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GingerMomma519

The pain of leaving?

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GingerMomma519

I haven't posted in a while because sadly nothing has improved this year for DD. As some may know DD attends a fairly prestigious dance school in PA. All year she's been passed over for parts while the youngest and smallest kids in her level have tons of opportunity. Comments were made about her overly muscular thighs and "modern ballet" body. She persevered. 

But today she hit the brakes. DD has been taking an aerial/circus class for 3 years, teaching herself contortion too in the meantime. She's a natural. 

This morning was her last day of school and every 1st/last school day I have a picture of her holding a dry erase board with "When I grow up I want to be..." and every year without fail the answer is ballerina. The last year or so its been ballerina/aerialist. 

This morning it was "in cirque du soleil". It was a shock. Which lead to conversation about her involvement with her current studio and how 15 classes a week at 9 years old is preventing her from doing almost anything else. 

DD decided she wants to another local dance school that isn't as "technically" flawless but they have a good rep. She said if she goes there she can take more aerial and tumbling classes. 

While I WANT to be happy. I worry that she's overheard adult conversations about her future in ballet. She seemed resolute to change over to this other school, but she cried her eyes out about how to say bye to all friends at her current school. 

She started out there at just 4 years old. She's 9 now. She doesn't remember a time she didn't dance there. 

Any tips for making the transition easier? Or for how to know this is what she wants and not just what she thinks everyone wants for her. She's a clever girl. 

I'm a little emotional for her. Which probably doesn't help. 

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ballet1310

Hi Gingermomma519 - I'm sorry you are both dealing with this, it's very hard.  The fact that they are commenting on her body is ridiculous - girls change so much as they grow so if she's set on ballet, she should continue but maybe she has found her passion in the aerial and tumbling !!   She's still young, she has a couple of years to figure this out ... she can continue ballet training but do more of the other things and see where she is in 2 years .... it's sad that these kids feel they need to make a decision at age 9 !!!   Don't let others influence her path 💗

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GingerMomma519

It is hard. There were tons of tears last night, but none of them surrounded the decision to take less ballet and more aerial. They were all around leaving her friends and some of the teachers she was close to. I can certainly sympathize. Over half her life has been spent at this studio so in many ways they are her family and her childhood. But more and more a few of the new directors have shown that they really favor the super thin (must have a thigh gap) type bodies. DD has made several comments about her thighs being too big. 

She has really found a home in her aerial gym. The coach is nurturing and just loves DD. Her flexibility is prized there and she's really found a niche. Years of ballet training make her look light and graceful up on the silks and trapeze, but her muscular body, contortion, and tumbling ability are really utilized well, and in a way she's been "accepted" there more than I think she'd ever be in a traditional ballet setting. 

She seems determined that this is what she wants to do, and I will support that. I just know we are in for a LOT of tears in a few weeks when she takes her last class at this studio. I just wish I knew how to help her through it. 

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ballet1310

changing schools, teams etc can be scary - the advice I can give is this - lots of hugs, lots of talk about how fun the new place is and how exciting it is to meet new friends - sounds simple but I think sometimes, it is .

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dancemaven

Just support her decision.  Take her for ice cream.  :D   Some things we just have to live through and they are just part of the fibers that weave help the fabric of our strength, resilience, and being.

 

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katesy2

I couldn't stop thinking about this post after reading it.  My daughter is 9, and I can really empathize.  I think it is great that your daughter has been able to articulate her needs and that you are supporting her.  The current school environment you describe sounds potentially toxic for your daughter and probably not good for mom either (and being familiar with the school, I think that is the case for many families). It is a great time to move on now while she still feels excitement about other options.  At this age, all the research shows that feeling safe, valued, and encouraged are critical to healthy brain and emotional development, not to mention having more free time to just be a kid.  It's great that she wants to keep dancing - then ultimately she can own the decision whether to pursue ballet, aerial, or something else and not have regrets or bad feelings carried forward.

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GingerMomma519

ballet1310, I think you're right. The solution sometimes is so simple it almost seems like it won't work. Lol. 

dancemaven, Funny thing is, we were on our way to get ice cream for a good report card when we had this whole conversation. So we definitely celebrated and soothed with some good cookies n cream!

