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Shrike

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My daughter is 9.

When she was around 4, she discovered that ballet existed, and asked for lessons. Then told me she needed/I needed to provide her lessons. Then asked Santa for lessons. It was sad: She wanted to dance so much, and it just wasn't possible, where we were at the time.

 

Then , we moved across the country to a big city. School was horrific (teacher encouraged other children to name-call and mock her) so we pulled her out... But I tried to find her dance lessons. I called the local studios, and the "normal" studios wouldn't even talk to us because -- at 5 -- she had no previous dance experience. Others would gladly take her... IF she were in school. (They had after-school programs, where they would come to the school). It was weird and frustrating and... in the end, I couldn't find any place to take her.

 

She started school the following year at a magnet school. It was better... but still frustrating. Last year, I pulled her out again (even though her brother thrived at the same school.) I signed up (again) with local homeschool groups on Facebook, and did all the stuff homeschool parents do.

Then one of those groups posted about a dance studio offering drop-in homeschool classes. It took a little bit (we'd just moved & bought a house), but the first week in June, we made it to our first class.

 

The teacher called her a natural. He talked about her "amazing turnout" (I had no idea what this meant), and emphasized -- over and over -- that she was built for classical ballet. She needed to work on hamstring flexibility, and get proper shoes (I had gotten her black "ballet slippers" from Target's girls' dance section, not realizing these were wrong), but emphasizing how "right" she was for dance.

 

We missed the next week (I don't even remember why -- probably someone was sick.) The following week, we showed up.... and he's talking to me after class about her future dance career. (He's already envisioning her dancing professionally.) He says she needs more than once a week. (I agree. It takes at least 2x/week to improve physical skills in a meaningful way.) He WANTS her enrolled, but as it's mid-month, he tells me -- almost guiltily -- about another "homeschool" class she can come to, on a different day, aimed at a different age category. 

So we finish out June, going 2x/week to homeschool ballet classes, and then, in July, we switch to Ballet 2, twice a week. In this window of time, I check out books from the library, learn what the heck "turnout" means, and learn enough ballet terms to be able to prompt her, "Hey, sweetie, can you show me first position? Second? Third?" (and to KNOW that there are 5) I'm beginning to get the vocabulary.... Slowly. I can even name some ballets besides Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, and Nutcracker! 

I hit Netflix, watch "A Ballerina's Tale", "First Position", "Dance Academy" (the last was much better than I expected). 

 

My girl loves ballet. She will put up with things she doesn't like for the sake of dance which -- is kind of unprecedented for her. She doesn't talk about being a ballerina when she grows up; I'm not even sure she realizes it's possible. She talks about working with animals, or being "Mayor", or a host of other things. 

I try to let her find her own dreams, rather than putting dreams in her head. So I haven't suggested ballet as a dream to her. But it's something we prioritize, in the here-and-now. I can't think of a single thing she has now, that she wouldn't give up for a chance to dance. 

My problem is, all of this is still so strange to me. I don't know, and I don't even know enough to know what I don't know. 

 

We had our first audition yesterday. (Nutcracker.) We don't have results yet, and I'm not sure when we will.... though as they were at and by our school, I know that we WILL get them. But I feel so lost, in general. Even coming to the "New To Dance Parenting" forum, it seems that most folks have issues and questions that speak to SO much more experience & knowledge than I have -- pointe, competition, etc. So even here, I feel like the floundering newbie.

 

There are no dancers in my family, though there were women with the build for it. My mother wanted ballet, but got figure skating. My cousin (who my daughter looks EXACTLY like) got batton, pageants, and modeling. I don't KNOW dance. If she'd wanted to be a martial artist, I could help her, there. I'd understand the ground, as it were. 

 

Dance? It's all foreign territory to me. With no real sign-posts to show me the way. 

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dancermom128

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Reply with quote  #2 
First tip, RELAX. I'm baffled by parents who talk about professional careers for 9 year olds. I'm even more baffled by teachers who talk about such. I've never heard of studios who don't take 5 years olds without dance experience. This is an extra curricular activity at this stage in your child's life. Nothing more, nothing less. Let he have fun. When she's older, and I mean much older, worry about where this all may lead.
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rdsmom

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Reply with quote  #3 
I call shenanigans...
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prancer

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Reply with quote  #4 
Al a seconde that sentiment rdsmom.
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heidi459

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Reply with quote  #5 
If this is on the up and up... you're putting the cart before the horse.  Please do yourself a big favor and just stop.

