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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Your Child's Ballet Training


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Thinking back, in the beginning, I think I did everything ok. I found a studio close to home, with the right price and seemed to have adequate training for someone beginning and basically showing interest. I was not educated about ballet and really thought that as long as you stayed away from what I now know to be called "Dolly Dinkle" schools, then the training from all other schools was perfectly capable of producing good dancers (I was thinking a bit long term to avoid changing schools if the interest remained). My son was offered no influence outside of his home studio. I did not think twice about this. I know now that is not a good idea. I think a few years into a dancers serious drive for ballet, they should get an evaluation to see if they are up to speed with their training. If you find they need better training and that is what the student wants, I think it is important to not let loyalty or fear of conflict keep you from allowing your child that change to a different school.


My son is at a point in his training where he thinks he will be satisfied with where he is. He set a goal for himself and I helped him get there (finding schools). The only thing I can do is sit back and let him figure out if he made the right decision. he learned valuable lessons. Unfortunately, when you are faced with the unknown, you can't possibly know what to look for or what to avoid, so for the most part, things will be a collection of "lessons learned". I just hope that with this board, I can find the info needed to avoid having my son experience another bomb....and then have him too old to fix it. For now, I just drive him to class and then when I pick him up, I ask him "How was class?" he always responds with "Great". I never ask him what he did in class or anything else. I think he is old enough now and has seen both sides of the training spectum to raise his own red flags if something does not seem right.


What would I have done differently? I would have supported my son more in his interest of ballet. I admit I feared having a son in ballet because I did not want him to endure teasing, etc that most boys experience. It took me several weeks to get him that first class. I wish I had not thought about how I think he would feel, but instead allow him to be the one to decide if he could handle it. Afterall, it's not about me. I will need to remember that if we are faced with a residency situation in the future.

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Ah, hindsight is always 20:20 or so we think! :wacko:


If I could have waved my magic wand I would have had our family already living in a area that had superb training in a well run and ethical program that offered enough classes for our daughter to grow into. :innocent:

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Looking back, all of the experiences were valuable. Even starting out in a Dolly Dinkle program was positive. It gave them a love of performing in a fun atmosphere. When they became more serious, we moved on to a serious school. The oldest probably should have had serious training sooner and the youngest more fun longer, but all in all it worked out.

I think that it OK to try out different approaches. I don't think that parents should start their kids out in the strictest, superb training ballet school, necessarily. Not everyone wants to be a professional ballerina and certainly doesn't need to have the whip cracked at the age of 7. Finding out what they like and if they have any talent comes first. And it is really tough for parents to know if their kids have talent. Being the top of a Dolly Dinkle school doesn't mean anything. We all think that our DK is the most shiny star on the stage and most of us are just being proud parents, not true judges of ballet ability.

The SI auditions and the SI courses and feedback were the beginnings of our education in this ballet world. I guess the one thing that I am glad we spent the big bucks on were the SIs. Even though the year round ballet classes are more important physically, it was what the SI did for their spirit that was so helpful. Having positive feedback from famous teachers gave them the confidence they needed to put on that leotard everyday and face the mirror.

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  • 3 months later...

I can't say much because I'm not a parent/adult or anything but,all of you seem to care so much about your childrens ancing and have aranged so much! So far I've had to arange pretty much everything myself... in different languages. Sometimes i wish my parents would take more interest in ballet but they on't seem to although I've been doing it for a long long time and practise every day at home. My parents figure I can do it all by myself and don't need encouraging. I have to say, that if your child seems to reallly want to dance, encourage them. Don't push but talk alot about dance to them and care about what they do and take time to at least once a year look at the classes if there is a window or talk to their teacher. It's really hard too feel good about yourself if your parents are too busy to really notice how much effort you put into class. This topic kind of struck me because I'm amazed at how much you all seem to care about your children and dance, I don't think many parents are like that.

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Oh janninepointe :shrug:


Your post is insightful and one I will heed. I'm proud of you for being independent and driven to pursue your ballet and sad that you didn't feel supported by your parents.


Sometimes parents care and want to support but not sure how to do it, so they don't. Their own insecurities surface easily. And often we parent as we were parented....whether we intend to or not. :wink::(


I've printed your post and placed it in my day planner ...to keep close as a reminder of my role as a ballet mom.


P.S. Your BT4D family is here to cheer you on. Please allow us to be your support. :wub:

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I'm glad this topic got bummed up. My 10 year old DD has aspirations to be a ballet dancer. She takes ballet classes three times a week but also enjoys jazz, musical thearter and irish. She has a wonderful ballet teacher who focuses proper technique and makes DD feel good about her dancing. The sticking point is if DD gave up Musical thearter and irish she could dance twice a week with a better teacher at a different studio (once with a 45 minute trip each way) but right now she enjoys dancing with her friends during these classes. I think that next year or the year after we'll need to discuss focusing her time on ballet, but right now I'm letting her enjoy all types of dance just like other dance parents are letting their children enjoy soccer, cross country or basketball.


After reading responses to this topic, I'm feeling more comfortable with my decision to not push. Part of me felt like I was trying to keep up with the Jones next door.



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dcns - you are right not to push at age 10, but I would recommend that you have your dd in a good training facility by age 12. With that said - the longer you wait to do that, the harder it will be for her to leave her friends. If your dd is very serious about pursuing a career in ballet, you must get her the very best training you can find. Without that, you can pretty much kiss that dream goodbye.


If you can keep your dd home with you while they receive the best training possible - all the better. Driving 45 minutes to and from the studio is better than sending them away.


