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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Good ballet is hard to find - so far away!


RuralDanceMom

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My daughter is almost 8.  We have four local dance studios, and we've actually tried three over the course of the past four years.  Mommy and Me at one, tumbling/private dance at another until the owner moved and sold the studio, and for the last year and a half she has been enrolled in a combo class of "ballet and jazz."  She is in an artistic sport for which ballet can help dramatically, but we were not seeing the results of her dance class time.  As it turns out, she has been at a Dolly Dinkle.  They may not have been intentional, but I think it hurt her more than it helped her; she is not even in a neutral place.  I suspect the others in the local area are the same after many messages and researching the instructors.

On Monday, I drove an hour to a private lesson. We homeschool, so that was possible.  The instructor was fantastic, but we also learned my daughter hasn't learned a proper plie, tendu, nor does she have any concept of turnout.  

Right now, I have private lessons scheduled every two weeks. Since we drive even farther in the opposite direction for the other thing and also have three other young children, that is about what I can handle. The driving is a strain on all of us.

This teacher does do private online lessons, but I know ballet progression eventually requires students basically be in the studio a good majority of the week.  Private lessons in person are intense enough for my daughter, and I know online ones are difficult for her, too.  We're doing the privates because regular classes meet weekly, and that might be too much for us. 

I am not sure the artistic sport is going to work out.  She's been doing it since she was three. It is getting harder.  It is also dangerous the harder it gets.  She has said she might switch her focus to dance, but now I am feeling so discouraged for her because I am not even sure it is feasible or possible.   Maybe that isn't even possible unless I am willing to commute two hours a day 3-5 times per week (or more?).  I don't know what her aspirations are at this age. I do know I don't want to waste time and money on her not learning real ballet; she appreciates ballet and we learn about various ballets in our homeschooling.  

What would you do?  

 

Edited by RuralDanceMom
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When my kids were 7-8 years old, I would not enroll them in regular activities that required long commutes that were detrimental to the rest of the family. My rule of thumb for regular, ongoing activities was that the activity had to be longer than the commute.

You seem to be very concerned about what the future will hold. However, you have already discovered that you can invest a lot of time and expense in an activity, and it might not work out. No matter what you choose, you will have to give up something, and there are no guarantees that it will work out in the future. So what is worthwhile doing now for its own sake right now, whether or not it pans out later?

I also recommend thinking about why you are having her do her artistic sport and why you are having her do ballet. Is it because she loves it and is constantly begging for more? Is it because she has talent that you don’t want to waste? Is it because you want her to have opportunities that you enjoyed as a kid (or wished you could have enjoyed as a kid)?

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Thanks so much for weighing in!  

Because of where we live, we have very little available, and what is available I am finding isn't really quite up to par.  I actually grew up in a large suburb, and when I married a farmer, I never even considered my children would have less in the way of extracurriculars.  She's certainly tried many things. She actually did pageants for a few years, but we decided to discontinue that activity because I just didn't care for the people. The pandemic happened, and it was a good time to break from that.  I think that particular activity led me to having her do other performance-type of activities. 

She has been doing her sport, dance, and a bit of tumbling at the YMCA. She generally enjoys them all, but she cannot really articulate at this point what she enjoys most.  My initial goal when she was very little was for her to get comfortable in front of other people.  I grew up painfully shy, and it really stopped me from doing things I'd otherwise have enjoyed.  And it seems to have worked.  She can be shy in front of new people but warms up, so I am glad for that. She has a lot of natural ability in her sport, so I have tried to give her the tools to succeed.

I just hate the driving, lol, so I am wondering if she did decide on dance if she'd be able to do much with it if it was her main activity, not being in a studio multiple days a week?  We can supplement online/Facetime/zoom.  I hope that makes sense.  I honestly never knew that there were so many dance studios that didn't teach proper ballet.  I always thought dance was something local she could do, and now I feel like even that would be hard for her.  I do know the time she will have with her new instructor is quality time.  I'm also thinking of having her do a summer class or camp when we are not bogged down with school work. 

Edited by RuralDanceMom
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It is very common for a 7-8 year old to not be able to articulate which activity she likes, especially if she doesn't have a basis for comparison. But that also means that she probably isn't super passionate about any one activity either. And that's normal and fine too.