If it's not.... I can't wait to hear Chapter 2.  Please do go on.
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cynmckee

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Reply with quote  #6 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rdsmom
I call shenanigans...


Shenanigans...a good word...not the first one that came to mind....but a good word.
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disneymom2two

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Reply with quote  #7 
Where are these schools that only take 5 year olds if they have experience?  My daughter didn't start dancing until 8 (well, she did do Chinese dance at 4 but that was another thing altogether).  While many of her teammates started dance younger, my daughter's not the only one who didn't start before 5.  I find it seriously weird that in a large city, there were no "normal" studios that would accept her in a dance class.
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3girls

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Reply with quote  #8 
I'm sorry, I would really like to provide you with a well thought out response but I'm super busy raising a real dd (who surprisingly isn't 9).
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jeanne4379

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Reply with quote  #9 
Relax.  Have a glass of whatever makes you happey. Enjoy the journey.  I know this world can feel overwhelming, but it does get better.  I've never heard of a place that wouldn't take a 5 year old with no experience or wasn't in school?  HUH?   Sounds a bit off kilter to me.  My own dd started ballet at age 7 (or was it 8?  it's been so long I'm not sure anymore).  In fact, starting at any time from 7 to whatever is just fine.  I'm glad you found a place that makes you and your dd happy.  Right now that's all you need to focus on.  The future will take care of itself.  Relax. This board is full of knowledgable people who are ready and able to help you out.  
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Angel2228

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Reply with quote  #10 
You need to realize that this is a business.
Before you decide on anything, you need to think of who it really benefits.
They will take advantage of your feelings about your dd. If they say she's amazing, you're going to open yourself an your wallet up the them.
Be cautious, and realistic.
At 9 nothing is written in stone. She could be 100% dance dance dance, and at 13, she could be volleyball.
Do what's best for your dd and take it day by day.
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Shrike

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Reply with quote  #11 

Wow, so on my very first post, I have ~counts~ SIX people call me a liar, and three who gave me a real response. 

First, is there a way to hide/block posts whose only purpose is to flame?

Second, Jeanne, yeah, that sounded weird to me, too.... And good grief, it felt like I was talking to Yoda half the time. "Too old to start the training, she is." ~shakes head~ It was ridiculous, and pissed me off, which was why I was so glad when I found our current studio, and why I'm willing to continue driving an hour there, 1.5-2 hours home, twice a week. (Longer trip home, because it's during rush hour.) 

I realize that from my description, it sounds like he's trying to get me to open my wallet.... but the "enrolled" price comes out to less, per month, than I'd pay (most months, anyway) for two "drop in" classes a week... and you can't train ANYTHING well, if you only do it once a week. The time of day is less convenient for me, but she's in with girls who are ALL at her level, so the class is more focused. 

 

"I know this world can feel overwhelming, but it does get better."


Yeah, that's where I'm at. Overwhelmed. There's so much stuff that isn't related to getting her to class that I'm expected to know and don't. Did I mention the shoes thing? Yeah... I thought she WAS in "proper ballet shoes"... *sigh* And the hair.... I think I've finally gotten the hang of it, but there's really no one to teach you these things. 


I'm not "pushing" for her to dance professionally. I'm not even sure I WANT it. But that -- according to her teacher, who knows more than I do -- she has the potential, if she wants it... I guess it just adds to the overwhelm, because it's something I hadn't considered. I'd never thought of her going beyond the kind of "community" productions we auditioned for yesterday... That she even has the option open to her (something that, at her age, I -- for one -- would NOT have had, because of my body structure), it... well, it opens a possibility that hadn't been there before. 


And, obviously, this is not a safe place to ask questions, as -- again -- SIX different people accused me of lying. (What my motivation would be, I don't know.)  So now, I'm even more adrift.

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disneymom2two

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Reply with quote  #12 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shrike

Did I mention the shoes thing? Yeah... I thought she WAS in "proper ballet shoes"... *sigh* And the hair.... I think I've finally gotten the hang of it, but there's really no one to teach you these things. 


