I very often use my daughter’s professional career path as a means to understanding my life, and life in general. I guess it’s because I can step back more easily and reflect upon its course with twenty-twenty hindsight.
Now that she’s headed in a different direction, away from ballet toward contemporary movement, my daughter is happier. For sure there have been potholes along the way, but is anyone’s life ever without them?
Choices. We’re always confronted with them. Never a day goes by when we don’t have to make decisions. A dancer’s life is no different and yet, whatever is decided alters her career path without it being obvious at the time.
The first ballet company with whom my daughter trained at the age of 16 had no qualms about her going elsewhere to dance when they were on hiatus during the summer months. At least that’s what the company’s dance school director said. She felt my daughter was a smart dancer who could easily transition between time with the company and time away with others.
It was during the summer that my daughter began honing her ability as a contemporary dancer. She felt combining year-round ballet with several weeks dancing a different movement would make her a more versatile performer. And it did. Yet it seems to have come with a price that was not made clear until the die had been cast, so to speak.
Rather than inform her directly that it would have been preferable for my daughter to spend summers with the company, very subtle hints were made by staff. Nothing definite, just little questions like “Do you want to be here?” Of course the answer was always an emphatic “Yes!” How was she to know they meant…”Well then you shouldn’t be seen by other directors who might want to steal you away?”
Ballet companies have the upper hand in deciding who among their many trainees and apprentices might eventually be offered a position. There are no guarantees. All of them are made to feel they have potential, but none of them can claim professional status until they have a signed contract.
So then the decision for the “wannabee” career ballet dancer is “Does she commit herself to a company who is still undecided about her? Or does she explore the larger dance community not only to enhance her skills but also to begin networking with fellow artists…dancers, choreographers, and yes, even directors?”
My daughter chose to broaden her dance horizons. She never did it with the intent to leave the company with which she was training. In fact she was always excited to return to the fold after time away. With renewed energy and confidence she incorporated what she’d learned during the summer into her performances.
Of course there are always different perspectives to any situation. So while my daughter saw her summers as enhancing her dance, the ballet company’s director perceived them as a sign that she wasn’t fully committed to him. When he let her go after 5 years he said “I decided to let you go instead of others because you’ll have an easier time finding a job then them.” At that point, my daughter was glad to finally be out from under a shadow that had been looming ever since she returned after the summer. She hugged her boss and thanked him for the opportunities she had been given while there. And with that she left the studio, breathing in the great outdoors and the promise of better days ahead.
Others who trained alongside my daughter never ventured off during the summers. They faithfully remained with the company. Of those, a few have gone on to become principal dancers. Sadly though they have never seen the broader dance world firsthand. And then there are all the others who were not even offered positions.
Becoming a professional dancer, especially in ballet, is just as much luck as it is talent and hard work. My daughter was fortunate to make it with the second ballet company she joined.
However the journey is never without its bumps. If one’s career stalls or back slides, then a dancer must decide her next move.
My daughter could have remained another 6 years to see where her career as a ballet dancer would take her. Instead she made the decision to change directions, helped in large part by all that she’d gained during her months off from the companies.
Over the course of her summers, my daughter has met hundreds of dancers on their way to somewhere. She’s also met her fair share of choreographers and directors. And then there are the stars with whom she’s paled around…Ethan Steiffel…Misty Copeland. Of them all, however, the most notable person she has met has been…herself.
Finding oneself in life is something for which we all strive. The choices we make, difficult as they might be in the moment, bring us to our own conclusion.
I’ve often told my daughter when she was a dance student, as well as on her way to becoming a professional…”Enjoy the process. As long as you do that, you’ll never be disappointed in the outcome. Happiness lies in the journey, not in the promise of the ‘pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.’ ”
Did I already mention…
…my daughter is happy…very happy.
(Enjoy more inspirational words at
Pingback: Nurturing Thursday: A Reason For Fall | Light Words
Pingback: Nurturing Thurs – Unbecome | "On Dragonfly Wings with Buttercup Tea"
Hi hugmamma, your girl is very mature, make the right decision at the right moment. She should be a young lady with many opportunities ahead.
Thank you for the kind words, Elizabeth. And you’re right…my daughter is very mature…and wise. I’ve learned a lot from her. Imagine! A 28-year-old teaching a 65-year-old about life… 🙂
Yes! I’m learning a lot with my kids too, they see the world with a new perspective, I’m glad we are learning with them, not judging them.
My daughter has taught me so much about life. In wanting to do better by her than what my life had been raised by a single mom, I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve also been able to feel more compassion towards my mom who has been deceased for more than a decade, and for myself. I’m at peace with my past…
Hi hugmamma, kids make us look to the past with different eyes, I’m learning a lot with my ones too. Have a great Sunday!
Always wonderful knowing others share my sentiments and thoughts. hugs to you for a blessed week…
LikeLiked by 1 person
Pingback: Nurturing Thursday: You’ve Got The Green Light | Light Words
Pingback: Nurturing Thurs – 10-16-14 | "On Dragonfly Wings with Buttercup Tea"
A nice recount of your daughter’s professional path. I wish her lots of continued success and happiness!
Whenever I think of…nurturing thoughts…mine wander back to my daughter and the lessons I’ve learned through her life’s journey. When I think of my own life and the path I’ve traveled, my memories are more fragmented. Growing a positive outlook for me took a long time. I first had to sort through a lot of personal baggage carried over from a dysfunctional childhood. Thankfully, I feel I’m a wiser parent for having traveled the path I did. hugs for your well wishes…
Hugmamma, Good piece. I’m so glad your daughter is happy with her choices. We spend a great deal of our life doing our work. 🙂 — Susan
Thanks, Suzanne. You’re absolutely right. So we’d better like what we’re doing or we could spend our entire lives wallowing in misery.
I also think the times have changed. My parents, even me, to some extent, were happy to be a long time, loyal employee. There are people at my workplace that have been there 30, 35, 40 years (I myself am 12). My son, on the other hand, is an accountant, and has moved up the ladder 3 times in 10 years. These days companies wonder if you DON’T move around. They think you have no ambiton. Great thoughts, huggy.
Thanks, Claudia. Times have changed for sure. Thankfully there are still companies around who reward hard work. As for loyalty, it works both ways. With ballet companies, the loyalty lasts as long as a dancer is useful. And that can change on the turn of a dime and she, or he, might never know what flipped the switch…until it’s too late. With so many vying for one or two spots in a ballet company, a dancer has to do what she needs to do to keep her spirits positive. Negativity sends off an aura which affects everyone else. Not easy being upbeat when a dancer is competing for a job. Summer dance programs helped my daughter’s self esteem. The people she met reaffirmed her talent. When she had doubts, she would recollect people she had met and what they had said. During particularly trying moments with her own company, she would tell herself she was dancing for so and so. That would help sustain her until the self doubt passed. hugs for weighing in…
Choosing the right direction in life is of utmost importance …and that too, at the right moment… Feeling happy for your daughter… 🙂
I think as long as we strive to make the right choices, we can’t go wrong. And if they turn out not to be the best…there’s always other options. We must never panic, for when we do we overstress unnecessarily and sometimes make unwise choices. But again, “when one door closes…another opens.” hugs for your kind comment re my daughter…
LikeLiked by 1 person