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Life after ballet


cotes du rhone !
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I posted a birthday picture on social media today for Dd ūü•≥¬†It was taken exactly a year ago, she was smiling and dancing for royal visitors that day and the picture later appeared in Hello magazine. I then looked back at my social media account, all the proud parent moments¬†shared with family and friends over the passed 8 years, all positive, happy¬†and successful. Not a hint of the trauma and the pain ūüėĘ that we have all been through. Next to that picture on my phone I¬†have a picture of her fractured foot that she danced on¬†that day and then performed and auditioned on. I have never shared that one. I also have a picture of the MRI report of Ds‚Äôs L2 stress fracture from the year before. Both of these make me sick¬†and feel so guilty that as a loving¬†parent I allowed them to push through, to deny pain,¬†postpone scans and have physios strap them up so they could carry on performing. All this in pursuit of a ballet career. My ballet brain fog is just starting to clear and I am starting to reflect on the passed 8 years and what we could have, should have¬†done differently. Why did we not speak up ? I‚Äôm mortified by our silence and ignorance. We as a ballet community rarely share our experiences. We fear the repercussions of speaking out. ¬†We celebrate our successes and remain silent about the reality of the full time training rollercoaster. My husband and I are guilty of¬†failing¬†to protect our children from the both physical and psychological¬†damage that vocational training can cause. The self doubt, low self esteem, self judging and fear of being judged by others. The shame of joining¬†the long queue for emotional support ūüėĘ There are some amazing and happy times too in my photo album. It wasn‚Äôt all bad. But I have decided not to dwell on it and not to just disappear quietly as if embarrassed and make excuses for Dd. We want to share the truth. Dd has quit ballet. She fell out of love with it a long time ago. She outgrew it. That 11 year old who wanted to be a ballet dancer is now a beautiful, intelligent young woman with a whole new life ahead of her. Her passion, drive and ambition will continue in a different career. Covid actually helped her and gave her the breathing space she needed to make the¬†difficult choice to start plan B early.¬†
The physical and psychological healing and recovery has only just begun but I see her happy like I haven’t seen her in years.

There are so many informative threads and discussions on this forum about getting into vocational training but very little shared experiences on completing or leaving training. I want to hear about those Dds¬†and Dss that chose different paths. So very few who train vocationally actually have a career in ballet. 2020/21 has been particularly sad ūüėĘ but there must be some positive stories to share.¬†

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Oh @cotes du rhone !.  What a humbling post.  It made me so sad to read of your dreadful experiences and particularly that you still blame yourself for not speaking out sooner.

 

Firstly can I say congratulations to your dd for making her difficult choice and moving on with her life.  It is easy to forget that ALL dancers have to make that choice at some stage.  For some it is after years in a successful career.  For some it is after a few years of jumping from one job to the next and struggling to make ends meet.  For many, sadly, it is after years of training but before they have seen what you might call the 'fruits of their labours'.  But, that training isn't wasted - it gives so many transferrable skills which are of value in any future career:  Team Work, Discipline, Work ethic, ability to multitask to name but a few.

 

You asked about paths that others have taken after leaving vocational training, so I will share with you my dd's path.  

 

She went to vocational school at 16 with the dream of becoming a ballet dancer.  By the time she reached her 3rd year she realised the chances of getting a job in a company were very small - so while she was sending off CVs to every ballet company she could, she also was going to open auditions for musical theatre, cruise ships etc.  

 

In the end she was offered a Cruise ship contract and worked for 5 years for the same company.  The cruise ship life is (or was then) an excellent route for a dancer who is happy to be away from the UK for months at a time.  They get to see the world, good pay and no living expenses, no commute and it is varied job as they have other duties on board as well as just dancing.

 

Anyway - after 5 years, for a number of reasons, she decided she wanted to be back on dry land.  For several months she was looking around for what her future direction might be, and she started to think about re-training for a career in IT.  She was lucky to land a trainee job with a company who valued her life experience and work ethic.  They trained her up and she is now a team leader.  

 

I hope this helps you and your dd.  And please...don't beat yourself up about what has happened.  Hindsight is a wonderful thing!

