Popular Post meadowblythe Posted August 30, 2016 Popular Post Share Posted August 30, 2016 Ten years ago, my son wasn’t getting ready for Junior Associates - he didn’t get in. I thought I’d write his story to show how even though things appear to be going wrong, there can be a happy ending. Warning, it’s quite long! Nine years ago, we were labelling for JA’s, and for PVP’s. I had shown a lamentable lack of faith in his ability and take the precaution of auditioning for Elmhurst as well. We had two very contrasting experiences. PVPs - loved from the start, it was flips, tricks, pirouettes. Jazz with the charismatic Mrs Mac. JA’s - he never warmed to them and they to him. Two successive teachers damned with faint praise. For whatever reason, he didn’t get White Lodge - but he did get three other offers all with MDS funding. I honestly believe being a JA closed rather than opened doors, including many years later at Upper School stage. Of the offers he had, we went head rather than heart, choosing the most prestigious rather than the one he felt an emotional attachment to. That summer he told me he had made a mistake, and wasn’t ready to go away. I thought it was just nerves, and what else was he going to do anyway? At Christmas we were summoned to meet his teacher and the head of dance - having tried to run away three times, and told the teacher how much he hated being there concerns were raised. Discussion suggested that he had expected a lot more twirling and jumping rather than the basics that were the staple of year 7 life. Hindsight suggests I should have looked for somewhere he would be happy there and then, but I have no dance training and so we stuck where we were. Unsurprisingly, he was assessed out at the end of year 9. The head of dance told him, however, he had the makings of a dancer, just not a classical dancer. He moved to the one school of the three that he had previously not considered. Carried on dancing, carried on focusing on ballet, but thrived in a less pressurised environment where he could be “one of the boys,” and mix with a wider range of people. But his heart still said ballet, so at the end of GCSEs he moved to Scotland to study for a BA in Modern Ballet. Against everything I have ever said, at length, about not taking A levels and “wasting” university funding. Three glorious years followed - and the dancing was pretty good too. Took to university life with a vengeance, and again loved mixing with a wide range of students - including from other institutions. The dancing was not all smooth sailing though. In the February of the first year I had the only phone call I ever received saying he couldn’t do it, and was giving up dance. A real personality clash (not for the first time, see comments about year 7 and JAs) with his teacher. This time we could all deal with it though. We told him that he was to talk to a teacher he did get on with immediately and tell them how he felt. And he was doing nothing until he had considered the alternatives. By Easter all was resolved, but his comment was that had he not had similar knock-backs earlier, this one would have been beyond his reach. Summer schools had always been an extra that really stretched us financially, and many of the prestigious ones were well beyond our reach. However, travelling abroad worked out cheaper and resulted in friendships and contacts that he would not have made elsewhere. And it gave a gentle exposure to arriving at a strange place, having made your own way there, and dealing with whatever you find. Although I look back and am surprised he set off at 16 to stay in an Air BnB in a strange country, never having even flown before. What caught him out was riding a bike on the other side of the road - we hadn’t thought to warn him about this. Always tiny, from age 16 onwards he has grown and grown - now topping 6 foot. Still slender, but with a dancer’s body. The summer schools also really helped with confidence - to see how he compared with other dancers. Third year saw a confident boy, who although he kept telling us he wasn’t ready, maybe this time was. He had a variety of offers, both classical and contemporary, at home and abroad. Still not in top favour with his school, he didn’t get to dance a solo in even one of the final year shows, something that makes me so sad. Having caught the travel bug, he accepted an offer from a company in an incredibly beautiful area of the Czech Republic, and meeting up with a student who had been at his first school, albeit several years ahead, a flat share was arranged. Incidentally, he beat several students from the establishment who told him he would never make a ballet dancer to get the position. I said this story has a happy ending. Last night my son did dance a solo - learnt at a modestly priced summer school this year - lin the gala show, his first as a professional dancer. I hope it’s not an ending, but just a beginning. I’ve just received a letter welcoming my daughter to 6th form at her school and I’m going to quote the last couple of paragraphs as I think they say it all. “Remember that we are all happiest if we don’t compare ourselves with other people, but set our own paths, goals and standards.” And most of all - be kind. Above all - enjoy it!” 58 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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