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Question about training intensity for 10 year old


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I have a 10 year old daughter whom I homeschool along with her younger siblings. She has always been a very physically active child requiring little sleep. We enrolled her in gymnastics as a toddler to try to burn off some of her energy, and she eventually found her way to a pre-ballet class at age 6. From that point on, she has only wanted ballet. We have done lots of other extra things for fun, but her drive for ballet continues to grow as each year passes. She continues to want to take as much ballet as possible. With our schedule, this works well, because we have found all of our extra activities to be a source of fun socialization and exercise after schooling. We found a good small school, which as far as we know seems to have solid training (at least at the younger levels). She is a very grounded, happy kid who seems to be thriving on this.


Here are my concerns. We have slowly added classes over the years (2xweek, then 3xweek, then 4xweek - her idea). This year, she has ballet class 5xweek. She has 3 classes at her level, one the level below (her idea), and one extra variations class where they are learning more complex combinations (her teacher's idea). This seems to be a lot for her age. She is convinced that this is what she wants and is determined to work hard to get it. Are we doing the right thing by her? We are trying very hard to let her guide us in this process, but want to make sure her she is not hurting herself by doing too much. My husband and I played sports through college, so we are used to daily training– but mostly not until age 12 or so. There is no risk of her going en pointe too early, as the school is very conservative about this. I know much of my concern would be a non-issue if I was talking about a 12 or 13 year old (as it seems that this is the time that classes step up in intensity), but should we continue to let her go at this pace for the next few years? My other question is with respect to her actual training. Being novices at this, how do we know she is getting good training (the school seems good, but how do we know a teacher is good or not)? Does it really matter too much at this age? If she is going to do all these classes, would she be better off at a pre-professional school now – or should we just wait for a few years? Thanks so much for all of your help. I have already learned so much from this board.

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Knock knock - mom of an over 13. I'll leave it to the experts to determine whether you need a better school, but as for hours of class- my DD happily took class 5X a week from age 10 on, and loved it. She too was a high energy child, and just lived for the studio. I honestly believe that if they put a cot at ballet school, she would just live there. She wants to be there extra hours even when she DOESN'T have class, just to "hang out", observe, stretch, etc. She's 16 now, and still as high energy and ballet crazy as ever. Just continue to watch your kid - as long as she loves it and wants to be there, it is probably okay.

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drivingmissdancer, I agree with d1s1 about the intensity, but it's really hard to know about the school. It sounds like a serious school, which is good. I like it that they are not rushing her into pointe shoes.


Some of the ways to know more about the training would be to check the credentials and background of the teachers, watch the more advanced dancers, find out if they are accepted to good SI programs, and if they have trained any dancers who have or are dancing with professional companies.


The discipline of the school is another way to tell about the quality and seriousness. Are the dancers prepared for classes, with the correct attire, hair, etc.? Are they on time for classes? Do the advanced dancers have daily classes? Is there a serious but still happy atmosphere in the classes? Is attention paid to placement, proper usage of rotation without forcing it, musicality, port de bras, clean technique, etc.


There is a thread, at least one, probably more, about how to recognize quality training, but I'm not the one with archival memory around here and don't remember where it is. :blink: I'm sure someone will find it for you though! :)

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Thank you so much for your feedback Miss Leigh and D1S1. I now feel much better about dd’s amount of training.


I have read through some of the threads about quality training. Based on what I have read, I do believe that the school we are at currently is good, but still very small. They are very disciplined and professional with their students. They have not trained many professional dancers, though. They just don’t have enough good teachers and studios available for the level of training an older dancer might need. There have been one or two students who have left for big name schools at age 13 or so.


My dd has been to two – 2 week summer programs for younger dancers the past two summers (Boston and ABT – her desire and idea). We went with her and made it a family vacation. Her training seems to fit right in with others her age at these places. She ended both programs more fervent in her desire to dance. I know she is young, but she seems to have the feet and flexibility necessary for this discipline. The one area she has been told to work on is her musicality. She takes piano lessons, but is this something a ballet teacher can work on with her? I realize that if my daughter still keeps her intense desire, we will need to find a pre-professional school for her. How can we best support her right now? It seems like most pre-professional programs start intensive training at ages 12 and up. I am confused as to when is the right time to find better training.

