High School Graduation and SAB Workshop Approaching

The end of the year is fast approaching. When it comes to dance, everything seems to be moving along well for Julian. His foot seems to have healed up, although I’m not there to speak to anyone. The physical therapist says after spring break he need only come back once a week, and he has been cleared to dance full out for Workshop rehearsals, which have started. It does not appear he will need surgery, although we’ll see how his ankle holds up during the stress of Workshop, the final performance.

Julian managed to land a spot in the first cast of one of the two pieces that will be performed at Workshop, Les Petits Riens, which has just eight dancers in it. (There are two casts; cast one performs two times.) He felt this was quite an accomplishment. And he’s in the corps of the other piece, Cortege Hongrois, but has a small solo. Peter Martins is coming to some of the rehearsals to watch, so that’s a big deal.

Workshop, in general, is a big deal. There are representatives from most of the ballet companies from around the nation and Europe there to watch, and I believe The New York Times reports on it as well. Last year two of the new NYCB apprentices were mentioned in the paper by name.

As for all those ballet company auditions, it seems most of the boys have heard from the companies; Julian has not. So, maybe they thought he was too young…or not good enough yet. I don’t know. There are one or two that have not made decisions yet, such as Kansas City and Boston; Boston came and viewed the kids in class so they wouldn’t have to come back from spring break early–or so I”m assuming, since the actual audition is the weekend before they return. Pennsylvania was this weekend. So, I suppose he might still land something.

I’m not too eager at this point for him to take a job with a company, although going back to SAB means spending a whole lot of money and no academic education. I think at 17 going on 18 he could use one more year to mature, to put it nicely.

We are still struggling to get him through high school. Yes, same ol’ same ol’. Grades. Turning in school work on time. And he only has two classes.

I don’t know what to say. I’d like to blame it on the ballet world and say that there is no focus on college or grades or school. That’s what we were warned about at TDC when we said we were going to take Julian out of the contemporary ballet program and put him into a classical ballet program. They said no one would focus on anything but having him go straight to work in a company. And they were right. No one expects him to go to college.

But I don’t think I can put all the blame on classical ballet. And I definitely can’t blame SAB. They have bent over backwards to help us help him get his work done and succeed in school. They have spoken to the teacher. Checked on assignments. Pursued options like enforced study halls and grounding. But no one can make a kid do his work or do it well.

I do think that when a boy like Julian who has not had a good school experience in the past and isn’t motivated by school or to do school in general gets into an environment like SAB or even a strict ballet program, the lure of just going into a company makes school seem unimportant. That’s pretty sad.

The other kids, however, don’t seem to have the same problem as Julian, so I wouldn’t say that every child will respond as he has. You’d have to know your child to know how much structure they need, how motivated they are, etc. The lack of structure did not work for Julian. Many kids who are overachievers at their sport or activity are overachievers in school. I know that many of the SAB students are also straight A students. Just not mine. He’ll just eek out a high school degree, I’m sad to say. I’m not sure he even really want to take college courses at this point. He says he does.

All very sad for me. I’ve been a bit heartbroken over the whole situation–especially after speaking to the head of student life and hearing how she has been struggling with him and the situation.I would love for him to at least take a few classes next year and have a college experience of some type…

I considered not writing about this, but I know you all like the fact that I share the good and the bad with you. And some of you may have sons who are on the cusp of being able to go out into the work world, like Julian (he’s a summer baby), or do not enjoy school. If so, you may be interested in my struggles on the academic front with Julian, especially now that he is at SAB–or finishing up his last half a year of high school at SAB.

I will just add that not going to college is not the only option for classical ballet dancers. A friend of my brother-in-law wrote to me the other day and told me that her son is at Indiana and loves it. He dances a ton of hours per day and is taking academic classes. Plus, a lot of kids from Indiana seem to end up at Boston Ballet, according to her. So, it seems at least one large ballet company likes the fact that the kids go off to college and get education and training. I heard the same thing from a representative from Oklahoma University, who said their students–in particular their boys, were getting placed into companies, and the ballet program had a relationship with Houston Ballet.

I don’t believe in forcing my child to go to college. I already did that once actually; we forced my stepson to go to college when he didn’t really want to. He almost flunked out for two years. (He went back to school in his late 20s and got straight As, then got a scholarship to graduate school.) I won’t repeat that mistake. Julian will have used all his college money to go to SAB for two years, if he is allowed to stay in the dorm a second year–and if he goes back again. So, college will be all loans if he chooses to go later. I would have loved for him to go into a program like Indian.

Whatever, as the kids like to say. At this point, my expectations are quite low. I’m just hoping for that high school diploma. And I’m hoping for good news after Workshop. Maybe…just maybe…NYCB will want him. That would be his dream come true.

He’ll be home this coming week. It will be great to see him, if he isn’t too angry about all the school related issues. We’ll take him up to City Ballet School to dance.

That’s it for now. Happy Passover and Easter to all of you–a bit early. Enjoy your spring breaks.


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  1. says

    Actually, I kind of see another year at SAB as a positive thing — at least he’s seeking training in his choice of career fields! Some kids who don’t like school wind up graduating and working at McDonalds, so he’s totally ahead of the game from that perspective. And he can always go back to school for more academic learning if he finds he needs or wants that.

    Hope you guys have a great visit before he heads off to his next adventure!
    Harvest Mom recently posted..kachiqua:eh

  2. Nina says

    We see it that way, too! Just expensive. And he sees it as a great chance to possibly get into NYCB. If he would take some classes at Fordham or Hunter, he would get to live in the dorm and have a bit of a college experience while continuing his training. Best of both worlds. I’m all for it.

  3. HardLife says

    Sharing the bad along with the good is very helpful. Thank you Nina. It’s good to know our son is not the only highly focused, talented dancer who is actually not a straight A student. I think a lot of parents lie about their kids’ academic situations. Funny, until you, I”ve never heard a dancer-parent say anything except, “Oh, my child gets straight As.” Please…..

  4. says

    You’ve done everything possible to support your son, Nina. Those things won’t go unappreciated. Even if he doesn’t make that effort now, he likely will find the focus and direction coming from within himself as he matures. I had a similar personal experience and ended up graduating summa cum laude from college! Thanks for your honesty – it’s nice to know we’re not alone out here:)
    Suzanne recently posted..Getting Ready for the Summer Intensive

  5. Immashel says

    I do appreciate that you tell it as it is. As someone else pointed out not all dancers are straight A students. Actually I think the girls are more focused on doing well in studies as well as dance than the boys are – not a scientific fact of course but just from personal observation. Anyway good luck to Julian as always and let us know what he decides as regards next year. In our country we have the decision/problem regarding compulsory 3 year army service straight after high school which would not be conducive to progress in classical ballet to say the least! My DS is now in 11th grade and will have to make a tough decision next year.

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