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rdsmom

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Reply with quote  #26 
I didn't read through the whole thread, but I think it's when the dancer (NOT parent) comes to the teacher to talk about their future. At that point, IMHO, a teacher would be able to help point a dancer in the direction that she/he would most likely be successful. Like if a dancer is unlikely to be in a ballet company due to ability or technique or body type or height or whatever, the teacher would be able to say xyz company tends to take tall dancers, or abc contemporary company might be a good opportunity. I hate dream crushing for children!
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ballerinamom13

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Reply with quote  #27 
Quote:
Originally Posted by joriebelle
I think I get what you're trying to get at, Lorax.  I agree, never have this conversation in full view of other dancers.  EVER.  Not cool.  


It happens in the professional ballet world often.  By the time one gets to that level, they either handle it or get out.
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joriebelle

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Reply with quote  #28 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ballerinamom13


It happens in the professional ballet world often.  By the time one gets to that level, they either handle it or get out.


That's different.  That's not a kid, in front of other kids, told by their teacher.
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sglemon

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Reply with quote  #29 
We had this conversation 2 years ago with my DD ballet "mentor" in the preprofessional ballet program she is in.  She was 12 at the time.  Based on her work ethic, skill, the intangibles, he felt she could go professional if she chose too.  He also said since she was so versed in different types of dance, it was an advantage, because Companies are looking for well rounded dancers.  2 years later and another meeting just last month.. same thing, plus more, she is an exceptional leader, example, my hardest worker..etc...  But she is the type of student, when she competed at Gymnastics before giving it up, they told me she was a D1 type of athlete.  Same thing with soccer.. she started playing Varsity in 8th grade, and her coaches are telling me she is D1 material.. Her work ethic is incredible for her age! I have 4 kids, and she is by far the exception.  But one thing that is in her way, is her height.  She is 5'8".
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ballerinamom13

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Reply with quote  #30 
Quote:
Originally Posted by joriebelle


That's different.  That's not a kid, in front of other kids, told by their teacher.

I didn't say it was.  I said it happens once you are a professional.  So as kids get older, they need to handle it.
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heidi459

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Reply with quote  #31 
I'm not sure exactly what conversations are likely to be had in front of other company members in a professional company.  Certainly any comment like those mentioned here wouldn't even make sense though.  "You don't have what it takes to be a professional" uttered by a company's artistic director could easily be met with  "Well, what does that say about you?  You hired me".

Now of course no dancer would say that and I'm not suggesting they should... I'm just saying that what is being talked about here is very different than dealing w/the unpredictable moods of ADs out in the professional world.  Of course professional dancers need thick skin.  Aspiring dancers as well.  And the sooner you develop that thick skin the better.  But that's a different discussion.
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dave9988

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Reply with quote  #32 
Quote:
Originally Posted by heidi459
I'm not sure exactly what conversations are likely to be had in front of other company members in a professional company.  Certainly any comment like those mentioned here wouldn't even make sense though.  "You don't have what it takes to be a professional" uttered by a company's artistic director could easily be met with  "Well, what does that say about you?  You hired me".

Now of course no dancer would say that and I'm not suggesting they should... I'm just saying that what is being talked about here is very different than dealing w/the unpredictable moods of ADs out in the professional world.  Of course professional dancers need thick skin.  Aspiring dancers as well.  And the sooner you develop that thick skin the better.  But that's a different discussion.


I suppose the student version would be "What do you mean I don't have what it takes to be a professional dancer?  I've been training here for 10 years, you've been my primary (or only) trainer, and I'm in your pre-pro division/class?!"
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tendumom

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Reply with quote  #33 
Good answer, dave9988!  That did not come to mind when dd had that conversation. 
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ballerinamom13

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Reply with quote  #34 

The original poster asked about when or if this should happen. She also asked what different parents think. I write about my experience and my opinion, not what I think other people want to hear.  And my experience is different than some because I have actually raised a professional ballerina.  Looking back on MY experience, I would actually hope that a teacher would be frank with me and let my child know they aren’t seeing it happen and WHY they don’t see it.  If it’s something that can be fixed, I would want to know early on – what can my child work on?  There are just some body types that cannot be fixed – period (for ballet).  Like it or not.  It’s brutal, but it’s the way it is.  Kids develop at different times and I don’t think there can be a set age for this to happen.  All circumstances are different – all kids are different.

