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DD's ballet teacher wants her to leave

(49 Posts)
Diamond13 Wed 10-Dec-14 09:24:01

Sorry this is long!

My 11yo has been with a local ballet school since she was 3. We picked this school as it seemed quite relaxed. DD's not a natural dancer but really enjoys ballet. She has recently taken her grade 3 exam. We were under the impression she was taking the exam, but instead was entered for the presentation, we found out 3 days before the exam. My daughter wasn't made aware of this either. We paid for extra exam tuition (equivalent to half a terms fees), which from my understanding makes no difference, as DD cannot fail with a presentation class.

I went to see the teacher who explained that she thought her technique and barre work would let her down, so didn't enter her. I felt this was a totally acceptable explanation and was happy with this.

The teacher went on to say dd was not "physically suited to ballet" and she didn't feel she would progress any further. She asked how DD would feel about this? I explained she would be devastated.

Nothing has been said about this since, until yesterday. DD2 finished her lesson and I asked about class timings for next term. The teacher asked if DD1 would be continuing, I said yes, she wanted to. The teacher made a face and said "Oh, dear, well she can continue but won't be able to take exams." My concern is that the main focus will be (quite rightly) on the girls who are taking exams and DD will be overlooked or hold them back.

What do I do now? The more we try and talk DD1 out of continuing the more she wants to do it. Other local schools aren't quite so relaxed, so I think she will struggle. DD is so upset.

NewEraNewMindset Wed 10-Dec-14 09:33:57

I think Ballet is the quickest way to an eating disorder as children get older. So I would be very concerned about the teacher talking about your daughter being 'physically unsuited'. I assume that to mean not tall enough or thin enough? Fuck that.

My friend at senior school was stick thin and was a ballet dancer until the teacher tried to put her on some medication to delay puberty. Unbelievable and she left soon afterwards.

If it were me I would sit her down and try and explain why ballet should be replaced with street dance or horse riding or something. Do not mention weight or height but please do not send her back to that teacher so she can be made to feel inferior. I don't know your daughter but is there a lie you could tell her that would sound plausible? Has she ever expressed an interest in anything else?

homebythesea Wed 10-Dec-14 09:35:15

My DD also does ballet, a bit older than yours and about to do Grade 5. However the teacher has told us that this will be the last exam she does- a combination of being the wrong shape and not being bendy enough, and not having the right shaped feet for pointe work. It's a hobby and a means of socialising for DD and she is happy to continue knowing that come exam time it will be a bit boring. But this is only every 12-18 months. There's a lot of dancing, shows etc in that time. I don't think exams are the be all and end all (unless you want to pursue it more seriously) and I think your teacher is being unnecessarily unkind. If your DD knows the score I would carry on. She will not hold anyone back. She may indeed be overlooked in the immediate run up to the exams but if you are happy to pay the fees on that basis then why not?

AnnieLobeseder Wed 10-Dec-14 09:39:17

Surely there must be schools with classes that cater to girls who aren't destined to be ballerinas but enjoy dancing? That teacher is being unacceptably rude and I don't think I'd keep DD at that school, but would look into finding one that's even more relaxed.

Had DD tried other dance styles? I believe modern isn't so anal about body shape.

MillionairesShortbread Wed 10-Dec-14 09:40:09

Could you see if there is something similar but different she might like to try - one of the drama/dancing/musical groups? Or a different style of dancing? Maybe phrase it that no she is older there are some different options available to her - maybe she'd like to perform/learn something new?

I wouldn't want her going back to a teacher that thinks less of her for not being the right proportions/bendiness/whatever. You have to be so very careful that she doesnt think shes left ballet because her body isnt good enough.

CocktailQueen Wed 10-Dec-14 09:41:04

Jeez. I don't think I'd want to keep spending my money on such a rude teacher! Your poor dd.

How about a another form of dance - modern, tap, jazz, street? There is LOADs of choice.

