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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Moving On & Letting Go

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Best of luck to your daughter, Redstorm, and to you as well. It seems she is on the path to rediscovering the reasons she first fell in love with dance :o , and like myrtha said,

she is slowly moving into a more peaceful space.


From watching my own daughter as she journeys through the ballet world, and from my personal experience as someone who always wanted to "just make art", it can be difficult to maintain that love and find that peaceful space when it seems nearly everyone from friends to family to teachers has different expectations of how that journey should go and even whether the journey is worth pursuing.


I wish her the best, and I hope her own journey ultimately takes her to the the place she was meant to be.

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I wish her the best, and I hope her own journey ultimately takes her to the the place she was meant to be.


Lovely! I'll second those wishes to your daughter Redstorm.

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Just coming back to this forum after going through our own experience of our daughter moving on from full-time, full-on ballet! It was so comforting to read how right this was for other people. Our daughter who was doing brilliantly got completely burnt out and has lost all desire to have anything to do with ballet. A tiny part of me wishes she hadn't let go so totally (it was so wonderful seeing her dance) but most of me is just so happy that she is happy, having a great time and (somewhat surprisingly) taking her academic studies really seriously. I suspect our ballet journey is well and truly over (although last night she did a double pirouette in the kitchen which took us both by surprise so you never know!) but I will enjoy living the experience vicariously through friends and boards like this.

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Redstorm - I wish your daughter the best in her new dance adventure. This time, she's going in with her eyes wide open, and on her own terms which is such a healthy way for her to go back.

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  • 1 month later...
Redstorm - I wish your daughter the best in her new dance adventure. This time, she's going in with her eyes wide open, and on her own terms which is such a healthy way for her to go back.



Redstorm and others,


I have read your stories with a full heart and sympathetic mind. My 14 year old dd has been on an emotional roller coaster for the past few weeks and is questioning so many things, including her love of dance. I have admired your ability to provide your daughter with love, intervention when appropriate, patience, and the courage to let your daughter find her way. Sounds like she's doing just that, with steps forward and back, but growing up and wise along the way.


Reading several people's stories, I see my daughter's situation in several of yours. Like many others, my daughter is thoughtful, bright, engaging, and demands much of herself, as a dancer, academic student, etc. Lately, her dance experience has been disappointing. She loved her SI experiences and there, felt the passion and joy of ballet. Back at her studio and first year of high school, she's disenchanted. She finds her ballet classes less inspiring and challenging than those of all summer programs she's attended. She's had adjustments to life after SI's before, but this feels more pronounced. She attends a recreational studio and takes other classes besides Ballet. We do not have a pre-pro studio anywhere close to us and up until now, things have worked well enough.


DD is tempted to drop one of her 5 ballet classes for scheduling reasons and lack of enjoyment but recognizes that as it is, the intensity of her Ballet training is relatively low and may render her less competitive as a candidate for an attractive SI. An obvious solution to some of her angst might be change of studio, however, we don't have great local options and doing so would present huge challenges to our family. I know it can't be good for her to spend 18 hours a week in a studio feeling unhappy 10 months of the year, with only 6 weeks of Ballet bliss. Sending her to a residential program with this level of uncertainty about her commitment to Ballet seems ill advised as well....


Given everything my daughter has said over the years, I imagine that ultimately, she will not pursue a performing career. Still, she talks about wanting to train as if she might, since not doing so wille ffectively close a door she's not certain she wants to close. Even with her current turmoil, there are days in which she talks about dancing in college, fantasizes about dance in Europe, etc.


I hope to follow the example of several posters and weather the ambivalence storm with my daughter with love and grace. I'm saddened by her current experience; dance, especially Ballet, and her studio have up until now, been tremendous sources of joy for her.


Thanks for reading. I look forward to and appreciate the the thoughts of all of you who have been through this. I also welcome thoughts from moderators who've undoubtedly seen many students at crossroads.

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I found my dd's freshman year in high school to be a "fork in the road" for her. Mostly because of the step up in terms of academic requirements and scheduling, but also because of the change she perceived in her peers' interest in other social activities, my dd felt it was a time she remembers as being pulled between ballet and non-ballet. Also, this was the age when her ballet training kicked into a higher gear, as well, and she felt she needed to step it up to be competitive in her studio and for SIs. This was the year she made a choice to follow the "my life is all about ballet" path and began making significant sacrifices. Home schooling followed the next year, non-ballet friends disappeared from her life, activities not related to ballet did not fit into the picture any more, etc. In a way, her story (like so many dancers and children of parents of dancers on BT4D) was moving on and letting go in an opposite way of this thread...she was moving on from a "normal" childhood and stepping into a sense of dedicated study and commitment I felt was way beyond her 14 year old age. These days (3 1/2 years later) she's in a residential setting, has no plans to go to college (at this time), dances 30+hours a week, and only has interaction with other dancers, her instructors and such. It seems to me all her eggs are in one basket, but she's happy.