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@glowlight

Thank you for sharing your Dds experience and so happy for her that she had a wonderful dancing career ‚ėļÔłŹ
As you say Dd has gained so many valuable and transferable skills during her vocational years. She has gained a place at her first choice university to do a BSc in Sport Rehabilitation. All her experience of the physical and psychological side of injury will help her practice holistically and with empathy in her future career x 

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Cotes, I think it is so important that stories like your DD‚Äôs are shared. I know of¬†some ballet dancers who technically ‚Äúmade it‚ÄĚ - they got a ballet job, but they often lasted one or two years, at most, before stopping. This isn‚Äôt necessarily because they were injured, but because sometimes the life of a working ballet dancer isn‚Äôt quite what they imagined it to be in¬†the rose-tinted hope of youth - and that of their parents. It‚Äôs important that they feel they have the freedom to say, ‚ÄúEnough,‚ÄĚ with no pressure or guilt about the money and time spent.

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30 minutes ago, rowan said:

Cotes, I think it is so important that stories like your DD‚Äôs are shared. I know of¬†some ballet dancers who technically ‚Äúmade it‚ÄĚ - they got a ballet job, but they often lasted one or two years, at most, before stopping. This isn‚Äôt necessarily because they were injured, but because sometimes the life of a working ballet dancer isn‚Äôt quite what they imagined it to be in¬†the rose-tinted hope of youth - and that of their parents. It‚Äôs important that they feel they have the freedom to say, ‚ÄúEnough,‚ÄĚ with no pressure or guilt about the money and time spent.


This is so true, Dd used to feel very guilty for all the money we had spent on her training and all the sacrifices we have made as a family. It was never an investment that we expected to reap a return from, it was about pursuing a love and passion for something and being realistic about what the end point would be x 

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7 minutes ago, cotes du rhone ! said:


This is so true, Dd used to feel very guilty for all the money we had spent on her training and all the sacrifices we have made as a family. It was never an investment that we expected to reap a return from, it was about pursuing a love and passion for something and being realistic about what the end point would be x 


This is something I’ve been so careful to tell our two dc, I would hate for them to think that they had to continue because they owed us something. At times I have also needed to remind their teachers of this too, that it is just school, albeit a very different sort of school! 
 

Your dd is amazing, and will be fabulous in her newly chosen career. I wish her all the luck in the world. 

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16 minutes ago, Farawaydancer said:


This is something I’ve been so careful to tell our two dc, I would hate for them to think that they had to continue because they owed us something. At times I have also needed to remind their teachers of this too, that it is just school, albeit a very different sort of school! 
 

Your dd is amazing, and will be fabulous in her newly chosen career. I wish her all the luck in the world. 


Dd has had a plan B from the beginning of 6:1. She worked hard at academics, and they have paid off.¬†¬†We found the school very unsupportive of considering an¬†alternative career in 6:3. I get that they are there to be ballet dancers, but it‚Äôs important they have ideas and prepare for unexpected injuries or a world pandemic ūüė∑¬†

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1 hour ago, cotes du rhone ! said:


This is so true, Dd used to feel very guilty for all the money we had spent on her training and all the sacrifices we have made as a family. It was never an investment that we expected to reap a return from, it was about pursuing a love and passion for something and being realistic about what the end point would be x 

 

This rings so many bells .. however many times we tell them it was about enabling  possibilities, not getting a return.   I know I'm the richer for all my children's journeys.

 

Although DS is dancing professionally he knows he is one injury away from end of career (running out of ankle ligaments).  His plan B is either to work with a company he has been promoting, or to start his own business.  During lockdown he has designed a pair of tracksuit bottoms specifically for male dancers, to accommodate the jumps and stretches.  He's always had the gift of the gab, so who knows?  

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15 hours ago, cotes du rhone ! said:

That 11 year old who wanted to be a ballet dancer is now a beautiful, intelligent young woman with a whole new life ahead of her. Her passion, drive and ambition will continue in a different career. Covid actually helped her and gave her the breathing space she needed to make the difficult choice to start plan B early. 

 

That is an amazing post @cotes du rhone !But please don't beat yourself up - hindsight is 20:20 vision, as they say, and you as parents  were doing what your children wanted at the time.

 

And the section of your post I have quoted is really important: your DD needed to do the whole thing to get where she is now. 

 

I often find myself advising undergrads & PhD student about their futures, particularly when they haven't got what they thought they "needed" (a First class mark for example, which no-one needs) - my experience is that most of us get were we want to go, but often not by the route we expected. 

 

What's that saying? "The journey, not the arrival, matters."

