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Should I let DD give up ballet?

(24 Posts)
MaisyMoo123 Sat 25-Jun-16 22:01:39

So, usually a lurker but after some thoughts on my current dilemma. Dd is 10 and has always loved dancing. She's taken ballet classes since she was 5 and more recently taken up modern. A couple of years ago her teacher sent her to a Royal Ballet JA audition because she thought she showed real potential - she didn't get in but loved the experience and it just made her even more focused on her ballet then before and it was the absolute centre of her world. Then, a few months ago, the enthusiasm for it started to wane and then a couple of months ago she dropped the bombshell that she was thinking she might want to give it up. We have encouraged her to mull it over for a while before making her final decision and she's been doing that very sensibly. She has said that she realises that if she's going to go on and pursue it more seriously then she'll need to take additional classes and admits that she's really not keen on that idea and has also said that she's not fussed about going on pointe anymore (was always the big goal). She did brilliantly in first couple of exams (distinctions) but marks have gradually got lower each time since then so I wonder if that has something to do with it. I genuinely think she's being sensible about this but I really don't want her to regret it. Should I just let her make her own decisions and walk away from it or should I be encouraging her to carry on with something that was such a passion?

Mistigri Sat 25-Jun-16 23:13:27

She sounds very mature and you should follow her lead. Would she perhaps enjoy another form of dance more?

I do think it's important to respect children's decisions re activities. My dd played music as a young child - her teacher considered her talented but she just wasn't that bothered. At your DD's age she stopped music lessons completely. A couple of years later, she took up a new instrument (and then two more) and now aged 15 she plays three instruments to a reasonably high level and is definitely good enough to consider making music a career if she wished (she won't - but she is good enough). I will never regret letting her give up, because finding her own way has made her into the muician she is today.

MaisyMoo123 Sat 25-Jun-16 23:39:39

Thanks. That's a really helpful insight. DD has said she intends to keep up her modern classes no matter what happens with ballet so she'd still be dancing. She says she enjoys that so much than ballet,

Chillywhippet Sat 25-Jun-16 23:48:51

I have tried to get my DC to limp on a bit as their motivation wanes, "keep going until the next show and then see." If they are consistent then I think it's best to let them take a break as they just won't enjoy it and won't do well either. Ballet, sport, music at a high level requires huge amounts of work so it has to be their ambition.

I do all I can to make the things that are important to them enjoyable - nice teachers, good kit, support to practise. After that it's up to them. As PP said often a break can lead to new enthusiasm or going in a different direction. One of my DC stopped ballet and took up fencing. The fencing tutor said, "ooh great. I love teaching dancers. You tell them to bend their knees and they do and they keep them bent."

WhoKnowsWhereTheTimeG0es Sat 25-Jun-16 23:49:31

We're going through similar, although it's never been DD's favourite hobby. She's 10 and started ballet at three, picking up tap and modern 3 or 4 years ago. However 18 months ago she said she would only carry on if she didn't have to do exams, which dance school and I agreed to, that was the first sign of waning enthusiasm. I've always said I won't force the DCs to do anything they don't want to continue with but the problem for DD is that she loves acting and singing and wants to aim for musical theatre, if not professionally as a serious hobby, and I'm worried that giving up dance now will be something she regrets in later years. We don't have to re-enrol till Sept, but the classes get longer then which isn't going to help persuade her. Feeling very uncertain about it all.

dogdrifts Sat 25-Jun-16 23:51:16

It's pretty common at this age. That said, ballet is such a key class to continue taking if you are going to carry on with any other form of dance that I would really say she needs to continue if she wants to dance.
Dd1 went through this at the same age. She was 'off' ballet for a year or two (in that it was no longer her favourite and she wanted to quit) but we did say that she needed to continue if she wanted to take other dance genres. A couple of years later and she was once again in love with ballet (and dancing pointe) as well as tap. There is no way she will ever be a professional dancer, but she has enough exams under her belt to go on to teach if she wants to (and at 16 she has been TAing in class for two years).
If she wants to continue with modern, she should absolutely continue with ballet. For a lot of schools itisn't optional - ballet is required for technique.

