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Ballet Talk for Dancers

What age did dk's start ballet


Guest Maiko

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I'm curious - for those who are parents, at what age did your dd start ballet and what led you/them down this path of serious ballet persuit? I'm thinking a young child wouldn't know if they liked something until they started, and sometimes doesn't the parent have to push them to stick with it for a certain amount of time before the child learns this is something they like and want to pursue for themselves?

 

I'm not a parent but one day I will be. I guess I'm thinking more about those that start pre-ballet classes very young, eg. 3-4 yrs old as opposed to an 8-10 yr old that could perhaps better voice their preferances.

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Well Maiko...it looks like I will be the first to jump in. :D

DD (as most already know) was an ice skater who started taking ballet at the age of 10 as a means to improve her fluidity on the ice. She took one class a week for about 6 months, then 2 for another couple of months and then 3 classes up until last year when she added another class from an outside source. She quit skating at 11 1/2 when her ballet teacher told her she wasn't meant to skate, but was born to dance and the direction of her training needed to change IF this was something she wanted to pursue. DD skated for a few more months, (half heartedly) and then tossed her skates for good. She has devoted herself to dance from then on.

DD turned 13 this past summer. She now dances 6 days a week, 3 1/2 to 5 hours a day depending on the day. She loves it and says it is what she wants to do for the rest of her life, but I have learned that at her age, a dream can change overnight. I support her now and will as long as she travels this road.

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When my daughter was 7, her pediatrician suggested that I get her into some kind of sports to strengthen the muscles around her hips joints because they popped in and out of joint a lot. Her shoulders did, also. I first took her to a local gymnastic coach because my own background is gymnastics. He got overly enthusiastic about my daughter's flexibility and scared me enough to take my daughter and never come back. I then took her to a local ballet class and she started to take ballet twice a week, meantime my husband took her to soft ball as his back ground is baseball. Over time, the ballet won out. By 10 years old, she was very serious about it and took classes everyday M - Sat. She is still taking classes everyday and is now 15.

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My daughter began begging for ballet lessons when she was 3. Some preschool classmates were taking ballet and daughter, like so many little girls, loved those ruffley tutus the little kiddies were wearing. She had no idea, of course, what a ballet class would actually be about. I refused to let her take pre-ballet. I thought she was too young. I'd had a mean ballet teacher when I was a kid (she struck me in the face! :D ) I had no desire to put a kid of mine in ballet. I lied and told her that she was too young for those classes; she'd have to be 5, I said. That quieted her for awhile.

 

When she was nearly 5, she came home from school saying that her friend who was only 4 was taking ballet so she should too. I was caught in my lie :hyper: and had little choice but to sign her up. My husband thought ballet would be good for her Irish dancing. Daughter had grown up around the Irish dance studio, playing and dancing throughout our classes. She loved Irish dance.

 

Well, to make a long story short, she continued to love ballet and finally made a choice, at around 12 when her schedule intensified quite a bit, to leave Irish dance training so she could devote more time to the ballet studio. Dad was crushed. :D

 

She never went through any period of disliking ballet, or even getting a little bored with it. For 14 years, she never wanted to take a day off unless she were really sick. She'd rather be at the ballet studio than anywhere else. It probably helped that there was a very strong social group at the studio and, when daughter became a teen, the guys at the studio were a big draw. :lol: It was her social life and her dating ground as well as the one activity she's always loved more than any other.

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My dd's story is very similar. When she was young we lived in a small village with very few activities for children but there was a small ballet school - which I only got to know about because my son started school on the same day as the ballet teacher's son.

 

So my daughter started at 3 years old and from the first class there was never any looking back. It was really informal - the class was at one end of the hall and the parents sat and chatted at the other end. From the very first class my DD insisited that we stay for the next class so she could dance along doing the steps at the back.

 

At 9 she asked me if she was good enough to think of dancing professionally. I still hadn't even considered dance as a career for her and fobbed her off by telling her that I hadn't the faintest idea and she should ask her ballet teacher. To my amazement the following week I had a phone call from the teacher telling me that if she was considering a career in dance she needed more classes, for which she needed to attend another ballet school which could offer much more intense training. She also helped her to add other activities - associate classes at London schools, National Youth Ballet etc.. Looking back we were really lucky to have such an unselfish ballet teacher who knew that the training she offered would not be enough.

