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Ballet Talk for Dancers

What Should My Child be Doing?


barbe7198

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Ok, I have searched for this and not found the answer I was looking for. If my answer is elsewhere please guide me there. My dd is 4 yr old and I know this is really young; however, I also know that proper training is very important from the beginning. What should my dd be learning at this point, and what kind of class should she be in? We have a watch week coming up and I would really like to know what to look for during class. I don't really know how far she will take ballet, but at this point it seems to rule her life. She practices at home a lot. I just want to be sure I am giving her all the right oppertunities at this point.

 

Thanks for all the advice.

 

Barb

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Barb, at 4 they should be doing creative movement, or at the very most pre-ballet, which is "advanced" creative movement more than it is "real" ballet. At that age they really don't have the control or coordination to rotate their legs, which involves alignment and placement. They can learn to point their feet, skip, march, movement their arms and play being butterflies and other little animals, and especially learn to listen to music and hear rhythms. Little finger instruments are good for that! :wink:

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We started this as just something to get her out of the house when she was 2 yr old. I was a stay at home mom and she was VERY shy. Now I am not even sure we have her at the right school since she seems so serious. She is taking a one hour combo (Tap/Ballet) class at this point. The ballet is really what she loves though. Can anyone recommend a good school in SC?

 

Thanks so much for your input.

 

Barb

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I agree with Ms. Leigh. These are the things that my daughter did back at that age. It is best to respect her very young age in a nurturing, safe environment where she can have fun while learning. Our observation has been that as much as little ones enjoy the music and movement and will integrate it at home, they have a lot of time to pursue this and many other interests too!

 

:wink:

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For now just be sure they are not trying to teach her "real ballet", but pre ballet or creative movement. When she is 6, get her to a good school for ballet.

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I, personally, love the one hour Tap/Ballet combo for the little ones. Having to stomp, tap, etc. to the beat of music really requires them to listen to the music while giving them the opportunity for fun by making noise.

 

At four, all you want for her is that she's having fun. I also do like it when they learn a little ballet class ettiquete ... a little reverance for the room, the way they say good bye or how to hold their heads when they stand.

 

I knew a teacher that would have her little ones line up outside the room, door closed, and calm themselves before walking in, in line, with great dignity to music. Four may be a little young for that, but I liked the way she got them focused and undercontrol before she began. It was very cute how serious they all took it.

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Completely unrelated (or so it seemed at the time!) to ballet, my daughter at that age also took tumbling, cheerleading and art. Unexpectedly, her ability to flip about, her lovely cartwheel, and her skills at sewing and painting have greatly aided her ballet progress. When you can do some non-traditional moves, you always get to be the kid with the "cool" role in a performance. Also, the tumbling and cheerleading gave her great ease when she got to partnering in ballet. Heck, she'd been dropped a million times by the time she turned 10, so when the first boy dropped her, she just shrugged it off. And she has NO fear of being lifted and moved about. Her art skills have given her the ability to modify and design costumes, which is a huge bonus. So, my advice is - think outside the box.

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My dd has been taking gymnastics as long as she has been taking tap and ballet. The fact that she could tumble earned her the role of "Roll-Over Mouse" in The Nutcracker this year. She really loved this role. With school starting this past year, I really didn't think it would preductive to add to her outside activities. Maybe I could start some basic plastic needlework with her at home.

 

Thanks everyone for the advice.

 

Barb

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I have probably already stated this in at least one of my early posts, but at 4 years old, and in fact for most of childhood.....the true 'work' of childhood is play. Children learn naturally by playing. They also need time to think and dream. Therefore it is wise to allow your young daughter to have as much free play as possible to discover and order the world around her.

 

Many people will try to discourage you from this over the years and you will be tempted to join the thundering hordes who are overscheduling their young children. Of course, there are always those rare kids who demand many classes, lessons etc. And, there are those that think they want them due to peer pressure (either to the child or parent) and then become overwhelmed once enrolled. Most kids are quite content to have their early childhoods at least, 'unadulterated'. Creative movement and combination dance classes once a week are a lovely way to be exposed to the dance arts. You are wise to consider that your daughter will begin school next year. She will learn all the things mentioned, more or less, depending on her own temperment and choices and it will be wonderful.