dogdrifts Sat 25-Jun-16 23:54:13

<should add - dd doesn't TA ballet but other genres. She takes ballet, pointe, tap, modern, but dropped jazz and lyrical. Ballet is the one genre that she is not able to drop if she wants to continue to dance>

Ditsy4 Sun 26-Jun-16 08:16:51

Perhaps taking her to a ballet might inspire her to continue. I was away with family issues once and came back to find DD had dropped out of all her dance classes. I was disappointed about the way she did it but she hasn't regretted it. She was 15, she does Pilates and yoga now.

Aftershock15 Sun 26-Jun-16 08:22:24

I don't have a dancing girl, but just wonder why you would encourage a girl who maybe is t that keen to go en pointe? It's such an unnatural thing for them to do and doesn't do their bodies any favours. Fine if it's what they love. I know girls who have gone on to full time training because it is their passion, but just as part of a hobby she started at 5 it seems crazy.

Susiesue61 Sun 26-Jun-16 08:26:24

My Dd stopped ballet and tap for over a year because ballet clashed with football training hmm That was at 10 or 11. Then at 12 she asked to restart, first tap and then ballet. She's done her tap exam but not ballet but did the show last year and now is learning to go up on pointe. She's 14 now.
I was sad for her to giv e up because she'd been dancing with the same girls since she was 3 but I'm glad now I didn't force her to carry on. The football has carried on too though!

dodobookends Sun 26-Jun-16 11:38:23

Agree with others who mention that if she is really keen on modern, then she will need to continue with ballet classes. Ballet technique is a necessary component of modern training, particularly at the higher grades.

If you would like to encourage her to continue with ballet (at least for the time being) then taking her to see a ballet might re-kindle her interest. Another option might be to see whether English Youth Ballet have any auditions or performances in your area over the coming months. They travel the country and audition a cast of about 100 young dancers from the local area to take part in the performances.

WhoKnowsWhereTheTimeG0es Sun 26-Jun-16 12:52:18

Which ballets or dance based shows are good for that age group? My DD has resisted being taken to one so far as she prefers musicals (I got a flat no to The Nutcracker), but I always take her to the senior show of her dance school (she's still in the junior one) and she enjoys that. I could do with something that combines singing with lots of dancing. At the moment she has grudgingly agreed to keep going until her next show in a year's time, I seem to remember having the same conversation two years ago, so we'll see.

I started adult ballet and tap at the same school last year. It would be weird if she ends up coming to see in next year's show instead of me coming to see her!

Maisy - would it be possible for your DD to carry on doing ballet "recreationally" i.e. without exams, as a support to modern? A bit of a compromise.

dodobookends Sun 26-Jun-16 13:06:17

Ballets such as Swan Lake, Giselle, Coppelia, Sleeping Beauty, Le Corsaire, Alice In Wonderland etc, are often performed by the really big companies, and there are also other companies producing works which would be popular with younger dancers, including Northern Ballet, Ballet Cymru and Ballet Theatre UK. English National Ballet also performs the 'My First...' series, aimed particularly at young children.

For singing and dancing, then it is the musicals; and there are other dance genres too with shows such a Tap Attack and Stomp.

MaisyMoo123 Sun 26-Jun-16 13:14:01

Thanks for the interesting comments. It's a really tricky one. Dd seems to have made her mind up and I can't help but think that the worst thing we could do is force her to continue. As OP said it seems crazy to push her into doing something more serious when she's not keen. She's obviously given it a lot of thought and I respect her for that. Its reassuring that others have said their dcs have given things up and then picked them back up again as my main concern is that she'll regret the decision - not so worrying if she could start it up again after a break. As for encouraging her interest in it - we've been to quite a few ballets both live and the live cinema screenings - she loves them but whereas she used to talk about it being her dream to be up there one day, she actually said she's not bothered about that anymore. I'm also a bit confused about the comments about her having to carry on with ballet if she wants to continue with modern. I totally understand that if she was looking to pursue a career in dance but what about if she's just doing it for pleasure? That seems a bit sad.

