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Did you ever have a year...


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My dd is 10 (turning 11 at the end of the summer). While I believe she has had a solid year of dance this past year, it seems that her progress has somewhat stalled or is perhaps less noticable to me than in year's past. Has anyone else's dancers ever experienced this?

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I know you're not looking for this response, but here's my two cents: I really wouldn't worry too much about your almost 11 year old. Real ballet training doesn't begin too much before this age...maybe at 8 years old? Alexandra Ansanelli, I believe, only began taking ballet classes when she was about 11 years old.


dancingthrulife, I don't know you so I have no idea if you personally have ballet training yourself, but unless you really have I would think it would be awfully hard to tell if your daughter, at this age, is not improving. I may be wrong, but I believe that at this stage of the art the learning of technique is so subtle at times that some of the simplest things that we might take for granted are really some of the most challenging for young kids to learn.

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My take on this is that ballet training is a very s-l-o-w and difficult process, which may be why so many kids drop out after a couple of years. If your daughter seems to be getting something out of her classes (maybe something not easily quantified, like a sense of pride in mastering small things she's learning), then I would be happy, too!

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dancingthrulife: Have you spoken to your dd's teacher(s)? They could qualify any improvement she has made. Also, just so you know, in our own experience, the most improvement I saw in my dd's dance was when she was 15-16 and 16-17. It was as if everything started to come together at that point. I don't know if it was because she was done with major growth spurts, or the mind-body connection took place, but it was noticeable. I know my ds, who just turned 13 this past week, looks like he took a step back over the past two weeks. He is growing, with the typical aches and pains of a growing boy - one day the hips, one day the knees, one day nothing, one day the ankles. One moment he will do a perfect quadruple pirouette, and the next he can barely make his way through a double. I am told this is normal. Your dd is young, and as BW says, it is really hard for the untrained eye to tell all the little things our kids are learning. If you are really concerned, speak to her teacher.

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As a teacher, I see kids under 14 all over the map. Growth primarily, plays the biggest role in the physical aspect. Real commitment and interest come next. Some of the most promising kids often fizzle and visa-versa. It is a very hard to predict the final outcome. But at a young age I wouldn't spend much anxiety over anything other than "is he/she enjoying this?" Is it occupying his/her time in a positive way? Does he/she go willingly and with enthusiasm? The odds of having a career are not real high in reality, the gain must have a broader goal at this age. If your son/daughter loved baseball, basketball, or another sport would you prevent him from pursuing it if they felt it was a fun, challenging activity after school? Would the promise of a career play much of a role? Probably not!Accomplishing a fair amount of classical ballet skill is significant in itself. There are far worse ways to spend their time. Congratulate yourself for driving, paying for lessons, and emotionally supporting an interest in an artform that fosters discipline and focus. In most cases it pays off in the future.

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Regarding how subtle the learning of technique is at this age, we recently visited a school that helped us understand this. I compare it to not just seeing the big picture, but the detail within the picture. I asked my dd what she thought the differences were in her school and the one we visited. She said the new school paid alot more attention to her head, her arms, and her feet. I noticed this too, during her trial class. The teaching was much more precise. During center work, the girls were doing a bourre step, and the teacher repeated over and over "close in front, close in front". I don't remember hearing this before. But it's the fine detail of making sure the feet are just right, making sure the eyes are looking where they should, that I wouldn't notice unless it where pointed out to me.

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Thanks for all the replies...after getting her evaluations for the year, it seems her teachers are happy with her progress and therefore, so am I.

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Glad her teachers were able to put your mind at ease. I have an 11yo dd (12 at end of summer) & she also seemed -to me- not to have made a lot of progress this year compared to previous years. Then her teacher told me a few weeks ago that she has really improved this year. When I thought about it, she started off great, then between Christmas & March had a HUGE growth spurt which seemed to hamper flexibility & strength for a time. But in the last month I have had several parents comment to me that she is dancing great. I expect that when she hits another growth spurt we'll go through the same thing all over again.

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Please, accept my apologies if my previous post seemed "preachy"! I just feel children of this age should not be judged too closely. We have plenty of time for that! It is hard to see progress when you see a student everyday or every lesson. I often fret that a certain child I am teaching has made little progress and then one of my fellow teachers suddenly exclaims how much he or she has improved! Yes, as many previous posters have said- progress is slow and gradual and often not apparent on a day to day basis. I am happy your daughter's evaluation was positive!

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Thanks to all who responded. I guess this was a year that my daughter refined a lot of things, did a lot of work on her feet to prepare for pointe and the progress made is difficult to see by an untrained eye.

I absolutely agree that the most important thing is that she remains happy...and I believe she is. I know she makes a lot of sacrifices socially for her dance (though I don't believe she feels they are sacrifices and would spend every waking moment in the studio if she could), I guess I measure her progress against these sacrifices.

In another thread I had spoken about my daughter sometimes feeling left out from her group of school friends (they are heavily involved in sports) and I think some of those feelings were getting involved with my feelings towards what I expected to be her progress this year. Did I word the last sentence so that it makes sense?...not sure that I did.

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I think most parents can identify with your concern about all the time your daughter puts into ballet and all of the school and social activities she misses as a result. It is hard for a parent to watch their child pull away from their group of school friends to pursue something like ballet with great passion and I think we would all like to know that the 'pay off' is going to be worth it. So, I think there are many here who can well understand your feelings and your desire to SEE tangible evidence that all of this effort is yielding positive results.


Your daughter is at a very 'in between' age for ballet students. As others have said, there are often years where the changes are more subtle, then there are years as they get to the mid teens (usually) where it seems that it all comes together and you see this beautiful dancer emerging. The waiting and worrying and questioning (which is wise) seems to be part and parcel of the ballet parent's existence. This is a great place to find others who are traveling the same road! :)

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I agree about this site being invaluable in discovering that many of our questions and concerns are not ours alone. It has been a valuable resource and at times has helped me put everything into prospective. Basically, she is a 10 year-old who loves to dance and that should be the most important aspect of her ballet path.

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I remember a few years back, when she was about 12, having DD think that she wasn't improving. All it took was pulling out her old audition & recital pictures to see the improvement evident. She could see from them small differences in her 1st arabesque that made her stop and realize that although subtle, there were real strengths. (pointed feet instead of just toes, straight legs including truly straight knees, more turn out, and a back that is up rather than pulled toward the ground, leaps stronger and more extended, etc.)


Here at 15, she sometimes feels the same way, however, it is videos of performances (older and current) and returning choreographers comments of how much she has improved since they first came to visit that give her the pats on the back.


As for me, I just have to trust what I see and then what the teachers tell me as my guideline although at her being 15, it really doesn't matter what I think anymore. It's what she thinks that matters!


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That happen to my DD one year when she was about 12. She warned me that her pointe work was terrible before a parent obeservation class and she was right! I was so shocked because she had always made ballet look easy to do. About six months later when it was time to measure the students for Nutcracker we discovered that she'd grown about 7 inches over the last year so we chalked it up to a struggle with her center of gravity. About a year later she was back to her graceful self. I don't know if it helps any but perhaps your dd is going through something similar.

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