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Ballet Talk for Dancers

What age did dk's start ballet

Guest Maiko

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I enrolled my dd in a community "intro to ballet" class as an after-school program at our local elementary school just because I thought it would be fun for my little 4 year-old girl to take ballet. The next year she wanted to try it again so I enrolled her in our local ballet/tap/jazz school. I was mortified at the end of the year recital, however, at how poorly the oldest (high school) students danced and decided to make an immediate change. I started calling schoolls in the yellow pages in our area and the only school that answered their phone is where she (very luckily) ended up going. We only thought of her ballet class as purely recreational, however, after a year at the school, the director invited our dd to take extra classes in addition to her regular ones (to which she readily agreed and has been doing so ever since!) That was seven years ago and three SI's later. Little did we know that her "recreational" class would turn into pre-professional study!

I wouldn't say we pushed our dd but we did very strongly encourage her to stay with it. Now she is old enough to decide for herself and whatever she decides will be okay with us. She has already received many life lessons, is physically fit and has learned and performed many ballet pieces. All we can say is today she wants to be a professional ballet dancer and while tomorrow she will likely feel the same...who knows?

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Three, and not pushed or led. For a brief moment in time we had a Houston-based school in our small town. I had heard the Executive Director give a presentation to our Chamber of Commerce about their school and Ballet Company. DD was nearly 3 at the time (September), and I enrolled her the following January.


She had a young, beautiful dancer as a teacher, and loved it. The next year she had one of their soloists as a teacher, and she was very strict. My dd was thrilled after the first day. Her words were, "Mom, we have rules!" Already, she was a focused, disciplined kid! These aren't really traits she acquired from her parents!


She did her first Nut @ 6, and figured the next year she would like to be the Sugar Plum Fairy. We explained that she might have to do quite a few Nuts before she gets that role. She remains very focused and in love with the art form.


The Houston-based school eventually closed this location, but dd still had excellent instruction from the teacher who took over the school. Because of a series of unfortunate circumstances, we changed schools in January. She is in a wonderfully nurturing environment. After 3 summers away she has friends all over the country, and the social aspect of ballet has also been very fulfilling for her! We are along for the ride.




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My daughter started taking a combo class with parks and recreation at 3 years of age. I put her in class for socialization as well as a cure for her pigeon toed walk. She was very shy yet lit up her first time on stage. She loved her classes until she had a mean German lady and quit for one session. She then started up again with a lady who has been her mentor throughout the years. At 9 or 10 this friend recommended that it was time for my daughter to make the move to a studio. The first studio was fine for about four years until high school and dance team made it too hard to train at this studio. This ballet teacher was "old school" and wanted total control of her students. My daughter still felt the need to train in ballet yet she wanted to try the high school thing so we found another ballet focused studio which has worked out to this day. She eventually quit the dance team for most girls it's the other way around and they end up quitting the studio. My daughter went to one intensive (all that we could afford) and realized that she was not suited for professional ballet so it was off to college, a try at modern dance, then no more college dance. She still is involved in her studio, going to college and is trying to find a way to do what she loves, "ballet".

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Here's a similar thread: "A Young Dancer's Passion". For my dd, it was the first Nutcracker that "did us in". We took her, at age 3, to see the local company's Nut. I promised my husband that if he walked around the lobby w/our squirmy daughter during the first act, I'd do the same for the second. Well...I plopped her on my lap...and she didn't budge for the entire ballet.


The version of Nut that was performed that year showed Clara sneaking back downstairs to sleep w/her Nutcracker doll on the floor. When we got home, dd declared that she was a dancer, too, and she said she would sleep on her floor until I got her dancing lessons. She did, too.


So I found her a creative movement class, where the kids pretended to be airplanes, etc. Nope. "Ballet, mommy." (I didn't even know she was aware a.) what ballet was and b.) that it was possible to get lessons.) Found a wonderful school where the creative movement included classical music, leotards, and the language of dance, all ready for young kids. She stayed there until moving to her (current) pre-pro school at 9.


Now she's knee-deep into rehearsals for that same company's Nut, as a Party Kid and a Soldier. It's Nutcracker #3 for her, she's 11 and has danced non-stop since three. So, in answer to the original question, guess the child led me!



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Pushed - but not by mom or dad!


