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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Driving Factors When Moving v. Boarding For Child's Dance Career


BeehiveBalletMom

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BeehiveBalletMom

We are right at that pivotal age when my child will be considering the next step in his ballet journey.  We have spoken with his instructors and as a family about possibilities of auditioning for ballet schools (both academic and non-academic).  We know that based on our current location a move will be involved for either all of us or just sending my son as a boarding student.  A few questions and anyone's two cents are welcome here.  No opinion too little or too much.

  • What were the driving factors in choosing programs,
  • choosing to allow your child to board vs the whole family moving,
  • have you said no to programs with greater perceived prestige in favor of a more preferable location? 

Really, anything could help us. Thank you!

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I think if you look in the forum for choosing a professional ballet school, or changing schools, you'll find this topic discussed frequently, and it might be worth the time to read through those previous discussions to get the idea of the scope of other people's considerations. As far as your specific questions are concerned, these were our considerations when we were making this decision:

 

*THE driving factors in choosing programs were my DD's training needs and her relationship with the teacher/s.

*The question about boarding versus not has more to do with your individual DS (his maturity and desires), what he needs and your parenting and family expectations than anything else.  If you can afford it, I'm a proponent of moving with them, to continue to provide them with as much family support for as long as possible (see answer below).

*We did not say "no" to a program based on a more "preferable location," per se, but we did say no to a prestigious program and "yes" to a less prestigious program based on the teacher/student relationship with my DD and her training needs.  "Prestige" of a school doesn't get your DS far if he quits due to self esteem or frustration or feeling overwhelmed, disrespected or defeated.  In my opinion, the decision really comes down to what is the best interest of your child (to borrow a legal phrase) and that includes how the dancer feels about the school and the teachers and the training.  This is why I recommend staying with them as long as possible in their journey.  When you are there, living with him, you "hear" all the little things/thoughts/concerns  (versus a daily phone call from a dorm - if you're that lucky).  When they live with you, you can see and observe their eating habits, their attitude, their general health, welfare and optimism (or not) about the future.  You can catch things early on, and address them then, before they develop into bigger issues.

 

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Mdballetmom

Ditto to Eligus that there are a lot of posts on this subject.... but each family ahs to make their own decisions.

Boarding
Before you even think too much about this option, please honestly consider the maturity of your child. Not how nice they are or what a good student they are, but their ability to monitor themselves, their responsibilities, their ability to manage their time (without your input) and their level of social maturity.  If peer pressure is an issue in a traditional school environment, it can be 100x worse in a boarding school. This is not anyone's fault and happens at even the best boarding schools. Just put dozens of adolescents together and watch the drama! IF anyone tells you otherwise, they are not being truthful. That said, you may have a child who can navigate these social minefields.... 

There's so much info about boarding schools I wont get into it here, except to say, that they all do not stress academics.. and if education is important to you, ask questions. I know of dancers who got GEDs because their (highly selective) school didn't really care as long as the student showed up for rehearsal/class. Maybe that is ok with you, maybe its not. It was NOT for our family. 


Moving the family..
I've known more than a few families do this... and all I can think of is the pressure that puts on the student. The entire family relocated for her/him!!!   What if they get injured, what if they want to quit (and yes, it does happen!) or something else.  They have uprooted their entire family... would they actually feel the freedom to change their focus? My dancer was one of 3 children and moving was not going to happen... we were settled in our community (family, friends, jobs etc.) and moving was off the table. 

Our story
My DD was offered the opportunity to board at a well-respected school - where academics were stressed as well as high quality training.  She was extremely mature and we felt pretty comfortable sending her at age 14. (In contrast, her roommate did not even know how to sew her own pointe shoes! not surprisingly, she didn't last the year). It has served her well... and now she lives and dances 3000 miles from home! 

Forget the prestige of the program and look at the specific training.... will your dancer have an advocate? Will there be a faculty member in their corner? Look at the academics and most importantly, look at your child. 

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BeehiveBalletMom

Thank you both for the replies.  They are very helpful!

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We did both. DD moved away at age 14 to live and dance in another state. After realizing that she was thriving there and would not be returning home, we moved the rest of the family there. It was difficult for little brother as he felt he had to give everything up for his sister. He felt slighted and less important. Fast forward a year and he is now thriving although he is still "home sick" and misses his friends. Now for the dancer.....we had a spell of "I don't know if I want to dance anymore and you dropped everything and moved for me." I think some of this thought process has been COVID. We reassured her that this is now our home and we support her in whatever she wants to do.....pursue dance or quit. She did feel guilty at the thought of wanting to quit. She has decided she doesn't want to quit and realized that she is just missing performing. We will see what happens over the next few years. The good thing about our move in particular, is that DD "forced" us to move back to my home state so my family is now two hours away. So that helped me with my conversations with DD. I think you have to weigh the pros and the cons. We knew it would be difficult for little brother to move and while DD was thriving on her own.....we felt we wanted more time with her prior to her being out of the house. 

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BeehiveBalletMom

@Bekah21 Thanks for your reply.  I hope she is able to start performing soon! ❤️ We are all ready for a new normal. 

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