dodobookends Sun 26-Jun-16 14:09:33

If she loves modern, and just wants to carry on with that, then yes absolutely. There's no point in making her carry on with ballet if her heart isn't in it. Have you spoken to her teacher about it? Some dance schools have a requirement that their pupils can't just do modern but have to take ballet classes as well. If that's the case it might mean another think, or maybe even finding another school.

Slingcrump Sun 26-Jun-16 15:18:25

[Waves to Whoknows grin ]

Op - you sound really lovely and very sensitive to your dd's needs.

I absolutely agree that, as dc grow, we need to respect their autonomy and choices but with the caveat that dc tend not to be great at looking far ahead in to the future , and so, occasionally, we need to help them with that. It sounds as though your dd is very mature for her age though whereas my dd tends to be a bit impetuous at times and only thinks about the here and now, or at best, next week! smile

This is particularly relevant to ballet I think, because, unlike musical instruments, it is more difficult to pick it up again once you have stopped.

We went through a similar situation when dd (nearly 13yrs) was nine. She had, up to that point, in the main, really enjoyed ballet (she isn't doing it vocationally or anything, just four or so hrs a week at a local school).

But then she went through a bit of a blip at school when she was struggling socially and with various academic issues and it all got a bit much. So we gave up all extra-curricular activities for a year (at that point she was also doing tennis and regular horse-riding) to ease off the pressure. I'm glad to say this strategy worked and having missed 8 months or so, she returned to ballet lessons the following September.

This has, overall, worked out well as she is now back at ballet, en pointe and enjoying it hugely!

However, however, it hasn't been all plain sailing because she is now one year behind her ballet classmates with whom she had made friends previously (she has one particularly close friend in the class). This hasn't been too bad this past year because both her level and the level above are taught together (with variations). But next year, when she is with smaller dc, she will really feel it I think.

Also, she has shot up massively in height in the past year, and developed overall, and this is obvious when they all dance together as she towers over the others! This means that during performances, she tends to be placed at the back!

The reason I am boring you with all of this (!) is that I think it would be quite difficult to give it up at a later age and return again - I think you could get away with it at 10 yrs and probably return in a year - but no later than that. And definitely not advisable once you have started en pointe.

I think it is totally normal to have doubts and major wobbles at our daughter's ages. I always remind my dd that dance is such great exercise and a brilliant social skill and its a great way of maintaining fitness throughout your life. Also, that if you can do ballet, you can turn your hand to almost any sort of dance.

Hope it works out for your dd whichever decision she takes!

Slingcrump Sun 26-Jun-16 15:23:16

Sorry, sorry, forgot to add at the end there, that ultimately, as others have said, its got to come from the child because, as we have found, the work gets harder and more and more commitment is required the further you go. (However it could be argued that the movements get more interesting and the rewards are greater too!)

dogdrifts Sun 26-Jun-16 18:03:46

Technique-wise, she will find modern much harder without ballet (and it is likely that it will be more obvious to spectators that she has less background technique than her peers). The further she goes, the more this will be exacerbated.

Sling, dd is also by far the biggest in her class. grin they have great choreo though, and often it means she takes centre stage in any tableau. She hasn't been disadvantaged in any way by being the tallest and biggest - for last year's show she picked up the main male role as she was strong enough to deal with essentially doing beats non-stop for thirty minutes lol.

Aftershock - you wouldn't force any girl to dance pointe. Our school has separate classes and it is perfectly possible for girls to take ballet right though recreationally without ever taking a pointe class. There are also girls in the pointe class who have no intention of dancing professionally (dd included). But if the dd wants to continue dancing in any genre, they really should continue to take ballet. Not pointe.

