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Thoughts on being the youngest/oldest in class


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What are your thoughts on a dancer being the youngest, oldest or somewhere in the middle in class? I'm thinking it must be nice to have some balance, that is, not always being the oldest or the youngest.


DD has commented on it to me before about her age relative to her classmates, but I think she also accepts it as the way things are right now.

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Knock, knock, parent of an over 13. Due to her dad being ditsy when he signed her up for her first ballet classes and forgetting her birth year, our DD was always the youngest in her class by a year or two. It didn't seem to matter until she was 10 or so, when the other kids suddenly surged ahead in strength, turns, etc. She found that for the next several years she needed to keep reminding her teachers frequently of her age "I'm only _____ years old" so that their expectations were in line with her training and ability. Also, she shot up the year between 11 and 12, going from 4'6" to 5'7". She suddenly looked a LOT older, and teachers would say "Why can't you _______" Well, because she was only 11! She is assertive and friendly and tall so everyone, everywhere, thinks she is several years older than she is. She's just about to turn 16, and everyone thinks she's at least 18. So, she still periodically refreshes everyone around her as to her age. If your dancer is particularly older or younger than the average in the group, remind them to remind the teacher periodically so that the expectations are age appropriate. Her advanced class now has dancers ranging from 14-18, so age seems to matter less as the dancers get older. Being the youngest was fine for her, and she enjoyed the cachet of being the "baby" of the group. Having to work hard to keep up has also made her more outgoing, determined and confident than she might otherwise have been. She's the youngest in her academic school class too, so she learned early to be tough and hard working.

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You would not believe how timely this topic is for my daughter!. She'll be 10 next month, and for the past 2 years has been sometimes the oldest, or one of the oldest, and also the most experienced student in her ballet classes. This summer, she is the only girl in the 8 - 10 year old age range who is taking classes at her dance school! There were 12 kids in her level during the school year :shrug: . Because she's the only younger one who showed up, she's been put in a class of kids who are 3 or more years older, and much more experienced. There are only 4 girls in the class altogether.


During the year, when she was the oldest, she started to feel like class was "too easy" and she seemed to want some kind of recognition that she was more experienced, and further along in her study of ballet than the other girls. She's very social and friendly, so it wasn't exactly a competitve impulse, but I think she was thinking she wanted a bit more of a challenge. Well...this summer she's gotten a challenge! :P This is her third week taking class with the older girls. It's also her first experience with 90 minute classes, including an hour long barre - in a heat wave - with a faulty air conditioner - on the second floor :sweating: . She seemed to be rolling along with the class O.K. for the first couple of weeks, but yesterday, when she and I were talking once she got into bed, all her frustrations came pouring out: "My turn out is terrible, I'm bad at grand battements, my tendues, my rond de jambes, everything is bad. I'm the only one who's doing grand battements on flat. Everyone else is on releve. I'm the only one doing pirouette prep in combinations, everyone else is turning. Etc. I just listened. After she was done expressing herself, she felt really happy. :D


Then we were able to talk about what reasonable expectations for her age and experience might be, and she was able to remember that her teacher has told her that she's proud of her for sticking with it. I told her she could just not continue this class for the summer, and then come back in the fall, but she's decided to stick with it. :thumbsup: That's a strong aspect of her personality: She may get frustrated, and be somewhat hard on herself, but she will *not* quit a class, no matter what. I had to make her quit a gymnastics class when she was 6, because she was leaving in tears every time.


So, after observing both sides of the coin, I would say it would probably be ideal if she could be in a class in which she was the middle of the pack, but that she has learned a lot from being both the oldest, and the youngest. When she's the oldest, we talk about patience, and humility (I can do that skill better than_______ because I have more experience - not because I'm "better" than she). Now that she's the youngest, she's realizing what kind of work it really requires to become skilled in ballet, and she's gaining inner strength and confidence by continuing to go, even though she feels self conscious and out of place.


I think these kinds of learning experiences are going to serve her well no matter what she ends up doing in her life, and learning some ballet along the way is the icing on the cake.

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I was always the youngest in my ballet classes, as well as the youngest when we went to NorthEast Regional Ballet Events. I thrived on the challenging work, but it was more difficult socially; taught me to grow my skin thick with regards to my peers.

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Knock.Knock. My dd is over 13 now, but I well remember those days. She was the youngest at both of her studios. At one studio, the older girls were so loving and supportive that it was a wonderful experience. And because they were so kind, she never thought to get "uppity" to others her age. At the other studio, one of the girls was like a much older sister. although the others were not. But having the great role models really helped a good deal. Of course, the time came when the older girls left and DD was now the most experienced. Thankfully, she had learned from the role models she had had. When she graduated she left many "little sisters" behind. I think I was more proud of hearing how much she had meant to them as their role model than I was of her dancing.