A friend had registered her daugther in ballet classes at the city sponsored classes and insisted that we enroll DD as well. The conversation went something like, I've enrolled little Suzy and "your now DD" must go too. Little did we know then . . .


Thanks, friend. Should I send you the bill?

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My middle daughter began ballet first because I could not afford to pay for the kindergym program that I had her older sister in at the same age.(If I knew then what I know now, that kindergym program would have seemed really cheap!!!) She was 4. We lived in the country and she had no other contact with kids besides Sunday School and was shy. This sounded like a good way to have her around other 4 yr olds.

My oldest saw dance class the second year that her sister took class because she had class in the evening that year. She asked to join a class, she was 11 and began with jazz class, didn't start a ballet class until the following year and only took 2 classes a week then. Didn't begin serious training until 15.

My youngest grew up in a ballet studio and was competing in dance competions at 3.

No one in the family had ever danced before. IT totally started as a social outlet for a 4 year old. All 3 have made it to the pro level amazingly. Just kind of happened--lots of money and hours and hours of driving later.

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DD started sort of about 3 or 4. Not pushed or led, but held back. When she started talking about and having a fasination with everything ballerina I got her the video "Fantasy Garden Ballet". For about a year she pestered me to let her go to the "real" ballet class that some little friends were going to. We scraped to gether the money and enrolled her in the Dolly Dinkle. She would come home sad and frustrated that she didn't learn anything new and everything was boring. After that year I said it was too expensive if she wasn't getting anything out of it and promised I buy some more videos. Which I did. She "took class" with the videos at least twice a week on her own initiative. She knew how to operate the VCR and just popped in the tape. We had met a couple and had them over for dinner. She had danced very serious all her childhood and youth at a Dolly Dinkle. When she heard that dd loved ballet she gave me a long surmon about how hard she had worked, how many hours she had put in, how many Nutcrackers ect. Then she expressed her pain and anger when at 17 or 18 she discovered she had been going to the wrong kind of school all along and that after all that work there was no way she could have the career she wanted. I made a mental note that if we could ever afford to give dd ballet lessons I'd make sure it was what she called a performance school rather than a recietal school.


At about 8 dd became alot more vocal about wanting to "go to" ballet class instead of just the videos. She said she wanted to dance with other people instead of her little "bothers". So I made a deal with her that I thought sure I would win. I really didn't want to pay for class. I told her if we could find a performance ballet school within a reasonable distance she could go. Well had met a woman at a church meeting that happened to be the dean(?) of the dance department of a near by prominant state university. So I called her at home explained who I was and asked if she could recommend any schools. She recommended two. We tried the first but dd was frustrated because she was doing all the demonstrating for the class and didn't feel like she was getting much out of it. We then tried the other school. The class she tried was a level higher and was much harder and dd didn't like that either. Here's where some leading or pushing came in. I convinced her to take the next level down and give it a semester. After her first class she wasn't nearly as overwhelmed as the previous class but it definately wasn't a cake walk. She wanted the old school back because this one was harder. I said she needed to stay in the harder one because she would grow more. It took about four weeks at she was caught up with the class and was enjoying it, looking forward to class and her new friends. She was showing off the new things she had learned.


Since then dd has had occational days that she hasn't wanted to go to class but I feel strongly that the disipline of getting over those days is important in many facets of life. Certainly when something is just not working a person needs "to know when to hold um know when to fold um..........."


DD has not been the "top" (in her estimation) of her classes since she switched to the harder school and I think if she were, the ego boost would help her over those few off days. She's also not been the "bottom" of the class either. Maybe at easier schools she would never have an off day. But her past expiriences show me she'd get bored and would have off days. Committment is a nessasary skill.


She attended her first SI this summer at age 11 but was a day student. I'm not sure how she would have handled being away from home. She had mixed feelings while she missed not being part of the dorm life she watched her SI friend have some struggles with dorm life and was glad to be her friend. Maybe when she's older. Although we're very happy with this program and we don't have to pay room and board.


She'll be in her first Nutcracker this year and is soooo excited. She'll be a party girl.

