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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Moving On & Letting Go

Guest unsoccer-mom

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Thank you for the encouraging words!


Her school does deserve a great deal of credit for the way they are dealing with my daughter's situation. She is fortunate to be at a school that effectively rehabilitates students after injuries. Her ballet teacher also has been very supportive of her.

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  • 1 year later...
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To mothers with daughters who have suddenly given up ballet:


My daughter gave up ballet last August after studying intensively for 14 years. It was her dream, her passion. Unbeknownst to her father and I, in her last year of high school (she lived away), she researched occupations, colleges, ideas and made up her mind to quit at the end of the summer intensive after high school and pursue another dream...one we had NO idea she was interested in. She came back home for a "visit" before heading back to the ballet school (we thought) and dropped the bomb on us.


I won't go into specifics, but we felt blindsided, completely, when she announced her decision to quit and told us what she wanted to do. We were stunned, but we kept out mouths shut, put our personal feelings aside about the sacrifices we had made for so many years to allow her to expand and achieve her goal to dance in a professional company (i.e., those thousands of dollars spent on summer intensives, lessons, overseas auditions, auditions in the U.S., ballet lessons in the U.K. on vacations...you name it...not to mention the endless miles of driving her back and forth to studios and rent on an apartment across country while she attended a dance school for her entire high school years). We listened to her reasons and whys and, frankly, could not disagree. Ballet is a limited and VERY hard career for really poor pay.


We proceeded to help her into her new career in any way we could and told her very little about how we felt, deep down inside. We backed her up in her decision. Let it suffice to say it was a complete 360 degree turn from ballet. The only thing it had in common with ballet was a rigorous schedule, extreme physical activity, intensive physical training.


And you know what? She is utterly and completely happy. She is flying! This was the right thing for her to do.


It has taken me months to put aside my anger, upset, turmoil, angst, disagreement, blame and really grant her the right to be what she wants to be and do what she has decided she wants to do. What I have discovered is that the discipline and training in ballet have set her up for a lifetime. THAT is the value of pre-professional ballet training. It prepares one for an incredible life.


So, don't be disappointed if your child changes tack in the middle of the river. It just might be the exact right thing for him/her to do.

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brunhilda--thank you so much for that lovely and heartfelt explanation of your daughter's journey. It is a wonderful story with a message for us all to learn. Dance teaches our children alot, the least of which is to dance. What a brave and mature daughter you have and how proud you should be of her!

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I, too, have recently experienced a 180 degree change in our daughter's career. She has danced for the last 17 years (since age 2), attended NCSA her freshman through junior years, and has been in a professional division trainee with a prominent ballet company in Texas. Unfortunately, she had been dealing with a chronic back injury for the last 2 years, and as much as she loves to dance, dancing in constant pain was beginning to take it's toll on her.


Fortunately, because of her dance training, she was offered a part in a major motion picture starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn! A couple of producers actually visited the studio where she dances, and she was asked to come in for a screen test. After a couple of screen tests, she was asked to come in to meet the director personally. At that time, we had no idea who the director was, nor did we know who the stars were going to be. What's even more amazing is that she was only supposed to film one day, but the director was so impressed with her that she wound up filming over 15 days. I have had people, who are associated with the film industry, tell me that our daughter has gotten to do something that most people have waited years to do.


It was really hard to accept it when our daughter decided to take a break from dancing to pursue an acting career; however, I also believe that everything happens for a reason. If she hadn't been a dancer, she wouldn't have had the incredible opportunity to be in this movie. Now, she wants to start college and work on a new career. She is so incredibly happy right now, and I believe that it was harder for me to accept her change than it was for her, but when I hear the excitement in her voice, I know that all those years of dance training were well worth all the blood, sweat and tears... :shrug:

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Thank you shuttlepointe for sharing. That is another wonderful story of one of our members. How exciting for your daughter!!!!

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Dd (about to turn 15) has gone through a couple of rocky patches over the past couple of years. She is a beautiful young dancer, but has questioned sometimes whether this is really what she wants to to - because, more than me, she can see the true dedication of hours, energy and emotion that is required, not just to reach her goals, but to maintain and improve as a dancer - life-long quest in a way, that seeking of perfection that is the life of a dancer. She loves dancing and I'm sure always will - it seems to be an integral part of her - but whether it continues into a career or not is another story. I appreciated your story antbobby, because it showed that our relationship to the dance world can of-course continue, by going to the ballet and perhaps taking classes ourselves!


