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Cultivating Dd's Talents & Family Sacrifice

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

My dd1 is 7 yrs old and a very talented performer/dancer/acrobat. This is not just a proud mama saying so, this is based on so many parents commenting, the teachers and director at the dance school commenting on her ability to project on stage without even trying, her passion in dance, skill, ability, etc., being invited into the competitive program. We come from a family of generations of performers (theatre, comedy, dance) albeit semi-professional.


Dd says she wants to be a dance teacher when she grows up, all she really wants to do is dance. The problem is, this costs money and a huge dedication of time on behalf of the parent who needs to take time off work to drive her to competitions, etc.


Isn't it possible for her to fulfill her goal of becoming a dance teacher and/or professional dancer without joining the comp program?


I really want to give her a chance to fulfill her dream, and I think she is capable of doing it. I just feel like we will need to make a lot of time, energy and money sacrifices to do so that will push me/us to the edge with stress.


I am willing to make sacrifices, brainstorm and figure out ways to make things work. But I also worry that we will not be able to go to the same lengths to foster the passion or interest in her siblings because we will have already stretched our resources (money, time and energy) too thin.


I am looking for stories from Mamas and families who have been in this decision making situation, what you decided to do about it, and how it turned out. Looking for a variety of viewpoints here please. Thank you very much Mamas.

post #2 of 11
My daughter has a musical talent that involves expensive private lessons, lots of practice time, and involvement in expensive musical groups. We just weighed her interest (high), talent (apparently very high from sources, but I'm close to tone deaf so I can't speak for it personally), and how the cost affects us (luckily we have a lot of disposable income.) We decided to go for it, but it is a hard decision, and part of the decision will probably be going through your budget and deciding what sacrifices you'll have to make and how hard that will be. And of course an understanding of the time commitments. My daughter can't do any other activities than school and music-related things, and we do a lot of driving to get her places, though there is some car pooling for some things. Still, it all takes time, so interest is important in addition to talent, because they can get burned out if they put tons of time into it.

We decided to go for it because some of these things really require learning when a child. If you start learning later, you'll never really be competitive, and if there's potential of that level of interest, we felt like we wanted to let her do it.

I will add that I'm a stay-at-home mom so that helps with the time commitment on my part. That would factor into my decision as well.

You can feel free to PM me if you want to get into more specifics! My daughter has been hot and heavy into this since she was 6, and she's 10 now. It just gets bigger as they get older.
post #3 of 11

We've done competitive dancing before! I elected out after one year so we are not heavily into that world BUT that is because DD1 is quite talented at several sports and dance was just one of several competitive teams we did. I ultimately made her choose between dance and gymnastics, she choose gymnastics. She (of course eyesroll.gif) is on a gymnastic team and um, still a couple other teams at this moment. 




Ok, so some of this may be my limited experience in dance. At least for my area, you are not going to excel in dance unless you are on the competition team. There are lots of other dancers here, other dance studios, those girls do not go on to be accepted into college level dance programs, they are not getting  auditions at the Joffery. Not to say it isn't different in other areas, but here it is a tiered system. The best dancers are on the team and get the best instruction, those dancers go places. The other rec dancers do not get the "good" teachers, the good classes. Now there are other dance studios that are excellent, and would never dream of competing, we don't have those here. It is going to vary widely from area to area and some form of dance doesn't always do well in competition. I am thinking of ballet where in strict ballet studios, they would probably be horrified at the thought of competing. Here again though, the competitive ballet dancers always win the roles in the Nutcracker every winter, the other studios, not so much.




At age 7 though, you have some leeway. This is something that in two years from now you can still change your mind and put her on the team if you decide not to right now. Now the older she gets, say pre-teen-teen, it is going to be more difficult. Our dance team barely takes 7 year olds, 8 is considered young. 


What I can speak of is family sacrifice. DD1 is 9 and in 4th grade. We knew she had talent, we really did not know what we were dealing with until about 2 years ago. She also has an anxiety disorder and learning disabilities. The ONLY thing that comes easy to her is sports. She thrives on competing, never gets anxious during it, has the drive, the desire, and the talent to be seriously good at several sports. We went for it because this is what she lives for. We are a family of 6, she is the oldest. To say this has not been easy is a huge understatement. I could go on and on as to why, it affects everything. But I also do not regret it either. It is difficult with the other children and I don't know how that will pan out as they get older, right now they are almost 6, 3 and 1. I guess we'll just keeping making it happen some how. 

post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thank you for your replies Mamas.