 

I don’t think most teachers would be honest and tell a kid they don’t think they have what it takes – unless they have kids lining up at the door, but we were at only one ballet studio for 7 years (except for one year away at a residential program), so MY EXPERIENCE is limited.  The residential program had conferences every semester and you were not invited back for the next year if they didn’t think you had what it took.  That was done in private with the child and letters were sent home, but everyone knew who wasn’t asked back.  They also removed kids from the ballet program and made them go into the contemporary program if their opinion was that kids might be good dancers, but not ballet material.  

 

I think different studios have different goals.  Some teach to create professional dancers and some teach to make money and if they create a professional dancer, great.  I think most teachers love teaching or they wouldn’t do it, but some have a specific goal of creating professionals and if they have limited space and lots of interest, they do let kids know they don’t think they have what it takes (in their minds) in different ways.  IN MY EXPERIENCE It was by talking to them and the parents, it could be done by conference and letter like the residential program did it, it could be by keeping kids out of the pre-pro track, it could be keeping them in tiny parts for performances or not casting them at all, it could be by just flat out ignoring them.  No corrections basically mean they are no longer watching and that is a very bad thing.  I think the passive/aggressive way is worse, personally. Kids do have to have thick skins, especially as they get older and this is one way it happens.  Some studios teach like the real professional world and I think it’s hard to take, but goes a long way in some teachers’ minds,  on the state of mental toughness.  Dd’s teacher had the “fat” talk with girls, just like professional companies have the “fat” talk. Please note – I do not care if anyone thinks this is wrong.  It’s a fact, in my limited experience.

 

I think that certain teachers, especially Russian and Polish, have no problem telling kids in front of other kids that they will never make it dancing "like you did today" over and over.  Been there, heard it.  No offense to anyone out there, but it's nice to think that all teachers will be supportive and tell little Lila that she's the best thing since sliced bread – but that is not the real world.  Many, many kids have left dd's old school due to the reasons listed above -  I can't even count.  That is not to say they didn't go elsewhere and do a great job, kept dancing, kept doing what they love. None of them that I know of have become professional dancers, except for one that I am aware and she moved when she was 12 – still young. 

 

I personally think the conversation should be had in private, not the other ways I’ve witnessed and experienced and written about above.  I also think it sucks to ruin someone’s dream, but I would rather hear the truth before I spent thousands of dollars on summer intensives and point shoes and privates, etc.  Ultimately, I think if you have done the research you actually should be doing in order to help your child get where they want to go, you should already know yourself, without having to have a teacher tell you.  If your kid isn’t getting into SI’s in the top levels at age 15 or 16, they may not be destined to be professionals.  Financial circumstances may define how long people can support the dream.  

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prancer

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Reply with quote  #35 
but I would rather hear the truth before I spent thousands of dollars on summer intensives and point shoes and privates, etc. 


Yes ballerinamom13! 
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threegirlpileup

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Reply with quote  #36 
Quote:
Originally Posted by irishdear
Ballerina MOm - I think you are correct.  My understanding is that no matter what you might want to hear the reality is that some kids will not have the same shot at classical ballet.    For me, I would 100% want to hear the facts regarding what we are up against early on, and once it becomes clear to those who have the information that my DD may not be a good fit for the classical ballet I want to know up front and as early as possible because quite frankly, I will switch our focus.  My DD loves classical ballet most of all, but that doesn't mean she will be able to go all the way with it, and while she is too young to tell, once she is on pointe at 10 or 11 I will ask and I will expect some information forth coming.  You can't predict her future, but you can at that age expect to start gathering some information that will help guide your decisions.  It is essential.  The amount of time my DD is putting into her ballet, and the amount of time she is spending with those that know is quite large.  By the time she is 11 she will have been dancing eight years with two teachers who have been there with her the entire time and a SO whom has worked with her one on one.  By then, I will approach the SO with an assessment of strengths, weaknesses, and a frank conversation about what we are looking at.  I will also continue to read the indirect signs, I agree that studio language is there if you listen and doesn't need to be direct.  If my DD starts getting over looked, is not progressing on the teams, is not moving forward in skill and in advancements, I will go into that conversation already sensing what is what.  So far that is not the case, but I am not going to be the parent who can't see what is.  The reality is that there are indications from very early on, albeit not necessarily verbal, that will indicate a potential path.


