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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Anyone else’s DS struggling to stay motivated during COVID?


dancingninja

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dancingninja

Only three months ago, DS was super excited about this summer. He was going to Pittsburgh Ballet for 5 weeks and then Royal Ballet for 2 weeks. It was going to be a jam-packed summer but he was looking forward to the challenge (and getting to travel).

Since the onset of COVID-19 in mid-March, he has been doing classes by Zoom and his enthusiasm for dance has disappeared like air out of a balloon. Now, it’s a struggle for him to motivate himself to take his daily classes and he only wants to commit to one week of a virtual SI at the very end of the summer (the week before he goes back to school). Essentially, he’ll now be taking 5 weeks off completely from dance. In his words, he says that he “wants to have a normal summer for once”. He’s never indicated that he felt like he’d been missing something during his summers away at SIs, so I was kind of surprised by this.

He’ll be 16yo in a few months, so I feel he’s old enough for this to be completely his decision. I have encouraged him to consider taking a shorter amount of time off (he’s never had a serious injury so he’s never experienced the pain/struggle of getting back in shape), but he has steadfastly refused. It’s his decision and I’ve agreed to honor it. But I’ll admit I’m not finding it easy to do. I only hope he’s making a choice that he won’t regret. On the other hand, perhaps this break will be just what he needs to decide how important dance is or is not to him. Only time will tell, right?

Anyway, I’m curious to know if anyone else’s DS is also having the same struggles. I feel like it’s already hard for these young men to stay motivated under the best of circumstances and the isolation of just doing barre and simple center exercises via Zoom seems to have taken away all of the fun stuff that he enjoyed most. 

What are your DS’s doing this summer? Are they dancing more, less or the same?

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My 21yo DS stopped dancing completely and utterly refused to do the online dance classes. He switched tracks completely and started going jogging on the trails near our home. He cycled and did some online academic/ art history classes.  He exercised/stretched/ used weights/did yoga each morning in our living room near the stereo. You would think he had never danced at all. Being 21 means that I have zero control over him so I just watched with interest/concern. He is back in a studio now with a couple of other friends and back on track. I think that being a dancer transcends a few months of whether or not they take classes. My advice is don't worry. They are all on their own roads and by their teens need to drive their own ships. Whatever happens, it will be fine.

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dancingninja

Thanks, Thyme! It’s so good to hear your DS got back in the studio after taking a break and also that my DS is not the only one who hates taking dance classes online. 🙂 

I’m just taking it one month at a time and hope that my DS’ studio will be able to open for classes in the fall. I think the social aspect of dancing with friends cannot be underestimated. Unfortunately, we’re in one of the states that has recently seen a spike in COVID-19 cases, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that things will improve before then.

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Members, please note:  This is the Parents of Boys forum, a restricted membership forum.  All may read, but only Parents of Boys may post. :thumbsup: 

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My 15 year old son quit dancing cold turkey last summer after a bad summer intensive experience. He had attended 2 intensives last summer. One very prestigious that went fine, and he was happy. During the 2nd one (which he was only there to keep in shape) , he decided, he "Never wanted to dance again. " I was obviously very alarmed by the change in behavior and to this day don't know everything that happened. There were many discussions with tears and I could see he was so torn, but he absolutely did not want to go back to class. He turned 16 last fall and didn't step foot into a class. First time in years he hadn't done a Nutcracker.  Fast forward to last December and I told him..."If there is any chance at all you want to go away next summer, you need to think about going back to class and audition for intensives". To make a long story short...he took 3 classes and only a handful of auditions. He is currently at an in person intensive after barely dancing at all for the better part of a year. He still claims he doesn't want to be a dancer, but we spoke last night, and he seems very happy. Give your son some space. As hard as it is to see them struggle and change so much, it has to be their decision. Especially with this covid mess...you have to tell yourself whatever is meant to be will be. Everything is so out of our control. 

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dancingninja

Thanks, Oreo! I’m glad to hear your son found a way to enjoy dancing again after taking a break. 😊

I am definitely giving DS space and absolutely know that I can’t want it for him. I think that letting our kids grow up and find their own voice is probably the hardest part of being a parent.

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I think one thing we are learning from this is that taking a break really isn't the end of the world.  My DS17 wasn't in love with Zoom classes and we did not have a huge indoor dance space (and our downstairs neighbors surely wouldn't love him practicing double tours).  Also it was frustrating when there were technology issues. After going back to the studio mid May for a couple of privates, he felt okay and he hadn't lost much.  We have all seen kids come back from bad injuries better than ever-- and during their down time they were just focusing on staying in shape and stretching. 

One thing I will say is if he gets discouraged is to keep him off Instagram.  I know for a fact several personally (all mom run accounts, some of my friends, bless them) paint a different picture than reality.  The zoom thing is hard for many kids.  It's not all roses and sunshine doing ballet in your living room.

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DS has not been happy with zoom classes at all. We don't really have any spare room in the condo to set up a dance space. He has kept up with one of his local studio classes per week via zoom, but he has complained of injuries from dancing on the wood floors frequently. Lots of different schools and organizations outside his studio have made class videos available, but he is not interested in them at all.