Edited by Kate_N
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@cotes du rhone !  I have been thinking about your post all night.  Like you, I am horrified, with hindsight, what I accepted because I didn't want to "rock the boat."  Parents starting out, I think the most telling phrase was "would you accept this in a local state school?"  The time my DC was beaten so badly by another pupil that I was asked by the local social services if I would like them to step in.  I said no.  Why??     This was not an isolated incident.  When the school didn't follow through, would I have accepted this in another educational setting?

 

All we can do is learn from our mistakes.  Have the courage to know when to take action and realise, as Kate_N says, that there is no doubt another route, another school, another equally fulfilling life out there.  It is a truism, but worth stating, that the mindset and skills that drive dancers will see them through.

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4 hours ago, meadowblythe said:

 The time my DC was beaten so badly by another pupil that I was asked by the local social services if I would like them to step in.  

How awful for you @meadowblythe that social services put that decision on you....although I expect you were grateful that they did at the time.  I expect I would have made the same decision - trusting the school to deal with it.

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This is a really important topic @cotes du rhone !.  You are not the first ballet mum and you won’t be the last, to accept something from a vocational school that you would never accept anywhere else.  I think as ballet parents, we become so invested in our child’s dreams that it seems too harsh to stop them at the sign of trouble. 
 

My DS was in 6:2 after one hip surgery and waiting for another. ¬†He returned home from vocational school in a complete state at the Easter break,¬†I was so shocked to see him so broken (he even used those words to me to describe himself) I said ok ‚ÄėI am pulling you out of school‚Äô and got the phone - his absolute horror that I would do that made him beg me not to do it - so I didn‚Äôt! ¬†We spent the whole Easter break forming a plan to help him be strong enough to see all the opportunities he had worked so hard for just slip away. ¬†He was adamant he needed to be surrounded by his friends.¬†
 

long story short, he persuaded his school to let him do 2 A’levels in a year for his 3rd year.  He used 6:3 to get the love of just dancing back, explore acting, get involved in all aspects of school management that the teachers would allow, took part in the graduating years performance around the country as a very strong partner and loved performing for the last time.  He went to Germany to film for a TV series.  And performed in Sweden with school. 
 

With the A’level business he was doing, the school had a trip to a top London building surveyors firm.  He did his research on the company and impressed them on the day.  He was offered work experience then offered a degree apprenticeship (they only made 1 offer for project management apprenticeship - which was the only thing he wanted to do).  They were impressed by his work ethic, his determination , his maturity and his ability to get on with people.  
 

He has been with the firm for approximately 18 months, is almost through his apprenticeship phase.  He achieved 1 pay rise, 2 bonuses and has been told they have to keep reminding themselves he’s only 20. He loves his job!  He loves being financially independent. He also misses aspects of performing but not the terrible treatment (you know, the always being made to feel you’re not good enough, always replaceable, you take a day off for injury and someone else gets your role, your face doesn’t fit with the dance director ......).  He has close ties with his vocational school friends, shares a flat with one, lives close to many more and is loving life. 
 

His dance training made him the very impressive young man he is today, it was hard, but he says he would never not have done it.  I love the fact he is such a well rounded, interesting person.  Sometimes I wish he had not had to have such a challenging time (but hey, he was always safe, loved and with a strong support network).  
 

I am sure your daughter will be amazing in her next career! 

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Interestingly I have just been reading a thread elsewhere about highly selective academic schools and it seems that there are similar issues. I suppose that the bottom line is that whenever there are a lot more people wanting something than the "slots" available the provider has the upper hand.  "Do you know how lucky you are to be here - we have 20 applicants for every place and could replace you tomorrow" exerts enormous pressure on both the student and their parents. It means that individual parents have little leverage - even if they are paying huge sums of money for the place - and the highly motivated students don't want to rock the boat. In many cases I suspect parents get a highly edited version of events. They don't want to worry their parents, feel guilty particularly if the rest of the family are making sacrifices in order for them to take up their place, and become conditioned to their "new normal". 

 

I have a friend from my University days who attended one of the most famous boys' public schools in the world. I was appalled by much of what he told me. He was abused by both staff and other pupils in a variety of ways. But he didn't speak up for fear of being sent home. Told his parents  very carefully curated stories of his school life, partly because he knew how much they were paying, partly because, like many bullied people, he began to believe it was his fault and he didn't want to disappoint them, and partly because he did recognise that amongst all the bad stuff there was good and that he was privileged to have. I think there are lots of similarities with many of the stories of vocational schools that I know of and the psychological and practical factors at play are many, and complex. I don't know what the answer is, but getting all this kind of thing out into the open has to be a step in the right direction.

