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Ballet Talk for Dancers

At what age does the number of hours matter?


dancingjet

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I've been reading various threads and have started to wonder something. At certain younger ages, it seems like it's basically fine if the kids have only one or two classes a week, and if those classes are only an hour in length. And at an older age, they seem to need a minimum number of classes of 90 minutes each. What's that magic time period where the number of classes matters?

 

I am asking because on some level I think I'm feeling insecure about DD. She's eight, she takes just two classes a week for 60 minutes each. At the next level, I think she'll have three classes a week, but two of those will still be only 60 minutes long, if I read things on the schedule correctly. She came from a more intense environment, and if she was still there I imagine she would be taking 2 or 3 90-minute classes a week now.

 

Maybe my question is how do we know when they need this many classes for this many minutes? When do we, as parents of younger dancers, go from not worrying too much about it to making sure they're getting what they need? Am I really making mountains out of molehills here? If I am, it is really OK to tell me that too. As part of the self-selecting group that finds and stays at this site, I'm the mom of a DD who is one of those focused kids who has always been youngest in her level, etc. etc. I find it hard not to worry about things, although I've done a good job of putting it on the back burner for a good six months or so. B)

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I don't know the specific answer, but at my son's school the students attend just 2-3 days a week (60 minute classes) at levels 1-3. Once the girls are on pointe (and boys are of a similar age and level) the days and hours go up dramatically.

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Dancingjet - I have asked the same questions, and have had the same concerns as you have. There are a couple of older threads - I guess from fall of 2006 - which address these same concerns. My dd was only taking 2 one hour ballet classes per week when she was 9, and then, the summer before she turned 10 (she has an August birthday), the hours started to increase - 3 hours per week for about 6 months, then 5 hours per week over 4 days (2 sixty minute, and 2 ninety minute technique) beginning in January of that year. Now, at 11, she has 7.5 hours a week - 4 ninety minute technique, one hour of choreography, and 30 minutes of pointe. She did have 9 hours per week until a couple of weeks ago, but in this current economy, enrollment dropped off, and the studio had to drop a couple of classes.

 

This is my dd's first year going out into the big world (we live in a small town), and doing SI auditions in 2 big cities, etc. I kept my eyes and ears open to try and figure out what other "on track" children were doing. What I found out was that many of the pre-professional schools have 10 year olds taking 4 technique classes per week, 90 minutes in length. By 12 years old, the majority of students seemed to be taking much more than that - 12 - 15 hours per week, including rehearsals, technique, pointe, variations/choreography, conditioning (pilates/floor barre).

 

I'm looking forward to following this thread, and reading the variety of opinions and viewpoints. If the trend is 12 year olds taking 12 - 15 hours per week, we're going to have to make some big decisions regarding where and/or how my dd continues her training.

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How would one get that many hours per week? At my daughter's new ballet school (which was recommended by BT4D-thanks!) they only seem to offer 90 minutes per day 6 days a week up until the most advanced levels where I think a few of the classes might be 2 hours per day instead. Do the kids take two levels of technique?

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LauraGG- is this the thread you were thinking about? I think it may be.

 

I think what DD has now is fine. It was a change to go from 90- to 60-minute classes, but I see different things emerging from her classes in terms of her technique and alignment and am comfortable with her teacher and her teacher's philosophy.

 

So is ten to eleven the magic age? Those seem to be the pre-pointe years where the 3 90-minute classes become required.

 

I'm such a worrier! B)

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Parents, it's not a matter of age only, but level as well. Assuming a child starts Ballet I at 7, moves to Ballet II at 8, they would most likely be taking two sixty minute classes per week. At Level III they should, IMO, move to 90 minutes classes, three times per week. Now Level III might not happen at 9, as sometimes they are in L II for more than one year. Many schools having various progressive sections of the early levels, and they move up through one or two more sections before going to the next level. Sometimes the more advanced sections will start to increase in time and days per week.

 

The main thing, again IMO, is that they should have at least three 90 minute classes per week during the year prior to pointe work. Some schools start 11 or 11.5 year olds on pointe, and some do it later. Some make that decision based on the level and strength of the child.

 

So, there are no set rules on when things change, and there will be differences in different schools. However, 60 minutes classes are not sufficient for training beyond the beginning levels.

 

Californiagirl, advanced levels dancers at pre-professional schools usually have at least 2, preferably 2.5 hours per day of technique and pointe, 6 days a week. Other subjects and rehearsals are in addition to these class hours.

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Thank you for weighing in on this topic, Ms. Leigh.

 

DD is in level 2 which is still part of the beginning level. Being new to the school we haven't been through a change of levels yet, so I don't know how that is handled. Something to ask about. I also don't know how dancers are evaluated for pointe readiness - another question to ask.

 

Maybe that's what I need to do - ask the questions that are on my mind and then let it rest. B)

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Yes - dancingjet - that was the thread I was thinking of. I had kept my dd at her recreational school for ballet until she was almost 9, when we moved her to her current studio. She had had only one hour per week of poorly taught ballet prior to that. In hindsight, I should have moved her at 7 or 8 to a real ballet studio, and had her taking 2 classes per week at that time. At this point, I think my dd is taking enough ballet for her satisfaction, and energy level, though she is disappointed that she lost the other class.

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I've been thinking about this some more, trying to get to the root of my anxiety. I think it's this: the environment she came from had an AD that pushed, pushed, pushed without necessarily working on fundamental basics of proper alignment and developing core strength. She saw "something" in DD and moved her along, exposing her to more and more vocabulary. Now, DD is in a school that emphasizes proper turnout, proper posture and building the needed strength before introducing a large vocabulary. So while it seems slow to me, the reality is that it's just different, and perhaps more conservative, but I can see the logic in it, and the sense. In looking around at various schedules here and there, what my DD is getting now in terms of minutes and number of classes seems fine. I am trusting her school, and myself.

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OK - so I have another question, which I think fits here. I've seen a lot of schools offer "pointe" classes following technique class. We don't have separate pointe classes at our school, at any level. At the level when the school adds pointe the classes go from 60 minutes to 90 minutes. But other than 5-15 minutes of pointe at the end of the class (and maybe a rare instance of 20-25 minutes) - well that's all that I've ever seen the girls get. There is an optional free repretory class on Sat and I believe that maybe 1/2 that class is pointe in the second half of the year.

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After the first two years, at most, 60 minutes classes are not sufficient to progress in technique, and certainly not enough to prepare for pointe work. Technique classes need to be 90 minutes, with pointe following for at least 30 minutes, preferably one hour at the upper levels.

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So at 8, 2 60-minute classes seems fine, but by 10-11 they really ought to be doing at least 3 90-minute classes, is what I'm understanding here. :shrug:

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Yes, that is about right, but of course age is less important than level. There might be 10 year olds still in second year, for instance, or a whiz bang 9 year old in third year, so I prefer to do it by levels rather than ages.

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I understand what you're saying about age vs. levels. It actually calls up for me another point of my insecurities - DD was seen as someone to 'move along' at her old school, so to have her be "only" in level II as an 8-year-old feels odd.

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My daughter is nearly 11 1/2 and is one of the youngest dancers in her Level IV class in a school associated with a major ballet company. Level II at age 8 would be considered to be as advanced as you could possibly get at her school. This year they went en pointe. So if your school is about the same, and your dd advances a level every year, she'd be going en pointe when she's 10. I'm not any sort of expert on this, but my reading has indicated this is pretty young, though not unheard of, and you'd want to be sure she's ready at that point for that kind of dancing.

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