Loves Jazz Dance, Hates Mandatory Ballet!

Updated on April 13, 2012
C.M. asks from Bartlett, IL
11 answers

In order to be on the Jazz Team, you have to take ballet. (That's the rule at most every dance studio!)

My daughter loves being on the Jazz Team but she hates ballet class! Every week it's a struggle to get her to go. Her latest is she gets a "headache" right before class.

I've had the jazz teacher explain how ballet is important. I've explained it. She knows it's the rule that you have to have ballet class in order to be on the jazz team. I sat her down and told her that she needed to stop complaining about ballet, which is when the "I've got a headache, I can't go" excuse started coming in.

We've sunk a lot of money into the jazz team, the costumes, the competitions. We even pissed off the family with her not being able to go on vacation with Grandma because of Dance Nationals. We told her that once she commits to something like the team, she needs to not let her team members down by missing Nationals.

The next step is to let her know, no ballet class, no Jazz Team. However, we would need to follow through with that but it seems counter to the big deal we made about how she needs to not let her team members down by quitting. Plus we'd be out all that money (we already paid for Nationals) AND she'd end up going on vacation with Grandma--which wouldn't make it much of a punishment.

I'm not sure how to get the right message across here. My only other thought is that she go to Jazz team practice and not participate if she doesn't do ballet. If she misses too many practices she would have to go to Nationals to support her team, but not participate.

Too harsh? It's mostly that I'm tired of the complaining and the "headaches" or "stomachaches" before ballet class. I've watched the ballet class and the teacher is excellent. The right mix of humor, fun exercises and stressing good form and technique.

Ballet class is tonight and already I can see the wheels turning in her head! I sense another headache coming on--for both of us!

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

Thanks mamas! I talked to the ballet teacher today and she agreed to try some things today and see if she can either get her to enjoy ballet more or at least find out why she doesn't like it. My daughter is 10 and all she will tell me is "it's boring."

Today the ballet teacher put on some Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber music while they were stretching and at the end she let them do some "free dance." My daughter walked out of ballet with a smile on her face--and so did some of the other kids! I don't think it will permanently solve the whole problem, but at least she enjoyed ballet class a lot more!

I also talked to her and let her know that there will be things she doesn't want to do, but they are just as important as the things she DOES want to do. She is going to pay me $10 next time she misses ballet class (for the class that I'm paying for that she's not doing) provided she doesn't have a fever (if she has a fever, she doesn't have to pay). And she will SIT out of jazz that week as well and watch the other dancers.

Thanks moms!

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answers from Augusta on

We are a dance family as well. BOTH my son and daughter dance. My son thus far has only taken tap. But knows if he wants to try out for the dance company he will have to take ballet and jazz as well.
You might just have to put it to her point blank.
No Ballet , then NO Jazz.

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answers from Charleston on

Jazz teacher needs to tell her, no ballet, no jazz. Sorry, but she needs to jump on board with you and basically tell her it's ballet or nothing. This IS how most schools run their programs, and it's that way for a reason, as I'm sure you understand. I am a dance teacher, and ballet was never my favorite either. I'd rather be tapping or doing jazz as well. Ballet was too slow and "boring" to me. But I knew without that training, my jazz would suffer, and my tap wouldn't have the conditioning to go at such a fast pace.

Maybe with a little more probing, you and the jazz teacher could find out why she hates ballet so much. Has she missed several years and feels behind some of her peers? If this is the case, she might feel a little embarrassed during ballet that she's not as technically sound as the other girls. Maybe then the ballet teacher could offer her another class to be less the follower and more the leader, or even some private instruction. There seems to be more to it rather her just hating the style of ballet. It sounds as if she does understand that a good, solid foundation in ballet is the core of almost every other type of style. So why the denial of what's going to make her great instead of just average?

I'd ask the jazz teacher to probe your daughter a little more as to what the real problem might be. My money is that she doesn't feel on the same level as her peers, and just wants to not go for fear of being the "weakling".

Good luck! It's one of those parenting things that we all hate so much, but stick to your guns. She'll reap the benefits if you do. Happy Dancing!

