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Jimmy Jin

Is ballet widely accepted as the best way to make girls artistic & elegant?

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Jimmy Jin

This is Jimmy from Shanghai, hoping you have heard of this city so far away. I happened to find this forum from Google and liked it and registered. I had little idea about ballet until I met my wife, who is an amateur ballet dancer since an early age. She’s been dancing for over a decade. Now she attends ballet class once a week and teaches children during the weekend as a part-time job. She really likes teaching. Recently she’s thinking of quitting her full-time job and to become a ballet teacher. I certainly agree and will support her.

I can see there are more parents in China choosing ballet as a way to make their daughter more artistic & elegant. In the past, parents would only send their child to learn musical instruments like piano, violin, or other more popular forms of dance like waltz, Latin, etc. There is also some more practical reason for such an education --- parents want certificates more than real hobbies/interest/feat for their child. That means it is very common here in China that the real purpose of learning something is to get a certificate (like RAD) to prove a child’s ability and to help his/her academic advancement in the future (some art certificates do help with a prettier resume). 

So I would like to know what’s happening in America. Why do parents send their daughters to ballet? Are they also looking for other benefits other than physical & mental training?

Sorry for the big question and shabby English. Hope there will be more people sharing their thoughts. Thank you!

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Noodles

I can't speak for anyone else, but I sent my daughter to ballet class for socialization as a preschooler....and it became her passion.

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Eligus

I also can only speak from my own personal experience as an American parent.... my child begged for ballet classes (at 6 years old).  I did NOT want her to attend ballet classes.  My uneducated belief was that she only wanted to dance because she wanted to prance around in sequins.  She could do that at home for free, and signing her up for ballet classes would require a great deal of money from the parents in order for the child to "dance" on stage in sparkly costumes.  But I didn't want to tell her "no" just because I had a personal abhorrence against sitting through dance recitals that would hurt my eyes.  So, I registered her in a local ballet school with the only criteria being no recitals at the school.  I thought she would hate it and come out of class saying she didn't want to dance ballet after all.  Turns out, the school I registered her in was the hardest, most disciplined pre-pro school in the area I could have found...and she loved it from the start.  So, for her, she fell in love with the discipline, work, challenge and the art itself.  At that point, I was just along for the ride.

Ironically, it turns out I was correct about the money aspect (although that didn't go for costumes, but for pointe shoes, physical therapy, chiropractic care, private lessons, summer intensive experiences and pilates).  11 years and a lot of money later... she's still dancing. 

Are ballet classes for young people "good" for them?  Yes.  I do believe that ballet training combines elements of athleticism and art that no other "sport" provides.  It teaches a child an awareness of their body, their body in space, music, rhythm, team work and discipline.  It combines logic, science and "art" unlike any other physical activity I have experienced.  However, I cannot imagine that parental desires for elegance, artistry or a pretty resume can take any dancer very far in ballet.  It is much too difficult of a profession and requires too much physical, mental and family sacrifice to persist in ballet UNLESS the dancer loves it. 

Furthermore, I would NEVER encourage my child to pursue ballet as a profession.  It is fraught with injury, risk, mental challenges, poverty, and a lack of control over your destiny that is terrifying.  But for those who love it, it is part of who they are.... and as a parent, I couldn't ask for more than her discovery of a passion that she pursues whole-heartedly. 

 

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Salmonpoint

Welcome Jimmy -

Please know this is just my opinion.  I think there is a large group of American parents who hope their child will find something they are passionate about, whether as a hobby or a career.  So it is common for children to try lots of different activities until they find the one that "fits".  But I would guess very few parents choose ballet in hopes their child will become more graceful, and almost no parents are looking for certificates.   I think it is more common for children to choose ballet, and parents to acquiesce! 

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DanceDaddy

I can say we signed are daughter up at 3. She was always a "performer" and liked to put on a show. Somewhere between 7 and 8, she had a wonderful teacher that awoken something in her for Ballet. Frankly, it's the one thing that I really don't have to "nag" her to do. So I'm fine with paying the bill! 

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DanceDaddy

So it wasn't to make her "artistic & elegant". It was for her to try different things. Ballet has clicked. Who knows if she will always feel this way, but I do hope she has something that she feels passionate about and works at.

And as a Dad, I hope she stays out of trouble! 

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Eligus

LOL, DanceDaddy -- that's why our family had a horse when my siblings and I (lots of girls) were growing up.  My mom always said she'd prefer us to hang out at a barn, rather than the mall.  It kept us out of trouble. Plus, horseback riding was something my disabled sister was able to do.  So, as a military family, we couldn't really afford much, but my parents sacrificed a huge amount to make sure that horse happened. 

My spouse referred to our DD's ballet school (with it's enormous hourly commitment and focused discipline) as the ballet "convent."  :wink:

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DanceDaddy

Oh yeah, I just don't think the Sr. Company girls in our studio are going out and getting drunk on Friday night. Because on Saturday  they have conditioning, class, and then a 2 hour rehearsal, and then what ever performance rehearsal.

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cupcake3

Eligus and DanceDaddy - I think this is one of the reasons my husband is so supportive of my DDs dancing!  He's betting on ballet > boys and bars!  And if they remain on the track they are currently on, I too think this is the case.  There's no room left for partying in these schedules:)

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Eligus

I would say that ballet (and any other deep passion) keeps all kids interested and focused on that passion for quite awhile, but popular culture and societal pressures and pleasures do eventually sneak their way in the doors.  I'm just happy that it happens at 14-15, rather than 10-11. 

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mln

Parent of a boy here--I definitely enrolled my ds in ballet to make him more graceful.  I thought he might be exceptionally tall, and I wanted him to know where his arms and legs were.  He's been dancing for 14 years.  There are many, many wonderful graceful male dancers coming from China, Jimmy Jin, so the training in China is making the guys graceful there, too.   As for ballet keeping kids out of trouble.........I would not rely on this very physical, very social, sometimes edgy art to protect kids from trouble.  Parents still need to be parents.  The discipline that ballet encourages is wonderful, but teens are never too tired for a party, alas.  Personally, I rather hope ballet is not a convent.

 

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