I'm not telling you anything you don't know or offering any advice, but this in one side of the coin. I guess there is no doing something this intense half-way. It's a shame there can't be more balance (I have a lot of respect for that word) in an artist's life while still pursuing success and fulfillment. I do know that my deepest desire for my d (whether a dd or just a d), is that she is happy and healthy (mentally and physically), whatever she is doing in life.


Anyway...my 2¢...

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mtm -- my DD is also 14 and the roller coaster ride I think can be harder on us than on them!


My dd told us during the last week of her SI that she was finished. It caught us completely by surprise as all the talk up to that point had been about a ballet career. She said she didn't want to dance 6 days a week anymore...she wanted to start high school like a 'normal kid'. 3 to 4 weeks later, she approached us about returning to ballet, although stepping down to 5 days and changing to a local pre-pro school. She began the new program --loved it! Started talking about dance as a career again, SI options, etc. Then, the school activities kicked into high gear and she wanted to join her school friends in clubs/teams, but couldn't because she had committed to the new ballet program. The struggle began again -- but this time it is different. My thought -- she jumped back into ballet after 4 weeks because she was afraid of the unknown.


She has now decided that she will quit at the end of this year -- but this decision is much more mature and thought out. She is looking forward to all the other things she wants to become more involved in at school and has even focused more on her academics than she did during her 'serious' ballet pursuit. Now that she has experienced high school and adapted, she is in a much better state of mind. She enjoys her ballet classes and is looking forward to performances, but the pressure is now gone. This time, her 'quitting' isn't out of the blue or a result of emotion. But, she had to get there on her own --all I could do as her mom was be patient and not project my own thoughts/feeling onto her decisions.


Your DD will figure it out for herself, but it does take time. It's hard for them to let go of something they have put all of their energy into for many years -- it is part of their identity. You are already doing the right things -- you're listening to her, supporting her, and encouraging her. She will come through this just fine. And I think it's important that we remind them that even if they don't become a ballerina, their experiences were amazing -- amazing people, places, SI experiences, dancing on the big stage, and a love of ballet that they will always have whether they are enjoying it on the stage or from cheap seats. They should never have regret. Good luck to you both!

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My DD also stopped dancing this September, when she transferred to a new high school. She went to a very good SI, was very confident when she came back, and auditioned for the Nutcracker, but her role wasn't so great due to her lessened class schedule. She was very upset, and withdrew from the school, and declined her role in the show. I knew that this would happen eventually, but it was very difficult for her, as she had been there for 10 years. It was also difficult for me, because I had also been there for 10 years, and had many happy memories associated with all of the kids and parents over the years.


My daughter said she would attend classes near her new school, and when time came to enroll, she just never went. She found every excuse in the book. I kept asking my DD when she would resume taking classes, and she said it was too hard with the academic demands, and that she wanted to have a social life.


She recently returned to the old studio for a visit, and to hang out with her ballet friends, and her observations were very interesting. She said most of the girls told her that they were "tired" of ballet, and that the only reason that they continued to dance was so they could be in the Nutcracker. They too wanted a normal social life, and told her that they were jealous that she was enjoying her life.


I guess that for both sides, the grass is always greener-my DD felt sad that she was no longer dancing, and her friends felt sad that they were missing a more normal social life. Maybe it is the ability to handle this conflict that separates the dancers who are best equipped to embark on a professional career.

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The beginning of high school period certainly seems like a pivotal one for so many of our kids. Thank you for your thoughtful replies and stories. Some dks move on toward more intensive ballet training, others move outward, away from dance altogether, and some do something in between. I appreciate the creativity and flexibility parents and kids have demonstrated in navigating these waters. mtm

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One of the benefits that many students who go to residency programs comment upon is the fact that when they get into a residency situation, they are finally surrounded by other teens who have the same time constraints as they do and are therefore in the same boat regarding their desire to balance a life outside of dance with the grueling dance schedule. While different pressures do arise in residency, most students find it a great relief when all of their friends are equally strapped for free time and the pull of outside activities is virtually non-existent.


I bring this up not as an endorsement of residency programs, but rather to point out just how hard it is for our kids to try to juggle it all and not feel torn between their desire to be part of the typical high school experience and their goal of dancing professionally. It is so hard to do and it is definitely NOT the same as the struggles their peers have with juggling sports that occur as part of a high school team. Spending your after school and weekend hours at the studio, away from most of your high school peers, in a world that they know very little about and therefore don't understand, or perhaps value, is quite different than the pressures a student feels when they are a member of the highly successful football team to balance their practice and game schedules with their academic and social life. Ballet dancers don't get cheered on each Friday night, their lockers and homes decorated, teachers and students patting them on the back on Monday after a successful weekend, school pep assemblies held in their honor or their picture in the paper or their name placed on a banner in the gym when they do something extraordinary in the ballet world.