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My dd started out in pre-ballet with girls of the same age.After 4 years of pre-ballet she was ready for ballet 1,so she was moved up. The girls she started with either quit after a couple years or were not ready for longer,more frequent classes. She was the youngest by 3 years. It took a while for her to feel comfortable and she missed pre-ballet. We decided to stick with the ballet , but we added one night of pre-ballet. She was happy to be back with girls her own age and the class was fun and light. She is no longer at the same studio,(closed for owners health issues) but she is now in ballet classes with girls her age, give or take a year. I think its for the best.(for her)

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My daughter has always been a year or two younger than the other girls in her class, although the same height. When she was around 7 her teacher had to remind herself occaisionally that this was why my daughter still had the wobbles, etc. It is really only in the last year and a half ( she is 12 now) that she has taken off and surprised everyone and herself with what she can achieve. Socially she fitted in well with her class even though this year she is in the last year at primary school and the others started high school this year. I think that dancing can draw the different ages together and it can work if the basic abilities are not too disparate and the teacher keeps the differing ages in mind.

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My daughter is 10 and going to the 6th grade. She's always youngest in her academic classes. It's been hard on her the past couple of years socially to be younger than her peers but just like Ms. Clara said, she is developing a thick skin. Sometimes older girls in her outside activities take on the "older sister" role with her and that is always nice for her. What makes it hardest for her is that she is about the size of a petite 6-7 yr old. She's learning to deal with it though. Based on our experience, IF I had a choice, I would choose to put my child in a class with at least one other girl her age.

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It's so interesting to read all of the perspectives.


I tend to overthink things and be a wee bit too analytical for my own good sometimes. ;) (And to be fair to myself, sometimes it's a great trait to have!)


DD is the youngest in her level and has been since she started at this studio a year and a half ago. I don't know if she 'should' always be the youngest or if it would serve her well in some way to stay where she's at even when she could move up a level, so that she has the chance to be one of the older ones. This only came up because she has the chance to sort of split between two levels - take one class at her current level and move up to the next level for her other class. It seems like sort of a nice transition in that she'd be with age-mates by and large in her current level and get the challenge she's ready for in the next level.


Argh. I think about things too much. I'm actually trying to leave it up to DD, to decide for September what she thinks would be the most fun. I do not want her to get burnt out, but at the same time I don't want her to get bored. I think her teachers would challenge her appropriately if she were to stay at her current level completely, but being top of the heap doesn't leave anyone to look up to (sort of the big fish in a small pond scenario). But, maybe that's not a bad place to be for a short while. She gets along fine with kids of all ages, and she's tall for her age and fairly mature, so that isn't an issue.


See? I just go round and round on this. Do you think it would be appropriate to leave it to her and what she feels is the best choice for now? I'd like to be able to do that. If I leave it to her I can stop thinking about it.


And can you tell that perhaps I have an only child? ;)

Edited by JETandGES
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What are your thoughts on a dancer being the youngest, oldest or somewhere in the middle in class? I'm thinking it must be nice to have some balance, that is, not always being the oldest or the youngest.


Mine is the youngest in her level, everyone else is at least a year older. She is also quite tall and "highly verbal" (isn't that a nice way of saying she talks all the time) so most people don't realize she is only 6 instead of 7 or 8. It was quite relieving for me to read that many youngest are doing fine and that being the youngest isn't such a bad thing! I talk to her teacher on a regular basis so I know she isn't in over her head. The only person I have had any problems with is another parent! Lots of little snide comments about DS's maturity and behavior and acting surprised she can "keep up." Just not sure what to say - or if I should say anything (I haven't yet) to the parent.

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knock, knock parent of an over 13-

In ballet my DD has always been sort of slap in the middle age wise, recently maybe towards the younger end but with enough others her age to make a small cluster and this is all fine (age ranges 14-17). However, she has always been one of the bottom students moved up in her group and this is where her struggle has been. In the level below her, which also has kids her age (ages 12-15), she would be at the strongest and older end of the class. I think if she had a year when she was at the older stronger end of the class, she might feel better about her overall dancing. She knows she has progressed faster because she is constantly challenged, but I think this comes with a toll to her ego. The problem now is her teachers feel the gap between where she is currently and the level below her would make her very bored if they held her back.


So as a parent, who worries more about the whole child than just the dancing child (its not that her teachers don't see the whole child, it is just a different worry) I wish she had had some chances to be the older stronger student.

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Guest pink tights

I am concerned about the social aspects of dancing with older girls. As the girls become more "worldly" sometimes the younger kids are exposed to conversations/behaviors that might not be appropriate for someone 'less mature'....

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knock knock. 13 year old dancer here.


for past two years I have been the youngest on my level and I think that it helped. It made me work harder so that I could catch up with the older girls who were 2-3 years older than me. It helped and I soon caught up. plus after spending so much time with them in and out of class, we all quickly became friends and the age gap didnt matter as much.

Edited by abby
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Knock, knock, parent of over 13 year old (14 years old but a late starter),


My daughter is repeating her level this year. She probably isn't the only one but was very disappointed when she found out and was considering quitting ballet. I think she has decided that if she wants to accomplish her goal of going on pointe that quitting will not help! After struggling with being one of the "lesser talented" dancers in her class I think she will gain confidence by being towards the higher end of the class rather than the bottom. She seems to be enjoying her summer classes which are a combined class of her level and the one below. She absolutely loves her teacher that she's had and should be able to have her again this year since she's not moving up.



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