When you wonder "if she'd be able to do much with it", that's what I mean about worrying about the future. What does "do much with it" mean to you? Turn it into a career? Get college scholarships? Have the lead role in a local studio's show when she is a high school senior? These goals are unlikely even for girls who dance since early childhood for multiple hours every week. The vast majority of kids who dance in elementary school quit dance before graduating high school, or shortly after graduating high school. 

On the other hand, the possibility of "dancing on pointe" will remain even if she takes a break from dance now and returns to it later. If the goal is pointe work, she will need multiple in-person classes per week sometime, but not continuously from the age of 8. Passionate late-starters who have natural talent tend to catch-up very quickly, especially if they have been physically active all along. They know that they have a lot to learn, and build up habits of working hard that serve them well later. Meanwhile some girls, who were used to being good without trying, give up because it isn't easy anymore.


I wouldn't decide on what to do with dance now based on what she might be able to accomplish in the future. I'd decide based on whether or not doing dance now brings her and the family joy now, regardless of what happens in the future. If dancing now (including all the pluses and minuses) makes everyone happier than not dancing now, do it. If the main benefit to dancing now is simply keeping doors open, versus current happiness, it isn't worth it.

The goal of getting her comfortable being in front of people can be accomplished in many different ways, and it sounds like she doesn't need a hardcore sport to keep working on it.

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12 hours ago, forglitter said:

It is very common for a 7-8 year old to not be able to articulate which activity she likes, especially if she doesn't have a basis for comparison. But that also means that she probably isn't super passionate about any one activity either. And that's normal and fine too.

When you wonder "if she'd be able to do much with it", that's what I mean about worrying about the future. What does "do much with it" mean to you? Turn it into a career? Get college scholarships? Have the lead role in a local studio's show when she is a high school senior? These goals are unlikely even for girls who dance since early childhood for multiple hours every week. The vast majority of kids who dance in elementary school quit dance before graduating high school, or shortly after graduating high school. 

On the other hand, the possibility of "dancing on pointe" will remain even if she takes a break from dance now and returns to it later. If the goal is pointe work, she will need multiple in-person classes per week sometime, but not continuously from the age of 8. Passionate late-starters who have natural talent tend to catch-up very quickly, especially if they have been physically active all along. They know that they have a lot to learn, and build up habits of working hard that serve them well later. Meanwhile some girls, who were used to being good without trying, give up because it isn't easy anymore.


I wouldn't decide on what to do with dance now based on what she might be able to accomplish in the future. I'd decide based on whether or not doing dance now brings her and the family joy now, regardless of what happens in the future. If dancing now (including all the pluses and minuses) makes everyone happier than not dancing now, do it. If the main benefit to dancing now is simply keeping doors open, versus current happiness, it isn't worth it.

The goal of getting her comfortable being in front of people can be accomplished in many different ways, and it sounds like she doesn't need a hardcore sport to keep working on it.

I replied to your privately, but yep... honestly, I do not know where her passion lies.  My other kids are just a wee bit more decisive and expressively content with what they are doing.  One isn't in anything yet due to age, but I have to think about that, too. 

As for the future with dance, yes, I hope she would have enough of a foundation to pursue something she may want to pursue, whatever that is.  She said she wanted to go en pointe, but now she is saying she isn't sure now that she thinks it must be very hard, just after experiencing one real ballet class.  It's good to know that what we do now won't completely eliminate opportunities later on if she articulates she wants to pursue things in a more serious way.   But again, she is 7 (8 in less than two weeks).  

What we have arranged now I think we can maintain with the drive, but I know I could not be doing it the majority of the week anytime soon.  She would really have to drop her sport for me to think about doing it even 2-3 times per week.  I think we just want to find a way to get her what she may need without burning us out.  We're all excited about the new studio, though, except for the distance.  

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Just a reminder that there is no need to use the quote function, unless you are actually quoting a section of a post and referring directly to it.  You can use the @ function to tag another poster, or just type your reply in the thread.

 

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Okedoke, thank you!  I'll try to keep it less clogged.  Really appreciate everyone sharing their thoughts!

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