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Dance Studio vs Ballet Studio


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Is ballet dead in the suburban studio? At our studio, the little ones start out in pre-ballet, but it seems that they switch to jazz as soon as they can. The owner of the studio my daughters attend has a wonderful background and a strong love for ballet, but it seems that so few of the students share this passion. I feel that many of them continue in ballet only because they must in order to be in the competitive jazz classes. I think that ballet is worthwhile in its own right, not just to improve technique in other forms of dance. I think that the problem might be that so few students today have the self-discipline and patience that ballet requires - they want to be out there PERFORMING! The other studios in our area seem to be in the same situation. I think that my girls are getting good training where they are, but I just wish that there were more kids ( and parents ) that would appreciate ballet as the beautiful art form that it is. Maybe it is different in your city?

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I don't know about different in my city, but it is different in my studio. The primary difference is that ours is a ballet studio, not a dance studio. It says so, right in the name. Jazz, modern, hip-hop, and flamenco are all offered, but in moderation -- one class per week per level. In contrast, ballet at all levels is offered several times per week.


So, the culture is one of ballet. I'm sure the kids in our area who long for competitive jazz dance feel left out -- they have to travel somewhere else to find what they want.


I wouldn't be too quick to lay the blame on lack of discipline and patience. Those are awfully adult qualities to expect from kids who have just graduated from pre-ballet. It could just be herd mentality -- Susie and Kiara and Alexis and all those cool older kids are doing jazz, so I'm going to also.

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Yes, I think that you are right, Treefrog about the culture of the studio, being a dance studio vs. a ballet studio; it just seems that ballet studios don't exist in our area anymore! Maybe it would not be financially viable? It was different when I was young aka "the good old days"! I also agree with you re. the herd mentallity and what is "cool". The influence of pop culture must also play a role,

with the younger kids wanting to seem more grown up and emulate the stars that they see dancing in cola commercials etc. My daughter does enjoy jazz and I feel that it helps to make her a well rounded dancer. It is important to me that her studio keeps the music, costumes and movements age appropriate. Hiphop is another matter, I guess I'm to old to "get it" but I just disagee with the values in the lyrics (materialistic, often) and the whole acting tough thing that seems to go with it.

Guess I just feel a bit disappointed when I notice how many little girls start out in ballet but leave before they really learn what it is all about. This seems like a loss of potential talent, enjoyment, and also the loss of an educated audience.

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Guest balletmom1

I would agree with Treefrog. My daughter's studio is a Ballet Studio, not a dance center, studio, theatre, etc. Ballet is foremost, and the other disciplines are in complement to that. I think the tenor of the studio is driven by those who own/run it. I think they have to have vision, because they won't get rich. I'm sure there's more money to be made with the other, flashier, disciplines. We're small and struggling, but it's giving the girls something not found too many other places.

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Guest novamom

On the other hand, ours is a "dance center", but as is the case with Treefrog and balletmom1, we are primarily a ballet studio. Jazz, modern, and for a while, flamenco have all be taught. There are tap lessons available also. However, these other deciplines are secondary to ballet and used to compliment ballet training. Usually as the dancers get older, they take more ballet classes and some of the others (flamenco and tap) tend to be dropped. I think it does depend completely upon the focus of the director. It sounds like your studio just doesn't see the "value" of more classical training.

There are several dance studios in our area largely due to the fact that we are in close proximity to a professional ballet company. If there is no way for children to see live ballet, it may be hard for the children to actually see what they are working towards.

Are there no other studios in your area? Perhaps, with a few phone calls you might find something more suitable for your child.

Remember, it's not just the name that counts. Speak to the artistic director and find out what their mission is. :)

I have to edit this again, sorry:( Out studio may not be as suburban as the area in which you live, however, knowing the more suburban areas around us, I think what I wrote earlier would apply to most.

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My daughter's studio is a "ballet school". In our community there are a variety of studios, and each seems to have its own specialty. So if you love tap you go to studio A, jazz is studio B, and so on for hip hop, lyrical, etc. Each studio of course offers more than one dance type, but if you really love one particular dance form you are lucky enough to have some choices. We are in a suburban area in central Jersey.