Katesy2, I've always let her be the decision maker in where she wants to dance and if she wants to dance. I think if this year had gone better in terms of casting and levels and such she may have had a harder time deciding to leave. But when you dance 20+ hours a week only to get looked over because of your thighs, it's hard. It's hard for her as a kid, its hard for me as a mom. I'm glad she's made the decision to leave. I think I'd rather her dance someplace less "flashy" but more supportive of her as a child and a dancer. 

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Eligus

I no longer have an under 13 dancer, but I'll address my comments to you, as the parent, GingerMomma519, since you asked for tips on the transition of leaving...

It may seem dark and scary right now, facing the unknown, but if you focus on the child in front of you -- if you can be present with her as she is, right now -- you'll find that the future (with all its questions and unknowns) and the past (with all its "what ifs" and "should I haves") will fade in importance. 

I'm not quite sure how else to say what I'm trying to articulate, but it really does come down to the "simple" act of just being with her and acknowledging the huge mix of emotions she is handling: relief/anxiety, excitement/terror.... and doing so with honesty and love and conscious focus on the here and now, and letting go of the future (worries) and past (regrets).  When you assure her that you support and love HER, not the "dream" of future her, or the "past" of former her, if you can let her know that you're beside her where she is right now, both she and you will be fine. 

Hugs to you both.  For what its worth, it does get easier, once the decision is made. 

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GingerMomma519

Thank you Eligus. I know your DD once made a similar choice so I know you understand where I'm coming from. I think DD knows this will be best for her. Her current school has not been a good environment for her for at least the last year, year and half. I think she persevered because she didn't want to be a "quitter" or leave her friends. But I'm happy she's realized there is nothing wrong with finding a new dream or deciding that a less intense ballet school is the way to go! 

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BalletmomMN

All our dancers deserve to have their gifts appreciated. Any school willing to comment negatively on the body of a 9 year old is not the type that is trying to build up young dancers. Most people (kids or adults) work best when they feel appreciated. I hope she enjoys this transition and finds a good circle of supportive friends and teachers. 

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GingerMomma519

BalletmomMN, 

Thank you, and I agree. I was 100% done with this school when I heard from another parent that one of the teachers, the one they all looked up to and respected, split the class into two lines. In the front row she had all the girls/boys with "slender" bodies and in the back row all the "bigger" kids. She then told them that they should should like the front row dancers. 

My DD with her muscular thighs and arms was clearly not in the front row. For a about a week straight she insisted on eating nothing but salad and veggies and I couldn't figure out why. She's generally a healthy eater but it was getting extreme when she was turning down a small ice cream cone to stay slender. When I was telling another mom this she says "oh I think I know why...." And the whole story came out. I asked DD about it later and she sort of shrugged it off as if it was no big deal and that she'd just try harder to slim down. 

Yeah... not at 9 years old. I am so glad DD has made this decision because I was close to making it for her. 

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MoDance

Like Eligus, "I no longer have an under 13 dancer, but I'll address my comments to you, as the parent, GingerMomma519..."

Our first responsibility, as you know, is to raise our children as happy/healthy human beings, then as dancers.  The studio environment you describe is not healthy.  Eating disorders can kill people, ruin their fertility, and be related to life-long psychological issues.  It's not worth it.  Life is all about exploring, choosing, and then exploring some more and choosing again.  You and your daughter can maintain the relationships you'd like to.  It will be different not seeing the people every day/week, but it can be done.  And that too is a life skill you can help her learn.  Endings and beginnings will be a constant part of her life. 

Virtual hug to you both.  You've got this.  

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GingerMomma519

Thank you so much MoDance. 

Last night when I talked to her she was more confident in her decision and no tears. I think she's getting excited about the possibility of having some time to explore other things and expand her aerial focus. 

We've set up a tour and brief private lesson with the artistic director of the new school she'll be attending. She sees a fair amount of transfers from our current school so I think she understands the situation better than most would. She's been very welcoming. 

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labrador

I am so sorry you had to go through this. I think I can guess the school. Sad, truly sad, but not surprising.

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GingerMomma519

Labrador,

Thank you. DD seems better the last few nights. But we'll see what happens as it comes closer to actually leaving. 

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