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Ballet Talk for Dancers
GingerMomma519

Am I being THAT Mom?

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Bavalay

Ginger, in my posts I do my best to stay positive...but I have empathy (and yes some anger) about some similar things I have experienced as a parent toward my DD12.  It's easy for me to say more upbeat things because this year she is dancing in an environment in which she calls her teachers angels.  Last year we were both shocked that she did not move up and I met with AD who could not give specifics as to why, and second semester evals indicated that she would go up...but when we got placement letter it was the same class that she just completed.  AD agreed that she could do split level like your DD with reevaluation at semester meeting for moving up fully.  In the meantime she auditioned for summer courses to 2 of the big 3 letter schools and was wait listed to one and accepted to one.  At the semester meeting I shared the letter about the wait list school and that did NOT go over well with AD or teacher...at that point she had not auditioned for the school she was accepted to for summer but told them she would audition for the summer course. I was told at that meeting with DD present that they did not like to move students up at semester and that she would remain where she was.  For the rest of the year both she and I recieved less than kind treatment.  I don't like being lied to.  

I guess what I'm trying to say is that sometimes having unbiased people in a cattle call summer audition, you might get a better idea of potential than at your own school.  Maybe a trial class elsewhere to have your child evaluated--not move her but to gauge her technique.  Right now it seems to not be an issue for your DD; as the paying parent of course this is upsetting and you want answers.  I never got answers from the school for the year that just concluded, but did from her NEW school😎 And she is over the moon dancing with "angels".

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GingerMomma519

Bavalay - I understand the need to try and stay positive! I try to remain upbeat and optimistic for DD but inside I'm seething for sure. DD was told that she will not move up at all this year, it won't even be a consideration. Levels are levels and even though there are now parent conferences in October, the levels won't change. 

I've not considered taking her anywhere else for an SI because of her young age but I may make an exception this summer just to see what is out there. Generally if you don't attend the schools SI you can pretty much bank on not moving up come fall. But at this point, DD may be willing to risk it. 

I did talk to someone privately who offered to do an evaluation of DD and let me know where she stands and what needs to be worked on. I definitely am still irritated that I'm not getting this info from the school principal that assisted in placements. I suppose they'd rather ignore the question than have to lie about it!

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dancemaven

I would suggest you make a plan to use the October parent conferences to ask for clarification as to the school’s perceptions of your DD’s strengths and weaknesses.  Don’t question leveling per se, but do acknowledge that she understandably was disappointed to be separated from the rest of her cohort and that she does want to focus on what she needs to improve on in order to keep moving forward steadily.  Let them know you all would like insight into what areas in which she needs to improve and ask for suggests/recommendations as to how she can work toward those improvements.

It may be a question of strength, a question of growing into long, limber limbs, a question of maturity, a question of muscle memory, a question of focus or consistency—-or it may be none of those.  But let them know that your DD is very interested in clarification so that she can make sure she is paying closer attention to the things she can.  And if it is a matter of growing into something, then it will help her understand and help with her patience while she waits out those growth issues.

Keep the questions positive and try as much as possible to not question the placement itself.  BUT, at the same time, stay focused on getting answers, so don’t let them off the hook with general platitudes or general statements.  Keep coming back to your questions as to what your DD’s strength and weaknesses are and what the recommendations for her focus should be until you are comfortable with their answers.  You may not like or agree with their evaluation, but that’s okay.  At this point, you want their perspective and once you have it, you will be in a better position to decide whether this continues to be the school for your DD.

If they simply refuse to provide any useful information, I would start looking for a new school that you can develop a better rapport with. 

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Eligus
10 minutes ago, dancemaven said:

stay focused on getting answers, so don’t let them off the hook with general platitudes or general statements.

This is a very important point, but it can be tricky to do, especially if you are not as cognizant of ballet terms and techniques as you need to be in order to understand and analyze what they are saying. 

This lack of education and understanding on MY part is why (when my DD was growing up), I enjoyed the opportunity to go in and watch random classes (of all levels).... quietly in the back, and not even my DD's class... I just went in and watched and listened.  You learn an amazing amount.... but, of course, the administration may not allow such an intrusion.  These days, a lot of administrations won't allow it, but it is very educational. 