Just want to throw out there that at 11, my dd was the picture of a kid headed—at least possibly—for a ballet career. Then puberty hit and everything changed! It’s so fine because her heart is really us choreography and contemporary. But as others have said, it’s really hard to make any long-term predictions until after puberty hits.
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heidi459

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Reply with quote  #37 

While I don't disagree that no one should be playing pretend if the writing is on the wall clear as day... I can't help but think about the different standards that would be used to make that determination.  And find myself a bit uncomfortable at the thought that a dancer/their parents might allow themselves to be deterred by what might simply be one person's opinion. 

I think of my friend's dd who was told in no uncertain terms that she didn't have the feet for classical ballet & as a result should shift her focus to contemporary ballet.  But she was not deterred... & is now dancing in a classical company.  Makes me think of my own dd who would have been strongly discouraged by so many because of her tight hips & lousy turnout still at 14.  But she was also undeterred... & after 3 yrs of very hard work now shows signs that this dream of hers may indeed become a reality.  Makes me think of all the dancers I've known who languished under one teacher/at one studio, only to soar once they moved elsewhere. There are countless stories out there of professional dancers (ballet & otherwise) who were told (or knew that there were many that would tell them if asked) that it simply wasn't in the cards.  Dancers who struggled because of a lack of confidence, were late to the game, were late bloomers, were too tall/too short, didn't have the perfect proportions, never got into the coveted SIs, never received a scholarship, never placed at competitions.  Never met those markers so many insist "must" be met.  But they persevered anyway.  And were rewarded as a result. 

So who do we listen to?  How do we know that who we're talking to knows it all?  It's a question worth pondering.  Because there really is no magic formula here.  And anyone who insists that there is has simply bought into the myth.... or is perhaps a bit of an elitist and has a rather narrow vision of success.


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Motherhem

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Reply with quote  #38 
Hi guys, I am new to the boards but I have so much to say on this subject based on experience. My DD 16 has been danicing since 3yo with 1 year off at 8 when we moved.
She went back to dancing at 9 when we joined a more serious studio that focuses primarily on ballet. At the and of the 4th grade here all dancers are evaluated and are placed in an enrichment division or Intensive division. Enrichment is for those who love to dance but don’t have the talent, body shape, or drive for Intensive ballet. The Intensive division is for potential ballerinas. So at 10yo DD was placed in the Intensive division. Her cousin who had been dancing seriously since 3 at this studio was placed in the enrichment division. Her cousin was a little chunky and didn’t fit the body type of an aspiring ballerina.
We’re they correct? Yes. My daughter is still dancing. Her cousin danced a couple more years and quit. Her cousin is beautiful and slim but she isn’t built for ballet, and she didn’t have the same talent which became apparent as she grew.
Are they ever wrong? Absolutely! There was another girl a year younger than my daughter who was originally placed in enrichment and was later moved to the intensive division. Last year that girl won scholarships to two SI’s and was the lead in the spring performance.
But there is more: My daughter’s main teacher danced professionally in the 70s. He loves tall, pencil thin dancers. My daughter is 5’ 2” and very thin hourglass shaped girl. In the summer of 2017 my daughter and a beautiful tall girl were promoted to the school’s performing company. To be safe I will call the other girl: Roxy. Almost immediately Roxy became the teacher’s favorite. My DD got lost in the crowd. My daughter became sad so at the end of the year last year I met with the studio director and their teacher. Their teacher was very clear in the meeting that my daughter had talent but not enough to make it in the biz. Last summer DD went to a 5 week SI at NB where they loved her and embraced her. They taught her to dance better than she had before. For the SI performance she was chosen as 1 of 5 to dance in a pas piece. (There are no boys in her studio so no pas pieces, therefore, it was a big deal for a girl with no experience in pas.) DD went back to her studio and her teachers we’re shocked at the improvement. I call it the power of positive reinforcement. Flash forward: This year at a multiple SI audition my daughter won 3 SI scholarships and 1 college scholarship. It was not an audition for college scholarships as she is only a junior in high school. There was a separate audition for seniors.
Roxy was at the same audition. She won a half scholarship to 1 SI and that is all. Another girl, not as technical as DD and Roxy and who has not yet been promoted to the company, also won a half scholarship to the same SI as Roxy. They are all the same age and year in HS
What is my point? This is a very subjective career. Beauty, even in ballet, is in the eye of the beholder. Even professionals. There will probably be some who will love your dancer and others who will not.
Some dancers are not cut out for this. It is hard physically and emotionally. Some dancers are not skilled enough and no one tells them.
Yet, I agree with most of you. No teacher should tell a dancer in public they don’t have what it takes. In private maybe. But just because you hear it once’s doesn’t mean it is correct. If a dancer is not good enough, multiple sources will tell you. Some in subtle ways: like not getting into SIs, or not ever getting scholarships even at small rural studios. We as parents have to pay attention, listen to the teacher’s and the signs, and try to guide them. We have to be honest with ourselves first and then to our children.
I’m sorry this post is so long but I thought it was important to share our story. Can my daughter dance at a company one day? Who knows.. Does she have potential? I think so. A year ago I would have said: maybe not.
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Motherhem

