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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Daughter -- Puberty/Ballet


balletmom225

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balletmom225
2 minutes ago, meatball77 said:

Don't stay at that school no matter what the decision.  They've already told you that they don't value her as a dancer because she's developing curves.  Go to a school where everyone is respected for their dance ability, espically when they are ten.

She's ten, she should be able to study ballet at a high level as long as she is physically able regardless of her curves.  She may not be able to be a professional, but she's ten, you shouldn't even be thinking about that right now because she's ten.  She may decide that she wants to be a scientist.  This either you are a training to be a professional or you are not worth my time attitude that some dance teachers have floors me.  You don't see this in other areas of the arts.

The discussion that her studio had with you about your ten year old is one that may be appropriate for a sixteen year old who is making shorter term life decisions and one that has actually matured physically.  If at sixteen she doesn't have a body that will be successful in ballet (and who really is to predict who the ballet world will be hiring in six years or even what ballet companies will look like, I wouldn't be surprised to see the ballet world go more to the Matthew Borne model where dancers are hired for specific parts in touring productions instead of settled companies).  Many a ballet dancer has moved into broadway or commerical dance.

I'm thinking the same, a new school may be better.

Hah, definitely not a scientist, she has a very difficult time with school 🤣

But yes, other styles may be a better bet to avoid embarrassment and unfair treatment.

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vrsfanatic

In my role as a Moderator, I am not here to support any decision being made. I give my professional insight. I am one person, with one set of experiences in the ballet world. 

When I think of a 10 year old child who seemingly enjoys ballet class, I would say, let the child dance. The school is setting up red flags. Seems odd considering she is 10. As has been pointed out, choose a new school, a new program or let your child enjoy her journey through ballet in the current circumstances. There will be bumps in the road. There always are in anything one pursues. If your child's school would like to move her into a different program they have to offer, that is a totally different conversation.

 

 

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balletmom225
13 hours ago, vrsfanatic said:

In my role as a Moderator, I am not here to support any decision being made. I give my professional insight. I am one person, with one set of experiences in the ballet world. 

When I think of a 10 year old child who seemingly enjoys ballet class, I would say, let the child dance. The school is setting up red flags. Seems odd considering she is 10. As has been pointed out, choose a new school, a new program or let your child enjoy her journey through ballet in the current circumstances. There will be bumps in the road. There always are in anything one pursues. If your child's school would like to move her into a different program they have to offer, that is a totally different conversation.

 

 

Thank you for your insight! I think a new, more supportive school will be better. They are suggesting moving her into a different program they offer, but I think I'd rather remove her from the studio as a whole. Maybe a new studio will be more lenient with dress code or even move her into an older year because she's advanced from her years of training at this school. 

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vrsfanatic

As a side note, in removing your DD from from her current ballet school, where she seems to be happy, you might consider being as honest as possible with the reason why you have decided to change schools. She will be confronted by this in her journey in the study of ballet. Especially if she is serious about her studies. I can tell you, had I been taken to a less professional school by my mother, I would have known at age 10 that it was not as good as my previous school. Fortunately for me, it was always my choice to study ballet, pursue it as a career and decide my own future. I am a curvier person but stuck it out regardless. As for body image, my non-ballet friends also have issues with body image. In the American culture, it is inescapable.

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InTheWings

I feel sad thinking that a ten year old is being discouraged from studying ballet if that is something she wants to do.  It is many years too early to be thinking about what her post-puberty body might look like, how her unknown adult body type might intersect with dancing at an unspecified date in the future, or what her career path might be when she is an adult.  You have years before you have to consider those questions and years before you can realistically assess any of them ... unless you have a crystal ball to predict the future.  My parenting choice would be to support my child in ballet if they wanted to study ballet and to support them leaving ballet if they didn't want to study ballet.  My decision-making for a ten year old would not be impacted in any way by guesses about the future.  I would base my decision-making on current circumstances and if ballet brings them happiness (most importantly) or benefits them in other ways.  You might have different criteria for your decision-making and parenting choices but that is how I would decide.

Another parenting choice that I would make would be to not make an issue out of her body type and ballet at age 10 just because these specific teachers think it is an issue.  Because your daughter has developed earlier than her peers she might already have an awareness of the issue and she might appreciate being able to discuss it with you.  However, for me personally I would let my child drive the discussion and only pursue it as far as she wants to get into it.  I am a big advocate of encouraging those conversations to go as far as a child wants and not further by asking open-ended questions like, "why do you ask that?" and "well, what do you think about that?"  It is pretty common for adults to hear questions or statements from young children and assume they mean more than they really do because we hear the questions with adult ears.  Asking kids open-ended follow up questions can be a handy technique for deciphering what they really mean and what they really want to know as well as how they themselves feel about an issue.  For me personally I would not tell my child that her body type at age 10 means she shouldn't pursue ballet no matter what these teachers think.  In my opinion, THAT is something that could cause body image issues!