I was also tempted to take adult beginner classes myself, just to try to figure out what my DD was trying to do.  I never did (time and money got in the way), but I would imagine it's also a good way to immerse yourself in knowledge of their world....  I also bought books and spent long hours in front of the computer screen, here on BT4D, and watching youtube videos, just trying to get a "feel" for the language, grammar, and technique of the art.  I'm not saying you must "force" yourself into your DD's world, but it helps immensely to educate yourself about it.  If she stays in this art form, and even if she doesn't, educating yourself is never a "waste." 

So I would gently recommend that in addition to the 3rd party evaluation you have scheduled, you try to carve out some time (if you haven't already) to immerse yourself in ballet technique, and maybe even craft some written questions to ask during the parent conference time.  There was a post awhile back where one of our members wrote out questions to ask during one of these scheduled conference times that would be helpful.... I just can't remember exactly when or what the post was called.  I'll look quickly and see if I can reference it.  If anyone else recalls, chime in!

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ballet1310
7 minutes ago, Eligus said:

immerse yourself in ballet technique

Great advice Eligus !!  

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Eligus

The question list I was referring to was by Learningdance, who posted in a thread entitled "special conference" by LisaRG.  I liked the open-ended, calm and specific question format Learningdance proposed.  A sort of "I'm here to learn" attitude which I've found can be helpful in these types of meetings by reducing any defensiveness on the part of either party, and really getting into the "meat" of any potential problems.

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GingerMomma519

Thank you for all of the advice and assistance. I'm definitely sticking to the plan of having a 3rd party evaluate DD. But I will look up that question list and pull anything that is applicable to DD. 

Kathryn Morgan has a youtube series of videos that DD likes to watch and stretch along with. I sit with DD while she does that because I don't want her to overdo anything. I try to watch and pick up on the different positions and placements. DD does have a slightly arched back, to me that is the only visible difference I can see between her and her peers. However, when observing her class, she seems to know to pull her stomach up and in and straighten her back. But when she is relaxed it has a slight arch. 

DD takes an aerial/contortion class for fun (not my idea of fun!) and I wonder if that's contributed at all to the situation. Where DD dances they don't think much of outside activities unless it's learning piano or something similar. Until last year her side activity of aerial wasn't common knowledge at her school. Then she had her birthday party there and invited some ballet friends. Ballet friends whose parents are close with the school principal. So I often wonder if they don't think she's as committed because she does this other class. 

I refuse to make her quit. Where as this school really beats kids down, DDs aerial class builds her up, her coach just loves her, and it's a very happy and positive place. I think with all the dance school negativity she needs that positive outlet!

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newballetmom
1 hour ago, GingerMomma519 said:

I refuse to make her quit. Where as this school really beats kids down, DDs aerial class builds her up, her coach just loves her, and it's a very happy and positive place. I think with all the dance school negativity she needs that positive outlet!

Honestly, the fact that this school “beats kids down” is enough to make me say that it’s probably not the place for your daughter. I know that this is a highly desired/recognized school, but I promise you,  your daughter can thrive away from this big name school. I think seeking outside evaluation and placement might just end up being the best thing for her. 

We left a big name school for a smaller studio and it was the best decision we could have made. 

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Bavalay

...oh..my. I am on with newballetmom regarding the comment on "breaking kids down".   My DD12 is at a well respected school (granted the year just started and she's a week into her new environment; she was there for 5 weeks in the summer too), and what I saw at watch week in summer as well as what she says on the ride home is nothing short of spectacular.  I don't want anyone to break my child down--that's my job (and by no means do I break her down❣).  Your child is allowed to have other interest and that is your right and responsibility as a parent to expose her to other topics/extracurricular things for her to discover what really matters to her.  Thank goodness our kids can't see our burning insides when injustice or unexplained or "fill in the blank here" seems to be happening to them.  And since she wants to keep dancing there for now, you carry on with your plan and use this marvelous BT4D to vent, get validation, advice and so forth so it doesn't come out at your studio or be known to your child.  You have a little time for healing before the October conference you mentioned.  Keep us posted.

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