 

If I could turn the clock back a decade or more, knowing what I know now, I would probably do things differently and encourage my DD to make some different decisions. And if she knew then what she does now then I think that she would accept that steerage. But we didn't know then what we know now. All any of us can do is our best, with the information and resources that we have available to us at the time. I'm sure that you, and all the other parents who have commented, did your best @cotes du rhone ! Nobody can do more than that. It is always worth remembering that the only thing that you can guarantee about doing things differently is that things would have  been different! And different is not necessarily better or worse. We often think that if faced with a choice of paths and the one you choose turns our rocky, that the others were smooth and beautiful, but you can never know that - they might have been equallly rocky, or even worse. 

 

I've definitely learned a lot from my DD's dance journey .Hers was relatively painless compared to many but still had some fairly major "downs". My youngest child is sporty and there are many of the same potential pitfalls. I'm less naive now, far less trusting and a lot more realistic. But this time I am havng to check myself for fear of going too far the other way and denying him opportunities. Finding that balance is very difficult and I don't believe any of us get it absolutely right. But our best, done with love, is all we can do. Between us we  seem to have a lot of impressive and resillient young people, contributing to the world in many different ways, so  I reckon we must have done ok!

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On 22/01/2021 at 16:16, cotes du rhone ! said:

There are so many informative threads and discussions on this forum about getting into vocational training but very little shared experiences on completing or leaving training. I want to hear about those Dds¬†and Dss that chose different paths. So very few who train vocationally actually have a career in ballet. 2020/21 has been particularly sad ūüėĘ but there must be some positive stories to share.¬†

Thank you for sharing...such an important discussion. I am so pleased that your DD has a place at University.  My DD left vocational school at the end of Year 11 she had been offered places at 3 Upper Schools, but she wasn't happy. She was stressed and had self doubt. She was told to be more confident but was never given the encouragement or the opportunities. She was always told she had the most amazing feet and lines.  She is now in Year 13 doing her A levels and has offers to study at University and is excited for the future.  At vocational school, you are so caught up on the ballet roller coaster.... what Upper School to apply to and audition for .... what summer school to do .... what workshops, add in a few one to one lessons to correct technique so that your DC is doing the same as their peers as well as hoping to be seen by various ADs (all at great expense on top of school fees). You don't have time to reflect..... 

My DD did go through a stage of 'what if' she had carried on at vocational school but realised that there is life after ballet and there are lots of other opportunities. She started Sixth Form with maturity and confidence and lots of transferable skills and discipline to work hard - she is happy and confident and has found herself. To get a ballet contract you are competing with the best from around the world - my DD is dancing locally and enjoying it without the constant pressure. Would we do it again - probably not. There are so many excellent associate opportunities your DC can do now as an alternative to the 11 -16 Vocational route. 

 

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Fudge, what you have said underlines what a lot of dancing parents have said, namely that their dcs lost their love of dance at vocational school. It's so sad. My youngest dd wanted to do musical theatre so she was told she had to lean ballet (which she has always loved) tap, modern, jazz and any other form of dance going. It very soon stopped being things that she liked/loved to do and became a grind. I sent her to ballet because she loved it, not to turn her into a performer. It didn't happen for a variety of reasons but the joyous child who rushed into ballet class and came out beaming vanished before she was 14.

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Thanks for sharing. 
As a mum of a Yr 7 auditionee and an ex dancer I am filled with mixed emotions. delighted that my dd has the same love that I had  -and have now regained watching her blossom but hoping that things have improved from back then if she does go down the vocational route. 

It is hard to know what to do for the best.
 



 

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12 hours ago, MrsR said:

Thanks for sharing. 
As a mum of a Yr 7 auditionee and an ex dancer I am filled with mixed emotions. delighted that my dd has the same love that I had  -and have now regained watching her blossom but hoping that things have improved from back then if she does go down the vocational route. 

It is hard to know what to do for the best.
 



