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First Ballet Classes for 5yo. What to look for?


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Hi Everyone,


I've been reading this and the ballet talk board for a few weeks. I am a life-long fan of ballet and finally began taking classes myself in college. I enjoyed classes beyond anything but never performed or really wanted to. I just liked to dance in the studio and go to performances. As a journalism student, I did spend several years writing dance review in many genres, not only ballet.


Fast forward 10+ years. I have never lost my passion for ballet. I get to attend one or two performances a year by driving a couple hours to a city that has ballet performances that is. I still watch a lot on television, utube and dvd of course.


5 years ago, I had my second child, a daughter. By the time she was 3, she had seen some ballet and began to "dance." My daughter, not surprisingly, loves only ballet. We live in a very small town with some very small schools, most of which teach tap, tumbling, cheerleading, circus skills, etc. Even though we are a small town, we do have one very good ballet teacher (who currently isn't teaching locally) and one former principal with ABT (also not teaching). Both have agreed that she isn't the typical tapdance, tumbling kind of girl. She is a little ballerina at heart. Because of that, I want to make sure I take the right steps in her dance education.


Last year, a small new dance school opened, that teaches only dance and nothing else. The owner is a young dancer who loves tap but she teaches some ballet and jazz, too. I talked with her last year about her pre-dance classes for 3-5 year olds and decided to take my daughter (then 4) to a 30 minute ballet once a week. That class was taught by a very good guest teacher who also teaches at a company school in our state capitol. Her class was wonderful, very engaging and taught skills I felt were very appropriate for her age. They spent a couple weeks working on a 3-minute recital at the school's spring performance and my daughter had a wonderful time.


That teacher is no longer teaching this fall and the new teacher we tried for a few weeks was awful. No corrections, no discipline, but most of all, they would spend 10 minutes stretching and doing some centre work then begin rehearsal for their spring recital. Rehearsal would last the rest of the class.


I know my daughter is only 5, but I feel that is is a mistake to take her to a "ballet" class just for the sake of taking her to class. What should I look for in a program for her age? How much instruction at this age should be focused on technique and how much centered on performance?


I would appreciate any input from parents looking back at this age.


Thanks in adavance.



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Hello bexter12, welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers :wub:


I'm sorry to say it, but you should be looking for exactly what she had last year, and evidently that is no longer available in your area. At 5 the class should still be pre-ballet, with very little actual technique. They can usually do 45 minutes to even an hour, if it is a good pre-ballet program. You are wise to know that the way that the current class is being handled is not a good thing. Actually, unless there is something good, I tend to think it's better to not do it. Wait until you can find a legitimate program for her, even if she is a year or two older and ready for Ballet I. While pre-ballet can help, it really is not essential in order to begin the real ballet classes when they are 7 or 8. Maybe 6, but most are not quite ready then. It depends on the child and their ability to focus, as well as their coordination, as well as the school's policy on when to start them. Some will start at 6, some not until 8.

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Thanks Victoria,


I have been thinking along these lines myself but want a little validation from others.


I'm sorry to say it, but you should be looking for exactly what she had last year, and evidently that is no longer available in your area.


The teacher who taught that class, is still teaching but only older students. She decided after her first year, that she wanted to wait until students were at least 6 years old. Hopefully she'll still be at this school next year when DD is old enough.


I guess I'm just afraid that she'll get bad instruction early on that could make for hard habits to break later if she decides to dance more seriously. I was thinking it better to keep her out of classes until I could find a quality teacher.


I'm just terrified of a bad program. We have a small school that teaches circus arts. Its a unique program of trapeze, trampoline and such that seems pretty fun. Then I was talking to a parent who has two daughters in the program and she told me how she had to go buy pointe shoes for their spring recitals. Her daughters were 5 and 6! The six year old was in a piece that was choreographed for pointe and the 5 year old complained that her sister got "ballerina shoes" and she wanted them, too. So the school put her in the same piece so they would both have "ballerina shoes!"


That alone makes me nervous about finding the right ballet education.



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