Not to audition

Regular readers will know my daughter had the chance to audition for the Royal Ballet. I worked through it all in my head – the pressure on my daughter, the fear of failure, the fear of eating disorders, the time and pressure on a family already drowning in extra-curricular activities… I blogged about it. And my brilliant readers persuaded me that we should follow our hearts.

If we never try, we’ll never know. Yes, most likely she wouldn’t get in. But she would still have had the experience. And maybe, just maybe, she might have got in. I could have dealt with the other stuff. I would have made it fit in with the boys and football. I would have boosted her confidence if she felt down or worried about anything.

So I started to fill the form in. I would need her teacher’s signature. I also needed to take photos of her in certain positions to send off with the form. I emailed the teacher to ask if she would check the photos were as good as possible.

And she replied and said she couldn’t audition.

After all the soul searching, I felt deflated and upset. It wasn’t a decision we’d taken lightly. A lot of thought had gone into it.

I realised there is so much I don’t know about ballet. It is the teacher’s decision, not mine, if my daughter auditions or not. She had already decided they weren’t to audition. She’d made it clear when they went to the session with the Royal Ballet that it was a taster session, not an audition. I knew that, I wasn’t expecting an audition.

But we’d walked into that room and every single parent had been given a form to fill in encouraging their child to audition. There had been a question and answer session afterwards in which all children had been encouraged to audition. So of course I thought she could audition, and we’d taken a difficult decision that she should go for it.

Now I had to break it to her that she wouldn’t be going for it after all that.

I’d hoped she might take it well, but I didn’t expect it. And why should she?

She dissolved into tears and then started ranting. It wasn’t fair. She’d been so exited about it. It was her decision, not the teacher’s. She knew she probably wouldn’t get in, but she wanted to try. If she got in, she’d manage, it wouldn’t be too much pressure on her…

It was exactly everything I’d thought myself, but there was nothing we could do. A decision that we thought was ours to make had been taken out of our hands.

We could apply anyway, my daughter suggested. But we couldn’t. The form needs her teacher’s signature.

I doubt my daughter’s teacher realises how confident and self-assured she is. How if she sets out to do anything she will always be the best, through sheer hard work, determination and dedication.

My daughter was never doing ballet again. If she couldn’t try for the Royal Ballet she wasn’t going to go to her ballet class with the teacher who had stopped her auditioning. And she CERTAINLY wasn’t going to tap.

15 minutes later she said: ‘I’d better get ready for tap’. And she did.

She’s a resilient little soul. Sort of.

She came home from tap and cried and shouted right until bedtime. Even in bed she was still telling me how angry she was. I could totally understand that. Her anger was directed at her dance teacher, but mine was at the breakdown in communication between the Royal Ballet, the dance teacher and us. If she’s not supposed to audition, why give us a form?!

I’m pleased to say she’s just about bounced back from it now. If she’s determined (and I just know she is!), she needs to channel her anger into getting even better and proving she can do it.

So the dream is over for now. But only for now. My little girl will make it happen in the future.


Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. So sorry to hear about the upset. Are you sure you can’t contact the Royal Ballet direct? I might ask my brother about this – he’s an opera singer/teacher so may know a way around it if that is what you want

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  2. I think I would want to know exactly why the teacher had made that decision, it’s very frustrating for your daughter. Has she spoken to her teacher? If not, she should! I think she needs to explain her reasoning.

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  3. That’s such a shame and so disappointing. Did the dance teacher give you any proper explanation as to why your daughter can’t audition? In Portsmouth, the English Youth Ballet audition every year or 2 for local dancers and put on a production such as Swan Lake. I wonder if they do it near you too? Might be worth a google. If so, it’s a great opportunity to dance on stage and they are really professional shows. Hope your little girl bounces back.

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  4. I think you need to ask the teacher why this is, and I think it’s wrong of the RB to be handing out forms and getting hopes up if it’s not up to the children/parents anyway. I think I’d feed that back to them too.

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  5. Oh no but why? Do teachers act as reps for RB schools and pick the pupils? Seems so unfair she can’t audition:(

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  6. Can’t begin to imagine how hard this is for you and your daughter. Sounds as though there has been a complete breakdown in communication somewhere down the line and I’d certainly be ringing the ballet teacher for a polite chat!
    Your daughter sounds very mature for her years and I’m sure that when the anger has worn off she’ll be just fine. It is however, extremely unfair to raise her hopes and then let her down.
    My daughters did RA ballet up to Grade Six and one of them has resumed classes at university, although neither of them ever auditioned. I hope your daughter decides to continue with classes and wish her every success in the future.

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  7. Oh my this stuff sounds like a complete minefield! Really hope your daughter is ok and bounces back quickly from the disappointment.

