Jump to content


Okay, arrrgh! Suggestions, please?

Recommended Posts

My son is a very busy kid. He thrives on having places to go, things to do, people to see. He also loves to perform, so we have him enrolled in a variety of performing arts-type activities. It's a nearly constant juggling act to manage his schedule, but I can usually work things out for him.


This week, however, I have come up against a problem I just don't know how to solve. Forgive me if this gets long, but I think you'll need a little background to fully understand where we are.


His primary activity is dance, ballet specifically, although he also takes tap and jazz. He is in his third year of classes with this school and is quite happy there. In addition to his regular classes and the annual recital, he has been able to participate in three years' worth of The Nutcracker with the professional company and had a small part in their production of A Midsummer Night's Dream last year. His dance classes are Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons/evenings.


Next in line is probably choir. He sings with a rigorous and respected boychoir. As of this year, they have been designated as the official training choir for our local opera company, and the opera draws kids from this choir when they need them for productions. They are also in demand to sing at weddings all over the area, perform several concerts a year (including one that is recorded for broadcast on our public radio station) and tour both nationally and internationally. Regular choir rehearsals are on Thursday afternoons, and the have an additional Saturday morning rehearsal an average of once per month.


He also does occasional theater of various types: community, dinner theatre and tuition-based children's productions. Currently, he is in rehearsals for a (tuition-based) junior production of The Pirates of Penzance, in which he has a small part. The classes/rehearsals for this are on Monday evenings.


So, all should be well, right?


Well, here's where the wrinkle comes in: Back in January, he accepted an offer to help "workshop" a new opera that is still in development. It gave him the opportunity to live and work with professional producers and performers at an arts center about 90 minutes away from our home for 2.5 weeks. When he accepted the part, we assumed we would be commuting to and from the center more or less daily and that he would be able to keep up with most of his classes and rehearsals. However, it turned out to be a much more demanding project than we anticipated, and he ended up missing more or less all of his other activities for two full weeks. Then, they asked him to go to New York for a week to present the piece there. So, he missed yet another week of things here.


Needless to say, various teachers and directors were less than happy with us. However, we promised he would not miss more, and have been really, really careful about this for the last two months.


In the meantime, though, the schedule for Pirates of Penzance has changed, with the number of performances cut back and the opening pushed a week later. Consequently, they changed the dates for the dress rehearsal and added a weekend rehearsal that was not on the original schedule. And two of the rehearsals--including the dress--now conflict with ballet classes, which he has been told he may not miss.


I had this out with the show producers and explained to them that he simply could not miss two Wednesday ballet classes. Since he has been so good about attendance at ballet for the last couple of months, though, I said I would try to get him excused for one of the two and told them to pick which one was more important. They said they preferred the second one, closer to opening.


Then, just this week, the dance school posted the date for their "mandatory" dress rehearsal for the upcoming recital. And it is in direct conflict with a performance of Pirates. Now, please understand, I did anticipate there would be a dress rehearsal for the recital, but I assumed it would be in the last week or so before the show, not two weeks in advance.


I e-mailed the primary ballet teacher (who is also the head teacher) and explained the situation, even offering to have my son drop out of the other show, since dance is his priority. I explained that he was, in fact, missing an important rehearsal for Pirates that very afternoon in order to attend her class. I also told her that we simply never anticipated that they would schedule a mandatory recital rehearsal with less than two week's notice and so far in advance of the show and that we would not have signed him up for the other program had we known about this conflict. I told her, truthfully, that my son has a part in Pirates with several lines and a small solo and that there is no understudy. So, if he drops out at this late date, it will cause chaos for the producers and the rest of the cast. I asked her please to help us find some way to avoid making my son do that. And I told her that, as much as I hated to say it, he would have to miss one more class in order to attend the dress rehearsal for the other show.


I also assured her that we had learned some lessons this year about scheduling and that we plan to streamline and make better choices next year.


Yesterday, in class, she told my son that she knew about his conflict and that she didn't want him to miss being in Pirates. So, I assumed all was well.


Just this evening, however, I got an e-mail from her informing me that they are prepared to excuse him from the Saturday dress rehearsal, but that he MUST be at ALL regular classes from now until the recital.


So, it seems like we're right back where we were. And I just don't know what to say or do.


I truly appreciate it if anyone has actually read this far. And, honestly, I'm not sure what kind of help I hope to get. I guess I'm just wondering if anyone can help me brainstorm some polite and diplomatic way to remind the dance teacher that I already told her he can't be at every class without jeopardizing his place in the recital? (He's in four pieces.) Or any other suggestions for how to get through this without making my son give up too much?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh, goodness. I don't have any great suggestions... But I wanted you to know that I read it all and I do empathize! Ds is a little younger and not quite so overscheduled yet (though I'm already anxious about the conflict between ballet and theater in the Christmas season this year!), but I see it comin'...


I sure hope you manage a workable solution for all. I know how frustrating it is as a director / teacher to have kids who can't make rehearsals -- and also as a parent trying to balance everything...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a friend whose son had a similar situation, but with hockey. He was on one travel team, plus was asked to play "up" for another team (a real honor.) It started out fine, but schedules ended up conflicting and all the parents were furious at my friend and her son. It got incredibly ugly, so I really feel for you!


