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Treefrog

"A Very Young Dancer"

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Does anyone know who the dancer is in the book "A Very Young Dancer"?

And what became of her after the book? Did she ever achieve other dancing fame? or a career?

My kids are curious. So am I.

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A friend of mine was a classmate of hers at SAB at around that age, I know she did not in fact go on to join the company. This may not be correct, but I believe also her family is the one that donated the famous Neapolitan angel ornaments to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC that are on their big tree every holiday season.

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I'm not sure who Stephanie was...

but Jill Krementz who photographed the book and has a link on NY Social Diary of Helene A's retirement from NYCB, there might be a link to contact Ms. Krementz, she may know what happened to her.

www.nysocialdiary.com

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Leigh, thanks for pointing me -- gently -- to that recent discussion. I'm embarrassed to have asked the same question so soon after it was answered. That thread lived and died while I was on vacation, and I guess I never caught up. Wonder what else I missed?

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You shouldn't feel embarrassed -- no way you could have known. This kind of question also provides an opportunity to revive old topics, should they warrant it.

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An interview with Stephanie in The New York Times.

The summer before she turned 13 she was staying in a cabin on the family ranch when her mother came in with bad news: The academy wanted Stephanie to consider withdrawing. Though she hadn't enjoyed classes all that much, the news, she says, was devastating: "I cried my eyes out."

She wasn't just a young dancer whose career was ending abruptly but the focus of a beloved, high-profile book. Her failure would be agonizingly public. And so she decided, with her mother's backing, simply to tell people that she had quit.

Difficult situation. Something for parents to consider before giving their consent to this sort of thing.

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An interview with Stephanie in The New York Times.

The summer before she turned 13 she was staying in a cabin on the family ranch when her mother came in with bad news: The academy wanted Stephanie to consider withdrawing. Though she hadn't enjoyed classes all that much, the news, she says, was devastating: "I cried my eyes out."

She wasn't just a young dancer whose career was ending abruptly but the focus of a beloved, high-profile book. Her failure would be agonizingly public. And so she decided, with her mother's backing, simply to tell people that she had quit.

Difficult situation. Something for parents to consider before giving their consent to this sort of thing.

Thanks for posting this new info. Although I feel for her to some extent after reading the article about her, it sounds like she missed a lot of classes. I hate to say it, but it sounds like she may have done this to herself. You can't keep having lots of unexcused absences and think a school is going to keep you just b/c you are high profile. That's my opinion. Couldn't she have joined another school or continued ballet lessons elsewhere after being dismissed? The article actually leaves a lot of my questions unanswered. It appears that her dismissal from ballet school was upsetting to her, but then she should have continued in another school. I am still totally confused by the article.

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Here's a thoughtful article about dePierro in Huffington Post.

I especially appreciated this:

DePierro's story is unique for the extraordinary external attention paid to her at a young age, but the way she felt about failing -- for years afterward -- isn't.

A 2008 study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health showed that American young women had fewer "significant failures" at school than young men, but that such a failure made them significantly more likely to suffer a bout of depression before age 21. In her book "Better by Mistake: The Unexpected Benefits of Being Wrong," Alina Tugend cites studies showing that women berate themselves more for mistakes and that they blame themselves first, whereas men often blame others first.

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I gathered from the NYT article is that it was primarily the fact of the book's popularity that made Stephanie's leaving the school so awkward. No doubt it would have been painful for her in any case, but having been the subject of a best seller made it very considerably worse, probably something Mom didn't think about when she gave her consent to Krementz's project. (I would also guess that there was something else going on - this wasn't just a bout of depression but troubles that plagued much of her life. One tidbit that stood out in the Times piece was that her father didn't find out for years that she hadn't left SAB voluntarily.)

Nor did I get the impression that she took all the blame on herself, not that she should have done.

It is certainly true in general that women are more inclined to be harder on themselves than men when they receive such a setback.

I hate to say it, but it sounds like she may have done this to herself.

A mite harsh, perhaps? She was just a kid.

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I hate to say it, but it sounds like she may have done this to herself.

A mite harsh, perhaps? She was just a kid.

You could be right that I am being too harsh. I just feel like she obviously has regrets from the sound of it, so why did she quit? Can't a young girl enter another school and have a chance at proving herself there and maybe return to the original school? Or maybe still become a professional dancer after attending a totally different school? I take the attitude that for every door that closes, another opens, so I think if she had the drive, she would have stuck to dancing, but I am not in her shoes and in her life, and I bet you are right that there is more to the story. It is definitely strange her father didn't seem to know what happened. I did work in middle school (ages 11-14 although some failed and stayed longer), so I guess I have seen so many children shooting themselves in the foot with behavior that I might be a bit harsh.

