Jump to content

Another question for parents of older dancers - starting to specialise?


Recommended Posts

At what point did your child ‘specialise’ in dance, as in gave up other activities to spend more time on dance?

My 12 year old DD is a keen dancer and has had some success auditioning for performances and associate schemes etc, but is also a nationally ranked figure skater, and a gifted musician (She has a music place at a school where the ‘music’ places are highly sought after and competition for the places is strong.)
If she is to have a chance of a career in dance, which is one of her ideas now, would she need to give up her other activities? And at what stage???

She is not ready to let them go yet, nor do I really want her to or think she should, but at the same time, do not want to limit her options if she continues to want to follow a dance career

Link to post
Share on other sites

Both of mine didn’t give up anything else until they went to vocational school at 11. However they weren’t trying to do multiple things to a very high standard which is what your dd sounds like she is doing. Dance was very much the priority but they still did other after school things too, just once or twice a week. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think my dd was about 12 when other things started to fall by the wayside.  It was really when the pressures of high school plus the increase in time spent dancing (and travelling to dance classes) meant that other things naturally fell away.  But she didn't really have any other serious hobbies at that stage so the choice wasn't as hard as yours.

 

She didn't play any musical instruments when younger, but started singing lessons when she was about 14 as she felt she felt this might help with her future dance career.

 

I think you will know if and when the time comes that a choice needs to be made.  You just won't be able to fit everything in!  Until that point, and as long as she is still enjoying it all, personally I would keep options open as much as possible.

  • Like 8
Link to post
Share on other sites

Ds didn’t start ballet til he was 12 and his brother 14. None of their friends knew. They were both county runners and played school and club rugby, attending county training weekly too. I don’t know how we fitted it all in 😅 Lots of lists 🤣

It wasn’t til Ds did Lord of the Flies with Matthew Bourne and his mates came to watch/support him that he admitted his love of ballet. We even did Elmhurst Associates and then RBS SAs on a Saturday in Covent Garden from our home in Cornwall. The train journey was fab for homework. He went to vocational school at 17 and up til then led a very active normal life. 
If you can, keep the other activities going. Dd gave up all her sports etc for ballet at 11. She would have had a happier time I’m sure if there had been some sport at her vocational school. I can’t really understand why they can’t play team sports like Netball etc. Something to get them outside and active. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

For us giving up gymnastics coincided with when the girls started attending Associates Classes weekly as we just couldn't manage the logistics with two of them dancing both days and my husband and I both working. Plus we just couldn't find a way to keep them working at a competitive level in gymnastics whilst doing so many dance hours. We know if others that have managed it though, at least initially, and our dds did keep up with their music lessons/Grades but no ensembles or concerts. Tough choices. Good luck. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

My daughter never really had other things to give up, she hated sport and lived for performing arts from a very young age. 
 

She did give up piano when she went to vocational school at 11 but singing and drama etc were always and still are very important to her. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • alison changed the title to Another question for parents of older dancers - starting to specialise?
3 hours ago, Jewel said:

My daughter never really had other things to give up, she hated sport and lived for performing arts from a very young age. 
 

She did give up piano when she went to vocational school at 11 but singing and drama etc were always and still are very important to her. 

Is she able to keep up her singing and drama? My DD’s interests are all performing art related also, more a question of specialising in one?

Link to post
Share on other sites

There’s a couple of things to consider with extracurricular activities: timetables clashing and practice time at home (for things like music). And then you need to leave time for academic work for school too. Plus general downtime, hanging out with friends time etc.

 

For other activities, if timetables don’t clash, would your child be happy to “downgrade” their other activities or not, keep them as a casual hobby? Is it even possible? Are you as a parent willing to fund them? 
 

Like others, mine started to drop things around the age of 12-13. DD was at a junior conservatoire for music (auditioned for place) on Saturdays, and then a year later, she got a place at a ballet associate scheme at 11. For a while she could do both because the timetables didn’t clash too much - and the music place let her leave early to go to ballet. They were sympathetic because her teacher had been a musician in the ROH orchestra. But as time went on, the timetables for both changed and it was impossible to do both. The conservatoire needed its music students to spend more time there. DD had to choose, and she chose ballet. We found a new instrument teacher and DD continued to play her instrument at home and school (to lesser degree) but quit altogether at about age 14. It became very obvious which way it would go. DD wanted to do more and more ballet and less and less music.