 

 

Go with your gut feeling, Mrs R.  On the few occasions I ignored mine, I regretted it immensely.  Ask for people’s honest experiences of schools and look at the big picture; how many students complete the course, how many get employment/good upper school offers, would the class sizes/teaching style/communal living suit your child.  

 

Don’t be fooled by good salesmen or impressive looking policies on injury, bullying etc without knowing if these policies actually happen in practice.  Remember that dance training is a journey, not the end destination, and that it brings many transferable skills.  Always make sure your child has a Plan B, even if this is just a good, balanced bunch of GCSEs.  

 

Above all, and this echoes the excellent advice given above, remember that you are a paying customer (even if that payment comes from an MDS) and don‚Äôt tolerate *anything* you wouldn‚Äôt tolerate from an academic school. ¬† I wish I‚Äôd remembered that when my daughter sustained a training-ending injury at an upper school because of unsupervised, non age/skeletal-appropriate ‚Äúteaching‚ÄĚ by unqualified teachers. ¬†I was advised to sue the institution but because at the time I thought that dd would want to (or be able to) re-start her training elsewhere, I feared that in the tiny ballet world, her future might be affected. ¬†

 

Now she’s at uni and off that ballet roller coaster, I feel so guilty for being fooled and frightened into silence.  However, we can’t go back in time and sadly, there’s no Haynes Manual for being a dance parent - all we can do is learn as we go! 

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Anna makes excellent points - I would just highlight thinking not just about whether communal living would suit, but considering the differences in settings between the schools.  

 

DS at 11 was a rural boy - we live in a village of 200 people.  Sending him to an inner city school where there was no outside space and no room to play a game of footy was a huge mistake, at least without better preparation for the change.  Similarly I rejected one institution because they shared 4 to a room.  As events turned out, it eventually transpired sharing in a bigger room was preferable to being with one person you don't particularly get on with, and space to kick a ball trumped beautiful studios.  

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3 hours ago, meadowblythe said:

 

Anna makes excellent points - I would just highlight thinking not just about whether communal living would suit, but considering the differences in settings between the schools.  

 

DS at 11 was a rural boy - we live in a village of 200 people.  Sending him to an inner city school where there was no outside space and no room to play a game of footy was a huge mistake, at least without better preparation for the change.  Similarly I rejected one institution because they shared 4 to a room.  As events turned out, it eventually transpired sharing in a bigger room was preferable to being with one person you don't particularly get on with, and space to kick a ball trumped beautiful studios.  

 

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I completely agree with Anna C. Parents should always speak up and question what is happening to their child / young person. The constant it‚Äôs ‚Äúballet world‚ÄĚ and ‚Äú your not from the ballet industry‚ÄĚ so don‚Äôt understand - are not acceptable as responses from ballet staff / directors when parents question the situation in the schools. These institutions are schools. They are governed by child protection laws. As a parent you have the right to speak up. You should be treated with the same courtesy as the influential donors and the sponsors and the Prix de Lausanne organisation/ yagp etc. We struggled to protect our young person in a major school - constantly raised child protection and mental health issues. We sought to have things changed - for her and for the other kids.¬†¬†Our child spoke up for herself and others and felt the blowback from staff. Ballet is beautiful but the school / training system is ugly and needs a thorough investigation and light brought into the old systems and the structures around it. Tradition is well and good but modernisation is needed for the protection and equality of children. Especially mental health. It‚Äôs odd that you don‚Äôt hear this sought of stuff from company members. It‚Äôs the schools that need to change. Parents and ex students that need to speak up and tell the real truth. You are paying - you are the customer. You need to advocate for your child - the other ‚Äúconnected/ industry‚ÄĚ parents / teachers are advocating for their favoured student. The treatment these favoured / connected kids receive is better than what your child is getting. The students know what is happening. I know my child kept a lot quiet but spoke up when she left the industry. Even now 3 years later she is finally speaking very openly and sees how wrong the treatment was. As a parent I feel terrible - but I know we tried to help her and fought legally for 2.5 years. Parents speak up - there are people and institutions/ company‚Äôs that want to hear you and will help. I‚Äôm so over hearing the constant story about young people hurt in this school/ training system.¬†

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18 minutes ago, Nama said:

These institutions are schools. They are governed by child protection laws.