MaisyMoo123 Sun 26-Jun-16 21:07:42

Thanks again for comments. It's really helpful to read others views. We've had lots more chat about it today. Ultimately I think dd is handling this maturely and had is definitely thinking about the future - in fact, that is actually what's driving her decision. She has realised that pursuing it seriously will require a lot more commitment and has been honest enough to say that she's not keen on that idea anymore. We've talked about the fact that she could just carry on through the grades without the pointe element but I think she's got to the point (no pun intended!) where it's all or nothing.
I've not spoken to her teacher yet. I've been waiting until we were a bit clearer about things. I can imagine there might be some persuasion tactics employed so want to be firm in our thinking! There are other girls that only take modern/contemporary classes and not ballet at our school so think that should be ok - and as far as her technique in modern suffering as a result of not doing ballet too goes, does that matter if she's not interested in doing it for anything other than personal enjoyment? It's not all about becoming a professional dancer, it's about her doing something she enjoys.
The exercise part of it is a big thing for me and I wouldn't want her to drop ballet to sit around doing nothing, but she has also said that she's really keen to take up athletics and to be honest I don't think she'd have time to do that as well as ballet so that's a factor too.

WhoKnowsWhereTheTimeG0es Sun 26-Jun-16 23:44:59

Thanks from me too, it's helpful to hear all these thoughts. Dodo - thank you for the show recommendations, we go to lots of musicals but I don't think DD has really picked up on the fact that there is quite a lot of dancing in them as she is very focussed on the songs and stories. I will start following some of the ballet companies on FB so I get to know what's coming up where - I get mailshots from about 10 theatres fairly locally but don't mind travelling a bit further sometimes.

dodobookends Mon 27-Jun-16 00:02:50

OP, what your dd might find if she is doing only modern, is that there will come a time - probably around Grade 5 - that it is a lot more physically demanding, the technical stuff starts to get quite tricky, and she will find it a lot harder to perform to a good standard. That is when the ballet training kicks in, not only for technique, but also for balance, posture, placement, core strength and musicality.

Think of it like this - even if you are only singing or playing a musical instrument for fun, you'll find that you can progress much further (and enjoy it a lot more) if you have continued to study music theory as well.

Having said that, you can't make her do something if her mind is made up and she really wants to stop!

MaisyMoo123 Mon 27-Jun-16 08:33:29

Thanks Dodo - fully accept that lack of ballet might impact in the modern but I guess that's a gamble she'll have to take. If she's not interested in a dance career then we can just see how she gets on as time progresses. I've notified dance teacher now and set it all out so we'll she has to say about it!!

ealingwestmum Mon 27-Jun-16 18:42:18

I feel for the OP and others whose girls (or boys) are considering dropping ballet when quite advanced. Mine did reluctantly last Dec (at 12), having got to starting en pointe work completing her inter-med foundation.

The issue was Y7 commenced, and other extra curricular stuff clashed. Her ballet teacher persuaded her to keep going a term, but after making only a few autumn classes, DD herself came to the decision to quit. She realised others had moved on, and at that level, she really needed to be committing to 3 x classes per week to keep up and progress safely without risk of injury. Of course there was the option to slip into the classical grade structure, but she was physically more built for vocational/en pointe work (and preferred it too).

She still misses it dreadfully, but is a realist and knows she can't go back and slot back into her old class, and has moved on with other things that require x hours training.

OP, your DD sounds really mature, and will hopefully put her energy into something else offsetting the passion she once had for ballet. I think allowing her to make the call is the right thing as her rationale is quite considered...

nonicknameseemsavailable Thu 30-Jun-16 14:35:52

my girls are younger but I think it is a common age to change their mind about what they enjoy doing.

Our school says they have to do ballet in order to do the other styles but it doesn't sound like that is a requirement where she is.

I would let her stop. Like you say she is being very mature and has thought about it and I think trying to make her carry on will just switch her off it more, if she can cut down to just modern then she will stay enjoying that.

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