If you don't already have resources on puberty, there are a lot of good books out there.  I imagine it's a very personal decision choosing which books match the messages about puberty we want to impart to our children.  One that might be age-appropriate for your daughter is the American Girl book The Care and Keeping of You.  There is a first volume for younger girls and a second volume for older girls: https://www.americangirl.com/shop/p/the-care-keeping-of-you-f2032  My local library had both of these books and several others to choose from.

Finally - and again I am only speaking for myself here but - I would probably leave a dance studio that told me a ten-year old should stop studying ballet because of body type.  I understand there are places and circumstances where those kinds of decisions are made every day, but there are countless dance studios in the world and many, many, many of them do not apply such decision-making to ten year olds.  I would personally give up this particular dance studio before I would have my ten-year old give up ballet because of what these teachers said.

The dance world is very big for children and there is a place for any child to be celebrated within it.  I would personally try to find that place.

I can tell from the fact that you are giving this thought and consideration that you are a thoughtful parent and I wish you the best of luck in your decision-making.  🙂

 

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balletmom225
5 hours ago, InTheWings said:

I feel sad thinking that a ten year old is being discouraged from studying ballet if that is something she wants to do.  It is many years too early to be thinking about what her post-puberty body might look like, how her unknown adult body type might intersect with dancing at an unspecified date in the future, or what her career path might be when she is an adult.  You have years before you have to consider those questions and years before you can realistically assess any of them ... unless you have a crystal ball to predict the future.  My parenting choice would be to support my child in ballet if they wanted to study ballet and to support them leaving ballet if they didn't want to study ballet.  My decision-making for a ten year old would not be impacted in any way by guesses about the future.  I would base my decision-making on current circumstances and if ballet brings them happiness (most importantly) or benefits them in other ways.  You might have different criteria for your decision-making and parenting choices but that is how I would decide.

Another parenting choice that I would make would be to not make an issue out of her body type and ballet at age 10 just because these specific teachers think it is an issue.  Because your daughter has developed earlier than her peers she might already have an awareness of the issue and she might appreciate being able to discuss it with you.  However, for me personally I would let my child drive the discussion and only pursue it as far as she wants to get into it.  I am a big advocate of encouraging those conversations to go as far as a child wants and not further by asking open-ended questions like, "why do you ask that?" and "well, what do you think about that?"  It is pretty common for adults to hear questions or statements from young children and assume they mean more than they really do because we hear the questions with adult ears.  Asking kids open-ended follow up questions can be a handy technique for deciphering what they really mean and what they really want to know as well as how they themselves feel about an issue.  For me personally I would not tell my child that her body type at age 10 means she shouldn't pursue ballet no matter what these teachers think.  In my opinion, THAT is something that could cause body image issues!

If you don't already have resources on puberty, there are a lot of good books out there.  I imagine it's a very personal decision choosing which books match the messages about puberty we want to impart to our children.  One that might be age-appropriate for your daughter is the American Girl book The Care and Keeping of You.  There is a first volume for younger girls and a second volume for older girls: https://www.americangirl.com/shop/p/the-care-keeping-of-you-f2032  My local library had both of these books and several others to choose from.

Finally - and again I am only speaking for myself here but - I would probably leave a dance studio that told me a ten-year old should stop studying ballet because of body type.  I understand there are places and circumstances where those kinds of decisions are made every day, but there are countless dance studios in the world and many, many, many of them do not apply such decision-making to ten year olds.  I would personally give up this particular dance studio before I would have my ten-year old give up ballet because of what these teachers said.

The dance world is very big for children and there is a place for any child to be celebrated within it.  I would personally try to find that place.

I can tell from the fact that you are giving this thought and consideration that you are a thoughtful parent and I wish you the best of luck in your decision-making.  🙂

 

Of course, I want her to be happy. I worry that ballet isn't making her as happy as it used to, as she's struggling with her changing body and dealing with that.

Thank you for your advice, I will try to talk to her that way! And we do have some books!

Leaving the studio seems like the right option, we're going to find somewhere new. Thank you so much, I'm trying to be thoughtful and considerate!!!

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I no longer have a DD in the under 13 age group, so I am not supposed to post here.  But I felt compelled to reach out and assure you, Balletmom225, that you are doing a terrific job and to second EVERYTHING that InTheWings said.  At the risk of the moderators removing my post for poking my nose in another group's business, I want to warn parents who are asking similar questions to Balletmom225's to not conflate the two questions of (1) is this studio right for my child and (2) should my child continue to study ballet/dance as rigorously as she desires.

Those are two VERY separate considerations.

With regard to the first question.... No matter the reputation of the dance studio, do not give them the power of prophesy -- especially over your child's future and his/her self esteem.  Despite being professionals, they have NO IDEA who will "make it" and who will not.  No one does.  As InTheWings said, there is no "crystal ball."  And I would repeat the advice that is all over this forum to any parent wondering if this particular studio is the "right fit,".... take your child to a place they are celebrated.  In the end, you want a well-adjusted, confident human being, not a "dancer."  Your child's self esteem (in my opinion) takes precedence over everything else.  A defeated soul cannot create art.  (that is NOT to say they can't face challenges, see below).

