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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Other kinds of dance


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Our school is offering tap for the first time this year. My daughter (age 11) wants to add that to her long list of classes she takes. My question is, tap is a very down in the knees, down into the floor kind of dance. Can it take away from her development in ballet? We attend a ballet school, not a competition school, so they wouldn't offer it if is was contrary to the goals of the school would they?

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Trythis, while some people think it is not good, I really don't think it will hurt them on a limited basis, like a once a week class. It's fun, and if she enjoys it, I don't see why not.

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Our ballet school offers Tap 1 and 2. My daughter has taken it for 3 years (she has taken level 2 twice and the teacher just keeps progressing them to different levels). It's a once weekly class and my dd LOVES it. It's a class where she can move and dance and feel the rhythm in a way that is different from the more controlled atmosphere of ballet (the teacher is a 'hoofer').


We have differing opinions within the school on whether it is appropriate. I asked the school administrator how he felt since he was also one of her ballet teachers this year. He said he thought it was great! Another teacher thinks tap is terrible for ballet dancers, especially for the ankles.


I think my dd will continue to take it for as long as her ballet schedule allows. Tap is definitely not given the consideration that other classes are given and is the first to be cut, canceled, moved, etc. It also seems to be a rather expensive add-on compared to the overall tuition.

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Since leaving the competition school my dd has taken a one hour once per week tap class at her ballet school. While ballet is definitely the priority focus of the school, and they like to see other dance forms studied in addition to (not in place of) any of the full compliment of ballet classes, they are happy to see the students learning other forms of dance. (They also offer jazz and modern.)


Not every student will end up in a professional ballet career, but if dance is instrinsic to who a person is, knowing something about these other forms may leave the doors to other avenues open to them. Alumni from our school include individuals who have received ballet contracts, but also a dancer who is enjoying success in musical theater. Dancing on Broadway.


Now I have a question.... please advise me if you think its off topic, since although the thread is entitled "other kinds of dance", the poster's original focus was on tap.


I had a conversation with an instructer from a different (3rd) school at the time I was considering switching schools. She was very helpful and just provided objective observations that helped us in our decision making process. But, one avenue of our conversation was about jazz. She encouraged my daughter to keep taking a jazz class as long as her schedule would permit. She felt this was beneficial to a dancer. I can't remember the technicalities of her explanation, but it had something to do with how ballet used muscles one way, and jazz another, but that both were beneficial to a dancer's development.


Could one of the teachers speak to this? is there a benefit to studying jazz "on the side"?

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I am also very interested in whether jazz is beneficial for ballet. The school my daughter attends doesn't ad a jazz class until the girls are about 12 and then it's been only in the summer course. The year round program includes only modern. I have noticed that the girls in the school that have more extensive training in other types of dance outside the ballet school, are considered the best dancers since they seem to have better developed sense of timing, ability to pick up combinations faster and with more ease, more developed musicality and just seem to feel the music better. So I have been wondering if my daughter should add a year round jazz class to help her loosen up and develop these other areas. She already takes a musical instrument and she is talented at ballet, just seems to need to loosen up and develop more coordination with regard to dance combinations at center.

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If I may chime in...KarenD makes the most excellent point that tap (and other styles) increase a dancer's versatility, hence their marketability, and, I would add, for the long term. A ballet dancer's career is among the shortest for all dance styles. Tap, contemporary, and ballroom are styles in which dancers typically perform the longest (with the exception of rarities like Maya Plissetskaya!). Arabesque 2 makes additional great points about musicality, increased speed of learning choreography (jazz and tap are especially great for this), rhythm, timing, etc. Totally agree!

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Hollywood Ballet--a reminder that this is the Parents board.

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Mom of 3, perhaps I should take the responsibility for the "mispost" as I specifically asked for a teachers input (w/o thinking of the board's rules - sorry! :D ). I took Hollywood Ballet's reply as a response to that request....

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No problem KarenD. Just for the record though, any request for teacher input on the parent boards should be from one of the teacher moderators/administrators. If you want general teacher input to your question, please feel free to post it on Cross Talk. (same rules apply to us as parents posting on the teacher board, no matter how applicable our response might be if we want to respond, we need to create a topic on Cross talk to do it)

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I really appreciate all this information and feedback. My daughter's school requires jazz in addition to ballet beginning at the elementary level. It seems to me that most of the more modern, non-storied, ballets seem to have a jazz feeling to them. I just attended a performance at the Atlanta Ballet, one of the pieces, "Ramling Suite" was to blue grass-type music, but a lot of the dance struck me as jazzy. So I am glad that they encourage jazz in addition to ballet. And at the Atlanta Ballet that was my favorite piece of the night.

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I totally agree, DD is in her 4th year at a pre-pro ballet school, but spent 7 years prior at a competition school doing all different styles of dance. I truly think that her broad experience helped her keep up on the ballet side until she was able to become a full fledged bun head herself! She takes ballet 6 days a week, but she also has jazz, modern and composition once a week. It hasn't hurt her any, she's going to Suzanne Farrell's Summer Intensive this summer!

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OK - I am going to post as devil's advocate :)


My daughter has danced since she was 3 and never was interested in anything but ballet. Tried tap once when she was in Kindergarten I think and didn't like it. She's now in 6th grade. Two years ago when she moved to a studio that offered more ballet classes I pushed her into taking a jazz class since it was "required" for their intensive program (although requirements are quite flexible there). She loved it. Last year since we were paying for unlimited classes anyway she tried irish in addition to jazz and loved it also. They were her 'fun' classes because, as you all know, when you are serious about ballet it is HARD work. She even started to try tap again... Her private instructor who is very old school (eastern european) highly discouraged these non-ballet classes. He said that at her young age it was working against turn-out and muscle memory that we were working so hard to build. He explained how it worked against the ballet training, especially tap - I remember him talking about it being parrallel and loose, the exact opposite of ballet. He said that as she gets older adding in jazz and modern would be ok but that right now it is too soon in her ballet training. Any way, long story short, dd will do anything she has to to become a BALLET dancer, so this year she is taking nothing but ballet classes again.


I can kind of understand where the teacher is coming from I guess. Interestingly, I found dd in Jazz class 'funny' last year. Not funny 'ha, ha' funny - but she was SO out of her element. She had a hard time loosening up. We joked about her not being able to laeve her ballerina self at the door :D . But Irish she took to like a duck to water :shrug:

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Interestingly, I found dd in Jazz class 'funny' last year. Not funny 'ha, ha' funny - but she was SO out of her element. She had a hard time loosening up. We joked about her not being able to laeve her ballerina self at the door


Funny that you say this! When dd took a hip-hop class last year, we said the same thing. She did the steps but the hip-hop attitude and looseness was tough for her! Odd when she's good at showing attitude at home. :P I think it was a reflection of the strength of the training at her new school. She had taken plenty of jazz, tap, and even some hip-hop and modern at her prior studio, but left it all behind to concentrate on ballet.


Thanks for the very timely conversation. Dd has asked if she can add a jazz class to her schedule next year.

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When dd was younger she took tap and jazz along with ballet. Something had to give as the ballet became her focus. The last year she took tap she won a fairly big deal competition in it BECAUSE of her ballet training. Now that she is older and pursuing another career path altogether, she still studies ballet, but has revisited other dance forms and finds them enjoyable.


Smuin Ballet, in the San Francisco Bay Area, often features a tap number or two in its Christmas show. They are fabulous. Seriously pursuing other dance forms can be done - but may not be right for everyone.

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