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TinydancersNJ

Too much class for a 9 year old?

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TinydancersNJ

Our studio just added a new class to the schedule with a new teacher who is very different from what my daughter is used to.  She is very excited about learning from a new teacher and try partnering which will be part of this class.  Studio owner recommends the class for my daughter and all the other intermediate and advanced level dancers, daughter is excited.  Although the cost is a consideration, we have decided we can afford it so we signed her up.

My question is, this now puts her at 7 classes for a total of 8 hours a week (4-5 hour rehearsals on Sundays, 6 months out of the year on top) She has been taking class since the pre-ballet combo classes at 3.5 years old and it quickly became her passion.  She just keeps adding more and more each year. She thinks this is something she wants to do as a career and I know a lot could change before that but I feel like its my job to support those goals as much as I can.

I don't know anyone else whose 9 year old takes this much class and I am scared there can be drawbacks I'm not seeing right now.  She is in a gifted and talented program at school and has straight A's so I don't see it impacting her school work.  Her studio owner/teacher believes in her and I trust her training.  But its a small studio in a suburb and the only school we have ever been to. So I worry I am missing things.

Her schedule is 

  • Mon - 1 hr Beginner Ballet 2, 1 hr Beginner Jazz 2
  • Tues - 1.5 hour intermediate/advanced company ballet 
  • Wed - 1 hr Beginner Ballet 2, 1 hr Intermediate Ballet with partnering (new class)
  • Thurs - off
  • Friday - 1 hr beginner contemporary (they don't start contemporary here until 8/9), 1.5 hr intermediate ballet
  • Sundays (Sept-Dec for Nutcracker, April-June for spring Ballet/recital) - 4-5 hr ballet rehearsal

Tell me I'm not crazy or why I am, I am very open to feedback.

*also, I did search but didn't find this topic, feel free to move it or guide me toward a similar thread if that is more appropriate, this is my first post.

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DanceDaddy

Our Mon, Tues, Wed, looks similar to yours. Actually, just added the Tuesday night class, which we felt a little apprehensive about. In the fall, we had 2 nutcrackers. Sure, we will have "some" extras classes between now and May recital, but let's say that averages 1 hour a week 10 times.

I'm actually hoping to pull back in the Fall and go with what is recommended: 3 days a week ballet and 1 other dance class (tap). Also, we really want her to do just 1 nutcracker. I'm also hoping that she does some sort of conditioning class (Yoga, Pilates, or Swimming). Let's get her in shape before she's in dance 6 days a week!

However, it's hard! If your child loves doing it, how do you say no? Does your child have any other activities they like?

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ballet1310

Hi I am not a teacher but some food for thought : the pre-pro schools in NYC do not have that schedule at that age .... theirs are from 3-5 hrs per week.   

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TinydancersNJ

DanceDaddy,

She also does Girl Scouts but that is only two days a month for meetings plus assorted events.  Plus I am her leader so I can do some things to accommodate her schedule.  That keeps her involved with her friends from school, learning new skills, camping, and community service and things like that.

We keep giving her the chance to try sports, tumbling, yoga... She always chooses dance.

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ballet1310

 Hope it's ok to go into the parents under 13 group !    Since we have been through this, I thought it would be helpful .  I should elaborate on my other post -   More is not necessarily better at that age .  We saw lots of girls do too much , too young and either got injured ( injuries that still haunt them) , burnt out etc.  If it's just for fun and your daughter can handle it great ! If you are looking for advice from the aspect of trying to be a professional  then you may want to look at it differently.  I hope this helps!   

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DoubtfulGuest

I'm just a parent, but something tells me what they're doing with the hours is as important as how much.

Every studio will be different that way. I'm sure there are plenty of schedules that are empirically too much -- but I'm sure there are a ton more that are too much for a particular kid, or too much of one thing and/or not enough of another.

