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Ballet Talk for Dancers
rane

Studio Dilemma

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GingerMama

My DD is 6.5 and obsessed with dance. She started only doing one ballet class and loved it so last year she added different dance styles too and really loves Contemporary but also found Acrobatics to be one of her favorites. I agree with the other posters about trying a wide variety of activities to see what sparks an interest. My daughter enjoyed softball and loves swimming but when we talked about what she wanted to do dance was above everything and she would happily drop anything that interfered with the classes she wanted to take. I have no dance background either so I completely get your confusion and the stress of making decisions! I feel like you are coming from where I am which is not trying to get worked up about anything, or think it’s all about turning her into a ballerina, but about making the right choices to help her make her choices as best you can. I’ve talked to the moms of other girls in her classes and most do not care what they do as far as classes or the company but my DD very much does. Her friends are ambivalent about doing Nutcracker again but DD is constantly talking about the auditions and so excited to get back into it. There’s a definite difference in a girl wanting to do it at a young age which is confusing to a mom with no idea of this world. I do not think you can go wrong trying out different styles. For what it is worth, I posted my confusion about different styles because her teachers think they are very important for well roundedness. Even the ballet teams at our studio have to take other styles. Even my husband has commented on how much more gracefully she is moving after taking more classes, both in just walking around and on the playground seeming more coordinated than other kids so it’s definitely been good for her. My DD wants to take more classes than I would have signed her up for but I am following her passion. You might sign her up for other classes and find that there are other styles she loves which is great and can only help her or find out that she loves only ballet which is still good for her to find out. I think it’s like exposing her to other things to see what she likes. 

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rane

Thank you, GingerMama.  It is really helpful to hear from other moms who are new to the ballet and dance world! It's great to know that trying a variety of dance styles has helped your daughter on her journey. My daughter sounds similar to yours. She loves every new activity she has tried and would be happy to try even more. Which is fun, but makes it tricky to narrow it down to a few at a time, so I ended up signing her up for a dance camp at a studio with several styles of dance to see if she like any of those without having to commit to a whole semester. We'll have to stay in touch on this board as our daughters (and us moms) continue on our dance adventures!

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AnastasiaBeav

One thing to remember is that your dancer's goals may change as they get older. A few years ago the most important thing to my then DD7 was to be on a competition dance team. Then this winter she told me that she wanted to focus more on ballet and was worried her all around studio was not providing the training she needed. So we switched gears and rather than 7 hours of class and 3 hours of rehearsal she is down to 5 hours of class split between her old studio and a ballet academy and she is no longer on a team.

Before we make commitments for a season I ask my DD what her goals are and we try to accommodate them as best as possible. I am prepared for her to one day say she is done with dancing, no matter how myopic or enthusiastic she is right now. She is only 10 and I can't expect her to know what she wants to do for the next 20+ years. All I can do is to help fulfill the dreams she has for now. 

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GingerMama

It is hard to narrow things down Rane! How is your DD liking her summer classes? We definitely need to stay in touch!

Very true Anastasia! I have no interest in pushing my DD and I’m just trying to support her. I’m trying really hard to keep her swim team schedule an option with dance because who knows what she will want to do in the future. I always ask her about her schedule too and make sure she knows what she is committing to. It is hard when they want to do so much! It’s much easier to drop things she doesn’t like but it’s hard when she wants to do so much!

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DanceMumNYC

We are in the same predicament. DD11 attends 2 dance schools (one for ballet & another for jazz, tap, etc.) and takes music lessons. It becomes more difficult as they get older and go from having class once or twice/week to having it 4-5 times/week. Everything becomes more demanding—more days, more hours/day, more money! Eventually they will have to pick and choose.

I know other dancers who are also musicians, but something has to give. They usually don’t spend as much time practicing their instrument as they should, or switch to a more relaxed dance school that doesn’t usually produce prof dancers so they can have more time for music/other things. DD prioritizes dance, so we haven’t increased her music lesson hours; they’re just once/week. However, there’s still a conflict with the 2 dance schools & she’s realizing that she’ll have to focus more on one dance style even more now. Of course we don’t know what’ll happen in the next few years, but for now, it’s really important to make decisions with an end goal in mind.

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AmyMary

I have often observed these girls who constantly go from one activity or studio to another. First off, they always look so tired. They have a hard time remembering choreography and they burn out. I think there is definitely something to be said for letting smaller children explore different things but as the saying goes "jack of all trades, master of none." You can't get really good at one thing if you are always distracted with other activities.

Something else to bear in mind is that as kids get older they will notice that the lead roles will go to the kids that are always there without other scheduling conflicts. We have other students at our studio in everything from soccer to theater to other forms of dance and the amount of time an important role requires makes it difficult to do other things on the side. They aren't the ones who stand out or go to summer intensives. Just food for thought.

