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Almost 12 and suddenly serious about ballet


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Hi, I'm new here, this is my first post. My daughter has been taking ballet, tap and jazz since she was very small. About 2 years ago, she decided she really loved dancing and started taking just about every class she could at our local recreational we-teach-everything school. Fine with me because she was having fun and the teachers seemed pretty good. However, just before Thanksgiving she suddenly told me she had developed a love of ballet, and that she could see herself doing ballet professionally someday. So, I figured she's probably not in the right school and started looking around. (That's when I found this site :) )


Right now, she is about to turn 12, she is taking 2 hours per week of Cecchetti grade 2 ballet. That's all the studio offers. In June, she will take the exam, and then in September start on pointe for grade 3. At that point the studio offers 2 classes per week of 1 hour technique with an additional 1/2 hour pointe at the end of both classes for a total of 3 hours. Is that enough? It seems to me that everybody else on this site is dancing way more than that at this point. DD is worried that if she changes schools they won't let her have the pointe shoes by September. She also really likes her ballet teacher and wants to keep taking other styles of dance at this studio. So, I don't know what to do. And to be honest, I don't know if this love of ballet will last or not. Things do change with pre-teens! But right now I feel very stressed trying to make sure if she is serious, she gets the training she needs before it's too late.


I'd love some advice. Thanks!

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Welcome Californiagirl,


No, that is not enough ballet for a 12 year old student who is serious. I also don't think it is enough ballet for a girl to be going on pointe, but I am sure moms of DDs and the teacher moderators will advise you on that.


My son is 12. His school offers 4-5 classes a week for his level, and each class is 1.5 hours long, pointe follows and is an additional hour.


My son actually takes about twice his weekly recommended amount though, because it is what he loves and is able to do.


I think you should definitely switch schools. Regarding the pointe issue, your DD is going to have to understand that pointe is something you do when you're ready for it. If the new school doesn't think she's ready, she will need to be prepared to wait. The reasons a school might not put her in pointe shoes right away include important things such as bones not being ready for it yet, muscles not being strong enough, and ballet technique needing some more work.


If she is serious, she has to switch schools, that is all there is to it.


Good luck, and if you are needing help finding a school, people here can make suggestions if you tell them where you're at in California.

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You are very right. She isn't getting enough training for both being serious about ballet or for going on pointe. Keep up you reading and looking for a new school. There's a sticky on the pointe forum about when to start that would tell you how many technique classes. I'm sure a moderator will post here for you but your gut is right.



Sorry, Tuesday, I was typing when you posted. LOL

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Hello. Would the teacher allow your DD to take some classes with the older girls? My DD is 10 and also wants a career in classical dance. She studies ballet 6 hours per week - but 2 of those hours are with 13-15 year olds. She loves it - she is also very tall for her age so she blends right in. I was just about to ask on this forum - how many hours should they be in ballet at age 11 or 12 - if they want to be a pro? (I'm trying to plan for next year.) We may have to take on another studio just so she gets all the ballet she needs. Sorry - I wasn't too much help.

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Thanks, I had a feeling she wasn't getting enough training time, but when I started reading about the amount of ballet some of the kids here do, I was a little overwhelmed! I was thinking of asking if she could do the grade 3 work without the pointe, that would add some time to her schedule.


We're in the San Francisco Bay Area, on the peninula, about halfway between SF and San Jose. If someone could recommend some good schools in this area, I could start looking around. The only suggestion I've found on this site is Pacific Ballet in Mountain View.



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My dd switched from a recreational school to a serious ballet school at about the same age 11. She was taking 3 90 minute classes at her old school, but was not on pointe. From information I found on this site as well as from my dd's new school, no girl would be put on pointe without a minimum of 3 90 minute technique classes a week. It doesn't sound like she is getting as much ballet as she would need.


My dd did go on pointe at her new school but she had spent the summer at their intensive, so they were very sure of her ability. She was not put on pointe until the fall and took the summer pointe classes on flat. Her new school was 8 hours of ballet and pointe a week for the first year.


I would think that your dd would be taken off pointe at a new school until they evaluated her technique etc.

It could be possible that she would be placed in a level where the dancers were not yet on pointe.

I know for us it was extremely helpful to go to a schools summer program before starting there in the fall. It gave us a time to meet teachers and there were some year round students attending so my daughter felt like she had some friends before she started. She also built up a lot of strength over the summer and could really see a difference in her technique.

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Hi Tuesday,


San Francisco Ballet is about an hour away with traffic and parking. It wouldn't be my first choice, just because of convenience. (I know, a lot of you do more than this, but I'm new to all of this!) And I don't know, do they take everyone?

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No, SF ballet is a school you need to audition for. But hopefully in that thread I posted a link to there will be some other ideas. I can totally understand not wanting to deal with the driving and parking issues.

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I think you will have alot of options when it comes to schools. Listen carefully to the advice that is given here and you will do well for your DD. The parents and dancers here are some of the most knowlegable you will find.


