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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Summer classes


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My daughter will be attending a few junior programs this summer which will involve having a ballet class and another adjunct class (jazz or modern or character) in the morning, followed by more informational type classes in the afternoon (dance history, costuming, etc.). I think the total time dancing will be about three hours, five days per week for two weeks. The other program will be just a technique class in the morning five days per week for three weeks.


I think that this number of hours of dancing per day is sufficient but at what age do students generally increase their summer class hours? Is this dependent upon how many years the student has been dancing (not including pre ballet and primary), whether they are at least at an intermediate level, or what?


It just sounds like there is a jump up in the number of hours per day for kids once they turn age 12/13. At least according to some of the program schedules I have read.


Is there a way to help the student prepare for that increase? Most will have at least a few weeks off before summer programs begin.

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That is a good question, mine is too young for any SI this year but will be taking class 2x a week 1 1/2 hours each class starting next week and ending in July (when the summer intensive starts)

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My DD will take her regular technique classes through the summer, consisting of two 90-minute classes. For one week, she'll do a camp that will be 2.5 hours a day, consisting of technique as well as an introduction to dance history and variations (I think).


As far as your other questions, I'll be looking forward to replies from others.

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Guest pink tights

Yankee--my DD's summer class schedule has picked up considerably since last year. She will do a 2 week home SI (full days)--then daily class (2.5 + hours ballet/pointe per day plus pilates) for the entire summer. I think once they are around 12 or intermediate level, expect an increase--if not in hours per day but how times the classes meet per week (in our cases daily).


I'm not concerned about preparing her for the increase as she maintained a similar schedule during the school year--after all, summer is more laid back. No 6:30 AM alarms. no homework to contend with. Well rested bodies are so much more productive. I plan on providing her with a healthy diet! Just good, quality food to fuel her body, plenty of water to drink. As for staying in shape during the break--she will work on stretching and, of course swim!!

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My DS is 12 and is loading up his summer schedule with two and sometimes three classes a day, six days a week. He just completed the first year of what his studio considers the intermediate levels. He wasn't sure if he was ready to go away to a SI this year, and his dad and I were somewhat opposed to it as we weren't convinced that it would be a positive experience if he was still feeling unsure about leaving.


He's taking 7 classes per week at his normal level, 3 per week at the level below his, and one class a week with a private teacher. He will also have a floor barre class and a pilates class once a week each. At the end of the summer, he will do a one week workshop at his home studio, and a two week workshop at another local studio, which he is especially looking forward to because he will get character class, which he loves. He is intent on gaining strength and cleaning up his technique this summer, and I think he will be successful. Probably very tired, though!

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My DS is 10 and will be taking two classes a day for 2 weeks at his home studio. He then goes to a Ballet School for a technique class every morning for a week. Then he leaves for a one week coaching intensive (guessing 3 to 4 classes a day). The next week he'll have 2 classes a day at his home studio, then spend a week at National Dance Competition. Leave immediately from there to take a 4 week summer intensive (3 classes, 5 days a week). That takes him through the first of August. Then we'll be looking for a new studio. So, it will all be up in the air. All not my choice...completely his. I'll probably have to demand he takes a couple weeks off to swim and play, when we arrive home from SI.

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Thanks for the input on this. I think the range for this age (roughly age 8 or 9 to age 11) seems clear but I'm still hoping that the teachers will add their comments and address the question of the transition to an increased number of hours per day during the summer as most SI programs step up the intensity and hours beginning at age 12 or 13. And does it maybe boil down to those pre-SI weeks just ahead of when the intensity begins.


My concern, too, is in encouraging that balance between resting from the ballet school year's end and preparing for an upcoming summer program.

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I would like to add that some cross-training might be more helpful for a younger dancer. Perhaps some swimming, hiking, or biking (leisurely not go-for-gold training) would be good to tack on. It allows some of the dance muscles to rest, but keeps the body in shape and works stamina. :speechless:

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I didn't mean to imply that the only thing my daughter will be doing during the summer is dancing. Given the number of weeks and hours of actual dancing relative to the total number of weeks she is out of school for the summer, MOST of her time IS spent doing those other things - family vacationing, swimming, biking, beach combing, other unstructured play.


The question still remains - how are students prepared for an increase in the number of class hours during summer intensives? Is it just assumed that extra classes should be taken just prior to an intensive? It has been repeated again and again that time off is essential and I do make sure that happens, however some ballet programs finish their year round classes sometimes a month before any summer programs begin.


I really would appreciate some additional input. If there is no actual answer to my question then I would like to know so that I can drop the subject.

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Yankee, in our experience, most dancers don't do anything special to increase their hours before a summer program. In the lower levels, classes aren't super hard. When my DD was 12 & went to her first SI, a top program, she found the classes were easier than her classes at home. The hard part was adjusting to walking to her classes from the dorm. I think she was wearing the flip flops I bought her to wear in the shower to walk in and her feet constantly hurt. :) She was used to taking classes 4 x per week, plus an additional 2 days for rehersals though, when she went to her first SI.


As far as gap between classes and SI, the upper level dancers in our studio are lucky enough to be allowed to go into the studio and work out on their own whenever they want. If that is not an option, my DD does a David Howard tape, floor barre tape, or just general exercises and stretching at home.

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DD's school holds a 2 weeks SI. The SI has 3 levels with hours appropriate for ability levels. They have started holding this early in the summer so dancers who are going away to programs can use this as a pre-intensive.


The training at this SI is very solid, and the teacher who comes is wonderful, with the more advanced, as well as the younger dancers. We have several dancers who come from other states but most of the younger dancers are the schools students, or have a sibling who is coming into dance. Our lowest level can include dancers as young as 8 (if the AD thinks they are ready)so this is a wonderful experience into the world of SI's.


The schedule makes it possible for the younger dancers to still have plenty of summer fun after classes.


The rest of the summer is filled with more dancing, but mostly summer camp type activities that let the younger dancers dance, keep up their fitness, but have LOADS of dance related fun!


There are a few children who are ready to go away younger, my daughter is one of these, but for those who aren't I think these types of programs are a blessing to keep the younger dancers happy and fit...and ready for their Fall schedules!

Our school generally increase the weekly schedules for dancers around level 4 (8-10 yrs), so depending on when your school increases regular class schedules, I would say the summer before would be the time to increase summer ballet hours.

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yankee, they seem to transition just fine into SI programs. :) Relax! As they get closer to the age of going to full programs their home school classes should also increase, pointe is added, etc. If they have a long break with no classes in their school prior to an SI, they might want to do some floor stretching and maybe also a great time for some Pilates training. But if it's just a two week break, they will be fine.

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My daughter just turned ten at the end of February and this year she will be attending the summer intensive at her home studio. She has been taking ballet classes during the week for 2 1/2 hours two times a week and a Jazz class for an hour one day a week. She has been doing this for two years. Previously, she took just two ballet classes for a hour each per week. The summer intensive this year is all-day for two weeks. Her instructor has also added an hour and a half class on Saturdays. They will not be taking the classes during the week, though aside from the intensive.


So, basically, they have been working up to this level. I trust DD's instructors and I know that if they didn't think the kids in DD"s class could handle the additional classes and hours, they wouldn't offer it to them. Of course it depends on the individual child, but the brochure from DD"s studio shows how with each increase in level, the kids pick up an extra hour or two of classes.

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