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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Balancing school, PE, music and ballet


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I hate to ask stupid questions and thank you in advance for your patience with my questions and appreciate the wisdom on this board.


Question 1 - Are any of your middle school-aged dancers taking band? My daughter is entering middle school and decided not to take band because of probable conflicts with ballet. The Band Director has asked us to rethink our decision and stated that band and ballet can work together without conflict. I'm not seeing it but I don't have a music or ballet background.


Question 2 - PE requires daily 7 laps/20 minutes run around the football field track. Is this a concern for a 12 year old ballet student? I know I've read somewhere that turn out will affect running but not sure if that relates to younger dancers as well.


My daughter takes ballet 1.5 hours 4 times/week.



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  • Administrators

My soon to be 12 year old is required to take instrumental music at school, but doesn't participate in anything as formal as band. I believe that it's important for kids in general and dancers in particular to have as much music education as possible. How the logistics would work for your daughter I really couldn't say...don't have a frame of reference for that. I suppose it would depend entirely on the committment required for band practices and performances vs dance classes and performances. (not to mention the odd practising of said musical instrument that should occur...!)


Her ballet school places limits on her phys ed activites, but the PE teacher consults with the ballet folks about all of this. She's allowed to do some running, but I don't know if it would be as much as 20 minutes per day. Personally, I can't see how this would harm a 12 year old but then I'm not a dancer. My daughter isn't allowed to do things like soccer or downhill skiing (the latter a BIG disappointment when the rest of the kids are away on a ski trip), but her class seemed to do a lot of football in the fall....


When my older daughter was this age, the arrangements were such that ballet was in place of PE. Interestingly, running was a component of the body conditioning class at her dance school...and I think they did about 20 minutes each class.


I'm afraid I haven't been a great deal of help, but at least you have heard someone else's experiences.

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My 7th grader plays the bassoon and my 5th grader-who will enter middle school next year-- plays the oboe. Our middle school band director is WONDERFUL and when we made it clear that dance was a priority and would come first, he was willing to work with us. We don't participate in marching band as the after school practices and parades interfered especially at Chirstmas (Nutcracker). For symphonic band he had after-school "sectional" rehearsals and let my daughter come on the day that best suited her--even if it wasn't her "day." Now if she played the clarinet and there were "a million" clarinet players, he may not have been so accomodating. But for us he wanted her and was willing to bend and be flexible. (He also said he LOVED having dancers in the band. They have no problems keeping time and tempos, are disciplined, and somehow are the ones that get it all done, and make good greades and high test scores to boot.)


Playing an instrument has been a positive for us and not a negative. But, by high school I do not know if we will try to "do it all."


For us, it solved the PE problem, as with our "related arts" policies at school, band can "get you out of PE" if you so choose, (since most do march our county/state lets band replace PE because of this.)

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  • Administrators

I have no problems at all with band, if it works with her ballet schedule, and am all for musical training of some form! Running is another story. Dancers run turned out. This is not a good thing. And 20 minutes of running every day sounds totally excessive to me, at least for a dancer.

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Let me add another note of encouragement!

My daughter played the flute all through middle school and the first year of high school. The additional musicality she gained were/are invaluable along side her ballet training.

Because the school concerts were sporadic in middle school, it didn't cause much conflict. However, beyond freshman year, it became more of a challenge. (Plus she was ready for other, more interesting electives!).

I think playing an instrument provides these dancers with a great

appreciation for timing, not to mention a greater overall love of music.

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My daughter played flute in band all through middle school. We were lucky that it didn't conflict too much except Nutcracker season. She was opted out of P.E. when her time in ballet class started to exceed the mandatory minutes required in P.E. High school was a different story as they weren't allowed to opt out of P.E. but dance was offered as a class. Of course the studio trained dancer's were well above the level of the basic class taught but it sure beat running. A major conflict occuered when my daughter made the "dance team" hoping for a higher level of dancing. The teacher expected them there not at their studio classes. The high school dance was mostly performance with little technique. My daughter did her required P.E. time and bailed out for ballet training at the studio and hasn't regreted it at all. Good luck with your young dancer. There are many different paths to take and differ for each child. Some thrive in school related programs and would feel that they missed out if they didn't do it, some like my daughter are happy in studio dance only. I don't think that any dance or music experience is wasted.

