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Ballet Talk for Dancers

My 13 year old needs encouragement


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I don't know what to do as her mom.

Long story short:

-Chronic hip tendonitis (work in progress, getting the right help, will be a long road)

-No dancing

She is crushed.  She *just* recovered from another injury when this happened (and this has been going on for months now).  Only danced for a few months after 5 months off.  Ballet is everything to her.  It's where she gets away from our crazy busy house and feels most like herself. 

Things she tells me:

"I just want to dance!" (every day...)

"I lost all my strength and flexibility"

"I lost all my turnout."

"I'll never get back to where I was"

"I don't remember what it's like to dance without pain"

"Everyone will be ahead of me"

"This will never go away"

How do I help her with these very discouraging thoughts and feelings?


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It is so hard when they are injured! My dancer was out of ballet for 9 months due to a stress fracture, it was very difficult for her. I can tell you that your daughter WILL catch up, but will have to allow her body to fully heal first. Does she have access to a physical therapist? My daughter's PT gave her a workout plan that they amended along the way as she healed. It included pool exercises, weights, spin bike and eventually swimming. When she went back to class she had to begin slowly, and listen to her body. 

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Yes she's been in PT since the fall.  Sadly interrupted for 2.5 months due to Covid which didn't help matters.  I'm waiting for things to open back up in our area so she can exercise in a pool.  It's so hard because she doesn't believe me when I say "yes you'll get back to where you were".  She views it as impossible and I don't know how to get her out of that mindset.  

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I think all she can do is focus on building strength and recovery. She will catch up. It is not uncommon for a dancer to come back stronger than the were  pre-injury!


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I don't have much to add other than I'm sending best wishes for strength and healing. 

Is it possible to try and find inspirational movies (true stories, ideally) that show dancers, athletes, etc., and their journey to overcome injury or other obstacles? I know, it sounds cliche and my 14 year old would probably find all the reasons it doesn't relate to her situation, but maybe on some level the message will get through.

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I'm trying to imagine my own daughter in a situation like this and what it might be like for us. I know that sometimes when she gets exceedingly negative at a certain point we stop trying to convince her or change her mind. She just has to see what happens for herself. We also encourage journaling, and sometimes recording even the smallest improvements can be helpful. It can also be helpful to go back and see how down she was feeling one day and how it truly did get better with time. Best wishes to your daughter.

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You might try looking for stories of inspiration in older threads.  Many of our members have been through these things and shared their experiences—and that they did, in fact, come out the other side. 😍

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HUGS!!! My daughter had almost back to back injuries at 13, one a traumatic injury/fall and the other a freak break that even the doctors were stumped by. It was devastating, but she 100 percent came back a stronger dancer. She took the time during both recoveries to cross train.Pilates, pilates, and more pilates. Find a pilates teacher who was a former dancer. We also found that one of the key aspects to her recoveries was finding a PT who specializes in dancers.

My dd did a better job of staying positive than I did. She lived and breathed the sayings that "everything happens for a reason" and "tell me I can't and see what I can do!"  We also took the time to examine her eating and made sure she was getting the right nutrients, supplementing with vitamins for bone strength where needed.

Have her look at her recovery from the perspective of "what can I get better at while injured?" My dd never missed a ballet class while injured. She would work on her arms in the corner, help the teachers with the music, work on the acting aspect of performance, and stretch the uninjured parts of her body. People were absolutely amazed at how strong she came back. 

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Thank you for the encouragement.  It's not easy when everything is virtual.  I'm going to try an find a pilates teacher.

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Not that there’s ever a good time for an injury, but if you are going to have one, now is the time when so many are curtailed in their training. My DD had what seemed like an endless string of injuries from 12-14 - the growing years. I really thought God was trying to tell us she wasn’t meant for ballet. She persevered and learned a lot of valuable information about how the body works (and doesn’t) in ballet.  I think she’s a wiser dancer for it. I thought her missing her SI at 12 was such a big deal at the time, but it really was almost a blessing. She knew she had ground to make up when she was able to get back to dancing and was a much more motivated and disciplined dancer from then on out. She will want to rush back in once she can but going slowly is so important, remind her that the last thing she wants to do is reinsure herself. Studios will all need to take a slow approach as dancers get back to the studio after these months away. 

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Thank you, I appreciate all of these posts.  I really need the encouragement right now!

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Help her gain perspective:  have her read about the history of where Pilates originated (a type of PT developed for soldiers who were BEDRIDDEN and could not WALK) - so the fact that it is useful for dancers who cannot dance  means that the exercises are relevant to her -- she WILL build strength, control and flexibility, even though she cannot dance yet.  Remind her that most professional dancers are currently not dancing full out, and that taking breaks for muscle (and bone recovery) is the best thing for your body.  I found it helped (me) to research Olympic athlete training to realize that the alleged "time pressure" on ballet dancers is much, much less than on the Olympic athlete and also that the PT for Olympic/professional athletes recognize the importance of REST to heal.  Take out her imaginary deadline.  Deadlines are made up time lines that do nothing but put pressure on your mind and get in the way of healing.  Remove them.  Frankly, she has five YEARS before she even needs to be in true dancing shape, does she think she can get there in five years?  😉 

Finally, keep in mind that teenagers at times tend to view their world in black/white dichotomy (everything is wonderful!  everything is terrible!).  The brain development of emotional control and rational thought takes a good number of years.  Part of that rational and emotional development (in my opinion as a parent) requires the EXPRESSION of their terrors.  Expressing their fears helps make the difficulty of working through them easier and helps develop their ability to rationalize.  In other words, she just might be using your adult mind as "ballast."  She's looking for an anchoring point, a steadiness in her life, and assurance that she can do the difficult thing that is scaring her.  Your job is just to ease the fear by acknowledging it, labeling it, and exploring it with her.  "It sounds like you're nervous that you'll fall behind...."  "It sounds like you're worried that you won't be able to overcome this..." "It sounds like you're worried that others might be better than you by September (or some other imaginary getting back to class date)..."  Showing empathy for those fears and talking about them does a lot to defuse them and teaches her how to work through them.

Also, I found it helpful to teach teens some helpful tactics to use to change their perspective.... sometimes teens need to be shown that they have overcome struggles in the past, as well as the fact that emotions might be irrational and scary, but there is a PATTERN to them... they come in waves, feel like they will overwhelm you, but then they RECEDE, and when that fear recedes, she will feel more in control again.  If they can understand that emotions recede, they can realize that what they are feeling is not permanent, and they won't drown in place. Journaling (as recommended above) is helpful.  But so is your ability to recognize it in her, yourself.... TELL her about a time where she feared she would fail, but she managed to succeed.  Watch for those moments in her life, and point them out to her.  Sometimes it is difficult for them (and us) to see the pattern.  

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Oh, yes, learning to try and see the patterns is so vital to growing up and dealing with hard emotions and struggles. I concur 100%. It has taken years for my daughter to get better at looking at her own thoughts and being able to see the patterns. We had (and still have) a saying here. She usually feels the worst at night, and we always try to have faith that tomorrow will be better. It helps. I love everything that Eligus spoke to.

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That's an excellent point, Dancingjet... negative emotions seem more overwhelming (and important) at night.  A great pattern to point out and recognize.

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