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Our story is the same as many here. My daughter started begging for ballet lessons at 3 or 4 and started lessons while she was 4. My son -- 2 years older -- was around the studio and asked to take a jazz class, which led to ballet. My daughter is dancing every day for most of the academic year. She is focused on becoming a professional dancer. My son gave it up at 15 -- he was really not cut out for it for several reasons, but enjoyed it while he did it and gained from it in many ways.

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HMMMM, beginning to see a pattern here . . . .


DD started dance classes at age three. Her little sister was 1 year old, I had taken a "sabbatical" from working and we were looking for socialization opportunities. DD was used to adults, but didn't have much experience with peers. We started her at a studio attached to my alma mater because a friend of mine had had her daughter take classes there.


DD loved class and would hold her own class in the foyer of our center-hall colonial house with her 12-month old sister as the student. She would call roll using all her class mates names plus her sister's and then go through each exercise from class. Her sister always had a binkie in her mouth, but her eyes just shone as she attempted to do whatever DD instructed.


At the end of the school year, I did not sign DD up for summer session. I figured we'd hang at the pool, etc. She cried and cried when I told her she didn't have class for the summer. So I called the teacher and told her of DD's disappointment and my faux pas and asked if she could get into class. Her teacher graciously expanded her closed class to accomodate DD. DD has never missed a session since and just turned 15.


For several years, she just took one 45-minute class a week. Somewhere around age 8, she began taking 2 ballet classes/week, added jazz and flamenco, eventually modern, dabbled in tap, dropped the flamenco, had some character, enjoyed hip hop (great aerobics work-out). Last year she had 10 technique classes, 5 pointe (half-hour) classes, modern, and jazz. She had so many technique classes because she took all her own level plus any level below hers that she could fit into her schedule. This year she has only six technique classes, five pointe classes, two conditioning classes, modern, and jazz because she also has four two-hour rehearsal blocks for the academy's performing ensemble and can't fit any lower levels into her schedule.


From age 4 to 10, she played soccer both spring and fall, the last year on a travel competitive team. She was quite good, but eventually had to decide between soccer practice and an additional ballet class. Ballet won without posing much of a dilemma in her mind. No sooner had she given up soccer than she decided to join an age-group swim team. That lasted until she had to choose between Nutcracker rehearsals or swim team. No contest!


She has also been interested and participated in softball, youth newspaper/journalism, musical instruments. All lost out ultimately to her desire to add dance classes. With the exception of mandatory school events, family events, and best friend events, she always chosen to miss parties or to go late rather than miss a dance class. I feel pretty confident that she truly does want to dance, although there were times early on when I worried whether the classes were for my "lost desires" or were truly for her. Her choices convince me that they are hers, even if the first classes were based upon my wishes from long ago.

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DD asked for ballet lessons at around 3 so I signed her up at the county rec. program. She was shy the first day and hesitated, so I'll never forget the sight of my dear husband who went in with her and actually took class so she'd be comfortable! :) We moved and our neighborhood had a combination ballet/tap/jazz class so she took that until about 6yrs. old. Then she came to me one day and said she wanted "real" ballet classes. Don't know how she knew that she wasn't getting them. We switched to pre-pro program and she's been there ever since (now 14). Interestingly, she is a fabulous swimmer and competed year-round for many years and still does in the summer before/after attending SIs. If anything, we discouraged the ballet and really pushed the swimming, as she has a beautiful, fluid stroke and is FAST in spite of being rail thin. But her heart has always been with dance and she's never second-guessed her decision that I know of. She is truly in her element when she's dancing. As a parent, I really can't argue with that, even though we might have chosen a different path for her.

Edited by supportivemom
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. . . Since then dd has had occational days that she hasn't wanted to go to class but I feel strongly that the disipline of getting over those days is important in many facets of life. Certainly when something is just not working a person needs "to know when to hold um know when to fold um" . . . Committment is a nessasary skill.

I think this is one of the hardest things in parenting (well, that and about fifty gazillion other things ...) -- knowing when to push, and when to follow the kid's lead.


With my oldest, I followed the same principle: if you started something, you should see it through. My kid wasn't allowed to be a quitter, no siree! Part of this philosophy came from my own regrets: I was allowed to quit piano after one year, encouraged to take it again a few years later, allowed to quit again. I kept playing by myself all through high school, so clearly I liked music, and when I finally took up lessons on my own at 40, I realized how much time I'd lost.