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My son, 13, plays the flute in the Gr. 8 concert band. Since school starts at 8:05 am, rehearsals take place at lunch with sectionals and one full-band and only one other full practice after school, but they are finished by 3:30. This doesn't interfere with dance and both the dance school and the music director understand his committment to both, but so far, there has not been much conflict. And since every Gr. 8 student plays in the band (voluntarily) he said he would feel funny if he wasn't a band member. Their school has a well-developed music program which starts in Gr. 5 and their bands do exceptionally well in regional festivals. As well, they are off to Newfoundland, Canada this year for a 7 day trip to visit and perform in many little towns in our most eastern province (an island). Dance is on hold for a week, but it is a wonderful opportunity he doesn't want to miss.


And as others have mentioned, it certainly does improve their musicality and timing. His ballet teacher has commented on his ability to count, work with and understand the music, etc. His music teacher finds dancers who play instruments are usually the better musicians in the band too. So it benefits both pursuits!!

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Guest VP"S MY DD

Hi, We seem to be going through a very similar situation right now.


My daughter is entering middle school in Sept. We have just finished working out her schedule with a school administrator. Because her ballet school prefers no PE while you are in the intensive program , the middle school has agreed to exempt her from PE.(Her ballet school will send quarterly grades ). As far as band, she will also be exempt from this, because she would not have the time to put in to practicing as well as the performances. This schedule will leave her more time to study and do homework, as well as her demanding ballet schedule. Some schools may not be as accomodating as this, but, a performing arts school is not available to us so we just approched her school, with a letter from the ballet school, and had great results. Good luck in whatever you decide.

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My daughter played the viola while in school and we found no conflicts with scheduling except for the concerts that happened in the evening twice a year. However she chose to do the color guard with the competitive marching band. She spent weekends in the cold weather on the fields marching and dancing with a 5 foot long flag and a rifle. Some competions ended at 11:30 at night and they'd arrive home at 2 in the morning or later! Then there was parade season. (St Patricks day and Memorial Weekend) It turned out that the style marching step they used hurt her feet and lower back and the cold weather took its toll on her. It was a hard thing to let go of but she had to give it up. The Christmas dance season rehearsals conflicted with the band too much. I am in total support of music programs in schools and with the exceptions I talked about I see no reason to not play an instrument unless the practice times are impossible to make. Both of my daughters did the same things and to this day they are always noticed for their musicality as they dance. I believe it is from early music training and ballet.

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Thanks to each of you.


Ms. Leigh, I will double check the "daily" running information. It does sound excessive and would leave no time for all the other PE activities. We may have misunderstood in the midst of our "baby is going to middle school" trauma.


I have one brother-in law that is a high school band director and another that is a community orchestra leader. They both recommend going the band route as long as it doesn't interfer with ballet. Like the above posts, they think ballet and band can compliment each other.

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A nice note from your daughter's pediatrician in re the running being detrimental to her ballet training might help (as in shin splints, etc.) - it did for us last year.

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Guest novamom

This post will duplicate much of what has been said before, so if I may ?... Our 16 yr old played the violin from 2nd grade until she was a freshman in high school. It was at that time that the demands of high school became too great and she decided to stop studying the violin. For serious dancers it is unfortunate that they frequently must give up other activites as the demands of school and dance increase. She does believe that her time studying violin was valuable to her, and she knows she can go back to it any time she chooses. The gift of music for her has been a true love of music that she will always have. Even when she is no longer dancing!



Re:PE after reading one thread on the subject here sometime last year I think, I spoke to our pediatrician and had our daughter opted out of running the mile. (A once per month requirement.) Her PE teached was very cooperative. She did require a note from our doctor, but she did understand that running with turned out legs was potentially dangerous.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest annie

I took ballet for two years first and then when I entered the intermediate school, began playing the violin. We only had a concert one time during the year I was doing both dance and orchestra, and only the recital at the end of that year, so I didn't have a conflict. Violin lessons were on Saturday morning and I was taking dance classes three nights a week.


(I continued with violin for two years after I had to quit dance, but I only quit dance because I moved to a place that did not have a good dance school.)


As long as you stay out of the marching band - which plays at football and basketball games - then you shouldn't have a conflict. I was partial to the orchestra which went right along with the classical theme that I enjoyed with ballet. Remember that many instruments cross between the two so if you daughter wants to play the flute, she can play with the orchestra or the band.

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