Jump to content

How to get an honest opinion on potential


Recommended Posts

What is the best way to get an indication/assessment of future potential? I worry that my (year 6) dd’s teachers only tells me what she/he thinks I want to hear... especially post/mid (?) Covid I’m sure every student is needed in order to keep the revenue stream going. Things are very complicated and political in my DD’s ballet school and I probably shouldn’t listen to what the other parents say, but all the talk has gotten to me and I now really worry that my dd is at the bottom of her class by some margin. It is just so hard to tell. I think she dances beautifully but as parents we are all blind when it comes to our own children so I’d really appreciate an additional, unbiased opinion on her potential. 
 

She loves to dance and I would never make her stop, but we are spending so much money and time on ballet so perhaps we would reduce our current (significant) commitment if a future in dance is beyond her. 

Any advice on how to get a second opinion would be most welcome.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Who knows what the future holds.

DS was written off by his 6:1 vocational ballet teacher yet here we are on our way to Gatwick as he flies out to join a national ballet company. If it hadn’t have been for his inspirational 6:2 teacher who believed in him we wouldn’t be here now. 
Try not to think too much about the future and enjoy the present. What will be will be. And don’t forget plan B and C 😂

  • Like 12
Link to post
Share on other sites

The fact is though that the majority of children will never be ‘good’ enough and so it is sensible to be realistic. 
 

Is there another school locally with a good reputation where you could go for a trial class? We organised a one-off private lesson for our daughter with a well known teacher who had no financial motivation to tell us what we wanted to hear. 
 

Otherwise if you’re thinking about proper training, then in year 6 there are plenty of audition opportunities where you could get an idea of where she stands compared to her peers. 

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

What do you mean by "a future in dance"? It might be worth thinking about that.

 

As many posts on this forum discuss, there is more to working in dance than getting a contract with a major national ballet company. And dance training brings many benefits beyond dance expertise specifically. 

 

Year 6 is aged 10 or 11, is that right? Pre-puberty. Girls' bodies change a lot in the next 3-4 years. Potential becomes actual achievement by around 15 or 16, and so on. I'm sure the teachers here can say more about that with more expertise than I have - I'm just speaking from my own & family experience of training (2 professional dancers in the family). 

 

My observation of undergrads I teach is that a lot of them don't have enough of a creative life outside of their studies, because they didn't have much enrichment in extra-curricular activities outside of school. Those who do, tend to do better in all other aspects of their lives. I see this in young people who've reached a level of competence in a difficult technical skill: ballet, playing a musical instrument (not just strumming a guitar casually), playing a sport to a high level, and so on. Your daughter is gainfully active in something beyond the usual shallow stuff of commercial popular culture - and that is a marvellous thing. 

Edited by Kate_N
  • Like 5
Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Medora, if you give your general location then people could recommend people or schemes where you could go for an opinion. She is very young yet and a lot changes as girls mature. It also depends on her wants too. You can have all the potential in the world but not have the desire to do. It is a tough career.

 

Do not stay at a school where you are not happy or feel unsettled. There are lots of schools which will make you feel welcome and supported.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi, I can’t answer your specific question but I hope this perspective might help. 
My daughter has known for quite some time that the does not have the potential to be a ballet dancer. She loves ballet and spent a long time feeling frustrated and upset that even though she worked really hard she was not as good as some of her friends. 
A couple of years ago she found another style of dance that she loved. She still does lots of ballet but also now has another focus that has made her feel better about her potential and ability. 
She’s now at college doing her A levels and she has a future plan to be a dance teacher. 
If you ask her about what she wants to do she doesn’t just say ‘be a dance teacher’. She can tell you what type of studio she wants to run, whether she wants to do competitions, what exam board she wants to follow. She has researched it all and put a lot of thought into it. 
Who knows what will happen in the future but the point I’m making is that she’s found something she believes she can be good at without moving away from her love of ballet (and dance in general). 
If I think back to when she was in year 6, knowing what we know now, I would  still support her because I knew it was what she wanted to do. 