R4roger Wed 10-Dec-14 09:42:30

Why can't she take the exams? Because she will fail? How bizarre.
Can she do jazz/tap/modern classes instead?

can you tell DD you can't afford it any more or it is inconvenient somehow?

niminypiminy Wed 10-Dec-14 09:43:58

I don't think 'physically unsuited to ballet' is about size or height (anyway, ballet dancers shouldn't be too tall), I think the teacher is tactfully trying to tell you that she's not very good at it.

As you go on up the grades, ballet becomes more technically demanding, and much more about training the body. It's really not for everyone. As in competitive sport, being keen is not enough. You also have to be good at it. That's hard, very hard, but it can be an important life lesson to learn. We can't all succeed at everything.

If she loves dancing, perhaps try to encourage her to try another form of dance. Perhaps take her to a performance (if you can) of something other than ballet. Just because she may not be suited to ballet, doesn't mean that she can't love dance and continue to dance -- maybe her whole life long. Dance is an immensely varied and rich art form. The right form of dance for your DD is out there.

26Point2Miles Wed 10-Dec-14 09:46:29

Ballroom? They do exams and also competitions. Bet she would be good at this as her footwork will be precise from the ballet and her 'form' will be perfect

5ChildrenAndIt Wed 10-Dec-14 09:46:30

Honestly - ballet is so limited.

No one busts out pirouettes at a nightclub or wedding or university ball.

It's great for 3 year olds to play dress up - but for an older child - I think there are better opportunities.

See this as a blessing in disguise.

differentnameforthis Wed 10-Dec-14 09:49:23

Why can't she take the exams? Because she will fail?

If she fails, it will reflect badly on her teacher, that is all her teacher seems to care about.

I pulled my daughter from ballet as she didn't want to appear in shows & do exams, her teacher wasn't happy as her refusal to part-take would be seen as a failure to instil discipline by the teacher.

Or some crap. It was politics I didn't want her getting into!

AlphaBravoHenryFoxtons Wed 10-Dec-14 09:50:22

After school activities should be fun and help children increase their confidence and sociability. And what's wrong with entering an exam and failing it?

COuld you send her to a nice drama class? Where she will be able to put her dance/movement skills to good use?

I didn't send my daughter to ballet as I imagine ballet school teachers to be precisely like the one you describe. grin

MillionairesShortbread Wed 10-Dec-14 09:50:31

I was thinking of starting my 5 and 3 year old after xmas. I kind of what them to have something that will last them into adulthood so was thinking maybe ballet for the foundation but dancing should so be for fun!

Theas18 Wed 10-Dec-14 09:52:20

Give up and do something more interesting instead!

Have a think but she's 10. Yes she'll be sad but a bit of spin doctoring about how you tell her and present other opportunities and she'll be up and running with a new hobby that she'lll be more welcome in.

Don't just go "ballet isn't for you" without knowing what she can do otherwise eg "you know Jessie in the year above that lives down the road, she does street dance /swimming/childrens choir (what ever) and they have a gala/concert shall we go and watch them / go and meet the teacher /some of the kids "

DayLillie Wed 10-Dec-14 09:55:35

If it is just a case of body shape, I would look around. My DDs ballet school had quite a variety of shapes confused. The RAD grade exams are meant for children for whom ballet is a hobby.

If it is a case of motor skills, try contemporary dance too. My DDs loved this. They had a friend with ASD problems who couldn't manage the more finely tuned aspects of ballet, but she did brilliantly in their GCSE dance piece. There are no exams or uniforms. You need to find a class with a good teacher who has been a professional dancer, trained at a good school such as Laban, Central, or Royal Northern and has good teaching qualifications, and imagination. They need to do performance too.

I love this too now! It is a more holistic form of dance (which also incorporates any style going) and quite addictive.

5ChildrenAndIt Wed 10-Dec-14 09:56:26

Take her to some shows over Christmas - broaden her horizons and get her excited about alternatives.