 

Now DD is 18, in full time training, and failing to find a job. So maybe the dream will come to an end soon but, even if that happens, she has had some fantastic experiences and I don't think she will ever regret it!

 

Clare

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My DD also began asking for ballet at 3. I don't know how she knew of it. I told her she could begin at 6. At 4 she told me her schoolmate was taking and "you dont have to be 6". I went to the local Dolly Dinkle and asked what actually is the point of enrolling a 4 year old. She said, "it's not really technique, but they do learn their left from right, a few basic positions and have lots of fun listening to music and looking at themselves in the mirror." That was good enough for me and we signed her up for 1 hour a week of tap/ballet combo.

 

At age seven they wanted her to add jazz and make ballet a full hour. She asked to add more ballet and they said she could when she was older. Meanwhile a new Pre-pro school opened near us that won rave reviews for the presige of the faculty and their lofty ambitions. We read about it in the paper and discussed that at age 12, if she was still interested, maybe she could switch.

 

At age 8 she asked for extra ballet and they put her in with the nine year olds, two hours per week. She was very discouraged these older girls did not take ballet more seriously than the 8 year olds and she actually spoke to the director herself about taking a "harder class". (age 8 - in hindsight it's hard to believe) She was told the class is as hard as you make it and she should work harder. They encouraged her not to take too much too young, as she would burn out. They told her there's no money in ballet and she should aspire towards Broadway. She asked to switch to the Pre-pro school and I said maybe when she was 10.

 

The Dolly Dinkle had several teachers leave in the Fall and she began having different teachers all the time. Half way through the year we switched to Pre-pro and after her first class she felt like she was home. She's now 12 and love it more than ever. :D

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Our family began this journey when DD was 4 yrs old. Classes were 1 a week for the first year, 2 a week for the second year. By age 7 she/we were basically living at the dance studio. DD also included gymnastics, brownies, and figure skating into her life. DD auditioned for her 1st SI at age 9 and was accepted, so off to NBS she was. It was not a great 1st experience for her or us. We decided to cut back on the 6 days per week of ballet and included more skatiing at the pre-pro level as she was landing axels after 3 months of starting(coach said this was due to her ballet training) she enter competitions and surprise surprise won! But DD wanted to go back into the studio on a daily basis so we agreed and switched her training to the local pre-pro school.(DD broke her wrist skating so dance teachers said if she expected to train towards a career the skating would have to stop!) :D

DD went to her pro-pro school 1500 miles away at age 11...after the intial homesick months LOVED being there....and here we are 10 years later....searching for the JOB at the end of the rainbow!! She wouldn't change a thing, I.....?????

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Older DD started when she was just shy of 6. Her best friend was dancing, and she wanted to as well. Best friend gave it up shortly thereafter, but DD stuck with it.

 

By the time she was about 12 she was saying things like "ballet is my life" and talking about her eventual career in dance. The neighborhood school she attended is very good, but did not offer enough classes or intense enough training to reach this goal. She tried out -- added -- one class a week at a bigger (and bigger name) studio for eight weeks, but after that she didn't want to go back.

 

It took me a while to realize that her definition of "ballet is my life" and my grown-up one were different. I did go through a long time of saying things like "if this is really your goal, you can't skip class!" and offering her many opportunities to change schools. When she first asked to go to an SI -- at 13 -- I agreed, even though I thought it was not right for her at that age.

 

Long story short, she found the SI experience too intense -- partly her, partly the particular SI she chose. After teary phone calls and the confession that "If I stay, I'm afraid dancing won't be fun anymore," I brought her home a week early. Part of me really wanted to say, "Hey, this is what the dance world is all about. If this is really your dream, you have to learn to stick with it." I'm so glad I didn't. In retrospect, she was telling me in her own way that she'd modified her dream.