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

Such good, sound advice, everyone.  @Medora have you read the “Dance careers - are they worth it?” thread? It’s very interesting and may be helpful to you.  As a rule, I think the primary years are for trying different hobbies/arts/sports and seeing what you’re good at, what you love, what you’re happy to commit to (time, money and other family commitments allowing) going into your teenage years.  Some children are multi-talented and skilled at multi-tasking so can do more than one thing at a high level.  Others need to concentrate on one thing plus academics.  Now, say that “one thing” is horseriding, the chances of becoming a full-time jockey/show jumper/yard owner are slim, so would you still let your child ride after school or at weekends but without the expectation of them representing England at the next Olympics?  I’m guessing yes, because like music and dance, equestrianism gives so many transferable skills, it keeps children off the streets in that their weekends are full, they make lifelong friends and so on.  

 

I think more people should think of ballet in the same terms.  Even for the most gifted dancer with the most physical potential, the best teachers, the most supportive family, the chances of getting into a long-established full time school at 11, making it through until 16 uninjured, without being assessed out, and still wanting to be a professional ballerina are so slim.  It’s even harder - especially for girls - to continue through Upper School, and to go on to get a contract with a good ballet company is more difficult again.  That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t let our children try, of course, but we - and they - should be realistic about the end goal, what THEY want that end goal to be, and not be disappointed if they say at any point - “I just want to dance as a hobby/I want to become a Scientist or even “I don’t want to dance anymore”.  

 

It will never have been a waste of time or money.  I’ve said in other threads that I have regrets about things that happened on dd’s dance journey, including forgetting to enjoy the journey, tolerating things from teachers that I wouldn’t dream of tolerating from an academic school, forgetting I was a paying customer, ignoring my gut feeling.   Even so, one thing I was good at was taking it all a term at a time.  So many things can change that I think looking too far ahead is not advisable.  Do - and spend - what works for you all as a family and don’t be afraid to change dance schools if any of you are unhappy there.  Above all, try not to listen to too many “Dance Moms” 😉.  

 

In terms of assessing potential, there are teachers who will see your child and give their opinion, but that can be expensive as you’re paying for a private lesson.  The best way is to apply for auditions at good, established Associate schemes, performance opportunities like EYB and/or Summer Schools because your dd will be competing against children from all over the country as opposed to just locally.   If she gets offered one or more of those then that’ll be a good indicator of whether she’d cope in an audition for vocational school. 

 

If not, and it’s clear that she’s not yet ready to compete for places at a national level, that doesn’t mean she should stop ballet though - she may be ready after puberty, at 16, even 18 for Contemporary/Musical Theatre - OR she might “just” do ballet to a high level as a wonderful extra-curricular activity.  That’s no less worthy than dancing full time, it’s just different. 

 

Apologies for the long post - I just think this is a place where we’re sometimes too fixed upon the only success in ballet or dance being full-time training and into a job as a dancer, when there’s so much more to ballet. 

 

 

  • Like 15
Link to post
Share on other sites

Some great advice. I’d also add that I personally feel that ballet is the least forgiving of all dance styles: if you’re not excellent I think you look more amateurish than when you’re not excellent in other types of dancing. That may just be because I know more about ballet than other types of dance, but it might also be worth trying other types of dance and seeing if one of those fits. 

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites

I would support the suggestion of applying for associates, youth ballets, workshops and summer schools as and when they become available again, as this will give you a fair idea of where your DD stands compared to others and they can be hugely enjoyable. But do bear in mind that your daughter is very young and a great deal can change with time, especially as puberty does its work. So much that determines whether a dream of career in dance becomes reality is both outside our control and unpredictable that personally, I would not give it too much thought at this stage.