Does the studio have a website?  Our studio's website details all the shoes and attire that is expected for each class.  Our clothing isn't too specific in that it doesn't include brands but shoes and tights are extremely specific by brand and model #.  As for the hair, I practiced for a long time before getting that bun under control.  I watched youtube videos and they did nothing for me.  One day, the dt sat Jess down and showed me, slowly, step by step, how it was supposed to go and it finally clicked.  Now, other kids come to me to do their buns.  When we had rehearsal for our first competition, I had to put fake eyelashes on her.  The day before competition, the DT told Jess "Tell your mom to bring the eyelashes with her but don't put them on you."  They were that bad.  I watched the SO do Jess' eyelashes and now, 2 years later I can do a passable job most of the time (I did have a battle that I lost with them at the first comp this year but another dance mom helped me out).
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dancermom128

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Reply with quote  #13 
Can I ask what major city you are in? Because if you're in an actual major city you should have choices and definitely should not be driving a 9 year old 1-2 hours to a studio. There's no possible way in a major city that every studio would be saying at 5 she's too old. Or 9 for that matter. I'm trying hard to give you the benefit of the doubt but what you're saying doesn't ring true. In a major city you have choices. A lot of choices.
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EJIDance

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Reply with quote  #14 
Sounds like you found the school that works for you. As for hair/shoes/clothes, I am sure the school and other moms will help you. We have a fairly strict dress code and girls that have been coming for a long time do get chewed out for breaking it. But new kids, regardless of age are allowed a few months to get their ducks in a row. Some come in leggings and a t-shirt and use the studio's shoes for weeks as they moms figure out sizing and fit. I have fixed new girls' hair more than once and the DTs will fix newbie buns that start falling apart mid-class. It's just part of the process and no one bats an eye. Relax, make friends, and have your daughter do the same.

Edited for typos.
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tappinmom

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Reply with quote  #15 
I have never heard of any studio turning down a 5 year old because they have no experience in dance.  That's really unbelievable.

As far as a DT telling you at 9 that she has a chance at a professional career - that is just unethical on the part of that teacher.  No one can tell where a 9 year old is going to be when they are 16.  Interests change.  The kid was the star at 9 evens out and is no longer as good as they were back then.  I've seen it again and again.

Stop worrying so much about what DT's are telling you and just let your 9 year old have fun.  It's not about you and it's not about them.  It's about her enjoyment.
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dave9988

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Reply with quote  #16 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shrike

Wow, so on my very first post, I have ~counts~ SIX people call me a liar, and three who gave me a real response. 

First, is there a way to hide/block posts whose only purpose is to flame?



Amusing tale, you tell.  Story fishy, it is.

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Natashabrown

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Reply with quote  #17 
Teacher encouraged other children to mock her.

Nobody wanted to teach a 5 year old, she's past her prime.

I'm confused.
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jwsqrdplus2

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Reply with quote  #18 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shrike

Wow, so on my very first post, I have ~counts~ SIX people call me a liar, and three who gave me a real response. 



I did cut out the rest of the post because I really wanted to address this issue.  

When you get the chance, take the time to read lots of other posts here.  Those of us that have been around for several years have been through the wringer with fake posters.  Some have actually gone so far as to perpetuate the lie for several years.  So yes, some of us are quite jaded, and do tend to question (often not very nicely) new posters who post about 9-yr-old phenoms who are destined for a professional career.  So while you may feel like you are being called a liar, please understand that many of us are gun-shy due to previous fakes.

There are also several posters with older dancers.  Some have kids who are currently professional dancers.  Others have HS students who continue to dance.  Some who have kids who have stopped dancing in high school.  There are others whose kids dance in college with no aspirations of dancing beyond then, and there are others with dancers in college who aspire to a professional career.  There are those with kids with kids who have chosen togo straight into the professional world from HS.  There is not one prescribed path towards a future in dance.  No matter what a particular studio tries to tell you.

Here is my story/experience:

My dancer is 17 and in her Sr year of HS (I have 2 girls, but the other one plays basketball and softball).  At 8-9-10, she was a hot mess who really loved performing.  At 10, the studio we were at changed hands.  The new SO destroyed my daughter's self esteem.  We stuck it out a little over a year.  Then I pulled my daughters (at the time both were dancing) from the studio.  She spent a year at a 3 different dance studios plus a gymnastics gym with a piece meal program.  We moved to a new state and found a studio that was a great fit at the time.  4 years later, it was no longer a great fit; she had maxed the training available at that studio and still had 3 years to go before she graduated from HS.  We moved to another studio locally, and she has thrived since.  She is currently focused on going to college for dance and having a professional career one day.  All her father and I can do is support her to the best of our abilities.