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knock, knock parent of an over 13


My DD also danced 5 days a week 90 minute classes at age 10. She only started dance at 9, and that was 5 days for 50 minutes and then the next year she jumped up a level to the 90 minute classes. She is 14.5 now and dances 3 hours a day 5 days a week and 90 minutes - 4 hours on Sats. Other than some growth pains she has not been injured (knock on wood).

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Guest pink tights

It's probably a little late to change schools--tuition has been paid, your dd is settled in to a schedule--however, if you are seriously thinking about making the change, start looking for new programs for the next semester (or summer) now. When dd decided to change programs, it took me about 6 months to research and sleuth out a good program. Don't trust a school's website or brochure....check it out in person. Resume padding is not uncommon. Attend the schools performances, if they have them. Ask to observe a class and follow Ms. Leigh's suggestions for evaluating the various programs. I even took a few classes in the schools adult division. Sounds like your dd is in a good place, but you have to go with your gut instinct. BT4D is a goldmine--I found a ton of helpful information on these boards. Let us know what you decide.

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My daughter recently turned 10 and is taking 5 classes per week: 3 ballet classes, and 2 jazz classes. One jazz class would, I'm sure, be plenty, but she takes the 2nd class because it's at her old dance school, and she gets to dance with friends she's taken classes with for 5 years.


Not too long ago, I was concerned about my dd's schedule, but in the other direction. I didn't think she was getting enough ballet for her age at her very small ballet school. As it has turned out, she was able to add the 3rd class, and just this morning her teacher told me that in a couple of months or so she'd like dd to join the older girls (13 and older) in their classes for barre, and gradually begin to build up to taking the more intensive schedule required next year. She realized that she's not being challenged enough in two out of 3 of her classes, but because she's literally the only child in her age range who is at her skill level, it's a bit of a challenge to provide her with just the right combination of classes/hours. I appreciate that the director/teacher is recognizing the issue, and is working to give my dd the best program for her.


As far changing schools goes, I agree with pink tights. Take your time to investigate schools. But also ask your current school's director if she or he has plans to expand their program for the older, serious ballet students in the future. It may be that they have plans to grow the program. Also, if you do begin to look at other programs, as pink tights pointed out, don't just rely on information provided by the pre-pro schools themselves. Upon my own investigation of the two closest pre-pros to our home, I found that one of them puts girls on pointe much earlier than I'm comfortable with (age 10), and with less preparation than is recommended here on BT4D, and the other has many issues I'm uncomfortable with that I won't go into here. And read, read, read here on BT4D. You'll learn so much!


In order to determine if my own dd's school is providing good training, I read her teacher's resumes, talked to professional dancers who take adult modern classes at the school and have observed my dd's teachers, trusted the excellent reputation and experience of one of her teachers who has trained professional dancers who've gone on to dance in well known companies, etc. One of the ways I've been able to determine that my dd is receiving excellent day to day training is by reading the teacher threads here on BT4D. I've been able to see that my dd's teachers employ just about all of the ideas and techniques that have been recommended here. I've also seen that some of the things teachers/parents complain that some teachers don't do (e.g. teaching port de bras, head positioning to beginners) my dd's teachers concientiously do. I've also started to watch professional ballet regularly, and I'm learning what good ballet looks like. From doing all of this over the past year, I feel confident that the instruction my dd is receiving is top notch. Because of that, I'm content letting her stay where she is for as long as possible. You've gotten even better feedback regarding the instruction that your daughter is receiving by having had her participate in name programs!


Small is beautiful, and the grass is not necessarily greener, and all that. :D

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I even took a few classes in the schools adult division.


knock knock...

Bwahaha. This is probably the best strategy of all if you can carry it off.

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