 

As ever, Anna C has given particularly fabulous advice. It is all too easy to get sucked into a particular way of thinking and behaving if you have a child who has some talent and a love of dance. Sometimes we get steam rollered into spending more and more time and money on dancing because we feel we are depriving our children of a future career if we don't "keep up" with others. That is true to a certain extent when they get older I suppose, but not, in my humble opinion, at primary school. If I had my time again I would probably have my DD do less dance and more other stuff as a young child to be honest.

I would always advise against spending more  time or money than you can reasonably afford on dance, or any other hobby, particularly at this stage. If it feels like too much, cut back, if it doesn't and your DD is enjoying herself then carry on, but don't base that decision on the probability of a successful career, because its tiny for anyone, even those who seem to have everything going for them. And if you are unhappy with the school, if the teachers or other parents are not kind or supportive or the atmosphere undermines your DD's confidence and spoils her enjoyment, look for another one. Yes, there is always a bit of one upmanship from parents and children in any competitive hobby, but different schools do have different ethoses. I know its not what you asked, but if its a possibility for you I would be looking for a school that is less complicated and political before getting extra opinions. The thing that matters most about dancing is that it makes those who do it and those who watch happy, so if that's not the case in the current school it may not be the right place for your DD.

Edited by Pups_mum
Typos
  • Like 12
Link to post
Share on other sites

That's very kind of you @Kate_N

I am under a lot of stress at the moment for various reasons so not sleeping well and I'm sometimes a bit anxious to look back at my late night posts in case I've written something really stupid or unintentionally offended anyone in my sleep deprived haze.🤣 So it is very nice to learn that I've actually helped someone in some small way!

  • Like 5
Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, Pups_mum said:

 

I would always advise against spending more  time or money than you can reasonably afford on dance, or any other hobby, particularly at this stage. If it feels like too much, cut back, 

Completely agree with this.  I have seen families sell their home to fund vocational school and it puts a huge pressure on the young dancer, not to mention the rest of the family.  As with all things in life it is best to do the best that you can within your means (taking the whole family into consideration).

  • Like 5
Link to post
Share on other sites

I have been dedicated to ballet since I started at the age of 3.5 many decades ago!   Did I succeed in fulfilling both mine and my parents expectations? Probably not, although I think I did achieve a great deal in my varied careers as a dancer and teacher!  I can honestly say that looking back I wouldn't change a thing - life has a funny way of working out.  And certainly if I had had a different perfoorming career, I wouldn't have met my wonderful husband or now have a five year old granddaughter who wants to be a ballerina like Grandma!   My life has been filled with ballet - dancing, watching and teaching.  My parents believed in me and I will always bless them for that even if I didn't  become a world famous ballerina!

 

On a final note, speaking as a ballet teacher of many years, never underestimate the power of determination and encouragement!  I have had students who were obviously talented from the word go and those who surprised me along the way.  It is very rare that I totally give up on a child and it's usually not until they're at least 14.  Sometimes physique is the problem and sometimes it's their own lack of desire in spite of having everything going for them!  Many are talented in other dance genres.   I believe that in general children who learn ballet have an advantage in terms of development of work ethics, which is invaluable in these days of instant gratification!!

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you all for taking the time to respond, there is so much wonderful advice here and I am sure it will be helpful to all who read this.

 

We truly value all our children's after school activities (dd's siblings have very different interests and talents) for so many reasons. I believe that sports/dance/music/etc teaches so many invaluable life skills, particularly when done beyond a purely recreational level. Whatever their chosen field is, it can get incredibly competitive beyond a certain point (as an example, ballet has nothing on football in this respect, in my experience parents can get incredibly intense...!) and it becomes necessary to carefully consider what one is willing to invest as a family. 

 

9/10 is very young - too young to say much for certain about dd's future in dance - but I think getting a 'second opinion' in the form of a private lesson with someone knowledgeable might be the right way to go. We had a few small successes recently - obviously Covid put a stop to all of that this year but at least she got in to these things, which was nice. 

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...