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Or maybe still become a professional dancer after attending a totally different school? I take the attitude that for every door that closes, another opens, so I think if she had the drive, she would have stuck to dancing,

Oh, absolutely.

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I hate to say it, but it sounds like she may have done this to herself.

A mite harsh, perhaps? She was just a kid.

You could be right that I am being too harsh. I just feel like she obviously has regrets from the sound of it, so why did she quit? Can't a young girl enter another school and have a chance at proving herself there and maybe return to the original school? Or maybe still become a professional dancer after attending a totally different school?

As someone who quit in despair at age 10 when I wasn't promoted to pointe, there is a lot of pressure, and at that age, things can really seem like the end of the world. For someone in NY, at SAB, it is very possible it DID seem to her like the only option.

I was at the Joffrey. I can see that would be a step down for someone from SAB.

We all create our own mythologies though...

I couldn't stand not dancing, went back to it (at Joffrey) at 14. I got into SAB the next year but I wasn't what they wanted and returned to Joffrey after a year. I LIKED the Joffrey better, but you don't know how hard it was for me to not put a *spin* on that even now, much as she did (saying "I quit") by saying my year was marred with a foot injury etc. True maybe, but I know it was besides the point. Just like the reason I went to college instead of pursuing a career in dance was because I wasn't good enough, but I know I wished I was and for years I described that as a *choice* that I made, when really it was the hand I was dealt...

I'm not actually defending her. It was a strange article, and she never explains her behaviour with regards to class and dance, and how she really felt about dancing besides the trauma of losing it. But I can relate to that. When I did finally quit in college, after years of being known as a dancer, it was really disconcerting to find a new identity, both among my friends, and for myself, and I wasn't famous.

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Can't a young girl enter another school and have a chance at proving herself there and maybe return to the original school? Or maybe still become a professional dancer after attending a totally different school? I take the attitude that for every door that closes, another opens, so I think if she had the drive, she would have stuck to dancing, but I am not in her shoes and in her life, and I bet you are right that there is more to the story. It is definitely strange her father didn't seem to know what happened.

ITA with Aurora.

If she'd been at another school, I would say yes. But SAB was IT in those days, especially if you were in New York. I can certainly imagine being dismissed from SAB as demoralizing enough to crush even a very driven young dancer. She evidently wasn't getting a lot of support at home, which could have made a big difference. Add in the fact that she was famous for being an SAB student, and I don't think it's surprising she just quit ballet.

I think most people have made decisions as a young adult that they regret later on. She just happened to be well-known for the path she was leaving.

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Can't a young girl enter another school and have a chance at proving herself there and maybe return to the original school? Or maybe still become a professional dancer after attending a totally different school? I take the attitude that for every door that closes, another opens, so I think if she had the drive, she would have stuck to dancing, but I am not in her shoes and in her life, and I bet you are right that there is more to the story. It is definitely strange her father didn't seem to know what happened.

ITA with Aurora.

If she'd been at another school, I would say yes. But SAB was IT in those days, especially if you were in New York. I can certainly imagine being dismissed from SAB as demoralizing enough to crush even a very driven young dancer. She evidently wasn't getting a lot of support at home, which could have made a big difference. Add in the fact that she was famous for being an SAB student, and I don't think it's surprising she just quit ballet.

I think most people have made decisions as a young adult that they regret later on. She just happened to be well-known for the path she was leaving.

That makes sense. I also liked hearing Aurora's comments. It really is true that you can't completely understand until you've walked in a person's shoes!

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I would say yes. But SAB was IT in those days, especially if you were in New York. I can certainly imagine being dismissed from SAB as demoralizing enough to crush even a very driven young dancer.

I don't know that it would have discouraged a very determined young dancer. From what one can glean from the article she was always somewhat ambivalent about ballet. Perhaps all those absences speak for themselves.

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I don't know that it would have discouraged a very determined young dancer. From what one can glean from the article she was always somewhat ambivalent about ballet. Perhaps all those absences speak for themselves.

Yes. I should have said "a driven young dancer," not "very driven." To be a professional you have to NEED to dance, not just like to perform.

As for the absences, I do wonder why she was so frequently absent. When I didn't want to go to ballet when I was a kid, my parents made me go anyway. It does seem like she had absent parents and that there's more her family background than the Times story went into.

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From what one can glean from the article she was always somewhat ambivalent about ballet. Perhaps all those absences speak for themselves.

I agree with this. The sense I got from the article was that, even at a young age, she was looking for something else and that something else wasn't the ballet. The fact that she studied religion, was associated with a monastery and is now active in an evangelical church gives some indication of where her true interests lied.

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