 

DD now dances very happily 6 days a week, at the same companionable neighborhood school. The schedule is steady, but not intense or truly pre-professional. She still thinks about dancing in small semi-pro modern companies, but realizes now that mostly she dances for herself. When homework pressure gets too intense, or she is not feeling very well, she skips class. I am so pleased she has found a comfortable niche in the dance world -- and, I have to say, I'm glad that I didn't push her any harder than I did. It was never my dream that she be a dancer, but I did go through a long period of thinking that IF it were her dream I had to hold her feet to the fire.

 

Younger DD was a different story. She started at 3 in big sis' footsteps. Her early "career" was stormy, as she is in general a stormy personality. She took time off. She went back. By 10 or so, she was actually following a more regular schedule than her sister had at that age, because the studio had matured and was offering more classes -- and because by then we were a "ballet family". Now, at almost 13, she is dancing 5 days a week on the same kind of steady-but-not-intense schedule as her sister (only three of those days are ballet classes). She still dreams of joining the Joffrey one day -- her personal gold standard -- but I have learned that these are the dreams of all serious young dancers. I have duly offered her more classes at the bigger studio, and she has turned them down. In time, she too will come to her own realization that while she loves ballet, it is not a realistic career choice. I see her in that transition already, as she talks more about dancing with small semi-pro companies and less with the Joffrey. (Our girls are fortunate in that their teachers are committed to providing quality performance opportunities for young dancers. Two of them direct small companies, and they usually choreograph a piece or two that includes students in each show.)

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My DD started dance when she was 3. We had recorded the Bolshoi Nutcracker the Christmas before and she preferred watching that to any "kid's programing" on TV. At the age of 12 we switched to a pre-pro school. She dances 5 - 6 days a week and this past summer attended a month long summer intensive in Detroit in addition to our own school's SI. I have never had to make her go to class. In fact, after sumeer intensive she missed all day classes. This has been her passion from the beginning and she has stayed focused on her goal of becoming a professional dancer. Her father and I have had to try to educate ourselves so we can support her goal.

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For us, it started as a pre-school social activity at the age of three. One of the other moms had signed up her daughter in a ballet/tap combo and since my daughter thought it would be fun too (and of course was attracted to the attire), we signed up too. It became something that the girls and the moms both looked forward to on Saturdays -- a fun class for them, and an hour free for us to have coffee or shop in the neighborhood boutiques. Yes, there were children who did NOT want to go into the class (mostly because they didn't want to separate from Mom, not because there was anything scary or negative going on in class, quite the contrary.) but my daughter was not one of them. Everyone remarked on how seriously she took the ballet part, and the other girls always watched her because she knew the steps. Her constant dancing around the house started then and has never stopped.

 

When the kids were about six, the dance school closed to be re-born as a spinning club and we had to find a new place. One of the Moms suggested the beginning classes at a local pre-pro school. I was hesitant because I thought it would be too serious for their age and like Vagansmom, I had had some negative experiences with teachers at these kinds of schools in my own youth. But we gave it a try anyway and found that the teacher for that age group was perfectly suited to the task and was a delight. In fact, she was like a fairy godmother to the girls...always positive and nurturing while beginning to instill the foundation that has helped them get where they are now -- almost ten years later! The second year dd was there, the young ones were allowed to perform in the company's full-length Sleeping Beauty. When I tucked my dd into bed after the last performance, she sat up in bed and exclaimed, "The rewards of performing are so amazing!" and just as quickly fell back to the pillow and into a deep sleep. That was when I knew she really had been bitten by the bug. Since then, there have been plenty of disappointments, lots of hard work, some injuries, and much "interference" from homework (!), but also many successes and thrills, She has seen many friends quit, but never wanted to quit. Fortunately, she has always found a way to balance her academic and social life with her dance life (fortunately the latter two intersect quite a bit.) She foresees college for herself rather than a professional ballet career but the way she sees it (and I see it too) is that ballet is something that she can pursue and enjoy wholeheartedly now while in high school, with plenty of those "amazing" opportunities to perform.

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Oldest started when she was 4 with mommy and me gymnastics and a little combo class of ballet. We had just moved to a new area and this was actually a good way for me to meet other moms. She liked it but wasn't in love with it but picked up combinations very quickly so got alot of praise from the teacher.