I have also tried to be more pragmatic over the past 18 months - separating myself from my own emotional attachment to her continuing or not. This was brought home to me last night. After Dd's father died in March, I wasn't sure how I could afford the ballet fees. My eldest daughter called me and said my son-in-law wanted to pay dd's fees, and he did so. It took the pressure off temporarily, but I was still concerned for the future. I was then told by my daughter that my son-in-law expected this to be a continuing arrangement. He was visiting last night and we talked about this. His business is going extremely well, and he says he can afford it and wants to do it. His only concern was that dd may feel obligated to continue in ballet because she felt she was being 'invested' in. He wanted her to know very clearly that he was supporting her in ballet because it gave her so much joy, and it gave her another family, a place where she felt safe and was loved and cared for. (In the past I would have had great difficulty in accepting his generosity, but I have learned in recent months, that there is a blessing in accepting help from others when you need it.)


He added that he couldn't imagine what dd would actually go into as a career, as he sees that she has many options. It made me step back again, and although I had known intellectually that things may change for dd, while it gives her joy, it is a blessing, and when it doesn't we will need to move on, both of us in our different ways. I felt a sense of peace about her future, that whatever she decides, wherever she goes, these years have been precious.


Unsoccer-mom - I hope your dd finds enormous pleasure in her life's new direction. And jbtlse, I hope your daughter's direction becomes clearer to her over the next months so she can choose what is right for her. Dance is a career that requires a driving passion, so that the sacrifices aren't hardships. Our dreams become so intertwined with theirs it can be hard to move forward, I'm sure, but I wish your families the best.

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Danceintheblood - your story made me sniffle. You got a good son-in-law! Please do believe he and your daughter and their reasons for paying. My husband and I financially supported my youngest sister in an ongoing endeavor. She eventually chose another path and is now a wonderful nurse but I can tell you that we wouldn't change a thing. What we paid for helped make her the bright, involved and exceptional person she is today. Accept the help and know that family is family, no matter how they join up!

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Thankyou so much for relating your story dance1soccer1. It has been very difficult for me to accept help. I was raised to believe that financial and emotional independence were the qualities to be strived for and achieved, so have never accepted help easily. The love we have experienced in recent months has been very humbling, very touching. There is a very strong part of me that thinks this is back-to-front. It should be a parent helping their child and not the children helping their parent, particularly when I am so young (well, 50 last week, but I see that as young).


My son-in-law explained to me last night that he tried hard not to have an emotional attachment to dd, after experiences within his own family, he saw it as a dangerous experience. But his very wise mother advised him, as did I, that life without emotional attachment is a life lacking in true richness. He said very simply "I love that girl, she is like my daughter and my sister, and I'd do anything for her happiness". Through some of life's most difficult periods, there are beautiful butterflies released that cannot be ignored.


PS Sorry if I have taken this off topic.

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As parents we support and encourage are children, for some one that dances then changes direction it is a brave decision as it is not only the parents expectations but they will find them selfs justifying the change to all those around and dealing with there reactions. When we take them to there first ever ballet class we are not looking to the future but of are child's enjoyment in this class, every thing that happens after is a blessing for a child to fill so passionate and dedicated to some thing is rare and the skills that they have learned in the discipline help equip them for the next stage. At the end no matter what path they take are child's happiness is what we all want.

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I couldn't agree more. After several years of intensive study at a vocational level, my daughter has decided she wants out. She has simply lost her love of dancing and doesn't want a career as a ballet dancer any more. I have a mixture of feelings: on the one hand, relieved - it's such a hard path to go and I was worried about her following such a narrow and difficult route - and sad too as I will miss seeing her dance so beautifully and miss the excitement and friendships that the dance world has brought us. But that's from my perspective - and the important thing is that she has a life in front of her and many, many opportunities will no doubt present themselves if she is given that freedom. But it's her last class on Saturday and I hope it's not going to be too painful... Wish me luck!

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rose, our thoughts are with you as she goes through the final week of ballet training. I do think that it is particularly hard to let go (for both students and parents) when they have been in a residential situation. Not only does their schedule change drastically, but it is coupled with a move back home and all the adjustments that go with that. If your daughter was on a vocational track in the UK, I'm assuming that she has been in a residency school, so I wish you all the best in that transition as well.


I think that we underestimate how much we as parents have invested emotionally in our dancer's lifestyle. The family calendar tends to revolve around the dancer's schedule, vacations and holidays are all adjusted to fit training and performance schedules and as you mentioned, we form deep emotional and social attachments to other moms who are on the same journey. We often become involved in fundraising or other support activities for our dancer's schools and form our own attachments to faculty and administrative staff as a result of our involvement at various levels. There are often season tickets to the pro ballet company attached to the school that your dancer may not want to use, etc. etc. Regardless of how you might feel about your dancer leaving pre-pro training, you cannot ignore the impact that it will have on your life, daily schedule, friendships, activities, etc.