My oldest dutifully went to gymnastics, soccer, violin, and, of course, ballet. If she asked to quit, I'd say, "Just give it another season. You have to give it a good chance." If she wanted to skip a class (or practice, etc.) I'd emphasize that she had committed to (the activity, the team) and she had to place that commitment above her immediate feelings. Of course, in retrospect, it wasn't she who had commited to the activity -- it was I.


I'm pleased to say that, over time, I've mellowed. With younger DD, I was more apt to say, "Fine, you can skip class. But if you really don't want to go, then let's not sign up for next session." This accounts for her very early on-again, off-again ballet schedule. (In time, I learned also that her particular difficulty had less to do with likeing or not likeing something, and more to do with an organizational disability that made transitions particularly difficult for her -- but that's another story.)


These days, wanting to go to class isn't an issue anymore. Sometimes other things intervene, and then I am relaxed about letting the kid make the choice. What really helps is understanding that neither kid is likely to have a professional career in ballet, so the pressure to support/encourage that dream is reduced.


If someone is going to be a professional anything, the drive has to come from within. I think the best a parent can do is say "If you really want X, let's look at what it takes to get there. I can't do it for you, but I'll do my best to provide the resources and encouragement." From there on, it has to come from the kid.

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I think this is one of the hardest things in parenting (well, that and about fifty gazillion other things ...) -- knowing when to push, and when to follow the kid's lead.[



I would definitely agree! Although I don't feel like that is much of an issue with DD and her dance commitment, I do struggle with that issue and non-DD's primary activity. It is a sports activity that has evolved into a 5d/wk practice schedule and, in the summer, takes on a time commitment of just under a full-time job position. She periodically complains about her coach and the practices and that she isn't any good at it (which isn't true, but she has the perfectionist personality that often defines "failing" as anything less than "best"). However, whenever she has the option of missing practice for an overnight party or because her coach is out-of-town and she would need to arrange a substitute practice with another coach, 9 times out of 10 she chooses to skip the party or goes late and comes home before bedtime and arranges the practices with the sub. For the summer schedule, I told her it would be okay with me if she didn't do all the hours. She never missed a practice and would make arrangements on her own with her friend on the few odd days I couldn't get her there or home.


So I really do not know whether she continues this sport because SHE likes it or because we keep telling her she can't be a couch potato, so if not this then something else, and she's good at this. She loves the body conditioning the sport provides and, I think, is genuinely pleased with the discipline in mind and body that it instills in her. She shakes her head in disbelief and dismay at her friends who complain that they are overworked with a hour a week extracurricular activity and feel pressed to finish their homework.


This one keeps me confused! But I really worry about the presence of the perfectionist trait and her interpretting our support and "guidance" as undue pressure to succeed. How does one figure out where that line is in such a kid?

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Guest OttawaMom

My DD started at age eight by taking a recreational jazz class. The following year she auditioned for their competitive team and was accepted, however, ballet class was mandatory for the competitive dancers. This turned out to be great luck for her because it was in ballet that she really showed her true talent. While most of the girls were there because they had to be, she really found out that she loved ballet. After another year of competitive dance, she decided to audition for the local professional ballet program and was accepted. She is now 14 and in her fourth year at that school and still loves ballet.

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A very interesting thread! Some kids seem clear from an very young age that dance is their focus; others follow a more circuitous path and discover this love almost by chance.


It was suggested to us that our son study dance by a Ballet Mistress during a movement audition for a theatrical production, when he was nine. He was reluctant to be put in a class of all girls, who had been dancing for 5 or 6 years. At first he felt "dumb" because he didn't know the ballet terms or movements. But after about 3 classes he was hooked. I guess you would say he was "led." Now I had tried to get him into a local dance school when he was 6 or 7 because he had shown some interest, but a series of miscommunications with this school kept this from happening, fortunately, because the instruction would not have been as good at that studio. It was then that he took theater classes where he was later "led" to an excellent dance program, and abandonned acting.


We continued his lessons without thought to the future until last year. I was still trying to get him appropriate academic support (we had been trying for years to get him enough academic challenge, and I was still focused on an academic career track for him). Well, his intense drive and passion for dance far exceeds any academic interest, and he has "led" me to see where he needs to go!!

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