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A question for the parents of older dancers


SarahG1881
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Not all students have the same experience - some fly and others, for whatever reason, hit every bump in the road! From experience go with your gut feel and never be afraid to challenge a decision if you feel it is not right or made because it suits the school more than your child. If you politely challenge a decision and are met with hostility then maybe wonder why. Injuries are sadly a bit part of the dance world but dealt with efficiently can save heartache years down the line.

 

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9 minutes ago, SJBallet said:

What worries me when reading these posts from the point of view of a parent with a child about to embark on this journey, the institutions that you have all very sadly had bad experiences at remain anonymous so how do us new parents know which to enter with caution? 

We were a bit 'rabbit in the headlights' when Dd started vocational school.  Every dc will have a different experience at any vocational school.  Go in with an open mind and don't be afraid to question and intervene if things aren't right, and move schools if necessary. Dd had some great times but also some lows. 

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1 hour ago, SJBallet said:

What worries me when reading these posts from the point of view of a parent with a child about to embark on this journey, the institutions that you have all very sadly had bad experiences at remain anonymous so how do us new parents know which to enter with caution? 

 

Well, presumably if you PM the posters, they may feel able to share more.  

 

The thing is, for every good experience, there's a bad experience.  For everyone who suffered at an institution, someone flourished.  And some steered a middle course.

 

Personally speaking, I am sharing my experiences so that others can see the warning signs, not to discourage anyone from accepting a place anywhere.    This is a more media-enabled society than when my DS started so it's great parents today can be aware of both sides of the story.

 

 

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Yes, I think it is very important to recognise that not every young dancer has a bad time at vocational school. At any given time there are probably some who are having a wonderful time, others who are miserable and others at all points between - even in the same class. It happens everywhere doesn't it? The same can be said of academic schools, workplaces, sports teams etc. Sometimes it's because particular people are treated more or less favourably of course, but other times it's just because they are different people with different needs and expectations. I had an absolutely wonderful midwife when I have birth to my youngest child so I was disappointed for my friend when she gave birth a few weeks later and told me that her midwife was awful. But as the conversation went on it became apparent that we'd had the same one! And she'd been much the same with both of us, it was just that her way of working fitted with what I wanted but my friend needed something different.

I don't think anyone here wants to scare parents, just to raise awareness. It is so easy to get swept along with all this and it can be very hard to step off the conveyor belt once you are on it, whether your DC goes to vocational school at 11 or not. I think the message is really about being alert to possible problems and not being afraid to rock the boat or walk away if it becomes apparent that something isn't working for your DC. And try not to get drawn into an "arms race" - you don't have to do something just because "everyone else" is. 

 

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Thank you all. Sorry my post wasn’t intended to dismiss what you had all so kindly offered in way of your experiences. 

 

I’ve read all of these with interest and it really does give food for thought and you’re right it’s all about what may or may not suit an individual. 
 

Reading the posts I may have incorrectly tried to tie all bad experiences to one place  and my observation I think was based on a ‘what if we choose the wrong one or more along the lines of what if I choose the one where all these individuals didn’t have great experiences’ which is wrong I know. 
 

It’s both a very exciting and very scary time. 

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As a parent who has chosen the non-vocational route I’d say:

a) as has been said, academic schools are no picnic either, although similarly for some they can be.

b) it really isn’t easy trying to keep dance going outside vocational school without sacrificing so much of childhood and family life. We made the decision family life came first, really don’t regret it, and our selective approach still gave space for lovely performance opportunities (NOT festivals), but the ingenuity needed is constant and tiring! And wouldn’t have been possible without the support of an exceptional and imaginative dance teacher.

c) DD has had loads of knock-backs because of insufficient hours dancing, and they are hard too.

We are still, at 19, trying to have our cake and eat it with DD: in vocational school at last but with top university place lined up. Will eke this out as long as it is fun! 
Do I regret the decisions? At the moment 100% not. Without ballet, DD would be in the miserable farce that passes for university this year. Instead she is living a very rich, very happy life abroad and loving the chance to dance at last. An amazing reward. I’m glad we didn’t give dance more space, though. I may change my mind when she is heartbroken that she has to accept defeat, which I suspect will be inevitable. But she will have had so many magnificent experiences, so much fun as well as so much heartache. 

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2 hours ago, SJBallet said:

Thank you all. Sorry my post wasn’t intended to dismiss what you had all so kindly offered in way of your experiences. 

 

I’ve read all of these with interest and it really does give food for thought and you’re right it’s all about what may or may not suit an individual. 
 

Reading the posts I may have incorrectly tried to tie all bad experiences to one place  and my observation I think was based on a ‘what if we choose the wrong one or more along the lines of what if I choose the one where all these individuals didn’t have great experiences’ which is wrong I know. 
 

It’s both a very exciting and very scary time. 


No all the bad experiences talked about are not from the same school.

 

Its a minefield out there and as has been said, not all pupils have bad experiences. Indeed my DD would not describe the entire time at the particular school she attended as bad, she would have definitely seen out her time there if not injured, despite the poor pastoral care. 
 

