A reader’s response of the post on bully teaches and coaches in ballet.
I received an email from someone who read my post on bully teachers and coaches in ballet. The sender wished me to post her email but for it to be anonymous. If anyone else wants to send me articles and remain anonymous, please do so.
This is a very sad story of a young dancer who was not only bullied by her mother but also treated badly by the ballet school and ballet company. There was a total disregard of an individual’s feelings. As the writer said, she felt like a “puppet”. Thank you to the writer for being so honest.
A sad story of a ballet mother bullying her daughter
I shall try to keep it short although it is a long story: –
It all started when I received a scholarship at a stage school because, as the principal said to my mother, “She is going to be brilliant”. I was 10 years old then.
A few years later my ballet teacher came into our dressing room, an unusual occurrence, to tell me I had received Honours in my Elementary exam. I pretended I was happy but secretly my heart sank. Why, because the “expectations” had just gone up again.
My Mother kept saying I was beholden to the school to do well as the scholarship paid my fees. Her favourite words to me were “You always have to do it your way don’t you.” Meanwhile I spent my entire childhood trying to second guess what my mother wanted me to do as her nagging was something to avoid at all costs.
When I was 15 years old my mother was nagging me that my nose needed to be altered to look good. In the end I was worn down and relented to the operation. It was a disaster and my nose became worse. I felt suicidal and contemplated night after night committing suicide but because of the love for my grandmother I could not do that to her.
Also at 15 years I won a cup for Ballet and my picture was put in the papers by the school, with of course a notice saying I was from this prestigious school. I realised then that my free education gave the school free advertising to obtain more pupils. The load of expectations and responsibility to the school and my mother held very heavily on my young shoulders especially as my mother would say I was beholden to practice, practice, practice!
Royal Ballet School
Finally, at 17 years I was told I had an audition with the Royal Ballet Upper School. Again my heart sank! I was never asked whether or not I wanted to do these things.
I entered the Royal Ballet Upper School. On my third day there Miss Moreton, headmistress, summoned me to her office. She told me that if she had been at the audition I would not have got in to the school because I was too small. She said I should go into the programme to become a teacher. I told her that I did not want to become a teacher, so she put me in the “Overseas” class although I was English.
Dame Ninette De Valois saw me in this class and was astounded and told Miss Moreton that whenever she taught the graduates’ class I was to be included. Subsequently, Dame Ninette entered me for the Adeline Genee Awards.
Adiline Genee Awards
In the dressing room before the competition we were told that no mothers were allowed backstage. My mother said of course she could be there but I told her there were strict instructions. She told me I must pin my leotard in a certain way, which I endeavoured to do to the best of my ability.
I was very nervous and consequently wobbled in my penche. After 20 minutes of deliberation the judges gave the Gold medal to another girl and I received the Silver.
When we arrived home my mother started telling me that I had pinned my leotard wrongly. I tried telling her that I did my best. In the end after much nagging I ran to my bedroom, only for my mother to follow me a bit later and say to me in the doorway, “watching you tonight was a nightmare”.
I did’t get into the Royal Ballet Company. I did though dance with a famous male dancer I was at school with, at our Graduation performance at Covent Garden. I joined London’s Festival Ballet for 3 months. At the end of that season, because a small principal ballerina was leaving for the Royal Ballet, they sacked me as I was too small for the Balanchine Ballets they were doing in the next season.
My mother ploughed into me and started a nervous cough. I remember in a bus journey hearing my mother’s nervous cough. My thought was, okay mother, you want me thin, you want me as your little puppet, well here goes. I went on a veg-only diet and became Anorexic very quickly.
I think that is enough for you to realise the extent of the bullying.
I see today in all sorts of dance and sports. Talented children are not given a chance to become their own character. They are forced into a mould that is not their choice.