 

Unfortunately, in the UK, not all of these institutions ARE schools in anything other than name - I know of more than one ‚ÄúUpper School‚ÄĚ that is literally a private business, with one owner/director who employs/employed family members. ¬†There is no obligation for such institutions to be inspected. ¬†They don‚Äôt have to have a Board of Governors, and as the full-time pupils are 16 and over, it‚Äôs a bit of a grey area about who to complain to and how. ¬†

 

I really feel that ALL full-time dance training ‚Äúupper schools‚ÄĚ should have to be independently inspected, and that should include¬†accommodation owned by or provided by the school. ¬†

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My DD‚Äôs biggest dream since she was 5 years old was to be a ballet dancer. She was offered Royal and Elmhurst JA early and did it for 3 years, then was offered a place at 2¬†lower schools and spend 5 years in her favourite one. Auditioned successfully to 2 upper schools. She was so passionate! She almost never walked, she danced. She was so graceful and happy.¬†But! She stopped loving ballet around year 9, she was very often injured, fractured foot, ankle sprains, hip and lower back problems and she will just exercise and exercise to keep up with the others, aiming for (non existing)¬†perfection. She felt she was never good enough.¬†It became a struggle and a task rather then love and passion.¬†There were so many tears, sleepless nights, homesickness...¬†But she couldn‚Äôt see herself not dancing. Then the pandemic started¬†and there were¬†no shows, no dancing in studios, online lessons started and one day DD said - ‚ÄúI¬†like having my ballet lessons at home because I feel safe‚ÄĚ (???!!!) During summer break we had lots of discussions about her future, I kept asking if she is sure she wants to go to one of the upper schools¬†or maybe to a 6th form collage we had applied to as plan B. She couldn‚Äôt decide until the end of August but then made the brave choice of leaving ballet and go to a very good local 6th form college. Apart from 3 A levels she‚Äôs doing dance BTech and carrying on with ballet training with a very¬†good Ballet teacher plus associates once a month and she is like another person! She is happy, she is bubbly, I can‚Äôt remember when was the last time she cried. The most important- she loves dancing again! Still wants to be on stage one day if she‚Äôs lucky, maybe be a¬†professional dancer just not a ballet dancer but ballet is her favourite from all types of dancing.¬†

She was the happiest child on earth when she was accepted to Year 7 so I think we made a right decision letting her join this lower school. She has many lovely memories, made wonderful friends, had some great teachers (among not so good ones) but looking at how happy and healthy she is now I know she made the best decision not accepting her upper school offers. 
Thank you for this thread, it feels good to share it. (Because I felt like I should have left the forum in August with my head low, and there was this funny sense of grieving when my DD left ballet word...)

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2 hours ago, Pas de Quatre said:

Unfortunately those institutions running degree courses, even if they accept pupils from age 16, often refuse to communicate with parents saying that they only speak to the students as they are on a degree course.

Surely if these schools had the best interests of the dancers involved they would want a co-op between the dancer and their support network (parents)   These young people are often quite sheltered being focused on their ballet. Their families are very supportive and want to help. Not hinder. The schools have a barrier up. They generally don’t make you feel welcome. Once a term for watching day and only a meeting with the teacher for 5 quick minutes in a room full of other parents. Not ideal for a personal discussions. In my experience a meeting with the AD is confrontational and not helpful for your kid. They are thd hostage and you watch what you say. 

Just because they are private schools or they offer a degree course shouldn’t let them slip through responsibility. In my experience they made us as parents sign responsibility for our daughters fees and her behaviour etc. If you tie me in legally I’ll not be silenced and will expect open communication. These schools are quick to drag in.parents if there is a behavioural issue but don’t want to speak to you as a parent when you are enquiring about their responsibility towards you and the student. They can’t have it both ways. The sponsors of other students and board members saw my child dance in class more than I ever did as a parent. They also got more feedback and discussions about the students than I ever did. That’s not fair or right. If the door is shut - make it fair for all people involved. But - that access to the kids is money for these prestigious schools. Parents need to speak up and make the schools involve them as it should be. Imagine going to a normal school with 16 year olds and be told that the parents would get no feedback or discussion about a student. There would be a walk out. Change needs to happen. Write to the board of governors or the owners of the schools. Put them on notice - speak up. Watch them get nervous !! 

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7 hours ago, Happymum said:


 (Because I felt like I should have left the forum in August with my head low, and there was this funny sense of grieving when my DD left ballet word...)