 

Being able to make a choice like this is quite an important life lesson, I think. You usually can’t keep all doors open to everything, and all choices have consequences.

  • Like 5
Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, cotes du rhone ! said:

If you can, keep the other activities going. Dd gave up all her sports etc for ballet at 11. She would have had a happier time I’m sure if there had been some sport at her vocational school. I can’t really understand why they can’t play team sports like Netball etc. Something to get them outside and active. 

 

Remembering the number of injuries my sister-in-law sustained during her netball league playing years, I’m not sure there are many team sports that would be suitable for children at full-time ballet school where dance is naturally the priority.  

 

Swimming, pilates, eliptical training and similar non-impact fitness would be much less risky.  

 

Even aside from the risk of injury, the difficulty with keeping other physical activities going to a high level while putting ballet first is the risk of developing the wrong muscle groups too much, as well as conflicting techniques - for example, gymnastics vs ballet; the former working in parallel and the latter working in sustained turnout.  Is there a similar conflict between figure skating and ballet?

 

The other thing to consider is what can be easily continued to a high level in later life and what can’t, because it’s more physique-dependent.  It’s going to be much easier to pause and restart music exams as an adult, for instance.  Dd had that choice to make when she started uni; audition for the university dance competition team or audition for her college’s excellent choir?  She said she could join a choir at any age but there would only be one chance to dance competitively - made sense to me.

 

Finally, what does the student love more and what gives greater potential for a successful career?  Nationally ranked figure skaters are probably rarer than aspiring ballerinas, of which there are loads (all going for far too few jobs).  That’s undoubtedly worth considering when deciding what to focus on.

  • Like 5
Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah yes, netball - the allegedly "non-contact" sport.  Just try telling that to the people I used to play against in the netball league.  I mean, I suppose if you did keep it totally non-contact - in the same way that I think some dancers play football with no tackling or anything - it might work, but it might still be risky.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
33 minutes ago, alison said:

Ah yes, netball - the allegedly "non-contact" sport.  Just try telling that to the people I used to play against in the netball league.  I mean, I suppose if you did keep it totally non-contact - in the same way that I think some dancers play football with no tackling or anything - it might work, but it might still be risky.

My sentiments exactly. My DD’s sporting injuries were all Netball related!! 
What is of interest is that Netball was actually acknowledged and classified as a contact sport during recent pandemic restrictions in our jurisdiction 🤷🏼‍♀️

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

I  actually didn’t realise that vocational schools don’t do PE. I suppose it makes sense. My DC were at a normal comprehensive and they did the full gamut of sports and games, with lots of opportunities to develop those more for those who wanted.

 

School sports can leave injuries, though. A friend of mine had her career as a professional musician curtailed very early after being whacked on the hand during hockey at school, which meant she couldn’t sustain the hours of practice needed, even years later.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I’ve always encouraged my two to do sport and music and drama and never asked them to sacrifice one thing for another, my youngest hasn’t gone vocational but they are now enjoying playing rugby, hockey, basket ball and there school is lucky to have its own pool so they do swimming most weeks, going into year 9 this year and he wants todo PE gcse and go and do it in dance and gymnastics, my oldest is now doing a BA in MT at a vocational school after doing her Alevels at 6form and dosn't regret it at all, she was never given the chance to try for vocation school but is now representing GB in rifle shooting and has been embraced by the collage in having time off for international comps etc, she has completed her gold dofe, and is about to become a DofE assessor and is also a scout and explorer leader in her spare time.   I guess what I am trying to say is my two don’t regret going down the vocational route and life life to the full where as some of their friends went down the vocational route and gave up everything outside of dance, some didn’t last unfortunately and dropped dance now. 

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, rowan said:

I  actually didn’t realise that vocational schools don’t do PE. I suppose it makes sense. My DC were at a normal comprehensive and they did the full gamut of sports and games, with lots of opportunities to develop those more for those who wanted.

 

School sports can leave injuries, though. A friend of mine had her career as a professional musician curtailed very early after being whacked on the hand during hockey at school, which meant she couldn’t sustain the hours of practice needed, even years later.