Our DD is only slightly older -- she's turning 10 in a couple of weeks. It's her first year of a full-time program, where the kids do an accelerated school schedule and then dance 5 afternoons a week. She starts at the studio mid afternoon, and leaves before suppertime. They have the usual ballet, pre-pointe/pointe (her group generally skews older -- up to 12y/o), contemporary and character but in her level, a lot of their time is actually spent sitting on the floor, just working on alignment/conditioning/stretching. 

Her rehearsal schedule for competitive solos is light: two 1/2 hour blocks per week, during which she will run each solo only once. Groups run in a similar way. The philosophy is you that work on your technique in class, and you then you just take it with you to the competition. It is a performance opportunity, first and foremost.

I guess it looks like a lot. But it's much less in some ways, and much more in others. It's a very slow burn kind of school -- no flash whatsoever. The kids who want to learn tricks or who care a lot about prizes just leave.

Aside -- DD technically had fewer hours at her old studio, but their only solution for dealing with her drive for more was to keep skipping her levels -- she had been on pace to finish there four years early. That was certainly too much... of something!

 

 

 

Edited by DoubtfulGuest
Clarity

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dancemaven

Our respected and very experienced Teacher-Moderators have posted  Age Appropriate Guidelines for Pre-Professional Training as a Pinned Topic to the top of this Forum (and several others).  I would recommend consulting that information.

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TinydancersNJ

Thank you for your feedback so far,

It is a slow and steady type program, no tricks, no competition team (they do go to YAGP) and they add the classes over time so it feels like a progression. 

3yo -1, 1hr ballet/tap combo class

4yo -1, 1hr beginner ballet 1

5 yo -1, 1hr beginner ballet 1, 1hr beginner jazz 1

6/7yo-1, 1hr beginner ballet2, 1hr beginner jazz2

8yo -1, 1hr beginner ballet2, 1hr beginner jazz2, 1.5hr intermediate ballet

9yo (fall semester) -1, 1hr beginner ballet2, 1hr beginner jazz2, 1.5hr intermediate ballet, 1.5hr company class 

I think she is in so many this year, and now even more this semester, because she is straddling the advanced beginner level and the intermediate level. She is one of the oldest in the beginner classes (6-11 year olds), with her peers (8-13 year olds) in the intermediate classes and one of the youngest in the company classes (8-18 year olds). I think it's a great place for her to be. She gets to be a leader, with her crew and with the big girls for something to look up to. 

Each ballet class has stretching/warm up, barre, across the floor, learning combinations, the advanced classes learn variations... very classic disciplined training. My 7 year old finds them boring, my 9 year old ballet geek can't get enough! We keep reminding her it's ok not to take all the classes offered to her, she can make new choices after each show (we make them see through commitments made to each show but they can choose not to continue after the show) 

I guess I was just looking for "my daughter danced that much at that age and now she's awesome/working/teaching" or "my daughter danced that much and got burnt out/injured/turned into a diva/hermit" or "as a teacher I would/wouldn't allow a 9 year old to take that much class, because I have seen ____ happen"

 

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dancingjet

It's hard for me to remember, but I think when DD was 9 she was probably taking 3 or 4 90-minute ballet classes each week. At 10 she started preparing for pointe and definitely had 4 technique classes a week. One thing that caught my eye in your post was that your 9-year-old is in a class labeled as "intermediate/advanced company" ballet. Is that a technique class, or something else? What is the age range of that class?

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forglitter

When my DD was 9, she had three ballet classes, one tap class, and one rehearsal per week. She did just fine except that one of her classes ended late in the evening and she would sometimes get cranky because it was so late. She is still under 13, so I can’t comment about long term effects.

While the age appropriate guidelines that dancemaven referred to are useful, they do have limitations. They all start with “at least ....”, which implies that more is okay; however, those guidelines do not say how much more is too much. 

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vrsfanatic

While I understand the desire of her school to have the young students establish the habit of attending a dance activity everyday, I do not find it necessary to mix it up so much. What is wrong with an hour and a half class of her level on a daily basis, if the students are indeed attending the schedule on a daily basis. If only a few actually accomodate the desire of the school to have students come on a daily basis, I would then understand the mixing of classes and levels. 