 

Firstly - I'm so glad you didn't leave the forum in August - there are many of us here who are retired ballet Mums and we still have something to contribute, and the forum can still give something to us as well.

 

Secondly - that feeling of grieving when your child makes the decision to stop dancing is normal.  I think we all feel it to some extent, even when you know it is the right choice.  

 

Thirdly - It is interesting that the pandemic has given some students the space they need to realise that they are on the wrong path for them.  Definitely a silver lining in all of this.

 

 

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11 hours ago, Nama said:

You are paying - you are the customer. You need to advocate for your child

 

Maybe ... but to think of the relationship between young person, school, and parents only as a commercial one, is to distort the essential pedagogical relationship between teachers and pupils. It instrumentalises results (and I have heard statements close to: "why didn't I get top marks, I'm paying for this"). 

 

There needs to be a balance between advocating for your child, and trusting that the teachers are experts who know their jobs. And the knowledge that your child may be different at school, in class, than at home in recreation & everyday life. I don't mean misbehaviour! Just that in the teen years, education is an important aspect of a young person developing their independence and sense of self outside the family - and this can be a difficult process for parents - letting go.

 

That doesn't mean condoning bullying, but that there is a balance needed, and acting principally on the basis as a 'customer' can interfere with the delicate processes of education, especially in the creative & performing arts, where the highest levels of excellence are aimed for, and, sadly, disappointment is almost always inevitable - even for the most accomplished! 

Edited by Kate_N
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13 hours ago, Happymum said:

My DD‚Äôs biggest dream since she was 5 years old was to be a ballet dancer. She was offered Royal and Elmhurst JA early and did it for 3 years, then was offered a place at 2¬†lower schools and spend 5 years in her favourite one. Auditioned successfully to 2 upper schools. She was so passionate! She almost never walked, she danced. She was so graceful and happy.¬†But! She stopped loving ballet around year 9, she was very often injured, fractured foot, ankle sprains, hip and lower back problems and she will just exercise and exercise to keep up with the others, aiming for (non existing)¬†perfection. She felt she was never good enough.¬†It became a struggle and a task rather then love and passion.¬†There were so many tears, sleepless nights, homesickness...¬†But she couldn‚Äôt see herself not dancing. Then the pandemic started¬†and there were¬†no shows, no dancing in studios, online lessons started and one day DD said - ‚ÄúI¬†like having my ballet lessons at home because I feel safe‚ÄĚ (???!!!) During summer break we had lots of discussions about her future, I kept asking if she is sure she wants to go to one of the upper schools¬†or maybe to a 6th form collage we had applied to as plan B. She couldn‚Äôt decide until the end of August but then made the brave choice of leaving ballet and go to a very good local 6th form college. Apart from 3 A levels she‚Äôs doing dance BTech and carrying on with ballet training with a very¬†good Ballet teacher plus associates once a month and she is like another person! She is happy, she is bubbly, I can‚Äôt remember when was the last time she cried. The most important- she loves dancing again! Still wants to be on stage one day if she‚Äôs lucky, maybe be a¬†professional dancer just not a ballet dancer but ballet is her favourite from all types of dancing.¬†

She was the happiest child on earth when she was accepted to Year 7 so I think we made a right decision letting her join this lower school. She has many lovely memories, made wonderful friends, had some great teachers (among not so good ones) but looking at how happy and healthy she is now I know she made the best decision not accepting her upper school offers. 
Thank you for this thread, it feels good to share it. (Because I felt like I should have left the forum in August with my head low, and there was this funny sense of grieving when my DD left ballet word...)

This resonates so much with my dd at the moment. She is currently at an upper school however hasn’t truly been happy and ever since she’s been online she says she feels safe compared to being in a studio. We have decided after July she’s going to leave the ballet world for her wellbeing. Unfortunately we had a negative experience at a top lower school dd discovered her drive again and decided to apply for upper schools however I think she hasn’t truly recovered from her past therefore she’s seeking some support between now and July. If I knew the pain the ballet world has caused my dd we would not have pursued the vocational route.

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Perversley my daughter's school appears have gone the other way and insists on contacting me, rather than her, despite her being a 19 year old capable adult. Forms asking for confidential medical information which I may not be privy to (dd has dealt with all her own appointments for a couple of years now.).  It did come to the point where I was getting information that she was not and as she wasn't living with us at the time she had to email and request that all correspondence except that relating to Dada and fees go to her, not us.

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