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Dancers Under 12


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I have read a TON of posts for the advanced dancer and scheduling, but have a few questions about the under 12 dancer. I noticed a few things in Ms. Leigh's posts that give me some direction, but decided to just ask for those of us who have our first dd in this group.


DD takes 2 tech classes a week, one jazz class and one "challenge" class (mixed ages, she is youngest, all center work and across the floor stuff). She is 11 and does pre-pointe in her tech classes, but school is very firm about no pointe shoes until 12 at the earliest.


Is this enough? I sometimes think only the "super-wonderful-very-advanced-prodigy" information is discusses for this "advanced beginner" level (or are we beginner-intermediate?)


We have a nice studio for a town our size. We have girls go to ABT and other top SI programs, so I'm comfortable with the level of instruction, just curious about how she fits in with other programs.


Thanks in advance.

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dmc, if she is 11 and pre-pointe, it would be good if she could have more than the two technique classes a week in ballet, but that is relatively standard in this country for this age and level. I would like them to have at least 3 classes a week in the year prior to pointe work. What is this "challenge class"? They do center work but no barre work? Is it ballet? I don't think I have ever heard of this.

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I would like my under 12's to be in at least 3 classes per week. (ballet) Jazz and Tap are extras. Many of them however only come twice per week plus 30 minutes of pre pointe. I encourage a third classes for level 3's and up (10) year olds but it is optional. You can really see the difference in the kids that are there more however.

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The challenge class is a ballet class. I think they warm up on the barre, but then the majority of the class is working on combinations. DD said that this class more than her regular classes really helped her with SI auditions. That most of the audition combinations requested were ones that they regularly worked on in this class. It is the upper 3 levels of the studio, so DD is the youngest, and LOVES being able to dance with the big girls. They are all given corrections based on where they are tech wise. When I asked the AD a while back about the amount of classes, she said that there just wasn't enough interest to add a 3rd tech class for her age level, but she could take the lower level class if she wished.


I think the "challenge class" was added as a way to get the girls into the studio for another ballet class that was "different" from their regular class. The AD told me that when they started this class 2 years ago, they didn't charge for it just to get the girls to come in for additional work.


With the challenge ballet class, she gets 3 classes of ballet a week. I can live with "not ideal, but average" for now because she should move up to the Sr. level next year which means 5 classes a week +

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Good question! I would like to tag on and ask what is should be taught to this age/level in terms of excercises. I think that is as important as the number of minutes per week they are in the studio.

As a parent I have observed that the move from 2 to 3 classes/week seems to be the dividing line between those who are serious and those who are not. Often at this stage the parent (or student) will start to complain that ballet "is taking too much time; there isn't enough time for other interests (and/or homework)."

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I am so happy that someone has brought up this topic. My dd is 10-1/2 and currently takes 3 ballet classes plus one demi-pointe class a week. Our studio does not allow students to go on pointe until they are at least 11. She is anxiously waiting for her birthday! My question is, when do you really know if your child is talented? She currently dances with 12 year olds, so I know she is more advanced than most of the students her own age, but I believe it is still too early to predict where she is headed.

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Okay, I was thinking of asking this question last night, and so now I'll tag onto this topic.


Next fall my DD may have the option of adding a 5th day of classes to her schedule, but she would prefer to stay at 4 days a week. At twelve years old is 4 days a week adequate? The 4 days include 3 technique, 1 pointe, 1 variations (on pointe), and one modern. All classes are 90 minutes. The 5th day would add one more 90 minute class (technique/pointe combo). She prefers to wait one more year to add that 5th day. She does add an extra 60 minute warm-up class once they get into fall rehearsal.


Thank you.

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I would like to pose a different twist to this question - is my daughter dancing too much for 12 years old? My dd does 3 (1.5 hr) technique classes, 2 (1.5 hr) pointe classes, 2 (1.5 hr) pointe variations classes, 3 (1.5 hr) rehearsals which include 1 hr technique at barre and then pointe in rehearsal, 2 rehearsals (already warm from previous classes), 1 (1 hr) character class, 1 (1.5 hr) jazz class, and 1.5 hr of Pilates. Wow, I am tired just writing it down. She really loves ballet, but I am so concerned that she will burn out.

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Mom1, I don't know what the technical answer is in terms of "on-track" training, but here's my answer as a mom: don't make her do more than she wants to! Your job is to offer the training; if she chooses not to accept, that's her decision. (I can maybe see a little conversation about her goals, and what it takes to achieve them -- but given how slim anyone's chances are of dancing professionally, I cannot see pushing a kid to take more classes unless she is really eager.)

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Treefrog, I definitely agree. What I anticipate happening (it's silly to speculate I suppose) is that DD will either move up a level or be encouraged to attend the extra class next fall. I asked my daughter if she would want to attend that class next year and she said, not really... I like having that day off. However ... in the annual interview with AD, when many positive things are always said, I know my DD will feel flattered, encouraged and motivated. The AD is great at pumping students up and motivating them to shoot for the stars. It's fine with me if she wants to add that day. However, I'm always pulling the reigns in a bit in hopes of not burning her out. It would be my instinct to encourage her to wait and not add the 5th day until she's 13. I think its good for her to have a bit of time to unwind.


Thus my question, is 4 days a week adequate for a 12 year old, who is on track and would like to leave that option open?

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Yes, four days for a 12-year-old is sufficient. They can generally handle more, but four is sufficient.

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pointe2perfection, I do think your 12 year old's schedule sounds like a bit much. Quite a bit much. I think we have to be a bit careful in the puberty and growth years, and that really does sound like too much rehearsal and extra classes. The basic technique and pointe schedule is okay, it's all the added stuff that I worry about.

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Well, I am just glad all the rehearsals will be over May 16, our closing week for Cinderella. My daughter had a high number of rehearsals due to having a part in each of the 3 acts. Funny thing, they are sooo excited to see what parts they get after auditions, but then reality of rehearsals for each one of those parts sets in. She will definitely be prepared for Houston SI after this, wouldn't you say?

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  • 8 years later...

Hello! I'm new to this forum. My daughter is 7 years old. She is taking a 45 minute ballet class once a week and an advanced class once a week as well. Should she be taking more classes than that? Should she be practicing at home and for how long? Any reply's would be greatly appreciated.



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Welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers, LeoLiza03!


At 7 years old a child should be in a one hour ballet class, usually called Ballet I, or Grade 1, twice a week. If she is a recently turned 7, and was 6 at the beginning of the school year, she might be in a Pre-ballet or Pre-primary class, which is often only once a week. She should not be practicing at home, as she is way too young to know how to do that correctly and safely, without developing bad habits.


What do you mean by "advanced" class?

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