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New ballet mom

Guest Sassy

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My first post...I hope I'm putting this in the right place.

My daughter is starting her first ballet class in September. She is in the 2-3 year old class.

Although I have taken some ballet, I was much older. I don't know what to expect from this class. How do I know if it is a good studio or not, with good teachers? Above all, I want it to be a fun time for her, but obviously, it's important that she has a teacher that is good. I should add, there is a viewing window, so I will be able to peek in and see what is going on. Experienced parents, what should I look for?

Thanks for your help!

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Welcome Sassy! Yes, your question is in the right place.


If you mean a 2 to 3 year old class, I wouldn't expect much. That is awfully young to have any expectations. The kids will probably listen to music, run around in circles and maybe jump over a rope or something else placed on the floor. I don't think there is much more that they are capable of at that age.

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Thank you Redstorm. That's sort of what I figured.

I coached figure skating for about 5 years, and there were actual skills that we taught the 3 year olds...but we used games to teach them. I thought ballet might be the same.

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My daughter(age 15) assists with some of the 2-3 year olds at our studio and they do learn some of the basic dance positions. They work on things such as right and left and skipping across the floor. They also do a short stretching time on the floor. Not all of them learn at the same pace and not all of them are very cordinated at this age. It is amazing how much some of them pick up. I don't think a parent should expect too much at this age but I do think it's good to have them in a school that exposes them to music and basic ballet movement in a fun enviornment.

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Hi, Sassy, and welcome to the Moms and Dads forum here on Ballet Talk for Dancers! Amongst us all, we have loads of experience about what it means to be a ballet parent.


Redstorm and dance for me have given you a pretty good description of what goes on in a class for 2 and 3 year olds. Most studios call this class "creative movement" or something similar. The emphasis is on hearing and responding to music, plus learning some of the discipline of being in a class. Pre-ballet typically begins with the 4s and 5s, and real ballet class starts around age 8.


The main thing is that your daughter should have a good time. It's not a good school (for her) if she isn't having fun. There really isn't any other criterion, in my mind. What she learns at age 3 really isn't going to make or break her future in ballet. Wait, I want to modify that: if the studio tries to teach anything like real ballet steps to kids this age, run the other way! Three-year-olds, or even six-year-olds for that matter, should not be learning pas de chats or glissades.


If your daughter takes to this, you have a long, fun, and challenging road ahead of you!

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At my daughter's home school, attached to a pro company, Pre-Ballet begins at 4 years old. The youngest group learns some basic port de bras, first position and plies. They learn to hear the count in music, move to the music, right and left, skipping, partnering (skipping together, walking in pairs and in unison, etc.) changing the tempo, with the pianist, etc.


All of this is a wonderful preparation for classical ballet training, which begins at age 6. :( At this age, it is important that students learn to love moving to music, but also get a glimpse of the discipline required for classical ballet training. This is no easy feat with this age group, but a good teacher can lay the proper foundation for further training!


At our spring workshop, the two Pre-Ballet levels are always the hit of the show. They do not do a dance, but they do demonstrate a shortened class. It is very enlightening, especially as your dancer progresses, to see how much foundational work is done in these pre-ballet levels at a pre-pro school!

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Hello Sassy, and welcome to Ballet Talk :(


I'm afraid that, as a teacher, I really have a problem with starting kids at 2 or 3 years old. That makes too many years before they are ready for "real ballet", and they will get very bored. Creative movement and pre-ballet only go so far. I seriously suggest waiting until age 5 to start pre-ballet. Depending on the child, they could be ready for Ballet I at age 6 or 7, but some schools wait unitl 8. If she starts now, she will probably not still be interested by that time.

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:offtopic: Sassy: my dd is a former skater who left the sport to pursue her dancing. How come you chose dancing and not skating? (although, as a former "skate mom", I should know the answer to that :wink: ) Where did you coach?
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Sassy, I can't help any with the classes for 2-3 year olds, but my suggestion would be to make listening to music of all kinds a big part of your time together, either actively listening--doing any sort of fun/silly movement to the music, or singing along--or passively listening while doing other things. (As a former skating coach, you may be doing this already!) My preference is classical, but my daughter and I used to listen to just about every type of music out there! Good luck!

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Thank you all for your help!


Redstorm, I picked dance over skating for several reasons. The first is because I think the 'creative movements' and classical music are SO good for a toddler's brain. In skating, you don't always get that. Also, skating is quite dangerous, as ice is slippery, and I'm not ready to deal with any concussions. Skating is also much more expensive where I live. But I guess my biggest reason is that I don't want to push her to follow my dreams. I want her to try different things and see what SHE wants to do, know what I mean? Later, if she wants to skate, that's fine. (And I would LOVE it!) But if she'd rather get involved in something else, I want to give her that opportunity.

Anyway, we have done some other types of toddler programs in the past, and the music and dance programs are always her favorite. That's why I thought to put her in a dance class. It's just for fun. I don't expect a career dancer out of it...just making some friends, using some of that toddler energy up, and having fun.