I did read to the bottom, but don't really have any suggestions. I think you've probably learned a lesson about scheduling the hard way! :(

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The thing is that I really had no way of anticipating this particular conflict. I mean, we always squeeze a lot into our weeks, because it's the only way to keep my kids from wilting. But this time, I really thought I had it all neatly worked out. Nothing was supposed to conflict (well, except the opera, but that was just too good an opportunity to turn down). And there is a part of me that is just furious with the administration at both places for changing/adding things at the last minute and then insisting they are "mandatory."


I mean, really: This is a big ballet school, and the recital date has been set in stone since registration back in August. How could they not know when the dress recital would be?


And the Pirates of Penzance people: How can you accept tuition from parents, give them a schedule and then change things around?


It's all so unprofessional.


Unfortunately, the only lesson we've learned is that we may need to underschedule next year in order to keep everyone else happy, even though it will mean my son will end up with less to do.




Honestly, thanks to both of you for reading my rant!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think that you, yourself, are probably the only one who understands the full complexities of the schedule conflicts. Even though it is unreasonable to change the schedule at the last minute like that, that is what these artistic directors always do, and they always feel fully entitled to do it and upset if you can't keep up.


I think that you really need to figure out what the priorities are for and with your son, and then figure out your own proposal to each teacher, and make that proposal and let the chips fall where they may. Probably the unreasonable last one just lost track of what you can and can't do and what has already been said. It IS a very complex situation.


In general, of course, we want to keep our commitments. This year the juggling is crashing down on you, and I think that that is the best way to salvage the situation.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And there is a part of me that is just furious with the administration at both places for changing/adding things at the last minute and then insisting they are "mandatory."

I agree -- there's really no reason they should think they can just make late changes and insist you live up to them when they weren't agreed upon before. Our dance studio has the exact same schedule every year -- not only do you know when the recital is by the time you sign up, but you know exactly when and where all the rehearsals will be. The desk clerk can quote them off the top of her head because they never change.


I think if you want to try to appease everyone, you could ask if there was any way you could bring your DS for an extra private ballet lesson (reasonably paid for) to make up for the one he misses. It's not the same as being in class, but since you've already pointed out that it's impossible to be in class that one time, it would be a gesture of how seriously you take the committment. kwim?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, I don't know what to tell you except muddle through and be a bit wiser next year, but I am highly empathetic. I have a similar ds, who is very involved in theater and piano. Throw church AWANA club activities into the mix, and spring is always a little dicey. So far we haven't gotten in over our heads to the extent that you are, but I don't think I could add in anything else without doing so. In fact I am highly relieved at the moment because my ds was just in the local Jr. Bach competition, and they send about 30% to regionals, which I discovered was the date of the "build your car and race it" event for AWANA (my son loooooooves to do this every year). He played well enough that I was scared he was going to make the cut, and I'd have to actually ponder which event to go to. Well, he didn't make it (yay!!), so he gets to do the low-key-non-stressful-fun-activity. AND, he was eligible to play piano at the Music teacher's convention this year because of his certificate of merit scores, but its the same weekend as his play for which he has 2 different lead parts. So we turned down the convention recital because if you say yes and end up not being able to do it, you are blackballed for future years. You have to sign in blood early, but you don't know your exact date or time until middle of June! OK, I've rambled......I assure you, I feeeeeeellll your pain. Best wishes, and happy negotiating,


Link to comment
Share on other sites

WOW - my head exploded reading all that your son is doing. I cannot imagine trying to keep up with it all. The few theater/dance related things (in Orlando) my sons have done have always been full of frustration, last-minute changes and strange/unreasonable demands. I would call this year a lesson learned and underschedule a bit for next year. Wish I had more concrete advice.


Is your daughter involved in all of this as well? Or does she have different interests?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is your daughter involved in all of this as well? Or does she have different interests?


She has similar interests, actually. In fact, she belonged for three years to the girls branch of the same choir my son sings with, and at one point last summer, she was rehearsing for a community theatre production four evenings a week while doing a Shakespearean theatre camp during the day. She somehow managed to memorize her lines and blocking for both . . . and keep them straight. But is a little more focused. (She doesn't dance, for example, or take off one Saturday a month to launch model rockets.)


This year, though, she went to college through an early entrance program. She's taking a heavy academic load (will end up with enough credits to qualify for junior standing mid-way through her sophomore year), is singing with two groups, has auditioned for several plays, participates in social activities most weekends (last week was a three-hour hike) and still claims to be bored and have time on her hands.


They're pretty intense.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, I asked for clarification from the ballet teacher and got a somewhat irritable reply that it was okay--just this once--for my son to miss the extra class.


I also e-mailed the director of the other piece and gave her a heads up about the conflict, letting her know that I was doing my best to resolve the issue but that she might want to think about preparing an understudy, just in case. (I was kind of hoping that she would tell me she preferred to have my son in the show, even if he couldn't make that rehearsal.) So, now I can let her know all is well.


I'm still all stressed out about the whole thing, but I'm breathing for the first time today.


Thanks again to those who commiserated. It's nice to know I'm not the only one with one of these kids!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...