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Reply with quote  #39 
One more addition: I don’t think you said this happened to your dancer but if it is. I highly recommend changing studios. The mental affect of hearing this in public repeatedly is enough to warrant a change whether the dancer can go pro or not.
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ballerinamom13

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Reply with quote  #40 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dave9988


I suppose the student version would be "What do you mean I don't have what it takes to be a professional dancer?  I've been training here for 10 years, you've been my primary (or only) trainer, and I'm in your pre-pro division/class?!"[/QUOTE

One word answer:  MONEY
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Lorax

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Reply with quote  #41 
Quote:
Originally Posted by heidi459

While I don't disagree that no one should be playing pretend if the writing is on the wall clear as day... I can't help but think about the different standards that would be used to make that determination.  And find myself a bit uncomfortable at the thought that a dancer/their parents might allow themselves to be deterred by what might simply be one person's opinion. 

I think of my friend's dd who was told in no uncertain terms that she didn't have the feet for classical ballet & as a result should shift her focus to contemporary ballet.  But she was not deterred... & is now dancing in a classical company.  Makes me think of my own dd who would have been strongly discouraged by so many because of her tight hips & lousy turnout still at 14.  But she was also undeterred... & after 3 yrs of very hard work now shows signs that this dream of hers may indeed become a reality.  Makes me think of all the dancers I've known who languished under one teacher/at one studio, only to soar once they moved elsewhere. There are countless stories out there of professional dancers (ballet & otherwise) who were told (or knew that there were many that would tell them if asked) that it simply wasn't in the cards.  Dancers who struggled because of a lack of confidence, were late to the game, were late bloomers, were too tall/too short, didn't have the perfect proportions, never got into the coveted SIs, never received a scholarship, never placed at competitions.  Never met those markers so many insist "must" be met.  But they persevered anyway.  And were rewarded as a result. 

So who do we listen to?  How do we know that who we're talking to knows it all?  It's a question worth pondering.  Because there really is no magic formula here.  And anyone who insists that there is has simply bought into the myth.... or is perhaps a bit of an elitist and has a rather narrow vision of success.




Thank you for this, because it puts into words something else I wanted to address, but I couldn't quite piece together. Now, I'm not putting words into your "post"... but with reference to what you've said, I'd like to put something out there.

I think it's been hashed out fairly well here that there are many pros and cons to even having this discussion. There's lots of opinions as to whether or not there is a when. There's differing opinions as to how the conversation happens or who initiates it or who is present. But...