To be perfectly frank, I’m not sure my DD had the mental strength to be a vocational student, she was non vocational until Upper School. It’s a culture shock when you’re a (young for your year) 16 year old who suddenly doesn’t have mum around to vent to. This must be doubly hard for overseas students. 
Looking back we were definitely naive and ‘rabbit in the headlights’ as someone described above😳

 

The original post was about regrets, we don’t regret any of the work done, money spent or experiences gained. Just maybe a few regrets that we weren’t better informed and prepared for was ahead. My DD went to a very ‘festival’ local dance school and we tried to do it all. I would say right up until the end of year 9 we managed successfully. When DD decided she wanted to try and be a classical ballet dancer, we hit problems with loyalties and expectations at her local school along with the need to gain more hours of quality ballet training versus all round dance training. 
 

In hindsight we did things wrong, we both know that now, but there were lots of good times along the way and we met many lovely people, including quite a few members of this forum🤗
 

 

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2 minutes ago, Loulabelle said:

Gosh I’ve posted twice in one week when I’ve not posted for around three years! 
 

 

It’s good to have you back, Loulabelle.  I’m so sorry about how your dd’s ballet journey ended.

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2 hours ago, SJBallet said:

Thank you all. Sorry my post wasn’t intended to dismiss what you had all so kindly offered in way of your experiences. 

 

I’ve read all of these with interest and it really does give food for thought and you’re right it’s all about what may or may not suit an individual. 
 

Reading the posts I may have incorrectly tried to tie all bad experiences to one place  and my observation I think was based on a ‘what if we choose the wrong one or more along the lines of what if I choose the one where all these individuals didn’t have great experiences’ which is wrong I know. 
 

It’s both a very exciting and very scary time. 

 

It is, and to be fair, there are some schools where unfortunately, good experiences are or have been the exception.  Sometimes a change of Management can make all the difference, so in that case, a school with what seems like a high proportion of bad experiences a few years ago might have turned its fortunes round in recent years.   

 

It’s worth getting as much information as you can from past *and* current parents of all the schools you’re considering, and this is often easier by private message.  

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Thanks Anna. I’m sorry about your daughters experiences too. 
 

However, although our DD’s ballet journeys have ended, the good memories are there to treasure and are providing solid life experiences and foundations for their lives going forward. 
 

I still have my love of ballet, I tend to lurk in the ‘performances seen’ and ‘ballet news’ sections theses days 😃

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7 hours ago, SJBallet said:

What worries me when reading these posts from the point of view of a parent with a child about to embark on this journey, the institutions that you have all very sadly had bad experiences at remain anonymous so how do us new parents know which to enter with caution? 

 

I think the message is to enter the whole process with caution.  Just because one person (or group of people) had a bad experience at a particular time doesn't mean that will still be the case.  Similarly a school which has always been top form may take a turn for the worse - things change as staff change.

 

Also ..different children will have different experiences at the same school at the same time - different personalities, different bodies all contribute.

 

Trust your instincts and listen to your DCs.  Be very cautious if your DC is being advised to dance when injured (I'm not saying that it is always wrong - but it should ring alarm bells).  Notice if their personality seems to be changing in a negative way.  

 

And..look critically at what people write on the forum and what they don't write.  If there are lots of positive posts about a named school then that is a good sign.  If there is very little comment about a named school - what aren't people saying?

 

 

 

 

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7 hours ago, glowlight said:

And..look critically at what people write on the forum and what they don't write.  If there are lots of positive posts about a named school then that is a good sign.  If there is very little comment about a named school - what aren't people saying?

 

 

Although the lack of comment may simply be down to the fact that people don't have any experience of it - most people don't post that they don't know about it :)

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Parents of older children don’t post as often as those with younger ones, as in general the journey gets harder, dancers drop out, change direction, or “fail” (very much in inverted commas). If your child has stopped dancing, you’re not so likely to come on a forum like this to explain if they, or you, have regrets or not. And I personally am very grateful to hear of all such journeys, as they are really the more likely outcome for most child dancers. Perhaps there is also a point when your child is an adult, and if they want to comment on their dance journey experiences, they can be directed here to comment if they wish. That’s not to negate the parental viewpoint, but it might provide a different view. There are certainly things that my adult dancer child and I feel and think very differently about, and I’m sure there will be things I don’t know about at all.

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27 minutes ago, rowan said:

Parents of older children don’t post as often as those with younger ones, as in general the journey gets harder, dancers drop out, change direction, or “fail” (very much in inverted commas). If your child has stopped dancing, you’re not so likely to come on a forum like this to explain if they, or you, have regrets or not. And I personally am very grateful to hear of all such journeys, as they are really the more likely outcome for most child dancers. Perhaps there is also a point when your child is an adult, and if they want to comment on their dance journey experiences, they can be directed here to comment if they wish. That’s not to negate the parental viewpoint, but it might provide a different view. There are certainly things that my adult dancer child and I feel and think very differently about, and I’m sure there will be things I don’t know about at all.