As far as you original post.  I agree with the poster who said you are putting the horse before the cart.  Your dancer is still very young.  Today, she may be all about dance.  But as I found out with my now non-dancer, all about dance at 9 does not equal all about dance at 13.  And please don't take this the wrong way, but you post also appeared very disjointed.  I had a difficult time following exactly what you were asking.

My best advice to you as a new dance mom is to observe both at the studio and here.  Do ask questions here (or other dance forums; there are some dedicated to ballet where we cover the gamut here), but be ready for answers that may not align with your thoughts.  Most of us here are just trying to support our kids in their dance passion despite the different paths they may take!



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DanceTumbleCheerMom

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Reply with quote  #19 
I also would like to know where you are in general, just to help me understand better why you have to drive as far as you do Personally for a beginning dancer , that's touch time on the road. (And I am one that will be doing it 3x a week for my elite Tumbler this fall).

Like others have said. Just sit back and enjoy while she starts this journey. Many little girls say the same thing at 5 and even if they start dance their interests change , when she is a little older there is plenty of time to figure out more training.

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heidi459

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Reply with quote  #20 
Not sure what you think you wandered into here but I'm thinking you may have misjudged your audience. You say you moved to a big city, called all the local studios, & couldn't find a single normal dance studio that would even talk to you because your 5 yo had no experience? What planet are we on again?  I'm sorry but that's where you probably lost most of us. It just doesn't fit with our reality.  No matter how serious a school claims to be.  No matter who is running it.  Heck, even the most reputable serious ballet schools... from those large schools affiliated w/well known professional companies to the smaller ones run by ex professional dancers from all over the world?  They don't typically start their pre-professional training until 7 or 8.  Prior to that it's more like creative movement & pre-ballet.  And any little girl who wants to give it a try is going to be more than welcome.   Right or wrong, when things don't add up we aren't all willing to look the other way. Some of your story may very well be true, sure, but there are simply too many red flags for all of us to pretend we haven't noticed.
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tendumom

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Reply with quote  #21 

Ballet classically does not begin until about age 8. Anything before that is generally pre-ballet or classes called ballet to appease parents or sometimes classes taught by people who have no business teaching ballet or maybe even dance at all. If you watched So You Think You Can Dance before this season, Nigel Lithgoe used to refer to the fact that in the US anyone can hang up a shingle and open a dance school and call themselves a teacher. So hard to imagine any place turning down a 5 year old when many kids don't start until then or later, hence the suspicions. 

As a frame of reference, the typical 9 year old at a ballet school is taking a minimum of 3 90 minute classes each week. 

Best advice is to register at Ballet Talk for Dancers. You will need to use an ISP based email. That also includes AOL for some reason but not gmail. THey think it prevents spammers. Anyway, it's a board filled with very experienced people in the ballet industry plus parents. Go there, read and absorb. 

9 is really very young. Most 9 year olds in ballet schools are taking about 3 90 minute or more classes each week. And, as others have cautioned, keep your eyes and ears open and be wary of anyone who professes to have a crystal ball and can predict the future!  Many of us have BTDT already. I can tell you that at 9 1/2, my dd started at a ballet school, she was in a class of 5. The other 4 were very talented with natural facility (ie good body for ballet with turn out, flexibility, etc). Dd was clearly the bottom of that class, if there was to be a bottom. She didn't fully point her feet, had low arches, bent knees and floppy arms. One of the other 4 moved away to a country with less ballet and eventually dropped it. Another lost interest half way into the next year. Another dropped out right before they got their first pointe shoes because of an anatomical issue with her feet that was not conducive to pointe. Her mom said had they been in Russia (where mom was from), she would have been able to chose to have surgery just so she could dance ballet. They opted against it (it was not the usual extra bone issue). The other became one of dd's closest friends. She was such a talented dancer and everything came naturally for her. By the high school years, when they dance 6 days each week for 3 or more hours each day, she decided she wanted to spend more time with school friends. She left for a less intensive studio and eventually quit entirely. In the meantime, dd who had to work for much of what came naturally to others, is the one left standing at 19, pursuing a professional career. 