Peony got any practical advice for making it all work with the little kids in tow?

post #5 of 11

This may not be pertinent but I live with a professional dancer. He didn't actually start dancing really until college.  He travels internationally to dance and teach dance.  So it isn't always "only when you are young."  He is *not* a ballet dancer so that is also a piece of information (ballet does seem to have a much higher rate of -starting young folks).  He's also a guy which there are fewer of (although still A LOT).  So is it possible to fulfill her dream, well maybe other people have done it.


(this is speaking to the point made by the pp who talked about in her town only the competitive dancers get "good" teachers.) Re: good teachers- I think it depends on where you are.  Do you live In a  city/suburb/rural/small town?  What is the dance scene like in your town?  Are there lots of dance performances?  Are there many dance companies?  Are there a variety of types of dance companies?  


We are lucky to be able to have ds in a dance class taught by one of our housemate's co-dancers . It is a creative movement class not a ballet/tap/jazz style class and not a competition style (which would not work for ds).  The teacher is a professional contemporary dancer.  


We live a a large city with a lot of dance going on.  At ds's small (17 families total) co-op school there are 4 or 5 families with professional dancer parents (yea I know crazy!) So we are in an area that if ds wanted to be involved in dance we would have a lot of resources to pull from.  But if we lived somewhere else there might be very limited opportunities and competitive dance might be the only one.

post #6 of 11

We did dance competition for a few years.  I'll be honest and say, it was one of the best experiences we have had.  But, the competitions were all local (except for nationals) and they were always on a Saturday.  I worked Monday through Friday.


She danced for four hours on Thursday night, and two hours on Tuesday night.  So, between her grade school teacher (who dropped her off at the dance studio after school) and my ex and I, we managed pretty well.  But, the cost is another thing entirely.  That was hard. 


Not only do you have the competition costumes and supplies, but the end of year recital has costumes, and sometimes different shoes than what you have been using all year.


Tight are expensive.  Shoes are expensive... etc.


At some point, I think you should give it a try.  Just try to commit to one year.  (never drop out before the year..it's not fair to the team)  If it works for you, go for it...if not, let it go, because the sacrifice isn't always worth it.  


My daughter is grown now.... it didn't really help her much as far as being a dance teacher... BUT, she joined the marching band in high school, and she was their best choreographer...she could move better than anyone else.  When the band needed an emergency backup for the dance team at a international competition in Canada, my daughter stepped in and learned the dance in one day, and they won.  PLUS, the won in their division in the marching band too.  


She learned to work hard, work through the pain, be there for your team, show up no matter what you have to sacrifice, and...best of all... the girls are all in college now, and they are still friends.  They met in 1st grade, and they are all still friends.   I couldn't have asked for a better outcome than friends for life.

post #7 of 11

Try to get to know the other families. It didn't work so well for me (no one lives near us!) but you may be able to coordinate car pooling, ride shares. Some of the families take turn taking the girls up. One mom does one competition, maybe she takes an extra kid or two, they all bunk in the same room, next time it is another mom's turn. We weren't able to do this so what we did (Dh and I) was tag team the kids. I might leave the two middles with him for the weekend and go with the oldest and the baby. I've brought along sitters to competitions to help, I've even scooped out sitters local to the competition if I had to bring all kids alone. Competitions are actually fairly fun, stressful, busy, yes, but I did enjoy it. They are fun! I would never compete in only 1 dance unless it was very local to me. DD1 did 3 dances the one year we did it and even that was marginal IMO for the money and the effort it took. BUT we were traveling 7 hours away for competitions. We've done A LOT of team sports, swim team, snowboard team, rock climbing team, gymnastic team, and dance team was my favorite. I actually miss it. The dance team was rather family like. The older girls watched out for the younger ones. I was expecting cattiness, and I'm sure it does happen but because for group dances, it really is such a team effort, there is much more of a relationship bonding experience. We have many more problems with cattiness in gymnastics because the girls are in direct competition with each other all the time then we ever did on dance team. 


