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Giving up when its 'hard'


Window
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Hello,

This is my first time posting on a forum, but I've read through some of the threads and I'm in need of some advice from you much more experienced people!

 

My daughter is nearly 8 and has been doing ballet for 2 years in our local 'conservatoire' (we are in France).

Her teacher introduced her to another teacher in Paris and she has started classes there this year. It turns out that these classes are really full on and the teacher got 9 kids into the Paris opera dance school last year so its basically preparing for that.

 

She's only had 2 classes, but she doesn't like it because the teacher is too strict and she can't make up her own dances (!). Also the teacher said that she needs to concentrate more and that she doesn't think that my daughter wants to be a dancer (although the first class went well and the teacher said that she could be really good). So all in all not a great success up until now...

 

My husband thinks that we should make her go because you shouldn't give up just because its hard, and while I agree with him I feel like all the other children in the class are much more focussed on being a danser and she doesn't necessarily want that. But then she's only 7...

 

So I don't know, I guess I'd like to know if anybody else has been in this position.

 

Thank you for reading this!

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Hello Window and welcome to the Forum. My opinion is ,that THE single,most important thing for a child whatever their age is that they enjoy what they are doing. Otherwise there isn`t much point. She could stick it out ,going along to the classes reluctantly but eventually I would imagine it could put her off dance completely and she may never want to dance again.!!  She is very young,and if the class is a "serious" class, where all the other children are serious about their ballet and your daughter just wants to enjoy herself,then perhaps this is the wrong class for her. 

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I agree with thequays. It sounds as if this is the wrong class for her. Does your husband have aspirations for your DD to be a dancer or would he have the same view about any field of activity? In the UK there is plenty of time for a child of your DD's age just to have fun in class as children are taken into vocational schools at 11 on the basis of their physical suitability for training and potential rather than their technical ability. However, I believe that things are different in other countries where children seem to train intensively from a much younger age. I hope that afab, who also lives in France, will be able to contribute to this discussion.

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Thank you so much for your replies!

 

I completely agree with you but then part of me thinks that its only 1:30 hours a week and would be great discipline whether or not she wants to be a dancer...

 

My husband isn't particulary bothered about her being a dancer (we are not at all au fait with the dance world) its more about not giving up.

 

The other thing is that she can only go once a week instead of twice a week which the teacher seemed very unimpressed by and the next two weeks we are away anyway - the whole family is failing the dedication test!

 

sigh I kind of want the teacher to say that its not for her 'cos then it can officially be a 'learning experience'.

 

edited: I would love to hear from someone in France

Edited by Window
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Welcome from me too, Window. :-)

 

In my opinion, Ballet up until age 10 should be fun and enjoyable. That's not to say it's easy, because it is anything but, but I think young children should look forward to their ballet classes and enjoy them.

 

Does your daughter do any other activities like swimming, or other types of dance? Now is the time for her to be trying lots of different activities and seeing which she enjoys the most. The decision to try for a classical ballet career has to come from the child, otherwise you risk burn-out and rebellion.

 

I can see where your husband is coming from but age 7 is very young to have to decide upon an activity and stick rigidly to it. Could you return to your local teacher for classes which your daughter enjoys - at least for another year or two? And let her try other dance styles at the same time, so she can decide for herself which she enjoys?

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Well she's been dancing happily for two years by the sound of it, and is eager to make up her own dances. Sounds promising, in terms of growing up with an enriching childhood hobby that could develop into something more when she's older if that's what she wants later on. Perhaps you should stop those lessons before her self esteem is damaged. She's losing concentration, getting criticised for it, instead of being inspired, as is partly discussed in the recent RAD topic and Dr Dances' thread on 'What makes a good teacher?'. Maybe find a good teacher who recognises her attributes and encourages them. Then maybe she can get back on track and be inspired to continue making up her own dances at home too.

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Great advice S and P

 

At seven children are still in very much the "play" development stage.

 

In my own teaching experience (not ballet) children reach the stage of development of being able to attain more serious focus round about the ages of 9/10/11 ......Although of course there are always exceptions to a general rule.

 

It is still very young to be deciding on careers!! Children should be able to enjoy ballet for its own sake without thinking if I study ballet I HAVE to become a dancer!

Many children learn the piano and other instruments but don't go on to become professional musicians but still get years of pleasure down the line for being able to play.

 

 

I always remember a particular pupil I once had whose parents had decided he was going to be a swimming champion!!