My DD 11.5 and she takes between 16- 22 hours a week of technique, pointe, modern and pilates. This is a lot of hours for that age group, I would imagine.


Although all young girls are excited at the prospect of going up en pointe, you must make sure that is it the right time and she is both physically, and emotionally ready for the demands of pointe work. There is no use having the shoes if a dancer is not technically ready to advance to that stage in their training.


Stay focused and do as much research as you can, it will pay off in the end.


Good luck! :-)



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No, San Francisco Ballet School does not take everyone, and it is a difficult school to get into. I would recommend looking at Western Ballet in Mountain View, and Pacific Ballet Academy also in Mountain View. These two are on my list, and have been highly recommended by parents on this board. My dd is 11 1/2, 6th grader, and we live about an hour from Mountain View, but even farther from SF.


Regarding number of hours of ballet at this age: My dd is a serious ballet student and takes 4 ninety minute technique classes, one hour of performance/choreography (to learn choreography - technique classes are for learning technique only), and one hour of dance conditioning/pointe (her first pointe class is today!). She has had a similar schedule for over a year now. She also takes one hour of jazz at a different dance studio - a recreational, we teach everything :D kind of studio where she started taking classes at the age of 3. When she decided at the age of 8 turning 9 that she wanted to focus more on ballet, we took her to her ballet studio, and kept her at the old studio for jazz. This is not without challenges, but has somehow worked out schedule-wise for 3 years now!


We love my dd's very small ballet studio, but I have a list of other possible schools to check into in the bay area because my dd and only one other girl her age at the school are serious students; that is, all the kids in her classes are very focused and lovely, but only my dd and one other girl want to take more, more, more ballet, and take it to aother level. My dd is already taking the maximum amount of ballet available at her school. If the school grows in time, and more classes are offered, dd will of course stay there, but if that's not possible, she may have to leave in a year or two in order to get the hours and classes she will need to stay on track. There is one advanced teen at my dd's studio, but she's been able to cobble together a program that's working for her by going to additional morning adult classes at dd's studio (with an amazing teacher!), taking privates, and getting into good SIs in the summers. She doesn't spend much time during the school year dancing with other teens her age, though.


Anyway, as you an see, finding the right training in the right place at the right time is not an easy task for many of us living in small towns farther from metro areas. Living on the Peninsula, you have some great options! :D

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  • Administrators

Our parents are right, californiagirl. Your daughter is not getting nearly enough ballet technique to be ready for pointe work. The absolute minimum, in our opinion, is three 90 minutes classes per week for at least a year prior to pointe. This would be assuming she has also had several years of at least two classes per week of ballet technique. I would question the training at any school who puts children on pointe when taking only 2 hours per week. By this age she should be taking 90 minute classes only. One hour classes are totally insufficient to prepare them for pointe work.


My suggestion would be to get to a better school ASAP. I would not wait until even summer. She could continue her jazz at the home school, if she did not want to leave there, but for ballet, if she is indeed serious, then better and more training is needed now.

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Thank you all so much for your input. I did read that older thread about schools in the Bay Area, but it seemed to concentrate on adults and mainly San Francisco schools. I will definitely check into the two Mountain View options. Is there something in particular I should be looking for? Amount of classes offered, maybe?


Ms. Leigh, you say you would move her to another school immediately... If the teacher at her current school would allow her to do 2 more hours of technique per week with the level above, would you still feel that she needed to move right away? (I know that's going to be a very emotional deciscion for her!) I've never felt that the teaching was bad, just not enough. She did pass her last exam with great marks, but I don't know how difficult (or not) that is to do at this level.


Thanks again for the help.

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  • Administrators

Are the classes at the next level still one hour? If so, no. Also, if they are only doing syllabus classes, and no free classes, meaning that they are constantly preparing only for the exam, then also no. Memorized classes are not teaching them to dance and to pick up choreography and basically to be continuously learning new material. They will look very nice for their exam, but they will have a dreadful time in SI auditions and professional school programs. It's not just the number of hours, it's the quality of those hours. 4 one hour classes would not, in my opinion, come close to equaling 3 ninety minute classes. It's really almost impossible to do all that is needed in a good technique class in one hour, at least beyond the very beginning level.

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Hi, did you check out pacificballet.org? That is in your area. I noticed that several of their faculty/guest faculty as teachers my daughter has had in the past. They also have a curriculum page that discusses amount of classes and length of lessons etc. Might be worth checking out.


I saw the title to your thread and had to laugh. My daughter had her Eureka moment at 12 as well after several years of viewing ballet as a sort of afterschool 'social club'. We had to switch to a more serious studio when it became apparent she was behind for age technically (she has since caught up thanks to great teachers.) Finding the best training is key to helping your child achieve her full potential.


Be prepared for the pestering about all-things-ballet to increase (along with the expense) and also to spend serious time behind the wheel. Welcome to zee club.

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