Really the key to DH and I making DD1's team life happen is the fact that we have to seriously plan way in advance and tag team kids. DD1 still dances one night a week until 8pm. I've even (cheaply) paid local college students a few bucks to go grab her late at night for me when DH is traveling for work and my littles are all in bed. It takes creativity sometimes to figure out how to make it work. I do things like not put the toddler down for a nap so he will fall asleep early at night and then a parent can sneak away easier to go get DD1 from practice. For us, practices end at 7-8pm at night which is horrid when my little kids go to bed at that time, or earlier and a parent has to lay with them. Dance competitions are fairly family friendly. It gets old staying there all day for two days but there are other little kids around. A lot DD1's friends would have their little siblings with them as well. Most of the time dad would be around to watch them while the mom would run backstage. We did run into issues when my last baby was brand new and DH was really unable to help DD1 at all with dance preparations. He couldn't go back stage, didn't know how to do french twists or make up or fake eyelashes (not that I was great at either!), and DD1 was too young to do that herself. Other moms may or may not be able to help depending on their own commitments. 


Costs where more then I expected. Competition fees, class fees, special fees (if a dancer gets invited to a solo, duet, or a trio), costumes, lots of tights, shoes. Competition shoes where often different then practice shoes. We had team jewelry we had to buy, it was cheap costume stuff though. Make up, fake eyelashes. warm ups with the studio name, travel costs, we had three separate types of recitals to buy tickets for. Pictures. It certainly wasn't a cheap team team sport but again it was a valuable experience. I honestly prefer it to gymnastics, and I don't want her doing gymnastics forever. I think a serious injury is much more likely so I am hoping someday we can ease back into more dance and away from gymnastics. She still dances, just one night a week, and then we do a lot of summer intensives. Oh and we had mandatory dance conventions 1-2 a year that we were required, another cost but it was one where DH would take her since she didn't need hair and make up so that I liked. 

post #8 of 11
Not a dance mom but a (gasp) hockey mom. My son has been one of the best players at his position in the state since he was 7-8 and he's now 16. He's the middle kid so I try and bring one of his sibs to most of the away stuff. Drive 15 hours each way for 4 games ? That's us. We haven't ever had a "real" vacation as a family but we try and take a couple days after a tournament if the lacale is interesting. I have over 105,000 miles on my 4 year old car. Any thing you do with that intensity is going to be a time and money suck but we wouldn't be doing it 10 years later if we all weren't seeing some benefits.
post #9 of 11

Swim mom here!  My kiddo is on his first full year of competition swim but his 3rd year of team practice.  I am very familiar with budgeting both time and money.  We picked a team that was flexible with practice times and had a reasonable location.  Monthly meets are 'expected' but not mandatory at this point.  The coach is very child focused and understands family.  Our team has the option to buy team gear (suits, warmups, sweat suits, deck coats, bags etc).  DS opted for one tee shirt and one sweatshirt.  He is fine with nothing else at this point.  Swim Meet fees are reasonable at this point - $5 meet fee and $3 heat fee.  However as the season progresses there are out of town meets and weekend long meets.  As DS gets older, and next year there is a new age bracket, there are more requirements for meets and such.


Swim is a huge part of my  monthly budget.  I need to budget for gas to practice, extra laundry, quick dinners on practice nights etc.


If I had other kids we would still be doing swim team.  This is something DS loves dearly.  Our team has lots of 'tag a long' siblings who play at practice, who enjoy the meets and who basically grow up together as 'swim team siblings'.

post #10 of 11

Music AND (Field) Hockey Mom here! No extras, and lots of begging around for rides. Both are now in college and those activities continue. As do the costs. But it is well worth it. So you make it work.

post #11 of 11

I am the mother of an elite young soccer player. It does involve some sacrifices, long drives to practices and games, and, unfortunately, as the US youth soccer system, unlike in Europe, still operates as a pay to play system, it costs a substantial amount of money. This will get worse next year, if he is accepted into the club's academy program which will mean more practices and out of state travel for games. We do it because soccer is his life, he wants to be a professional, hopefully in Europe, more than anything. He has the drive, skill and talent, so all we can do is provide the opportunities for him. This will likely mean him having to relocate at high school age to the UK, if he is accepted into a soccer academy there.

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