As the years progressed, more talented dancers came and went. Dd is at a new stage now, as a trainee in a ballet company. But, we are also still watching other dancers leave ballet. One had a paid contract right out of high school. She danced for a year and learned she did not like it as a job. Others try for a year or two and leave when they don't get a paid position. It's not a desirable world and I really do wish dd had chosen a different field, something with more actual employment and something more financially rewarding!! 

Don't worry about pointe or competitions yet, unless someone suggests your kid start pointe. If that happens, run for the hills. When you register for Ballet Talk for Dancers, you'll find an entire section of the message board devoted to pointe shoes.There is a pinned post there that will spell out what makes someone ready. Competitions are another whole ball of wax and not necessary to have a career, no matter what anyone else may imply. That world in ballet really exploded after the movie First Position! 

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kmpmom

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Reply with quote  #22 
You checked out books from the library?

My dancer started at 5 in a group of kids who had already been dancing for a year.  When I called the SEVEN studios in my immediate area, they were all willing to offer her classes.  Not pre-pro ballet classes, but mini dance where she'd get a taste of everything.  She's about to start her 12th year of dance tomorrow night so we did something right by starting slowly and simply.

At our current studio they start kids as young as 2.5.  Very small classes, multiple class assistants, and the kids have a blast.  No idea how many end up becoming "dancers" as they get older, but they're having fun, being physical, and learning something away from their parents.

My point is, find a place closer to home and preferably one that doesn't have a teacher telling you your child is brilliant when they're just getting started on a very long journey.  He sees dollar signs, not turnout.

Good luck to you and your dancer.
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crafty1

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Reply with quote  #23 
OP please do not stop posting your questions. It does sound like you are trying to learn, and that's a good thing. You said yourself that you don't know what you don't know. However, it is way too easy to go overboard. To "drink the Kool-Aid" so to speak. Don't be sucked in. If your DD is truly talented and passionate, things will fall into place.

I do recommend that you do NOT drill your dancer. Just because a person learns the terminology from books, it does not make that person qualified to teach dance. You (general you) won't know proper technique on that turn out, and that can ultimately cause bad habits to develop, along with potential injury to the dancer.

I had not commented previously, but I've read each post on this thread. There have been many, many fakers on this board. Unfortunately, your original post has many items similar to those fake posters. We don't know what would motivate a person to create a fake persona, with fake children, but it happens pretty frequently here. We are all willing to help, but some of us are not willing to give the benefit of the doubt. Please keep at it, you have a lot to learn, and this is a terrific place to learn. I think back to how much I have learned here. I thought I had known quite a bit but I was wrong. Remember that dance is supposed to be fun. If it is stressing out either you or your dancer, it stops being fun. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. It is truly a journey.
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heartmom

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Reply with quote  #24 
What city are you in? I'm just really confused by most everything you wrote. We've lived in a couple different SMALL cities, and in each one there are multiple, like at least 5, studios where a young child can take dance. Once they are 3, they can dance. No one cares if they've ever danced before or if they are in school- not a one of them??? Also, I'm really confused by the "homeschooling class" thing? Why are there separate classes for homeschool kids? I've only ever seen that once or twice at a local gym, and it's only called that because the classes are during the school day. Even there, those kids can certainly take whatever class they want, no matter where they go to school, they just have an extra option of a day class.

And so this place with the teacher talking to you about a professional career? Is this a ballet studio? A regular dance studio? To me, for a teacher to say this after 2 lessons would be very concerning. I can't imagine any reputable teacher saying this to a 9 year old after her second lesson. Perhaps she would be approached about adding additional lessons, but honestly using the words that he's envisioning her professional career? I'd be very worried about someone telling me that and what their motives are, because it just seems really not in the norm.  
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BellaBallerina

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Reply with quote  #25 
Quote:
Originally Posted by heartmom
What city are you in? I'm just really confused by most everything you wrote. We've lived in a couple different SMALL cities, and in each one there are multiple, like at least 5, studios where a young child can take dance. Once they are 3, they can dance. No one cares if they've ever danced before or if they are in school- not a one of them???

I was thinking the same thing. I live in a VERY small city and we still have 3 dance studios here, and a couple more within a 20 minute drive. They all accept students of any age and ability.
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