 Thankyou it’s very hard to know what to share if the dance journey has been bumpy. In our case people do not / cannot believe how my dd has been treated so it makes us less likely to share... you don’t want to put people off( others had a fabulous time) or come across as a bitter ballet mum. But at times it has been a very very lonely experience. 

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10 minutes ago, Balletmummy18 said:

 Thankyou it’s very hard to know what to share if the dance journey has been bumpy. In our case people do not / cannot believe how my dd has been treated so it makes us less likely to share... you don’t want to put people off( others had a fabulous time) or come across as a bitter ballet mum. But at times it has been a very very lonely experience. 

I totally agree with the feelings of loneliness 😢

Having 8 years of “filtering” and “airbrushing” our ballet journey with positive pictures and successful posts I decided not to do that anymore. To move forward with honesty and share the lows and the raw reality of vocational training. As well as the good 😌 Not to slope away quietly and feel embarrassed by Dds decision to stop dancing. We are immensely proud of her resilience and guts 💪 Parents need a balanced sharing of experiences. To know what is behind the glossy exterior and media hype so they can make informed decisions about who they can trust with their child’s care. 

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Thank you both BalletMummy18 & Cotes du rhone for sharing your experiences. This forum has been invaluable with so much support and knowledge over the past few months. My Dc is just beginning on her fulltime upper school vocational journey in the UK and we are very grateful to you for sharing  and being so honest. She did not go to a fulltime junior vocational ballet school which I sometimes felt has hindered her in auditions  but on the other hand I am grateful that  she has been very happy in her academic vocational school . Like all mums I worry about her future and as Ballet is her passion we know that we have to support her in anyway we can but I do feel that it is thanks to your honesty that we are entering our next journey with alot more caution and our eyes wide open. Thank you .

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22 hours ago, SJBallet said:

Thank you all. Sorry my post wasn’t intended to dismiss what you had all so kindly offered in way of your experiences. 

 

I’ve read all of these with interest and it really does give food for thought and you’re right it’s all about what may or may not suit an individual. 
 

Reading the posts I may have incorrectly tried to tie all bad experiences to one place  and my observation I think was based on a ‘what if we choose the wrong one or more along the lines of what if I choose the one where all these individuals didn’t have great experiences’ which is wrong I know. 
 

It’s both a very exciting and very scary time. 

What needs to be remembered is that many people have dc who are still in full-time vocational training and saying too much on here could very well mean that they and their dc is 'identified' in real life. 

 

There is also the thorny issue of not daring to stick your head above the parapet and say anything in case it jeopardises either their dc's place or their future dance career. Nobody likes a whistle-blower. 

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16 minutes ago, taxi4ballet said:

What needs to be remembered is that many people have dc who are still in full-time vocational training and saying too much on here could very well mean that they and their dc is 'identified' in real life. 

 

There is also the thorny issue of not daring to stick your head above the parapet and say anything in case it jeopardises either their dc's place or their future dance career. Nobody likes a whistle-blower. 

I like whistle blowers 😊

Most positive change is initiated by those who were brave enough to stick their head above the parapet and share their experiences. Athlete A comes to mind. The fear is that you would be left standing alone. In my experience, parents are very good at talking about issues between them on their private forums but sadly not brave enough to raise them for fear of repercussions. We stayed silent in a lot of issues that we shouldn’t have 😢 

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1 hour ago, Mum Of Ballerina Dreamer said:

This forum has been invaluable with so much support and knowledge over the past few months.

 

 

Hello Mum of Ballerina Dreamer and welcome to the Forum!

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1 hour ago, taxi4ballet said:

What needs to be remembered is that many people have dc who are still in full-time vocational training and saying too much on here could very well mean that they and their dc is 'identified' in real life. 

 

There is also the thorny issue of not daring to stick your head above the parapet and say anything in case it jeopardises either their dc's place or their future dance career. Nobody likes a whistle-blower. 

 

1 hour ago, cotes du rhone ! said:

I like whistle blowers 😊

Most positive change is initiated by those who were brave enough to stick their head above the parapet and share their experiences. Athlete A comes to mind. The fear is that you would be left standing alone. In my experience, parents are very good at talking about issues between them on their private forums but sadly not brave enough to raise them for fear of repercussions. We stayed silent in a lot of issues that we shouldn’t have 😢 

 

Taxi is quite right to mention the possibility of DC being identified which is why the Forum encourages the use of pseudonyms as user names and caution about what detail you are posting.

 

It is good that so many of our parents have stayed on and made comments after their DCs' educational journeys have ended and are able to offer the benefit of their experience.

 

It is also important that people write about their own and their DC's experiences and not about a third party which, however well you know them, is still hearsay.  

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12 hours ago, alison said:

 

Although the lack of comment may simply be down to the fact that people don't have any experience of it - most people don't post that they don't know about it :)

 

Absolutely.  And I certainly didn't meant to imply that lack of comment should always ring alarm bells.  :)

 

 

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