We thought Julian had his summer all planned out: Back to Jewish camp for four weeks, something he had his heart set on, especially after missing almost half of his session last year when he came down with what was later diagnosed as Relapsing Fever. This was to be his last summer not spent focusing on dance. He’d keep taking dance classes after that at Teen Dance Company and participate in their summer intensive.
But we, his parents, couldn’t leave well enough alone. We kept thinking, “He should be dancing,” and we decided he should at least audition for some summer programs so he could (1) see what the auditions were like, and (2) see how he fared against the other dancers — in particular the boys. So, we planned on taking him to two auditions, one for Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet, a contemporary company with which he’d really like to get involved, and American Ballet Theatre, which offers programs in several places around the country, including Irving, CA (where we thought he might get in even though it was for “advanced” students) and New York City (their premier program that includes classes specifically for boys).
Well, we couldn’t get to the Lines audition, because Julian had rehearsals that day for his upcoming Second Stage show at Teen Dance Company. We had to reschedule for next month. We did make it to the ABT audition, though, along with four other boys and about 86 girls. A week later, we got an email: Julian had been accepted into the NYC program and awarded a 25% merit scholarship. We couldn’t believe it. We didn’t know if he’d even get into Irvine, but he’d also put NYC down as his first choice on the application. Ultimately, ABT makes the decision about where you are placed, however.
Now our world has turned upside down. To go to camp or to NYC, that is the question.
In a very mature fashion — and with fellow ballet dancers telling him they’ll “kill him if he doesn’t go,” Julian says he thinks he will pass on camp and take advantage of this opportunity. Camp is just a fleeting four weeks never to be repeated again. ABT summer intensive will make him a better dancer for life. But…we have to figure out if we can afford it (Even with the scholarship it is expensive, and we have to add in airline tickets, housing — not provided, food, etc.), where we will stay, how he will be chaperoned, if my daughter can do without me for six weeks (since I’ll be chaperoning), if my daughter can get her driver’s license by then (since she will need to get to her summer internship every day), and, oh, so many more logistics. Not to mention that my husband could be without a job at that point…
Well, it’s all very exciting and nerve wracking. And we are so surprised, and Julian feels very fortunate. His ballet teacher, Mark Foehringer, says that this is exactly what he needs, because it is a formal program (which does seem to have classes in a variety of dance styles, by the way, including yoga and how to prevent injury) and offers him a chance to be in a boys’ class with at least 35 other excellent male dancers. This will push him, I’m sure, to be better. Boys thrive on being with other boys and competing with them. Julian has never been in a class with more than three other boys at a time, I don’t think.
You might wonder why he has chosen a ballet program, when he has said he doesn’t want to be a ballet dancer. He knows that ballet remains the foundation of all the types of dance he wants to do, and contemporary is high on his list. Plus, he says that if he can’t get a job in another style of dance, he’d like to be able to apply for a job in a ballet company. Not a bad strategy, I don’t think. I’m not sure if it’s possible to take that route, but I guess we’ll find out.
All that said, poor Julian is again faced with another choice to make. We keep telling him choices are a good thing, but to him it’s always about giving up one thing he wants for another thing he wants, which means missing out on something. In this case, giving up camp means giving up being with the group of friends that has always accepted him. He’s always felt comfortable with them and like he could be himself — even though he was a dancer. He’s never had that anywhere else. He has it with a few friends now in high school, but camp was always his safe haven from the turmoil of social life at school.
However, as a mother I can say that when I see him with other dancers, such as at the ABT audition, that’s when he’s really in his element and most comfortable. That’s when he’s “Julian” through and through. Not surprising really.
We have to decide soon what he will do. I”ll keep you posted. And take my advice, leave well enough alone unless you are willing to deal with the ramifications!
Check here for my next blog post on Julian’s adventures wearing bootie shorts — his worst nightmare becomes a reality!