 

She actually liked the gymnastics more and didn't want to dance but my rule was if she wanted gymnastics she at least had to have ballet to supplement the training. (Mom loved gymnastics but loves to see the more fluid gymnasts than the powerful cutsy ones) She did competitive gymnastics for about 6 years taking ballet, tap and jazz along side that hating every minute of the ballet but at the studio where she was enrolled, to take jazz and tap, you had to take ballet.

 

The two areas started to conflict about age 9 and when she had to make a choice, she found that she really loved the dancing more and went non-competitive in gymnastics for a year and then totally dropped away from it to focus on dance by age 10. We haven't looked back since. It's funny, this one I had to send kicking and screaming into ballet classes for a while now wants nothing else. Tap was dropped a few years ago and Jazz she takes for stress relief and fun.

 

vj

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My dau was absolutely convinced at the age of 3 she was going to be a dancer. Even tho there were hiatuses/detours along the way before serious training began at about 8 yrs, this was her goal. I don't know quite where this came from either- she was exposed to NYCB Nutcracker at a very young age. I remember the first time I took her (front row seats- Mr Kaplow was very kind to her), she would not leave for a while and cried for a rewind a la video!

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My son saw aPBS Nutcracker when he was around 4. He promptly announced he wa going to be that "Rat Guy" and asked when he could start dancing. We didn't start classes for another 2 years. He has told us since about age 7 he was going to be a professional dancer when he grew up, and has never had to be nudged or cajoled into an ever increasing schedule. Now, as a veteran of 10 nutcrackers, he has still never gotten the rol e of that "Rat Guy", but he left for a residency program this fall, and if the jobs are there, I have no doubt he will indeed be a professional dancer. My daughter began a preschool movement class at age 3. She liked watching her brother and it was a way to waste time when she was little and had to hang out at the studio. She has been dancing for many years now also, and has not wanted to quit. She does not take it as seriously-I think she enjoys the movement and the music, but does not see it as a career.

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I studied dance throughout my childhood, and I knew that I wanted the benefits of dance training for my daughters. They both started pre-dance at age 3. I am still surprised at how well my older dd has done and how much she enjoys ballet, for she rarely "twirled around" as a little tot; she was always strong and athletic, but not really graceful. She is now 10, and has "ballerina dreams" which really worries me because I don't think she has the facility to make these dreams come true. She works so hard though, so I will continue to support her ballet training. I can honestly say that I have NEVER had to persude them to go to class; on the contrary it has been them telling me they aren't sick, or didn't really want to go to that party anyway! Younger dd (8) has always danced. I think perhaps she was born to dance. I have to be careful not to push her, because I know enough about ballet to see that she does have potential. Ballet has always come easily to her, and I not sure how she will respond once it gets harder. I will definately follow her lead. I see good trianing as a goal unto itself, and would not be at all disappointed if it did not lead to a career.

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We put dd into dance classes at age 3 because most of her friends were boys. I thought it would be a good way for her to meet some other little girls. She came home disappointed from her first class wondering why they didn't get to "dance" on stage and wear costumes! The studio required all dancers to take ballet, jazz and tap. Dd hated tap and jazz so we moved her to another small (but good training) ballet school when she was 8. It was there that we began so see her true love and passion of ballet. We tried to get her interested in other things but she only wanted to do ballet and play her piano.

 

Things started small with performances in Nutcrackers that year and snowballed from there! Several years later, more Nuts, SI's, schools and YAGP we have seen her love and dedication grow more and more. Even taking classes from an abusive teacher a few years ago didn't dampen dd's dedication. Instead of making my dd quit dance it only made her a stronger and more determined person. As it did all of the other good dancers who left that studio.

 

Last year it really scared me when I saw how at home and comfortable she was in New York. I realized there was nothing that we could do to stop her. It is her journey and we are just there to support her along the way.

 

Is this a life I would choose for my child? Yes, and No. But it isn't really my choice is it. How do you tell someone that they can't do something that they love? We consider her blessed to have found something at such a young age that she loves. Where it goes from here who knows....it will be a good journey.

 

If she doesn't dance professionally she will always have good posture and grace! :thumbsup:

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