Hammond now does PE once a week 👍

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, margarite said:

Hammond now does PE once a week 👍

Do they, gosh I bet dd will be glad she missed that. Previously only drama students did PE (although she’d have liked to do more general fitness type classes)

Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, Sally-Anne said:

Is she able to keep up her singing and drama? My DD’s interests are all performing art related also, more a question of specialising in one?


yes, she was able to keep it up by having singing and LAMDA lessons as well as one drama class per week. She later moved entirely towards musical theatre. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Netball is also hard on the joints as it is played on a hard surface. DD’s teacher (non-vocational) was never very happy about her students playing netball for that reason; I can’t imagine that the vocational schools would sanction it?

Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, Legseleven said:

Netball is also hard on the joints as it is played on a hard surface. DD’s teacher (non-vocational) was never very happy about her students playing netball for that reason; I can’t imagine that the vocational schools would sanction it?

Not just the obvious joints 😉. Lost track of the number of times my DD would attend her ballet lessons with fingers strapped together after another altercation with the ball 🏀🤨 and not forgetting the grazed knees 🩹🤨

Link to post
Share on other sites

Absolutely, balletbean! Same for DD - at least she could still dance with strapped

fingers. Her piano teacher was never thrilled, but her music theory was

allotted extra time! 
 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Jewel said:


yes, she was able to keep it up by having singing and LAMDA lessons as well as one drama class per week. She later moved entirely towards musical theatre. 

That’s great, so it worked out well that she kept her options open I guess

Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, WrapsnBows said:

I’ve always encouraged my two to do sport and music and drama and never asked them to sacrifice one thing for another, my youngest hasn’t gone vocational but they are now enjoying playing rugby, hockey, basket ball and there school is lucky to have its own pool so they do swimming most weeks, going into year 9 this year and he wants todo PE gcse and go and do it in dance and gymnastics, my oldest is now doing a BA in MT at a vocational school after doing her Alevels at 6form and dosn't regret it at all, she was never given the chance to try for vocation school but is now representing GB in rifle shooting and has been embraced by the collage in having time off for international comps etc, she has completed her gold dofe, and is about to become a DofE assessor and is also a scout and explorer leader in her spare time.   I guess what I am trying to say is my two don’t regret going down the vocational route and life life to the full where as some of their friends went down the vocational route and gave up everything outside of dance, some didn’t last unfortunately and dropped dance now. 

Sounds fantastically well rounded! If you don’t go to vocational school at 6th form, what are your dance options at tertiary level? (Perhaps a question for another thread!)

Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, Anna C said:

en aside from the risk of injury, the difficulty with keeping other physical activities going to a high level while putting ballet first is the risk of developing the wrong muscle groups too much, as well as conflicting techniques - for example, gymnastics vs ballet; the former working in parallel and the latter working in sustained turnout.  Is there a similar conflict between figure skating and ballet?

There possibly is? I don’t think there is a conflict from figure skating point of view, figure skaters will often do ballet classes to help with their skating. I can imagine there could be an issue the other way round, but it hasn’t been flagged up yet. So far, if anything, one seems to help the other. Certainly is a risk of injury though!

 

13 hours ago, Anna C said:

 

The other thing to consider is what can be easily continued to a high level in later life and what can’t, because it’s more physique-dependent.  It’s going to be much easier to pause and restart music exams as an adult, for instance.  Dd had that choice to make when she started uni; audition for the university dance competition team or audition for her college’s excellent choir?  She said she could join a choir at any age but there would only be one chance to dance competitively - made sense to me.

Figure skating and ballet are equally physique dependent, figure skaters careers end possibly even sooner than ballet dancers? Music could definitely wait I guess

 

13 hours ago, Anna C said:

Finally, what does the student love more and what gives greater potential for a successful career?  Nationally ranked figure skaters are probably rarer than aspiring ballerinas, of which there are loads (all going for far too few jobs).  That’s undoubtedly worth considering when deciding what to focus on

This is the problem, no favourite at this stage! Both are equally competitive I think, it might be a case of which discipline ‘chooses her’ rather than the other way around in the end.

Many thanks for your considered response, it’s much appreciated x

  • Like 1
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...