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  8. For goodness sake…what a mess. No wonder both you and your daughter are feeling a bit stung, it’s always the people who get caught in the middle of disorganisation like this that end up being impacted on. I hope she can get past her disappointment.

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  9. I can see how upset you are by the heavily crossed out application form. What comes across loud and clear is how strong your daughter is and that she’ll do well whether she eventually gets a chance to audition in spite of her teacher’s decision. Why on earth couldn’t the RBS give you the correct information in advance? Sorry for hers and your disappointment.

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  10. I agree with the suggestions to at least feedback about how damaging and upsetting such a lack of communication can be. Obviously the teacher had been clear in her own mind about what was and wasn’t to be expected but that has got lost somewhere along the line. Such a shame that it had to happen like that.

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  11. Why on earth was your given forms to audition if she wasn’t allowed to actually audition?! Such a frustrating situation to be in.

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  12. Oh how frustrating! Sometimes teachers don’t think about the fact that they are dealing with children, and I can well imagine the Royal Ballet don’t even consider the fact that there are feelings out there to be hurt. I’d be angry too in your shoes.

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  13. Oh that is just gutting! I think you were both quite right to be angry and upset. When I was 10 I auditioned for the Dutch equivalent, the conservatorium in The Hague – no teacher’s signature needed. But i didn’t get in, my hamstrings were too short amongst other things. I am so happy that I didn’t make it. I would never be living the life I have now if I had become a professional ballet dancer. You can pass on a wise bit of advice from my husband on reflecting on disappointing A-level results: “Don’t be afraid to embrace a destiny you did not choose.”

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  14. Oh that is just gutting! I think you were both quite right to be angry and upset. When I was 10 I auditioned for the Dutch equivalent, the conservatorium in The Hague – no teacher’s signature needed. But i didn’t get in, my hamstrings were too short amongst other things. I am so happy that I didn’t make it. I would never be living the life I have now if I had become a professional ballet dancer. You can pass on a wise bit of advice from my husband on reflecting on disappointing A-level results: “Don’t be afraid to embrace a destiny you did not choose.”

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  15. Thank you all for your lovely, supportive comments.
    The teacher gave me her reasons, which were all sound and based largely on my daughter being very young and too much pressure too young potentially putting her off – all of which I get. The problem is the breakdown in communication between everyone. If my daughter wasn’t allowed to audition, we should never have been given the forms.
    Your writing skills would have been wasted on ballet, Judith!

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  16. Oh my goodness Sarah how frustrating for everyone – and upsetting for your daughter. That’s so unfair given their feedback. I’m sure though your daughter will get her time. Hopefully there is something better just around the corner, for now anyway!

    Thank you so much for your wonderful comment, really appreciate it x

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  17. Poor, poor communication I would say!! But she mustn’t give up if that is truly what she wants to do. Plan a trip to a beautiful ballet/dance to keep that dream going. The Royal Ballet is not the only option – Matthew Bourne’s recent production of Swan Lake is amazing – and as well as The Royal Ballet there are fantastic other companies to watch. Sam. x

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  18. How awful for you and you daughter, seems most odd her teacher had the final say, but I have no knowledge of these things. Definitely poor communication on The Royal Ballet’s part..

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  19. Thanks very much, everyone. I’m sure she will get her time one day, Charly.
    That’s a lovely idea, Sam.
    I realise I don’t have much knowledge of these things either, Dawn 🙁 I thought it was my decision, but apparently not!

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  20. I’m a bit late getting to comment but I am so sorry that this has happened and it is really poor as there doesn’t seem to be much thought for your daughter. I’m sure she will get over it and she obviously has a talent for dancing so I have no doubt that there will be other opportunities along the way.

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  21. Thanks very much, Nikki. She hasn’t mentioned it for a few days and I put all the paperwork in the recycling today. There will be other opportunities for her in future, I’m sure.

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  22. That’s really strange as most dance teachers are delighted if their pupils audition , even if they aren’t successful in the end. The JA audition is very relaxed and the class is not difficult. They are looking for potential at her age. My son was a London JA for 2 years and is now at the Royal Ballet School full- time. I treated the audition as a fun day out together, lunch and builder bear with a ballet class in Covent Garden which was exciting enough for my son.Just explain that there aren’t as many places as there are applicants. The staff have a little talk at the beginning to explain how much they wish they could give every one a place. I would recommend having a go, call the royal ballet and explain the situation, they are very approachable, i even missed the dead line and they still squeezed him in. My son had only been dancing for 4 months when he auditioned, he is tall and slim with long limbs.

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  23. Thanks, Clare, what a lovely supportive and reassuring comment! I felt quite reassured that the audition would be a nice class and an exciting experience, so I wasn’t afraid for her to go and fail, but we’re letting it go this time. I hope she might get another opportunity when she’s a bit older.
    And well done to your son! He must have had real potential. Good to hear he’s not necessarily ‘perfect’ shape either.

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