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TinydancersNJ
13 hours ago, dancingjet said:

 One thing that caught my eye in your post was that your 9-year-old is in a class labeled as "intermediate/advanced company" ballet. Is that a technique class, or something else? What is the age range of that class?

The 'company' class, as they refer to it seems to be designed to supplement the other 'ballet' classes.  This is the class where they can dedicate extra time to corps roles when they are preparing for the ballet.  In our school we do Nutcracker every year (which I love because you can see them progress through the roles) The intermediate/Jr corps dance 'flowers' in flats, and the Advanced/Sr corps dance Snow en pointe.  The company class is the only one she takes with the Sr. Corps but it is a pretty big class. I think she is the youngest at 9 and it goes up to 18.  Frequently, she will split them into two groups and give one combination for the 'little bits' as she calls them and one for the 'big girls'. 

The Sr company girls take different ballet classes and many are there every weekday I think they take 3, 1.5 hr ballet classes, plus 2 pointe, adv. contemporary, and there is an advanced Jazz most take, and open tap.  more of them take jazz than tap. and there an advanced/adult ballet class on Saturdays that many of them take also, plus rehearsals for the ballets 6 mos out of the year 4-5hrs on Sundays

She just started the new ballet class with the new teacher last night.  This class was offered to anyone from the intermediate level up.  It seems like a bonus master class and a main focus will be partnering in ballet.  It was so cute to see the pic of her partnering with the 10 year old boy in the class!

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TinydancersNJ
1 hour ago, vrsfanatic said:

While I understand the desire of her school to have the young students establish the habit of attending a dance activity everyday, I do not find it necessary to mix it up so much. What is wrong with an hour and a half class of her level on a daily basis, if the students are indeed attending the schedule on a daily basis. If only a few actually accomodate the desire of the school to have students come on a daily basis, I would then understand the mixing of classes and levels. 

This.  While its common for the older girls (some as young as 11/12/13 but up to high school grades) to take all the classes offered at their level, there are only a handful at the beginner 1 or 2 or intermediate level will 'max out' and take all the classes offered for their level.  Many at my 7 year old daughter's level (beginner 1 level) just take 1hr open hip hop and then 1 hr beginner ballet 1.  or the 1hr beg ballet 1 and then the 1hr beg jazz 1 and that's once a week.  By that level they are required to take a ballet class in addition to anything else they want to take (recommended in Kindergarten, required for 1st grade).  Many (my 7 year old included) just take the ballet class because they 'have to' to take the more fun hip hop or jazz class.  My older daughter who is 9 now, never felt like ballet is boring and always loved the discipline of the training.  That is why I affectionately call her the ballet geek.

Our school tends to attract split group of 'rec' path & 'building foundation training' younger kids and more serious teens.  We are the school the tweens and teens come to when they realize their competition school isn't giving them real ballet training.

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TinydancersNJ

Forglitter,

I worry about the late end times as she moves up, but I shouldn't have to worry about that too much for a couple of years.  Right now, weekdays her last class is over at 7:30 or 8 and we are only 15 mins from the studio so we aren't getting home too late.  The Friday class ends at 8:30 but even that isn't horrible for a 4th grader plus she doesn't need to be up for anything early the next day.

It was the 'at least' part that was giving me pause.  I'm not at all worried about her not having enough, but the guidelines don't include maximums as you said.

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vrsfanatic

While it may be cute to see her partnering with another 10 year old boy, partnering at 9 or 10 is NOT recommended, condoned, nor given in any professional school I know ( and I know a lot of professional schools) for the simple reason that neither the young lady nor the young man are strong enough for partnering. If you tell me they are studying historic dance I would say fine, but actual partnering is a big NO!

Too many red flags for me in this school. Sorry. Now I must say, indeed it is too much.

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