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GingerMomma519

Am I being THAT Mom?

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GingerMomma519

Hello everyone. This is my first post, so please be gentle. 

DD will be in 9 in December and dances at what is considered to be one of the top 20 (if not top 10) dance schools in the US. She has been dancing her entire life, and currently takes 15+ hours/week of ballet. 

Last year I started noticing that some girls in her level were favored for reasons not always to do with ballet. But I let it go. This summer, during the summer intensive, my daughter and 1 other girl from her level were placed a level below all the other girls from their academic year. I reached out to the school principal who assured me that summer placement isn't indicative of academic year placement. 

After the summer intensive there was another shorter August course. My daughter was now the only girl from her academic year lever, placed a level below the other dancers. The girl she was with during summer intensive decided not to attend the August course. 

Another mom said her daughter had been taking private lessons and suggested I reach out to the school principal to see about lessons. I did that and was told in no uncertain terms that DD was not behind the other girls and that she didn't need private lessons. 

Fast forward to last night's placement class for the academic year. Every single girl from last years academic level (including the one that didn't take the August course), was moved up a level. My daughter was held back with kids a year or two younger than her. 

She is devastated and of course my heart just aches for her! I crafted an e-mail to the school principal but now I'm unsure if I should send it. I'm frustrated that just 3 weeks ago she told us my daughter wasn't behind and privates are unnecessary. But clearly she was behind based on placement. 

This is a wonderful school, but a lot of the teachers that made it great have long since left. One did say, before she left, that she was leaving because she was frustrated with the direction. She was frustrated with having to teach the "favorite" children who didn't always have the technique to support their level. 

I don't want to be THAT mom. But I feel like I need to at this point. Can anyone relate? Give some solid advise? Talk me out of saying something stupid?

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Mdballetmom

I think I know the school... but that is kind of irrelevant. In answer to your question, since placements have come out and your dancer did not get moved with the rest of her cohort, I do not think a private conversation for clarification and direction is out of order. Especially since you have already raised the subject.   
But, you should be prepared to hear the answer... which may be that a) they do not see potential b)  there are significant technical issues holding your dancer back or c)other things - ie musicality, work ethic, etc. that are behind in development. 

On another note, 15 hours a week of ballet seems a lot to me... for a 9 year old. My dancer was at 15 hours/week total at that age, but that included a classes of jazz, modern etc... maybe only 8 or 9 of strictly ballet. 

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Ballerinamom2girls

Whoever is in charge of placement: "would you mind taking a look at her during class to see if she's in the correct level?"

I'm of the opinion that if you're paying money for a service that it's totally within bounds to respectfully ask for more information/bring up questions.  I had a very pleasant conversation with the placement director at my daughter's SI.  It's all in the attitude IMO.  

All this being said, 15hour/wk is quite a lot for an 8 year old.  I'd be concerned about a school that was requiring that many hours that young.  Perhaps you could check out other schools in the area to compare? (Since you mentioned the good teachers leaving anyway)

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Victoria Leigh

First, welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers, GingerMomma519!  I think you will find a great deal of support and help here, both from our moderators and our many, many long time and experienced parents. :)

As a teacher, my thoughts on this, as your DD is the only child not moved up with her class, are that you would be quite justified in requesting a meeting with the director. You have the right to know WHY she did move up with her peers. That kind of situation, in my opinion, deserves an explanation. There could be a valid reason, but you and your DD need to understand that reason. 

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BournonvilleMom

I’m fairly new here also, and my DD is now 14. She has been at the same studio since she was a preschooler.  I have seen some wonderful advice and perspective on this board, and know you will find support.

As a parent with a dancer a few years down the timeline, I would share that I definitely have learned to trust my studio’s directors and teachers.  I have learned that my job is to be her Mom, and to support her emotionally but that often I do not know what is best for her as much as her teachers do.  

Also I have noted that my daughter has benefitted more when she is in classes with dancers that are younger than her.  It not only boosts her confidence and self esteem, but it has been the best way we have found for significant improvement in her technique.  I would dare say that sometimes I think my DD is better off in a class slightly below her level, than one slightly above her level.

I hope you find some answers, some good insight and lots of support.  Welcome to this wonderful place.

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GingerMomma519

Thank you all for the welcome and your responses. I'm glad to hear I'm justified in asking these questions. Any time I've asked anything in the past I've been met with the attitude that screams "how dare you question us". I'm not questioning their decision, I just want to know what it is DD needs work on so that she can focus on improving!