He is eager to start his 5 week virtual intensive on Monday though. Luckily, he can use his local studio for most of the classes in the intensive. The intensive sent out a questionnaire to ask about the amount of practice the students have been able to get. They seemed to have very low expectations of the shape that students will be in. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

my son (15) has plugged away with the classes his school offered, but is not loving virtual ballet. As with others, we have very little space, have to consider our downstairs neighbors, and he was not on a great floor... but also the virtual experience just isn't the same. He took 2 full weeks off and then restarted for summer with more space (we were able to relocate for a few months over the summer) and a pool noodle sprung floor. I am not sure how much he feels he is able to progress under these circumstances but he is doing more hours of class with virtual intensive, and he is definitely happy to have a proper barre, marley surface, and a more forgiving floor for his joints. Also, taking a little break was good. I think we will have him take the entire month of August off unless there is a safe and affordable way for him to have some in person instruction (for us, safe= not requiring us to travel to an area with rising infections). 

I am worried if this has to continue well into the 20/21 winter term how it will feel (and we will be back in our regular, small apartment). I think I will do more to try and find a better space for him to use at least. He is a day student at a large school in an area that currently has good infection control, but I am not convinced that the regions doing well right now will be able to maintain that given the situation in the rest of the country (and the lack of policies and the apparent lack of personal and political will to do much.) 

I also expect that all of us are dealing with the stress and grief of this pandemic and the personal, economic and social impacts in our own different ways. In my own family I can see the past few months how we have cycled through many emotional states, and for teenage dancers I wouldn't be surprised if it might manifest in a lack of motivation or negative feelings about dancing in isolation. We as parents are all trying so hard to help our kids retain their "normality" but its also going to just be the case that some of them need to tune out for a while. I think they will be able to return and regain their strength and ability-- look at how people come back stronger from injury. 
 

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dancingninja

Thank you all so much for sharing. It’s reassuring to know that my DS is not the only one struggling with Zoom classes right now. So far he is enjoying taking some time off and has picked up skateboarding as a fun new hobby. I’ve also gotten a lot more comfortable with the idea that maybe a break is just the thing he needs right now. 👍

Unfortunately, we’re in quickly rising “hotspot” area that is setting COVID-19 records daily right now. We just had to make the difficult choice yesterday to have DS and his sister do school online for the first semester in the fall. I have no idea what will happen at his dance studio when classes are supposed to resume next month - so far, they don’t seem to think that masks are necessary in class and have no problem taking group pictures with everyone huddled together (no masks). It doesn’t give me much confidence about allowing him to take class in the studio anytime soon. 😔 I work in healthcare and know that this virus isn’t anything to play with, not even with healthy teenagers. 

I’m just tired of making decisions while I feel caught between a rock and a hard place. Oh, to be back to the good old days of worrying about choosing the “right” SI for the summer!

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  • 6 months later...
BallerinoDad

Same story here.  Son (17) dancing for 14 years. Applying to dance program in college, but really demotivated due to online classes.  He really dislikes this but has been able to do some in-person classes.

I'm letting him just take his time (though he needs to send in his taped auditions)

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BallerinoDad, welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers!

Many of us are struggling right now to even try to comprehend a possible return to "normalcy", and young dancers are really struggling with the uncertainty of all of this. It is wise of you to let him drive the car, but also remember that he may need some sort of reassurance that the trials we are facing will eventually lead to better things. 

We are here to support you, and to help you keep on supporting him. It's so hard to imagine that this will eventually be a chapter in history........

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My 17 year old who had trained his whole life has quit. He did go away to an in person intensive this summer, but has only taken  3 classes since coming home in August. He is not the type to be motivated unless he is in a real classroom. It is a really devastating thing that has been allowed to happen to this art form. 

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dancingninja

Welcome, BallerinoDad! It’s great to have you join us - we’re all here to help each other. Like your DS, mine has been dancing since he was 3yo so these sudden changes in our DSs’ dance lives can be really difficult to navigate. Hearing others’ experiences have been very helpful for me through the years and I hope it is for you too.

Oreo, I’m so sorry that your DS has quit dancing! You’re absolutely right - it’s truly devastating to see so many dreams crushed by this pandemic. However, my hope is that, if he still finds joy in it, your DS will one day find his way back to dance once it’s possible to take classes in person.

Since my last post made late last summer, DS’s dance studio finally made masks mandatory in the fall, so my DS was finally able to return to the studio. I can share that it made a big difference and he’s enjoying class again. He’s not quite as enthusiastic as he once was but, frankly, I think most of us are struggling to keep energy and positivity in our life right now. I’m impressed he’s motivated to move at all.

I’m also grateful that he’s found some sanctuary from the chaos by taking class in the studio again. For the first time this year, he also didn’t completely hate the SI video audition process (that’s usually something he hates doing each year). He’s decided to audition for a much smaller number of intensives this year but adamantly refused to audition via Zoom. I think he would be thrilled to never take a dance class via Zoom again! Now, he’s waiting to see if he’s accepted to any SIs this year and, like so many others, keeping his fingers crossed the SIs will be able to happen in person. 

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Son is applying for dance major in college, but hard to stay motivated.  Things are a bit better.  At least he is able to take some in-person classes.  We'll see

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