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First of all, welcome!


Here's my individual take on the subject of preballet...I must say I agree with Victoria Leigh on this, but not because of burnout, but boredom. My dd was very physical and coordinated as a toddler, always moving, climbing, bouncing, dancing, so thinking to give it an outlet other than climbing on the furniture, I signed her up for pre-ballet when she was two - four so as to give her a constructive outlet, first at a little daycare/baby activity-type course, then - mostly for geographical reasons, - at a very reputable school.


By the end of this time, they were asking the little girls (no boys here) to be butterflies and flowers and whatever; in each session there was another littel prop to dance with and little stories were made up to go with it. There was live music, and while at three they were sort of moving from one rubber circle on the floor to another and skipping as mentioned above, by four/five they were doing more freestyle dancing, skipping, "pretty" walking, leaping, etc. around the room aided by these fanstasy objects. Problem was, my daughter wasn't buying any. She was no dummy , or perhaps it just wasn't her stye; she knew perfectly well that big girls didn't do that, wasn't interested in being a princess or a butterfly, and didn't want to go back. She felt patronized and it bored and annoyed her.


I could see she had a nice shape for ballet, good feet, etc., but she never asked for lessons again, so that was that. Cut to age eight and a half when, invited by a friend, she tried a ballet class again and this time it was the real thing and she loved it, and she has been increasingly engaged ever since. (By the way, she's only ten and a half, so that isn't saying much!) But the result of the early burnout/turnoff was that she didn't begin "real" ballet until a little later than some other children, well, by only maybe a year or so, but nevertheless, she has always felt she had to catch up, which may be ridiculous but there it is. Everyone says to her, "slow down, you have time! ", but I have to fight her wanting to rush her training, which could be more harmful than anything else. :offtopic: If I had just started her at seven or eight without the preballet, then who knows? maybe she would be more engaged by the basics, and not so anxious to do more, more, MORE!


If your dd is very dance-y and musical already and you really think she might end up interested in it, I'd go for gymn time or something else for a while. Pre ballet really isn't ballet training anyway, may give her a skewed idea of what ballet training IS, and so might have effects you aren't anticipating!


Best luck whatever you decide, and again, welcome!



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Just for balance: Not all little girls burn-out on ballet when they begin with creative movement classes at age 3. My DD started in a creative movement class when she was almost 3. I signed her up just for some outside activity and to provide us both with opportunities to meet people and be around other kids her age. She absolutely loved the teacher and the skills she learned: reach high, reach low, good-good toes, bad-bad toes, walking along a rope stretched on the ground--frontwards and backwards, hopping, skipping, changing direction when teacher clapped her hands, ballet walks (on releve), the doll-stretches, pearl-diving, magic hands, oh--I can't remember it all. She used to come home and hold "class" for her 15-month old sister, who sat sucking on her binky and smiling with her eyes! I was fascinated with how the teacher conducted class and with her explanations for the developmental progress of the children. Watching the children as they learned to skip was absolutely precious and such an individual and remarkable feat of accomplishment.


DD cried when I didn't sign her up for the summer session, and the teacher was gracious enough to expand her class to accommodate my DD. She has never missed a session since and is now almost 15 years old. Her 20+ hours of dance a week are a long way from that one little 45 minute class/week she started when she was 3.


However, about age 6 or 7 when she was in the first grade, she was starting to get a little restless and I wondered if she was going to lose interest. She still was taking only one pre-ballet class a week and was anxious to do what the "big" girls were doing. That Fall, she had the opportunity to dance in a local ballet/modern company's holiday student presentation of a modern adaption of the Nutcracker story. The weekly rehearsals and public performances hooked her. She has never looked back.

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Guest Alive2Dance

I'm not sure if I'm aloud to post here because I'm not a ballet mom, but I want to say something. You can delete my post if necessary. I started when I was 2. Just fun classes but I always loved it. I never got tired and did it for 10 years. But, I wish now that my mom had made sure the school I went to was a good school. Even though it didn't matter a lot when I was 2, because I loved it so much I didnt want to switch studios when I was 8 years old to get better training because I was so used to that. My studio was not a serious ballet school, and was not providing proper training. It took me until I was 12 to really realize this and get out of there! But, if my mom had started me at a good qualified school then I would not have been in that situation. I would check into the school and make sure it is a good school even if your daughter may lose interest in a few years. Because you never know what will happen and if she loves it, it'll be harder for her to leave her original studio. Sorry again if I shouldn't have posted here :thumbsup: .

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It's okay Alive2Dance, as your post is really a very important one for parents to read. You point out something that happens to a lot of students who start at one school and never leave, just because they are happy and comfortable there, even if they know they are not getting good training. When they are finally mature enough to make the move, it could be too late for some. So, the importance of starting in a good school at the beginning cannot be overstated! Thank you :thumbsup:

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