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answers from Dallas on

Does she realize that she has to take ballet to be on the Jazz Team? If she doesn't then she doesn't understand why she has to take something she hates. If she does know this, then I guess she hates ballet more than she loves Jazz. It's as simple as that. She should finish what she started and then let it be at that. I don't have a daugther and I don't know how dance "seasons" work so I'm only throwing out my two cents.

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answers from Washington DC on

My daughter is a competitve dancer as well in hip hop and tap, and she takes jazz and ballet - all required for her level of team. She is 8. She has hated ballet for the 4 years she has taken it (two in pre-k and two in her dance troupe years). This year she loves it. The difference? New teacher! Her teacher is one of the Wizards Girls (Washington DC's NBA team) and she makes everythign fun.

Is there another teacher she can have? Is it possible for this teacher to find new ways to make ballet fun for her? I can guarantee you she is not the only miserable one.

However, know the commitment that dance is, quitting is not an option. If it is, she pays you back the money and does NOT go on vacation - no freaking way.

I would also tell her that if she can't suck it up and do the ballet without complaining there is absolutely no more dance. This shouldn't be miserable for you guys at all.

Ballet is really a great foundation for technique for the other classes and now I get why they have to take it, while I don't particularly care for it or paying for it, it is what it is. My daughter doesn't love it, but she doesn't complain this year.

You need to be frank with your daugther. No ballet means no jazz. And make her take the consequences of it. How old is she? My daughter at 8 knows the financial needs of dance and that M. never goes in without her checkbook. If your daughter doesn't know how much it costs and what you guys are doing for her, maybe you should explain it to her.

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answers from New York on

You don't mention how old she is. I danced from that age of 6 - 19. I also hated ballet but it had much to do with the teacher then followed by the movements themselve. I wasn't graceful or elegant like the other girls in my class. Some of whom went on to be fantastic in ballet. I felt goofy, clumsy and as ungraceful as they come. Then at about the age of 10 I didn't have to take ballet any longer but could focus on tap and jazz and it was there that I flourished and stood out from the crowd.

Follow the rules of the school and don't allow her to do the jazz if she doesn't do the ballet. Ballet is all about the discipline. It's good teaching and training that you truly do apply to life.

I changed troups from the years of 12-19 which was the best thing I could have done. We had a rigorous schedule but it was so rewarding. I'm a fully grown woman and I'm going to sign up for some dance classed in a few months. I miss it that much and want to get back to it. Pray for me.

This doesn't have to be a battle with your daughter. If she doesn't do ballet she doesn't do jazz. It's just that simple. And if she opts out of both let her know you are disappointed because you knew she could be great at both but move on. If the money is an issue she should be made to earn the money back. She needs to have skin in the game (meaning her own sweat and labor). It's easy to waste your money and most children are rather penny pinching when it comes to their own hard earned money.

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answers from El Paso on

Maybe you should get those Mary Kate n Ashley movies. The ones wen they were little girls dancing and practice 'ng ballet. There fun, and make practicing ballet fun. It did for my little sister and me.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

I have the same issue occasionally and nearly every parent that has a daughter in ballet has this issue at one time or another. You are the adult. You have the right to tell her she gets to make lots of choices every day. She chooses what to wear, she chooses X or X, she gets to pick this or off lots of choices she makes. Then tell her it is your turn to make a choice and you choose to follow the teachers rules. She is going to ballet with or without a headache. If she is running a fever under 100.9 then she goes. If she is puking or says she has diarrhea....she still goes. Unless you know for a fact she is not just saying that or poking her fingers down her throat to puke.

It is one of those hard things we have to do as parents. She knows she has to go, she also has figured out she is getting a reaction from you, you may have even given in a time or two so now she knows she can get you to say she can stay home if she nags you enough. Your bottom line is not really your bottom line.

You have to be the grown up and just put her in the car, make sure her dance gear is in there too, then take her to the studio and take her in, take her to class and stand there to make sure she goes.

My BFF has a daughter in tap/ballet and she has decided she does not want to do it anymore. Her feet are a bit crooked and she is pretty lazy so mom tells her she is going.