I think if your child is fine with being mediocre at a lot of different things and never getting leads that is fine but it is a reality when you are getting into double digit ages.

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dancemaven
Quote

I think if your child is fine with being mediocre at a lot of different things and never getting leads that is fine . . . .

Ouch!!

There is definitely something to be said for exploring activities and introducing young children to a wide range of options.  I have noted that it is the activities that I most enjoyed and was introduced to as a young child —with no concern whether I was “mediocre” or outstanding in it— that I return to for relaxation and enjoyment over the course of my adult life—-not necessarily the activities that I dedicated the most time to during my older growing up years.  

Setting a too narrow path for a child can be stifling—-especially if that narrow path is set with a goal of reaching a pinnacle of a very elusive profession with a relatively small percentage of members given the wider population numbers.

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AnastasiaBeav
5 minutes ago, dancemaven said:

Setting a too narrow path for a child can be stifling—-especially if that narrow path is set with a goal of reaching a pinnacle of a very elusive profession with a relatively small percentage of members given the wider population numbers.

I also like the idea of having different social groups which is very difficult to do if you have a narrow path. If all your child has are dance friends what happens if you change studios? Or a falling out happens and a rift among the friends occurs? Or your dancer decides to stop dancing? I try to ensure that my DD10 has a number of areas where she has friends so if one group is being dysfunctional at the time, she has other friends she can turn to. 

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AmyMary

dancemaven,

I think you are right about pursuing hobbies for pure enjoyment...and I certainly didn't mean my comment in a snarky kind of way. It is just the truth of what I have seen over a number of years.

My DD would live and breathe ballet over all else so I just don't have that experience of her being torn between different things but we all know the ballet world can be unforgiving in so many ways.

Another thought I have is that pulling your child out of one or a couple of activities may help them decide what their focus is. Maybe they decide their real passion is soccer because they miss it...or jazz..or whatever. Or maybe they don't miss it at all.

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AmyMary

I think friendships are one of the hardest things in the dance world because kids move or you go to a SI and live in other parts of the country. We have had a lot of convos about how friends will come and go on this journey. We homeschool too so this is even more of a challenge but DD made some great friends at Nutmeg this summer and we have kids from church too.

DD has said many times she would rather do ballet than stay home, hang out, and have sleepovers so that is a choice but it certainly is a sacrifice for sure.

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GingerMama

It is really hard to go from 1 class a week to so much more than that! That’s what happened to us. It’s hard when a young child is passionate and has so many interests to balance it all out. We homeschool too and there is a large portion of homeschoolers on her swim team and at her studio. A lot of the older girls started homeschooling because of their commitment to dance. It would be much harder balance a full day of school and a lot of activities. I know a lot of her peers are going to do a lot less now that they and moving onto 1st which is an hour longer in school and more work. But those kids were also pretty ambivalent about dance anyway. There’s no one she knows her age as obsessed with it as she is. It would honestly be easier if she did not care as much as I certainly would have her doing a lot less!

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GingerMama

Great point about variety of friends Anastasia! Girls can definitely have falling outs and mean girl issues. Since we homeschool I really try to make that a priority because you’re right if she decides to stop dancing it would be really hard to see her dance friends as much. 

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AmyMary

GingerMama, 

Yes, the struggle is real, especially as they get older! I do think there is a lot to be said about following their dream, if they have one. Sure, there is risk involved and sacrifice but no athlete or dancer got where they were professionally without a parent that supported them.

Honestly I never had the money to put my kids in more than one hobby. I didn't specify what they had to do but I told him I could support them in one thing only. My son did scouts and DD has always done ballet by her choice, not mine 

Another thing to consider is that a decent dance studio will offer modern, contemporary, and/ or jazz with a full time ballet schedule. It just looks more like 80/20 vs being spread in all directions. DD prefers classical ballet but says the other classes help break up the monotony too!

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GingerMama

We are lucky in that our state provides money for homeschooling materials and activities which is the only way we can afford so many classes and probably a big reason we know so many kids who also homeschool. I am really glad to hear that it is a good sign that a studio offers ballet and other types of dances! I was getting nervous seeing so many posts about ballet only studios. There are not a lot of options where we live and I think DD’s studio seems the most serious and professional of the options. They really encourage multiple styles of dance for well roundedness. For the most part I like that but they require Jazz for all their competition teams which is DD’s least favorite really of all the dances she’s taken aside from Tap so she was going to drop it but at least she doesn’t mind doing it. 

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AmyMary

I would just be wary if too much focus is on competition over technique unless she is really into it. The only "competition" we do is YAGP since you can potentially win scholarships. Dance teams can be fun but don't really mean much in the ballet world at large. It is interesting because competitive dance is real popular in certain areas of the country, especially in the south, but further out west where we live it is mostly frowned upon like a beauty pageant type of thing.

That is great that your state pays for homeschool curriculum. It really gets expensive, especially as they get older!

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