When I talked to the school principal over the summer she said DD wasn't behind but that she just learned differently than other kids. Which took me off guard because I've never heard that in regards to any other area of DD life. DD is a wonderful student at school and takes aerial (trapeze, silks, etc) classes for fun. Her teachers there have said repeatedly that she has amazing control over her movement for her age. 

I'm just perplexed. I will say, I looked at the next closest dance school in terms of quality and it does seem to be quite a bit less dancing. We're 6 days a week right now. Others seem to be 4, max. 

I don't want to pull DD from the school because it's supposed to be some of the best training available, and I'm not able to uproot myself to take her to NYC or any place like that. I'm "lucky" this school is about 20 minutes from our house. 

 

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Bavalay

Ginger, there is good advice from the members posted above.  I am fond of the suggestion of a meeting approached from the standpoint of what needs to be worked on to be ready for the next level.  Going into the meeting calm and genuinely seeking information is always helpful--keeping out mom emotions.  It probably does not seem fair that you went in to get private lessons to be told that your daughter is not behind, only to find out that she wasn't moved up with her peers.  It could indeed be that she is not behind, and that some of the students moved were ahead.  The meeting should provide clarification.  It may just be an oversight.  Best to you and your DD.  Let us know how it turns out.

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GingerMomma519

Thank you Bavalay! 

Tonight the official placement gets posted, so I'll likely send my e-mail after that. I've read it, and had two other people read it to make sure I'm being professional and not sounding like a mom on the verge of tears for her daughter. 

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Bavalay

Certainly GingerMomma.  I am hoping you will not need to send an email...those are hard to take back.  What was the placement class about, and I am wondering how there was an impression that your daughter was not move up?  I don't count on anything until I see it in writing😎

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dancemaven

GingerMomma519, you might find these Age Appropriate Guidelines prepared by our esteemed Teacher-Moderators enlightening:

https://dancers.invisionzone.com/topic/54927-general-age-appropriate-training-guidelines/

“More” is not always better.  Ballet is a slow-boil endeavor, especially in the younger ages with growing, developing bodies and minds.

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GingerMomma519

Bavalay- it was the beginning of the year placement that will determine their level for the year. The grouped the kids by which level they were to be in, and then moved kids up and down as necessary. My daughter was put in a lower level then the rest of the girls she was with last year and then never moved. 

 

Dancemaven- Thank you for the link. I will check it out!

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newballetmom

I think an in person meeting may be better than an email. I would ask whoever is in charge of placement what specific things your daughter needs to work on before advancing to the next level.

 

Is this higher level a big jump year for this company? Starting pointe, entering the pre-pro school ect.

 

 

 

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Bavalay

Thank you for the clarification GingerMomma519.  I see now.  I agree with newballetmom about in person meeting instead of email.

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ballet1310

I just wanted to add a thought ... your dd is just turning 9 - so many things change between 9 and 15/16.  If she is getting great training , when you have the talk with them, you will have to decide if you trust their judgement or not.  

Moving up a level at this age really doesn't mean anything !!  Looking back when dd was that young , none and I mean zero of the girls that were "recommended" for certain classes that dd wasn't at that age  are either no longer dancing or not on a professional track.   It's a long journey and my advice is to keep your eye on the bigger picture 

By the way - this is said with tough love and understanding of how hard it can be to be a mom of a ballet dancer and how our heart can ache but trust that each step along the way is for a reason :)

 

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Funfetti

Gingermomma519, 

We were in a similar situation with my youngest dancer. DK was passed over 3 years in a row for promotion...DK is only 10 right now.  Promotion is dependent on taking an exam. I didn't say anything until this last time. We had been told DK would be taking an exam and then without notice until after the deadline we were informed DK would not get to take the exam. Again. The teacher wouldn't budge. And my dancer decided they were done. DK was embarrassed, discouraged, and sad they weren't with their friends. (DK's not a prodigy by any means, but  was a leader, picked up choreo quickly, technique was fine, not the best, not the worst. But DK is one of the hardest working kids I know. I can say this having another kiddo that doesn't push himself in ANYTHING ) After we withdrew DK from the school, the teacher decided to let DK take the exam. The adjudicator (not even from our studio nor a local) gave DK excellent marks-it's not like DK barely passed. DK did very well. But even so, DK won't dance anymore. I think DK would have passed just fine in years past, but DK's teacher has a reputation for her students getting very high scores. My *guess* is that she didn't want that reputation to be marred.

I think at such a young age, there is a balance between excellence and encouragement. 

Hoping it all gets sorted out for you!

Edited by Funfetti

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