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What's the best way to "catch up"?

Guest ehallison

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Guest ehallison

My dd (just turned 12) is in classes with 8-10yos at her studio because she started ballet late. She would like to progress faster and "catch up" with her age group but I'm unsure how to do this because her studio only offers 2-3 classes each week at her level. I'm willing to drive her 4 or maybe even 5 days a week (and pay for that number of classes) but the classes just don't exist, so this summer in addition to taking the 2 level-appropriate classes at her home studio, she is taking classes at another studio. I don't know if this is the best solution, though - it feels a bit like "cheating" on her home studio where she loves her teachers. In the fall, assuming her home studio offers the same 2 or maybe 3 classes, what can she do? (I've seen last year's schedule for the other studio and they have the same deal - only 3 classes per week - so switching studios wouldn't help). So, should we just limit her to 3 classes a week at one studio? Or add classes at the 2nd studio? Or take private lessons? Or???

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Hi, ehallison, and welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers. :clapping:


Since your home school doesn't offer more classes level-appropriate for your daughter, you (and she) should feel free to seek additional classes where you can find them. It's not cheating if what's needed is not available. Private lessons are not, in my opinion, a very good investment, unless there is individualized coaching needed for a role or an examination, perhaps.

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ehallison--this sounds alot like what we did minus the late start. But because DD wanted more than our studio offered. This is the point where we starting splitting our time between two studios. It was a nightmare but in our area, the only option at the time. We found both studios had comparable teachers so we did T/TH at one studio and M/W at another. We only did performances at one place because I couldn't swing fees at both.


It's only cheating if you try to hide that you're doing it, in my unworthy opinion. To better your DD, do what you need to. You may find that a nearby professional studio may be the answer (after evaluation and discussing with them what you're trying to do) but if not, try the split. I'm not seeing the need for privates yet.



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My daughter also started 1-2 years later than typical. Another alternative to consider is taking mixed levels - an additional class from a level up (or down) - depending on her current skills and class placement.


DD was anxious to progress as she started her second year. She is a very focused kid and pays close attention in class (a big advantage a 12 year old has over most 10 year olds). She worked very hard to excel in the level in which she was initally placed - paid attention to corrections and never goofed off. Half way through the year, she asked the school's Director for more ballet. She knew there were no additional classes in her level, but she asked to attend one additional class at the next level. Permission was granted on a trial basis, and she continued with the 2 classes at the level below. For the next year she continued to take mixed levels, and this worked very well for her. In the upcoming year, she is scheduled for one level of classes, but she is already eyeing the schedule for the level below.


Speaking from my own DD's experience, I know it is hard for your DD to feel patient. Ballet training takes some time. My daughter really seemed to take off after about two years with it.

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Guest ehallison

Thanks for the feedback. I feel better knowing that it's not considered "cheating" - except that we haven't, yet, mentioned it to studio A. I know we'll have to, soon, because dd came home last night and was demonstrating a new move she had learned at studio B, and it occurred to me that we won't be able to hide it for long even if we wanted to!


I definitely will talk to her teachers at studio A by the time the new fall schedules come out. Then we'll know exactly which classes she "should" be taking, and I can discuss with them her desire to take more classes. If we haven't already mentioned studio B by then, that would be a good time to say that we thought it was necessary to beef up her summer schedule by adding classes there.


As far as taking classes at two levels - I had considered this before we registered at studio B. But I don't think adding lower level classes would have helped dd improve, and I was hesitant to even inquire about the next higher level class, because dd has already jumped levels. So I didn't want to come off as being a pushy show mom by asking them to let her try the next class. Also, I was worried that even if the teacher said yes, there might be some hostility from the girls in the higher class. I've already overheard one remark by a student in that class, who when she saw dd in the class she'd been moved up to, said "What's SHE doing in there?" :D At least she had the good graces to look sheepish when she realized I was standing behind her. :wink:


MickeyFan, my dd sounds a lot like yours. Very focused in class.

Momof3darlings, we live in a mid-sized city and don't have a lot to choose from (although I think both studios she is currently in provide good instruction), so I don't think we have the option of a "professional" studio.

Mr. Johnson, thanks for the kind welcome.


I'm glad I found this board.

Edited by ehallison
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I know we'll have to, soon, because dd came home last night and was demonstrating a new move she had learned at studio B, and it occurred to me that we won't be able to hide it for long even if we wanted to


Very insightful mom! It is a rare teenager who can go from studio to studio and not share what they learned somewhere else. And how that will be perceived, if she were to do it will be as "showing off" by the other kids and "encouragement" of other students to walk the path she is walking (or rather dancing). Keeping this in check will go a long way in keeping both studios happy with a dancer who chooses to split their time.