It is not surprising that their introduction into high school is a time for dancers to reassess their commitment to ballet. Who wouldn't give pause, when the demands are so great and the immediate rewards are so few? Most of us did not have to make such choices as teens and it is really hard to imagine how difficult it is for our children. For most, the decision is to set aside their ballet dreams for new and exciting pursuits. The really tricky part of the transition is trying to find a way to fit ballet into a new dream. There is not really a clear path for those who have the training and ability to pursue a pro career, but have chosen a different direction for their lives and still want to take ballet along on their new journey. The thought of becoming a 'recreational' dancer can send shivers up the spine of a dancer who has been been on the pro track. Finding their way to a happy medium is very difficult and unfortunately there is not really a middle ground in the ballet world.


Being cognizant of this fact is important for parents and helping our dancers come to terms with that reality is harder still. My heart goes out to all of those who are in the middle of this transition. As many who have made this transition with their children will tell you, it is one that often takes many years to complete, with several curves and bumps in the road. It is important to hear from those on the other end of that transition, to gain some reassurance that their children have found their way to a happy, productive life in pursuit of other dreams and goals. :wub:

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Our dd, also a freshman in high school, moved from homeschooling to a charter school this year. She is still committed to ballet, but she does sometimes wish for a "normal" life. Recently, when I was too sick to drive her to class, she commented on how much work she got done not going to ballet and that now she could just read or relax.


We are blessed that the charter school is small, meets only two days a week, and is full of students that also have outside commitments, many in theater arts; others, in music. DD sees dedicated people who are not dancers, and that helps reinforce her own dedication. So in our case, the two worlds don't collide because the students make time to have the occasional carwash and dance and get together during the day. They are also enthusiastic and respectful of one another's commitments. Her friends want to attend her performances, for example.


I'm always reminded, however, that our dks have so little free time and when they finally get it, they're usually too tired to do much more than sleep. It's not a life I would have chosen for those I love, but I am in awe of those who do embrace it because they must have a passion for the ages! :wub:

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I agree with Balletbooster about the stresses being different in a residency program versus staying at the local high school and studio. Our dd stayed home for her freshman year of high school, but fell behind in her dancing as was evidenced by the lack of advancement at her summer intensive. We knew that she had to move on to more intensive training to stay competitive. She left home for her sophomore year and on her brief trips home she would acknowledge that she forgot how "normal" her life was and missed it. When asked if she wanted to stay home and resume her "normal" life, we heard an emphatic, "NO!" She appreciated being in an environment where everyone was in the same boat. So the pressure of saying no to school friends and their extra curricular activities was gone, but the stress of being in a new environment and the more competitive atmosphere replaced it. If you asked her today if she regretted her decision to leave home, she would tell you that she wished she had left sooner. Not every dancer that moves away from home feels this way but our dancer does.

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That was a very nice commentary, bb, thanks. My 15 year old DD, who stopped dancing at her ballet school, recently started dancing with the dance club at her high school. It's mainly contemporary ballet. She's been coming home in her dance attire, and lately has been doing a few pirouettes in the kitchen. I feel like she's getting back to her old self. We'll see where this leads...

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  • 2 weeks later...

To all the wise mothers who have gone before me -- YIKES!


My DD quit, then un-quit, planned to quit again at the end of this year, and now, you guessed it, has decided to stick with it. :crying:


I honestly thought the last 'I'm going to quit' was really it. I had great ideas for a summer vacation that I could actually afford since I would have to pay for an SI :wacko: But, alas, ballet calls again. From everything I've read on this board, so many of you have been down this path with your DK. It's funny how a busy weekend of rehearsals -- that I thought would confirm for her that she would rather have free time -- actually did just the opposite. It affirmed for her how much she loves her ballet school, her friends there, her teachers, and ballet itself. She said if she quit now, she would always look back and wonder what she could have done. Rather than risk regret, she wants to continue ballet through high school instead of dropping it for other traditional high school activities.


This is quite a roller coaster, but thanks to the wonderful input from experienced moms on the board I have more perspective. Instead of worrying whether she will go to college for ballet or get into a grad program -- I'm able to step back and let her figure it out. She should continue as long as she loves it and we'll figure out the rest one step at a time.... :innocent:

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This is quite a roller coaster, but thanks to the wonderful input from experienced moms on the board I have more perspective. Instead of worrying whether she will go to college for ballet or get into a grad program -- I'm able to step back and let her figure it out. She should continue as long as she loves it and we'll figure out the rest one step at a time.... :P


Wise advice for every one of us. :D

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