You are certainly right about the many other avenues that will present themselves, now that she is open to different paths. I wish you both much happiness as you travel down some newly discovered roads. I hope that she eventually finds a way to fit ballet into her new lifestyle, as a recreational dancer. I've known many students who have come back to ballet after a period of time and found it to be a refreshing and comfortable leisure activity and they have been so glad to have the wonderful foundation that their earlier, serious training provides them as older teen and adult students.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I have debated telling our story. Several of my "ballet buddies" have inquired as to my silence on the board these past couple of months. I have appreciated the support, concern and understanding.

Without going into too much detail, especially since there are those on this board who may feel the need to share with others what I have to say, I will condense my dd's journey and ultimate decision to redirect her attention to another area in the performing arts.

As you have read in previous posts, dd was terribly homesick. In hindsight, moving her to a ballet school across the country without a dorm situation in place was not the smartest decision I have ever made. It was far from ideal on so many levels. On top of that, trusting people I barely knew to do what was best for my child, trusting people I didn't know as well as I thought to make decisions, supervise and care for her was a mistake as well. I don't mean to sound bitter or angry as it was my decision to send her. I just wish I had trusted my "gut" a bit more and didn't listen so closely to those who gushed about dd's talent and potential. Those are heady words and can turn a parents head to hear someone rave about your child that way.

DD doesn't regret going, meeting the wonderful friends she met, seeing parts of the country she would probably never have seen....although she does admit she will never live in the cold again!

The pressures placed on her were too much without any direction on how to accomplish what was asked/demanded of her. Praise one minute and disappointment the next. All of this led to some unhealthy behavior that dd was smart enough to recognize as dangerous territory. With the help of her friends, she made the decision to leave. I know that phone call to me was the hardest thing she ever did. She was terrified that she was letting everyone down. On the contrary, I knew it was time for her to come home. What I didn't know was her love of dance had been beaten down so far as to have been broken. So sad for someone with so much talent and potential. :unsure:

DD came home in need of some TLC and that is just what she got. We enrolled her in traditional highschool and decided to put any discussions of dance aside until she was better equipt to handle it.

DD went to prom, met some new friends and learned how to just relax.

She did a lot of thinking and came to her father and I and told us the direction she wanted to go. I wasn't suprised. This kid can't be off the stage for too long. It's in her blood. :)

DD is starting her senior year in a few days...she is in the top 4% of her class and is UC eligible (She can pretty much pick which UC she wants to attend, based on her grades) She has joined the drama club and future stars club. She has a lead in her schools first production. She took her SATs and wasn't thrilled with her score even though it was very high....typical A type personality, so she is taking them again. She is getting ready for college apps and has her list together for college theater auditions. She plans on majoring in film acting. :wacko:

She can't wait to audition...she said that will be a snap after doing so many auditions over the years. :wink:

She looks great....healthy and like a normal teen, not emancipated and undernourished.

My daughters jouney in the ballet world has ended and after this past year, I can't say I am sorry. I will miss watching her dance and will always wonder how far she could have taken it.

Now, we will head in a new direction. I can't wait to see where this new path takes her. All I know is she is happy, healthy and home.

I don't want to scare those of you who are debating sending your child away to residentials. The best advice I can give you is to do your research..and when you think you have done enough...do some more.

If your child is getting good training at home, keep them home as long as you can. There is plenty of time for them to move to train.

DD's biggest regret was not staying in traditional high school. She is now trying to fit 3 years into 1. She is going to have a blast doing it too!

I will come and visit now and then. There are so many friends I have met and many a good time. I will treasure the memories. I still like to see what my friends dd's are accomplishing and celebrate with them through cyberspace. :wub:

It is hard letting go...but I have done it before and survived. It is dd's life to lead...or should I now call her AD (acting daughter :D )

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I, for one definitely miss having you and your DD in the ballet world, but do understand all the changes. I am SO glad to hear that she is happy and doing well. Don't ever sell yourself short: You are a TERRIFIC mom and person and I'm really glad I know you!

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*edited by moderator to remove a quote of the entire passage by Redstorm.


Myrtha--there was no post from you after the quote, would you like to edit your post and put what you wanted to say here? If not, then I will delete this s oon.

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This is such a bad thing for a "ballet mom" to admit - but I sometimes think the best and the brightest are just a little wasted on a ballet career. [My own child included] Redstorm's daughter was one of those kids that, when I met her, I was sad that the academic and drama community was missing out on having her. She is talented, academically gifted and mature beyond her years. What an amazing young lady! I'm tickled that she's acting now, but as a member of the legal community - I certainly have hopes of seeing her litigate in the future as well!

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