AlphaBravoHenryFoxtons Wed 10-Dec-14 09:58:52

Required suffering is part of ballet's image isn't it? You have to not eat. You have to endure sore feet. You have to contort your joints. You have to endure. Yuk.

cathyandclaire Wed 10-Dec-14 10:01:58

I don't think 'physically' unsuited to ballet means too big/tall/whatever. It's about the feet, turnout etc.

My DDs are not physically suited, they're slim and quite bendy but they fight against sickle feet and to get good turn-out. They keep with it, as it's always said to be the core of dance but apart from one glorious distinction (Grade 6 bizarrely) their marks have been less than stellar and they have skipped the odd exam.

They are however naturally suited to jazz/modern and have done really well in those exams.

Could she do ballet for fun/core strength/ stay with her mates and start modern for exams ( my two much prefer modern anyway, it's more free and the music's funkier!!!) ?

dancestomyowntune Wed 10-Dec-14 10:05:50

If I were you I would definitely look at other schools. Please do not be put off by schools that appear to be very focused or serious. My Dd1 started ballet aged 2. She is now 11 and just taken inter-foundation exam last month. She is very serious about her dancing and is there every night, she does ballet, tap, modern, jazz, Greek, anything on offer! BUT there are lots of other children there who do one/two classes a week and still progress, still "allowed" to take exams even if they clearly aren't very good/have the right look. And guess what? They still pass, often with very good marks!

As for pointework, our very well thought of Dance principal has to say when she feels they are strong enough for that, which can be anywhere between 10 & 16, but most eventually graduate to it at some point. (No pun intended!).

Our dance school has a very inclusive policy and we have lots of teen beginners/once a weekers who love coming and enjoy it beyond belief. Your daughters teacher is rude and uninterested and not a very good teacher if she doesn't want your Dd back.

cathyandclaire Wed 10-Dec-14 10:06:17

By the way, I'm not saying she should have to keep at it, far from it. Just saying it's perfectly possible to keep going without being a physically perfect specimen.

If ever there's a dance to perform my two always get the comedy clumsy roles while everyone else wafted around gracefully grin

Castlemilk Wed 10-Dec-14 10:07:52

So the teacher took money for exam tuition, and then chose not to enter her for the proper exam?

I'd be asking for the tuition money to be refunded before you leave... or explain to her that if she doesn't want to refund, you'll be happy for DD to continue next term until she's coached for and entered the exam as you've already paid for this service and it wasn't delivered... smile

Reiltin Wed 10-Dec-14 10:10:14

I did ballet from ages 9-16, all the way up to elementary. Similar to your kid, I love dancing but am not great at it and don't have the ideal ballet body (understatement of the year!). After I barely passed my pre-elementary exam, I asked my teacher why and was told, as tactly as she could, that I didn't do better because my physique was holding me back.
My point is that I was allowed do all the exams and passed them all, if not with flying colours. Maybe you can find a teacher that isn't so exam-focused?good luck smile

Quiero Wed 10-Dec-14 10:10:29

I was asked to leave ballet when I was young for not being the right shape/size. I was really tall and hit puberty early. I was devastated at the time.

I agree there should be classes for those who just enjoy it. How about an adult class. I have friends who go to ballet, they're in their 50's so I doubt they'll make a career out of it grin

FibonacciSeries Wed 10-Dec-14 10:16:00

I took three adult ballet classes this winter. I loved it even though I was crap at it grin but man, the clique!!! A core group of women who'd been going to that class forever and didn't take to beginners kindly. The day they started whispering to each other with their hands in front of their mouths as I tripped through my little piece was the day I decided to quit.

OddBoots Wed 10-Dec-14 10:17:11

My dd has never done ballet but she has done contemporary/lyrical dance and at around this age a few former ballet students seem to move to contemporary. They benefit a lot from the grounding in ballet but find that the freedom and expression of contemporary suits them better. It might be worth looking into.

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