By the time he got to 10 (and in my class) he already had a wisdom beyond his years. He was the best swimmer in the school for sure and did go on later to swim for Islington but he had spent plenty of time at it. He used to stand by my desk sometimes before some trial or training session or other and say " well I'm going to be a champion aren't I" "Well she says so doesn't she" ........(referring to his mum!) with an outrageous wink.

He already by ten knew the hard road to ultimate success and didn't entirely believe in himself as much as others did. A wise little soul.

Well,he didn't swim for England or reach the Olympics but he was a lovely boy so helpful and considerate of others and he did go on to be very successful at College .......and I'm sure all that swimming training served him well on another level in the end.

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Thank you again everybody for your help.

You are of course all completely right! We know nothing about ballet and it was easy to get caught up in her old ballet teacher's enthusiasm and frankly the new teacher scares me let alone her. It is of course completely ridiculous to expect a 7 year old to know what she wants to do - thank you for that reality check. I have paid for 5 classes so she can finish the other 3 and if she still feels the same way we'll pull the plug. She can, of course, go back to her old class.

 

What a wonderful forum - you have truely helped us out today!

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Welcome to the forum.  I agree totally with the other posters that ballet at your DD's age should be more about enjoyment than anything else.  But I am glad to see that she will go to the other 3 classes you have already paid for because my other point would be that any new class with new children, a new teacher, a new routine/way of doing things is bound to be unsettling for your DD and I think a lot of children's reaction to a new environment would be the same as your DDs.  It does take a little time to adjust and settle in somewhere new.

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 frankly the new teacher scares me let alone her.

Hi Window, since I know who you are talking about, I can tell you she scares me too...

 

As for getting 9 kids into POB school, she's also well known for having kids for a few lessons and sometimes even 1 and then taking the credit of sending them to POB. Does your daughter want to audition for POB? I don't know if you know but at that age, POB takes kids on physique and suppleness only. No technique involved... 

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Hi Window, since I know who you are talking about, I can tell you she scares me too...

 

As for getting 9 kids into POB school, she's also well known for having kids for a few lessons and sometimes even 1 and then taking the credit of sending them to POB. Does your daughter want to audition for POB? I don't know if you know but at that age, POB takes kids on physique and suppleness only. No technique involved... 

Hello again afab and thanks for the PMs.

 

I'm not sure she even knows what POB is. She went to the Ecole de Danse show at the end of last year and seemed to enjoy it but she's never mentioned it since.

I'm thinking that the local lessons are definitely a better fit. Not even sure that she should do the last three classes now...

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I want to add that I believe it is difficult to dance well without breathing and when a child is scared or made to feel bad or obliged to do something that doesn't feel right, their breathing hitches and stops all together... So does the fluidity of the movement... And it's very difficult once the bad habit is caught to allow oneself to breathe properly again...

Edited by afab
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Honestly children of seven should not be in such general fear of a teacher particularly when they have chosen to do something for enjoyment.

 

I can see the point of "seeing something through" though .....if you have paid for it ....and she did really want to go herself initially. She now does only have the three left .....perhaps you can support her to get through these and encourage her to tell you a couple of things she did find positive about the class that day for example!!(hope there is something!) and then put this down to experience!

 

I must say I still find it difficult to remember to breathe in dancing after all these years even when I'm not afraid of the teacher!! Lots of dancers I'm with in class complain about this too......perhaps it's a dancer thing I don't know.

But doing Pilates has helped a bit with that.

 

Anyway hope it all resolves itself. If she does keep going I hope you'll let us know how it all went!

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A dancer spends a lifetime learning how to breathe - and choosing a teacher.  That's not something a 7 yr old should already have accomplished.

 

Only rare beings like Mozart know at age 7 the lifepath for which they have both ability as well as inclination.

 

At 7 the child should be enjoying her classes but at the same time being taught by a teacher who "does no harm."

 

Anything other than positive teaching is definitiely out - especially a "scary" teacher.  Being scared isn't positive.

 

(Why oh why  do so many ballet teachers cultivate this persona?  Maybe....it's all they have to offer.)

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\

Her teacher introduced her to another teacher in Paris and she has started classes there this year.\

\

I'm curious as to why her teacher of two years, introduced her to another teacher, and why you decided to take classes from the other teacher.

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Hi Stitch,

 

She has been doing classes at the local conservatoire for the last two years but its not always been the same teacher. It was a replacement teacher last year while the original teacher was on long term sick leave that introduced her to the 'serious' teacher. There will be yet another teacher at the local classes this year.