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I had one more thought about attrition. It happens, whether or not there are jazz classes in the next room over. We start out with maybe 30-50 kids in a pre-ballet cohort, and by ballet III (9-11 year olds) stabilize at about 10-15 kids.


This happens in the soccer program, too, by the way. I think kids test lots of interests early on, and toward the end of the "tween" years start to identify their own passions.


This doesn't really answer your question of whether kids today have less discipline and patience (although, as a classroom teacher, I share your impression and concern, and would add "respect" to the list). Maybe Mel or Victoria can tackle that one, as they have a historical perspective.

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No ballet is not dead, in the suburbs, only resting uncomfortably! ;)


I really think it depends on where one lives and the luck of who starts and maintains a ballet program... In the lower Westchester/Fairfield area outside of NYC, I can think of at least 4 programs that are really only ballet programs. Naturally each, or almost each, would think it was stronger than the others and more disciplined, I'm sure.


Usually it's the background of the person that starts these programs that directs their vision... There are, though, a whole bunch of broader based dance studios in this area, too.


Do any of these ballet programs "produce" professional dancers? My guess is that no, they do not...however, I do know that there are some students who do move on to train at schools with a more professional bent.


So, I really think that if everyone responded on this board, you'd get a real mix of answers.

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I'd agree, what's available nearby varies as the luck of the draw. Ballet as a serious art form requires a LOT more work and discipline than Ballet/Jazz/Tap as something girls do for fun and social life as children. No surprise it's harder to find.


I think this just goes to show that the market for quality ballet instruction is still largely untapped and undeveloped. It makes me sad to hear about so many areas in which there is not even ONE ballet school offering the "real thing". What it will take to change that is dance professionals willing to go to those places and build schools and build interest in the art where there may not have been interest before --- all very challenging tasks.

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My daughters also go to a "ballet school". It has a reputation as a serious school which teaches vocational students as well as those who do not envision a career in dance. There are other classes jazz, tap, contemporary, character and pilates which many students take as well as ballet. We also see many young students from 3- about 11/12. There is a drastic drop in numbers in the senior grades. I think many students aren't willing to accept the discipline needed when they hit adolescence. Adolescents seem to expect a freer, less "stick-in-the-mud" relationship with adults now( not like in our day). Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that it is a bad thing, but in the case of some ways of teaching/running a ballet/dance school there seems to be a bit of a clash. Those schools or dance centres that are run on "fun" basis are attracting more students maybe because their ideology is closer to that of the students. They also seem to have more younger teachers. My daughters teachers are older and still have a great rapport with the students but they expect (and get without any problems) discipline, respect, loyalty. There is still time for a laugh, joke (or groan!) and the students love their teachers.

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In January, we left a suburban dance studio for a professional company school. The studio we left said all the right things, had pointe shoes on the sign, and often talked of the strong foundation of ballet but it wasn't there. After seven years, we were encouraged to take MORE jazz, MORE tap, and MORE lyrical. When we expressed concern about ballet classes taking a back seat to the other disciplines, we were treated like freaks. We were repeated told "she'll get lots of ballet in lyrical."


It seemed no one understood that my daughter really liked ballet, in fact, loved ballet. Quite honestly, it was a tough battle....like salmon swimming up stream. The studio had over 250 girls and a waiting list. It was a successful studio and met the demand of the community. We realized that if my daughter wanted to study ballet, she would need to attend a ballet school. We now commute 80 miles one way for the lessons. Is it worth it? You bet. My daughter said it best the first day at the new studio ..."This is real ballet".

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Wow! 80 miles one way??!:eek: :( I do solemnly swear never, ever to complain or whine again about commuting into and out of NYC, ever again! Our mileage is probably about 25 miles but it takes us an hour or more at traffic time...


I take my hat off to you Babsaroo, and to your dedicated dancer, as well. :D

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Guest grace

(not a mom or dad, but a teacher) to dancindaughters:

"Maybe it is different in your city?"
my response: no, 'fraid not. this is spot on, ALL of your post - even in australia! :(
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Yes, on country roads in these parts, you can get away with driving 90 miles an hour. But, as you make your way into a large city to attend a pre-pro school, I think you will find that 90 miles an hour is frowned upon and usually downright impossible, due to the traffic congestion! :( Even in Texas, 80 miles is still quite a drive! I tip my hat to you, Babsaroo! ;)

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