey.  There ARE many roads to Rome, and they are as individual as they are different.  You cannot "ruin" the path.  You simply cannot. 

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