Re-read Lillianna's comments about ability and Dolly Dinkles. So true! When it comes time to get that contract with a company, your technical ability is so important. When you see that 3/4 of the dancers in the audition were trained at a Dinkle school - what a rude awakening it must be to find out at age 18 that you don't have what it takes to be a professional dancer. Being the best dancer at a school like that and winning every local competition just won't get you very far at all in the big bad world of ballet. Being honest with yourself and your dd's ability are also very key aspects to future success. All that PLUS a big fat checkbook! :)

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Thinking back, I'm fairly happy with what we have done. My daughter is very serious, but probably will follow a very different career path (she is 15.) I would give one piece of advice - remember YOU are the parent. Not the teacher. Not the person casting Nutcracker. You pay these people to train your child and provide you with advice. The critical word there is advice. Without meaning to (or sometimes with such ill intent) people can be manipulative. If one more class is suggested, but you feel it is not right for your child, then make that decision. If it is suggested that if she performs in some small venue, she may well get a better role next year .... decide only on the basis of what is right for your child at that point. Ballet teachers are viewed with an almost religious devotion by many who have aspirations for their children. I will share with you the viewpoint I have heard from my son's music teachers (he is a serious trumpet student.) One must constantly think of changing teachers. In many cases in music, one gets all one can get from a particular teacher after a couple of years. Obviously this is not true for a 9 or 10 year old, but it is often true for a young teen.


The point to all of this is not to sound jaded - my daughter loves and has loved her dancing. The point is to urge you to maintain control of your daughter's and or son's life - it is amazing how parental good sense can be ignored in some cases.

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I will share with you the viewpoint I have heard from my son's music teachers (he is a serious trumpet student.) One must constantly think of changing teachers. In many cases in music, one gets all one can get from a particular teacher after a couple of years. Obviously this is not true for a 9 or 10 year old, but it is often true for a young teen.


This is a good point to remember, sarsdad. In my profession as a speech pathologist, we often move clients, both children and adults, to new therapists after two years. New eyes, ears, methods, and personality interactions seem to stimulate new growth of skills in the clients. I'm sure it's the same in ballet.


The trick, then, is getting your child to agree to leave the teachers and other students to with whom they've formed attachments and friendships, :) especially at the ages when a move would probably be most beneficial: 12 - 14.

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The list of what I would have done differently is quite long, but this is the short of it:

I would not have had DD experiment with other activities for the sake of being well-rounded. For example:

-no soccer-DD got pushed around and only liked the field because it gave her room to turn and leap.

-no cheerleading-yikes! :) Watching DD get thrown 5o feet in the air once was enough!

-no tennis-she hit herself more than she did the ball!

I think once I realized she wanted dance more than anything, I gave up on the uber child with a million talents. Her training is on track after slight detours and many learning experiences.

I am very happy with my ballerina even if she decides tomorrow to pick up underwater basket weaving! :(

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support system

What a great idea for a topic. If I knew that my DD was going to be serious about dancing, I would have started her in gymnastics when she was young. I have seen girls who start ballet training after studying gymnastics, and I feel that the core strength they develop is an advantage with balance. Conversely, starting ballet earlier than age nine or ten really doesn't seem to offer much benefit, other than a fun activity. I have seen girls starting between eight and ten and catch up very quickly with girls that have trained since preschool.


Others may not agree, but the "let kids be kids" school of thought seems to me to negate the other benefits of good early training- i.e. good deportment, proper classroom manners, respect for authority, focus and the joy of hard work, which creates self esteem as a by product. All these qualities blend to build character and also make a child confident and well liked by others, young or old. One of the best gifts a parent can give to their child is to help them to be a person who receives a positive reaction from others, it certainly makes life easier. Ballet training can be a big contribution.

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Guest vivifan

Looking back.....bigger is not always better. Even if there is a chance for Professional Division right at that school. Make sure the teachers are qualified. Performers are not always good teachers. Just because there is a great professional division does not mean that the school is any good. You may be a "feeder fish" to support the professionals....be careful of that. The professionals may be recruits from other schools.....not from training from their own school. Don't be fooled! The school my daughter was in was soooo over croweded and the rooms were small. One class had 40 kids in it and the teacher didn't even know their names. The school we are in now is the city's best kept secret. I was never a dancer but I knew a 5th position.....the big professional school didn't. I could never get over the fact that they never corrected 5th position. They apparently did not think it was important. I know that my daughter is finally learning classical ballet with excellent technique. I will worry about the "big stuff" if and when she request a professional career.

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As I re-read this thread - I realize that I only spoke of what other people should/shouldn't do regarding their dancers. If I had anything to do over, it would be that I should have moved my dd sooner into a more professional school. Even at age 10 - she was behind.


Another thing I would change would be to encourage her teacher to encourage her. She needed more confidence with performing. However, in retrospect - the lack of confidence that was displayed by one of her teachers was what drove her to become better - so, who knows.

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What I would have done differently, is to seek the best training right from the get go. If you have choices that are reasonably close to home (I am not talking about commuting for 2 or 3 hours a day), then why not? In my experience, the cost is virtually the same if you pay for good training vs. "dolly dinkle", et al. I did my best to educate myself about ballet, but it took 2 years before I figured out my dd was not at the right place. Bad habits are hard to break, once instilled.


The other thing I would have done earlier on was to be sure my dd stretched her feet! She was not encouraged to stretch her feet until she auditioned for a summer intensive and was rejected primarily for that reason. After speaking personally with this auditioner, things began to unravel for my dd at her home studio. We left, but stayed 2 years too long!


I am convinced my dd would be a better dancer today, if she had trained at a more professional studio earlier. There were so many issues she had to correct, and it has taken time away from her progress.


As far as other extracurriculars, I recommend a musical instrument. I think it helps with musicality

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