 

I guess we decided to try the other classes because the replacement teacher went on about how great the standard/teacher were.

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I can see you've already had lots of good advice, and I'm not going to say anything different - just agree with everyone else! Something I heard a teacher (academic, not ballet) say years ago is that she believes that to learn effectively children must first be happy and feel secure. She aimed to create an environment in which her pupils felt safe to ask questions and were confident enough to make mistakes. This, I think holds true for any kind of education. I would not want any of my children to be taught by someone who scares them, especially at such a young age.

Yes, ballet if taken seriously demands discipline, commitment and hard work. But there are ways that good teachers can get that from their pupils without making them fearful. And at age 7, it should all be fun anyway. My opinion, for what its worth, is that anything that stifles the joy of dance should be avoided where possible.

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I do so agree that finding the right environment to nurture your daughter must be your primary concern.

There is a fine balance between working with a teacher who has authority but in addition treats pupils with respect and integrity.

As a parent, you know your child best in terms of her wishes and dreams but also the environment in which she grows and flourishes. Change is never easy for anyone so it may be worth completing the classes for which you have paid. What I will say is that for many years and to some extent I still live with the impact an abusive dance teacher at a young age. Yes, you may not be an expert in dance but you are an expert in knowing your child so use this to inform your choices. There will always be another teacher and summer intensives to augment training as she progresses but the key thing right now is to put her in an environment that fosters her learning in every sense of the word. It's very early days so put the welfare of your child at the centre of any decision.

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My daughter is nearly 8 and has been doing ballet for 2 years in our local 'conservatoire' (we are in France).

It seems as though you are at a "fork in the road".  You are apprehensive about going forward with the "serious" teacher, but the original school might not be ideal either.

May I inquire further about the original school which you refer to as "our local 'conservatoire' "?  Is it an institution dedicated to ballet or does it offer a variety of activities such as dance, music, and theater?

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Stitch,

In France each town has a conservatoire. They provide music and dance classes. I'm not sure about theatre I think it depends on the town. Its heavily subsidized and means tested. So for example we pay 130 euros for 2 classes a week for the whole year and we are at the celing so some people will be paying a lot less. Its actually a really great system and I'm pretty sure the teachers have to have some sort of state diploma. 

 

Thank you once again everybody. We've got 2 weeks to think about whether she finishes the last few classes. I'll let you know how it works out.

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To complete what Window said, yes each biggish town has a conservatoire. Conservatoires have 3 levels. Most have dance, music and theatre... The town ones are Municipal. Each region has a bigger one called Regional (crr) and then France has 2 national ones, one in Paris and one in Lyon (cnsmdp and cnsmdl). The national ones are extremely high in level... Very difficult to get in!

 

Even the regional ones are difficult to get in, especially the Paris one which is an annex to POB school in the sense that kids assessed out of POB school always go there after.

 

Teachers have to have a national diploma to teach in a Conservatoire.

 

It all sounds wonderful nevertheless the levels vary enormously from one conservatoire to the other. Some are really good and some are really rally bad! Some private school are much better than Conservatoires... When DD1 was 8, her municipal conservatoire teacher, noticing how serious she was with dance, told me we had to find a better school for her as "she (the teacher) couldn't do anything for her because she would be losing kids if she pushed them a bit more..."

 

Most kids in a conservatoire municipal are there for the fun, there is no audition and it is great for most but when a kid is serious at dancing, they need to go to at least a regional one where they have auditions. Even regional ones are 2 tiered, some kids are "amateurs" and do a few hours a week, some are "horaires aménagés" and do more classes often during school hours...

 

It's a mine field for parents of serious dancers but it's a great system for recreational dancers...

Edited by afab
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So the arts are accessible to everyone in France, not just the affluent. So it should be IMOH. There must be so many stones left unturned in terms of discovering potential and nurturing it in the UK. Pity the arts aren't considered worthy of investing in to the extent they are in France IMO.

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Afab,

 

How do you know which ones are good and which ones are bad?

 

I've also had various comments from various teachers along the lines of 'she's wasting her time here' and I can't push the others too hard'. However, as already established it doesn't really matter if she enjoys it...

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Window, apart from the big ones, you have to try them (end of year shows, open doors) or word of mouth... Furthermore, people who don't know much about ballet get very impressed with the wrong things so it's not easy...

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