Would it be fair to say that it's not a comment or discussion to be made or to be taken lightly. What I'm getting at are the teachers, or ADs, or SOs, who throw the phrase out there in a careless way, "You really think you can be a professional dancing like that?!" Or, "You'll never succeed as a professional with that attitude!" - phrases like that thrown out during a class. Specifically not a carefully considered conference or discussion. 

I admit, this is a bit of a detour from the original post, that said, what do you think of teachers who use this sort of language to berate or criticize in a class? 
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prancer

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Reply with quote  #42 
Of course the answer MONEY. Ballerinamom is speaking an important truth.

Think of the selection factors that go into residential SAB training. Only a few of the most prestigious schools are predominantly teaching students with excellent potential. Most of us have dancers at the best local school we can find, and those schools only boast a few success stories (if any). But those schools want to keep their business going, and so they are less likely to point out the truth. Of course your dancer might be their success story. But they can’t stay open if she is the only dancer they train. Only the most selective schools can afford to draw a hard line, because other amazingly talented dancers are lined up for their chance.
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prancer

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Reply with quote  #43 
And gosh no, Lorax - but I think we are talking about very different things.

In one case not having what it takes to be pro is a careful judgement about real potential or lack thereof. And in the other a poorly worded attempt to motivate. In the situation you described, I don’t take the meaning as any different than “you won’t score well with an attitude like that “

Kind of mean and badly worded, yes, but suggestive of a genuine appraisal of ability no. In fact, I hear it as a correction, which means that dancer still has the teacher’s eye.
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Lorax

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Reply with quote  #44 
Interesting to hear your perspective, prancer. Gives me food for thought.

The last time I heard this kind of comment the context meant everything. It was clearly meant as an insult to the student.

I have also heard it uttered in exasperation, as in, a frustrated teacher who is pulling for that student and is aware of their professional goals, and the correction is just not being implemented. Context can be everything.

And yes, two entirely different topics, agreed.
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heidi459

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Reply with quote  #45 
@Lorax... I agree with Prancer. Although poorly worded might be a matter of opinion. To me it sounds like tough love.
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Lorax

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Reply with quote  #46 
heidi459... I'll add this, you'll know the difference between tough love and an insult based not just on context, but on history. If there's a platform of trust and respect between teacher and student, this comment can absolutely be considered tough love. If there is no platform, no trust, no history of "love", no matter how brief, then it's really just "tough" in my opinion. 

I think a student in a one day master class can hear this and have quite a disturbing reaction, but when heard from their regular instructor during a day of "off" performance recognize it as a reality check. 


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heidi459

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Reply with quote  #47 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorax
heidi459... I'll add this, you'll know the difference between tough love and an insult based not just on context, but on history. If there's a platform of trust and respect between teacher and student, this comment can absolutely be considered tough love. If there is no platform, no trust, no history of "love", no matter how brief, then it's really just "tough" in my opinion. 

I think a student in a one day master class can hear this and have quite a disturbing reaction, but when heard from their regular instructor during a day of "off" performance recognize it as a reality check. 




Tough love isn't everybody's cup of tea, I know that, but I happen to be a huge fan. And I see it as something that's a matter of intent not interpretation. I get that it doesn't always feel like love but the truth hurts sometimes. Unless I know for certain that someone is an a$$, I'm going to try really hard to assume that their heart is in the right place.... and I teach my children to do the same.
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Lorax

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Reply with quote  #48 
Heidi459 I'm smirking to myself about that one time I was 99 % this person was an @ss, and a comment like this resolved that last 1 %... 
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Lorax

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Reply with quote  #49 
IrishDear, I'm not suggesting that a comment would kill a dancer or destroy their inner direction. My message is that these comments may have a time and a place and even then context and the existing relationship matter greatly. In other words, comments like this are problematic. How a dancer does or does not respond to them is really not the point.
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Motherhem

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Reply with quote  #50 
You are right Irishdear. It is a good opportunity to help them deal with difficult feedback. It does matter how it is said and who said it as others pointed out. But if this were to be repeated negatively, and abusively then I have to teach my child that it is OK to leave that environment for their own well-being. There are other good ADs in the sea.
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