You have to remember that you want both teachers in her corner and both teachers comfortable with what you have chosen. You can't do that if they feel threatened by "this is what I learned at XYZ's". Decorum!


And as MickeyFan has pointed out, you might receive the same extra help by taking a lower level class at your base studio where the teacher and your DD can pay special attention to "details".



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You wrote that you didn't think taking extra classes at a lower level would help your dd, but I would respectfully disagree. Taking extra classes at a lower level can help build strength and enhance, build up, a student's technique. If your dd builds strength by taking more classes at a lower level, it could help her have the skills (technique + strength) to advance more quickly.


My dd is almost 12-years-old, and at her studio you can only take extra classes at your level or a lower level. Many of the advanced girls-- 15+ will take extra classes in my dd's level (intermediate) to help them fine tune their technique and get the extra classes they need.


In my opinion, you shouldn't try to rush ballet. A 12-year-old should be able to catch up with others her age in a couple of years. My sister-in-law didn't start ballet until she was 12 and by the time she turned 15 she was in advanced classes with other girls her age. She took all the classes for her level, and got extra classes at lower levels when they worked with her schedule. When she was older she added pilates to help her build strength too.


Anyway, good luck to you and your dd! I admire her hard work and determination. It's hard to start late and be the oldest in your class, especially in the pre-teen/ early teen years. I think kids willing to try this hard for something they want are amazing!


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IMO as far as taking lower level classes it would depend on the lower level classes. Your dd is in a class with 8-10 yo if the next lower class is 6-8 yos I don't see how it would be good for a 12yo to take class with them.


A summer program also helps to accelerate training.


Mixed level placement is fairly common at dd's school and it has worked well for dd. She had two classes per week in one level, two in another, and a class that combined both levels. Again it depends on the levels though.

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My dd was 12 1/2 when she started her serious ballet training. She started with intermediate level classes 3 times per week. She also took some private lessons. I think they were helpful. She attended the local school's summer intensive and the following year auditioned for the big programs. Then she switched to a studio with a more rigorous curriculum and took more private lessons with a highly respected teacher. By the age of 14 1/2, she was dancing with kids her age(at prestigious summer intensives) and now at age 17 is doing quite well. Currently, she is at a very intense summer program and is the youngest dancer to be placed in a level with other pre professionals and working professionals. This has worked very nicely for her. She is planning to audition for companies next year. She has already auditioned for one company and was one of the last remaining at the end of the audition class. So, yes, it is possible if you have a very determined, focused child who is lucky enough to also have the natural facility for ballet. Good luck.. I would like to add that if I were to do things over, I would have selected different summer programs for my daughter. At the top of the list for consideration would have been CPYB.

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I would like to add that if I were to do things over, I would have selected different summer programs for my daughter.  At the top of the list for consideration would have been CPYB.


Hi ddm3, if I may ask, why would you and your dd have chosen CPYB?

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Coming in here just to remind everyone that although ehallison, who started this thread, has asked for helpful suggestions - it's important to remember that ehallison is entitled to have a different opinion as to what would work best for her own child.


Very few of us know each other's children (and if we did it still wouldn't matter), and even if we are convinced that a certain method of training is the absolute best this does not mean it would be the best way for another's child. What works for some does not always work for others.

Edited by BW
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Earlier I responded to GoGators question about CPYB. Was it deleted for a reason or did I make an error? I think it goes without saying that one person's experience may not work for someone else, but there shouldn't be anything wrong with sharing information.

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  • Administrators

ddm3, I think you made an error and hit the "Report this post" button instead of the " Add Reply" button. The moderators received the post as a Report, and were wondering why. :D

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Sorry for the mistake! I hope I am not in trouble for attempting to reconstruct my earlier post. CPYB is referred to by many as the "ballet boot camp" of SIs. The program seems to place an emphasis on foundation, solid technique and placement. This is what I have heard from reputable teachers. I think that my daughter would have benefitted from such a program during the ages of 12 to 14. There are other such programs out there, but if you are trying to play catch up, I think it is important to lay a solid foundation before moving too fast. If you decide to shop around for new studios, don't make the mistake of going with the one that places your daughter in an advanced level before she is ready. Be sure she is truly ready before going en pointe. All of these things will be a temptation because of the time factor. Let me just say this, if you are going to bake a cake, merely increasing the oven temperature isn't going to produce the same cake in half the amount of time. You need a more creative approach, like a convection oven!

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