 

best to you and your dd!

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I agree with playing. Give her floor space, music, scarves, costumes, slippers and for time to time let her watch pro-performance videos. Then sit back and watch the magic.

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Amen to unstructured play. At 4, my daughter attended creative movement class and then pre-ballet at a pre-professional ballet school with a young children's division. She went on to the pre-professional division at 6, but it was just an hour's class once a week and was still really pre-ballet till she was nearly 8.

 

She had lots of fun in those early classes. Physically, she's always been a person who's needed to throw her body about. She liked to jump the highest, skip the fastest, etc. She was a fearless climber practically from birth, and spent much of her early childhood climbing things.

 

We have an Irish dance school, so my daughter basically grew up around it. She didn't have formal lessons till she was somewhere around 5 or 6 (and even then it was just for 15 minutes here and there), but she played at the studio from the moment she could walk, imitating from the sidelines.

 

I think kids that are born dancers all are very similar in their physicality right from birth. If we just give them lots of opportunity in the early years to enjoy that freedom of movement, they are getting what they need.

 

Also, current brain research supports what pre-school teachers, special ed teachers, and child psychologists have always know: unstructured play is a stepping stone to academic achievement. Thank you, AsleepAtTheWheel, for stating that a child's play IS their work. Maria Montessori made that statement herself way back at the turn of the 20th. century. Young children do implicitly (unless we don't let them) what they need to do to have strong bodies and capable minds. Comprehension skills are built from play.

 

Too many parents are taking away their children's play time away in favor of structured activities. No matter how wonderful those activities may be, children still need more play time. That one hour a week combo class sounds ideal for her age.

 

Vicarious's advice about giving your daughter props for play is a good one. I used to buy my daughter old prom and bridesmaid dresses from Salvation Army thrift shops for $1 each. :P Although you probably won't get them that cheaply anymore, most thrift shops sell old formal clothing for just a few dollars. They make great "dress up" dresses for little kids. My daughter spent many happy years playing with those dresses with her friends and alone. They'd put on "pretty music" (don't forget to include classical music to play often around the house) and dance in those costumes.

 

It's funny to look back at old videos of my kids: there's my young daughter climbing, jumping, swinging, and dancing with all kinds of props around the house, while wearing some pretty outrageous get-ups. What's she doing now as a professional dancer? Climbing, jumping, swinging, and dancing with all kinds of props while wearing some pretty outrageous get-ups. :flowers:

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Nothing put a smile on this old raggedy dance mom like visiting a studio this morning to do a fitting and getting to see a few minutes of a Pre-ballet class. Movement to music, play, fun and a love for all being fostered through dance. That's about all that was in the room. Much time for "real" ballet in a couple more years.

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Similar to Vagansmom, I bought a bunch of two yard lengths of tulle in various colors for my DD when she was little, and she used to create costumes and dance in them, leaving streamer of net all over the house. What fun!

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When we origonally started classes as I stated earlier it was to give her somewhere other then home to be. More for sociallization as there are not a lot of young children in our neighborhood. As this year has moved along and school came into the picture, I was worried about over scheduling her. However, she wouldn't dream about dropping either of the 2 classes that she was attending so I have left her in those classes, but have not added anything. She did do The Nutcracker this year, but this was only once a week practice for her age group and the part was more fun than structured. I thought that it was great the she got to "mingle" with the professional dancers in the ballet.

 

Anyway, thanks everyone for your advice. I will deffinately put off the extra classes that are being considered for the time being (at least until she is 6 or 7 yrs old).

 

Barb

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Guest pink tights

Another great thing is going to performances! Sometimes youth companies or 2'nd companies offer special performances for the little ones--often abreviated. I started taking my DD to such performances at 3 years old--she loved it. The music + dance.....pure bliss!!! Check the websites of your local companies.

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