It took just one time of mom taking her by the hand and "taking" her downstairs to the classroom. It was a scene and the girl was totally embarrassed. She has NEVER argued with her mom again. She is a good dancer and enjoys performing. She even wants to go compete next year but getting her to the class was a hassle. It's not anymore.

She knows mom says she has to go and she knows she has hit a boundary. She goes right down and is often seen coming up with the professional award for the evening.

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answers from San Francisco on

I would continue out the season, whatever you have already paid for and committed to, and let her know that if she can't go to ballet without a fight she will need to find another activity, that you won't be signing up or paying for anymore classes or competitions. Then stick to it.
If she TRULY loves to dance she will come back to it. Maybe she just needs to take a break for a while. It's not uncommon for kids in year round sports to get burnt out. My daughter was a competitive gymnast for two years and is now in dance (though not competitively) so I know what it's like!

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answers from Minneapolis on

I had a similar problem with my dancer. He never LOVED ballet but he would go. Then he hated it, suddenly got headaches, stomach aches, and the one that got my attention was he suddenly WANTED to do homework instead of dance! Now he had my attention! It ended up being the teacher. Like your other posters mentioned it really does make a difference when they have a good teacher. I dont mean good teacher on paper, I mean good teacher in proper handling of children and how to interact etc. So, I would look into the teacher and see if there is any conflicts with your daughter and the teacher. It could simply just be a style thing. HTH

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answers from San Francisco on

We, too, are a dance family, and while my older daughter adores ballet (and dislikes the mandatory tap class - they have to take a second discipline in order to take ballet!), my younger daughter lives for musical theater and tap, and dislikes ballet. So I get it on both sides!

Bottom line, most serious studios do have rules about needing to take multiple disciplines - not just ballet, not just jazz (or tap or theater or whatever). It is what it is. Kind of like how even though they may love math at school, they still have to take social studies. I tell my daughters that it's not optional - if they want to take one, they have to take the other. If my older daughter develops a "headache" before tap class, I tell her that's fine, she can take Tylenol and then sit on the floor in class and watch. Of course once we get to the studio she forgets she had a headache and participates just fine. No kid wants to sit on the floor for an hour and a half when she could be dancing (even if it's not her favorite discipline!).

The other thing you can do is tell your daughter that if she cannot be responsible enough to take the required dance classes this year, that she will not get to dance AT ALL next year. Or tell her she just won't be going to Nationals this year. I mean, I know it's kind of like you're punishing yourself since you've paid all this money for it already, but allowing her to flake out of her commitments at this stage of the game is going to be counter-productive in the long run, I think. (And it sounds like that is what you're thinking as well...) I'd just play hardball - what else can you do?

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answers from Washington DC on

Hi, C.. Read your "so what happened" and it sounds like things are going to go better -- the ballet teacher really is accommodating; however, be aware that if your daughter goes on to higher levels of ballet instruction it's less and less likely that a teacher will put on pop music or allow free dance - they'll be too busy teaching safe pointe technique or working on teaching the kids combinations for ballet performances. Still it is great that the teacher is recognizing and working with these issues now! One other thing I wanted to check -- Does the dance school have a requirement that missed classes must be made up? Ours does; a student has two months to make up a missed class. If you are in the performing group, you would be "dinged" and frankly probably asked to leave the group if you missed too many classes and did not make them up. It would help your case if your studio has a similar "must make up" rule.

Also, has your daughter actually seen much ballet in performance? If not, get her some good-quality performance DVDs to watch. You can order some on Netflix. Go for modern ballets, or compilations of more modern dance/ballet performances by groups like Mark Morris's dance group, Twyla Tharp, and story ballets from "Romeo and Juliet" (has humor and fighting as well as romantic stuff) to maybe "Don Quixote" (also has humor and a happy ending!). If she sees that ballet performance can be engaging, she might suffer through class better. Just a thought.

My daughter's studio (non-competitive, ballet-focused) requires girls like her (in the performing group) to take ballet and also to do modern dance, as well as something else like tap or jazz or character -- she has been taking extra ballet but has no iinterest in jazz! She and your daughter could have an interesting talk about different styles!

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