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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Career aspirations: when is it time to stop?


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I wish I could have you ladies, as "ringers" :blushing: in my "Parenting Adolescents" courses! I use that parable at the beginning of the series of classes because it invariably launches a discussion of what, exactly, is the right kind of "help". :) "When do I step in; when do I let her flounder?" You moms are great :)

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  • BW


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My mom always maintained that the best parenting style was one of "benign neglect." My track coach called it the "if the bone isn't sticking out, you're fine" style of coaching. Either way, it seems to work!

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Wonderful summations from the butterfly emerging to the unfunded activities and 'benign neglect' . :blushing: As Asleep put it:

The most any of us can hope for is happy and healthy kids and that we ourselves maintain a healthy perspective to counsel and guide our dk's as they journey into adulthood.
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When my daughter was about 14 1/2 we had a heart to heart about this very topic. She started her serious ballet training late and we knew that time would not be on her side. We came up with a plan. I would help her obtain the best training available to her and she would work hard. She has auditioned for many SI's over the years and has gone away every summer for the past 4 summers. We both agreed that by her Jr. year in high school the "writing would be on the wall". We always sought the advice of her teachers both during the year and during the summers. I know it may sound harsh to some, but we both agreed that if the feedback wasn't overwhelmingly positive, she would have to redirect. Spend more time in school and less time in the studio.

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My daughter has just finished her jr year of high school. She's still at it - pursuing her dream of dancing professionally. Trainng hard, she continues to improve and she has been told by her teachers that the potential to dance professionally still exists for her. Nevertheless, she works hard at her academics with the full intent of to applying to college. She feels that she may need another couple of years of training before she is ready to pursue a company position. Fortunately, she has a plan that she is perfectly comfortable with and I support her.

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After seeing my daughter's last performance I wish that she hadn't given up. She has improved so much since high school. One bump in the road and she threw it all away. She still dances but isn't pursuing a professional career. She's all into the money and trying to find a career where she will make a lot of it. She took a nutrition class at college and her teacher says she makes $100 an hour consulting and my daughter was so impressed so now that's her major of the week. Before that it was zoology until she struggled with a science class and changed her mind about that. Well I hate to inform her, she's chosen another major with lots of science. Time will tell. We supported her dancing up until she she started wavering and changing her mind so much. My husband and I felt that if she really loved dance she would have fought at her college to get in the program or gone else where. There is a reputable four year college nearby that has a non-audition dance major. I think that one reason she has given up is that she sees so many people who have majored in dance unable to survive by dancing. There seems to be a great divide between making it and the poor house. Being an artist myself I took the low road and did something else. Who knows :D life is so difficult .Maybe my daughter is right to go for the $$$.

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My husband and I felt that if she really loved dance she would have fought at her college to get in the program or gone else where.


You just answered your own question :D


My hunch is, that she'll find her way back to dance in some way...just not in the performing end of it. Perhaps she might find it rewarding to share her knowledge with children...or become a stage manager for a ballet company


Right now, let her 'change her mind'. Eventually she will see the way! :P


Clara 76

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Thanks mom1. I watched my daughter take class today. It's been 3 months since I last saw her dance. It was such a pleasure to see her dance with such joy and enthusiasm. I don't know where her path will eventually lead her, but I believe dance will always be in her.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Sorry, I am a dancer...

Reading through this board, I feel like all this applies to me. I am 15 and ballet is absolutely my passion. I give myself barre over vacation because I can't stop dancing, and I love performing. However, I know that I am not good enough to be a professional and the chances are slim that I can improve enough to give it a go. I can't stop dancing as much as I am right now! I love it too much and this option seems impossible to choose. At the same time I don't want to spend all my time doing something that feels like a dead end. SHould I just give up?

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No don't give it up unless it is what you want to do. There is a song by Harry Chapin - WAY before your time but maybe your parents will know it about Mr. Tanner. He was a singer and the chorus went 'music was his life it was not his livelihood. And it made him feel so happy and it made him feel so good. He sang from his heart and he sang from his soul. He did not know how well he sang, it just made him whole." That might not be 100% accurate a quote but I see the same thing with dancing for many. If it makes you whole keep it, cherish it and don't worry about what will or will not become of it.

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dance_thru_life, I think calamitous is right. If you love doing something like dance or playing a musical instrument or painting or just about anything there's no need to give it up at all.


I believe that it can be difficult for anyone who is extremely invested in ballet (or any other passion), and is particularly surrounded by fellow students who are aiming at a career and are studying in a competitive environment, who either has a realization that the professional path is not likely - or something happens that prevents them from pursuing it - to not have feelings of "failure" or to not believe that continuing to enjoy their love for their art is a "dead end"... *In time, this will usually pass. "Time" being anywhere from months to even years. Take a look at the Adult forum - there are so many adults (think 20s to 70's +) who used to dance, gave it up and then returned because they loved it.


A fulfilling life is not all about one thing, but it's more of a tapestry of interwoven threads that make up the actual living of life. One can love to dance and continue it thoughout one's life as a form of enjoyment, expression and - dare I say it - fun - without dancing for a living. It's called an avocation as opposed to a vocation. Think about all the people who are painting and drawing and filling our arts centers taking classes or have walked down to the water to paint... Or those who keep journals or take photographs or ride horses or play the piano or the violin or dance .... and they continue to do it because they love it.


There are many of us who may have thought we'd do one thing but then life takes a turn and we go down another path. This doesn't mean our years of focus on what we loved were a "dead end". I may not be making my living as an artist but all the years that I studied various arts have given me the insights and appreciation to continue to enjoy it as someone who may choose to pursue it for myself as well as someone who can walk into a museum or gallery - and take pleasure from what I see. I think this is true of ballet as well.


Sometimes if our dreams of pursuing our passions into a career don't work out it can seem as though we've failed but it's not failure. It can seem that way I know. We can't control everything in our lives but we can usually have some control over how we react to it all - though it can take time and practice. :dry::unsure:


P.S. Here are the lyrics to "Mr. Tanner" B)

Edited by BW
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Don't give up the thing that you love. My daughter has been back and forth about giving up the last couple of years and she's in Italy this week dancing :thumbsup: . She is lucky, her small studio goes to a competition in Europe once a year and takes pretty much anyone who is willing to work hard and can raise the funds to go. They have dancers of all shapes and sizes, ages and ablilities. She had to work hard to earn the money to go but she did it! She needs to dance to keep her sanity during the long hard months of study at college. :P

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  • 2 months later...

bumping up a great conversation!

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