With regard to the second (more difficult) question, I will repeat the advice I've given before... do not let your own fears and worries about your child's future push you into making decisions "for" them.  The study of any art is difficult.    It is vitally important for both you and your child (and your relationship) that your child make the decision regarding which difficulties they want to face in life... even at the tender age of 10.  You EMPOWER her by assuring her she can make the choice to face the challenges she wants to face (even if YOU find those challenges "scary").

My heart is with you, Balletmom225.  

 

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Momtomildandmeek

I don't have a lot to add except agreement with much of what has already been stated--it sounds to me like no matter what, that is not the place to continue training. It is still very early to know her potential as a dancer or what her body will do, and there is a lot between strict ballet training from 10 on up and recreational with no hope of a career...she could still focus strongly on ballet but pursue competitive dance or more contemporary training, if she loves it.

I have a newly 10 year old who entered puberty right around her 9th birthday and is definitely more developed than her peers. She is not in a pre-pro program, but she is serious about ballet and I do have to fight the voices in my head already telling me she isn't going to stand a chance. All I can do is let her get the best training we can get at the places where she is happiest, and protect her physical and mental health to the best of my ability. At some point in the next 2-3 years, her peers will have joined her and their bodies will all be different, and we will begin to see more of where dance might take them.

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AnastasiaBeav

It is so hard to know at a young age what our dancers will do when they get older. My DD11 says she wants to be a professional dancer but given her personal and physical circumstances I believe that is highly unlikely. But I told her as long as she puts in the effort I will continue to support her.

So my advice is to encourage her passion and find a school that values her. You are a good mom for protecting your child and asking questions about what is best for her.

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GratefulMom

As a mom of a daughter whose body type is not suited for a professional career in ballet, I can share our experience.

My daughter's dreams slowly morphed as doors opened and closed for her after puberty.  There were tears.  It was hard.  But until the dream changed for her, the dream stayed the same for me for her.  I don't personally share the perspective that we we are pouring money into a career that won't happen.  None of it is lost, from where I stand. And ballet classes as an ROI move if the evaluation is financial will rarely make sense for anyone, no matter what their body is!  Super bendy body girls rarely become huge financially success ballerinas, so the financial ROI for them is the same as it is for the girl with the less typical body type.  And in fact, my daughter still studies ballet pre-pro, and is in it 100%, fully knowing that she will not become a professional ballerina in a year when she graduates.   Her roommates right now are both on that professional trajectory, and it's sometimes hard to see so many people around you get your lifelong dream.  But, my daughter's dreams have pivoted to Broadway, and now her work in the ballet studio is an investment in a different dream.  And, we did decide to diversify her dance training and add some other genres, and we added vocal training to the mix too.  So, we adjusted, but we didn't make a big change and pull her from ballet because she got breasts, if that makes sense.  I would be concerned about the messaging behind that reaction.

But on a separate note -- whether to quit ballet or whether to find a new studio -- well that's a different issue I think.  Maybe it's time to find a new home where the only acceptable goal isn't just pro ballerina?  I don't know.  

 

I can say say that if there is any part of you that is considering pulling her from ballet and saying it's because of body changes -- well that would be an easy no vote from this mom.  Would any of these ideas be possible instead: Adding to the schedule with some other genres?  Switching studios?  Brainstorming things she is good at in the ballet/dance world and then exploring opportunities there and adding them to your daughter's radar somehow?  

 

I have four teenaged daughters, and I can say confidently that teenaged girls KNOW what is going on and they feel really, really conscious of it.  I always feel like my job is to acknowledge their own interpretation of what is happening with their bodies, give them a little context around that fear so they feel seen, but also I don't get all bent out of shape over it, so they realize: bodies change, and people go through puberty at different times and rates, and we just have to keep the long view of our lives, healthy bodies and life goals.  We love them, help find their beauty, even if it means sometimes helping find some different "mirrors" to surround them.  (For example, one of my girls decided she loves gymnastics, right as she started to get curves and go through puberty.  Well, it turns out her bulkier muscled body is doing great things in gymnastics!  She is stronger than anyone on her team.  I'm 100% into that mirror for her, despite some of the other body things that can come along with gymnastics, but I digress.  another example: our dancer is super charismatic on stage, so I've signed her up for some really cool Broadway intensives where she gets to shine.  A different mirror.)

 

Anyway, I hope that helps?  

Raising girls is HARD.  She is lucky to have a mom who cares so much about her.

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DanceMumNYC

I agree with the above sentiments. It is still very early, & having a recently-turned 13 year old, I must say these are just the "awkward" years. My DD started putting on weight around 10-11, but then she had a 3-4" growth spurt at 12 & once again became more "slim" than "average." Even if she hadn't, that would've been okay too & she would've continued to dance because that's what she loves to do. It's normal for kids to go through puberty as pre-teens & teens, & I take it as a red flag that any faculty member would discourage a 10 year old from dancing. We have experience with amazing pre-prof schools being especially supportive of students as they get through this stage, so they are out there. 

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