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Body proportions and growth


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Does anybody know if children tend to maintain the same body proportions as they grow, or can their limbs gradually become longer or shorter in relation to their body? Is the "perfect ballet body" always defined in early childhood or can it develop or be lost as the body grows? I know children all grow at different rates and, compared to their peers, can seem tall one year and short the next but do the actual proportions always stay about the same?


I have never really thought about this before and therefore haven't "scientifically" followed the progress of any children (not even of my son, to be honest, who is now a teenager who does seem to be all arms and legs all of a sudden!) so I'd be interested to hear of any thoughts about what I might expect with my ten year old daughter!

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Dancemaven, what a perfect analogy! Especially for my dd who if you follow the old adage, you are what you eat, is definitely a box of chocolates!!

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I was always curious, so after reading your post ifnotwhynot, I spent some time with Google and actually found a study on this topic. I only read the abstract, but they found the proportion of the upper limbs to be stable through adolescence, but the lower limb proportions varied. The authors even went so far as to say lower limb proportion is so unstable it's a poor criteria for talent selection.


In other words, box of chocolates.




Stability of human proportions through adolescent growth by Ackland and Bloomfield ( in case any one else has too much free time)

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Parent of an older child adding her two cents worth here! I hope you will allow it. I actually spoke to pediatric physicians on this subject some years ago and this is what I was told on the growth of young ladies. The first thing to grow are the feet, followed by the legs and finally the rest of the body. The torso is the last thing to grow to it's adult size. That's why kids go from short legged babies to pooh bear looking toddlers, to long legged gazelles and finally to nicely proportioned young women. It's one of the reasons why it's so hard to ooh and aah over pre pubescent young dancers. The skinny child with perfect proportions is not always the ideal ballet child once a young woman. It also goes the other way. The ballet child and the body and it's variations that are acceptible or not as acceptible take until the mid to late teens to develop. Until puberty male and female children have a reasonably similar shape. They most certainly look pretty much the same from behind.

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very interesting. At 16, my DD is a bit of a "late bloomer"; physically she is about two years behind her peers. She has just caught up to me in height, but when we sit down next to each other, hip to knee, her leg is longer than mine. Her feet have also grown; we used to be able to share shoes, but sometime in the last four months her feet are now a full size bigger. Hers has not been a totally feet first, legs next progression... but on the other hand, they did sort of follow each other in stages. This thread has given me hope, because although she is delayed, it does look like her body is doing what it is supposed to be doing!

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This is an interesting topic of discussion. Is there anything that can be spotted in a younger dancer that is likely to remain a constant? Musicality? Focus? Ability to apply corrections? Passion? Good feet? Artistry? Other?

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Probably all of those attributes could be identified in a young dancer and hold true as they mature. But, by the same token, students who do not demonstrate these attributes at a young age often do develop or improve in these areas as they mature and sometimes surpass the 'early bloomers' in one or more of these attributes. And, dancers who possess any number of these wonderful attributes might face challenges in other areas that become obvious as they mature, such as: body type, facility, injuries, height, etc. that will trump these attributes and make a pro career unlikely. So, it is just awfully hard to point to a pre-pubescent dancer and make any factual predictions about their future in ballet. :ninja:

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ballet booster, you specifically mention height as a challenge that might "trump" other attributes. Would you mind expanding upon this please.


Specifically if a dancer is "height challenged", but is proportioned well (long limbs) and has some of the other positives you mentioned in your list going for them.....


how big a difference would lack of height make in pursueing a professional career?

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I would like to hear about he height issue as well. My dd is very tiny for her age. 4'4" and Xlbs at 11 years.


She actually had an instructor inquire if we had a height potential for her from ortho. He thinks she will not be tall enough to partner if she isnt 5'2" at a minimum.


I hear alot about body types but never anything specific on height. Is there a too short/too tall scenario?


*Edited by moderator to remove weight as per rules. :sweating:

Edited by Clara 76
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There are several threads on this issue already. Do a search on height in the title or short or tall in the title and you'll find more than a few!


I wasn't speaking specifically about being too short. Being too tall can also be problematic. How tall or how short is too much? I'll leave that to others to determine. Height issues are not always insurmountable and other positive attributes may trump this problem, given the right company. My point was not to raise concerns for those with young dancers. My point was to encourage you to not fret over this too much and realize that only time will make your dancer's path a bit more clear. Having been there, I completely understand about all the worrying and wondering that goes on as we try to see what the future holds and if that elusive ballet dream could be a reality for our kids.


When your kids are young, no one can prepare us for all the ups and downs, ins and outs of the ballet journey. We hear about the travails that others have experienced, but we don't think that our kids will fall into this or that particular category. We look at their bodies, their older siblings, their aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc. and we try to predict what puberty will bring for them. We see their early passion and we cannot imagine that it will ever fade or be questioned or that they will ever feel conflicted or torn or pulled toward another pursuit. We thrill at their early successes and assume that this is just the beginning of a long string of positive experiences in the ballet world.


This is all as it should be! But, I do caution you to temper all that enthusiasm with a healthy dose of reality. Bide your time wisely. Spend these formative years and your money getting your dancers the very best training available within a reasonable drive, expose them to other interests and then just wait. And most importantly, re-evaluate your child's training plans annually as their bodies, skill and interests mature.


Here are a few threads to get you started reading about this topic. There are many more that you will turn up if you do a title search:















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this will probably sound very stupid,but can anyone tell me how many cm 4'4'' is?

We use cm and m over here and i don't know how to convert it :sweating:

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Well, it looks like a lot of research has been done on the subject of my original question! I love the chocolate box analogy, too, and basically it does look like a waiting game but one tinged with optimism!


Bennett - do you have an actual link to the article you mention? I can find numerous references to it but not the article itself!


I have heard previously that feet tend to grow first and can certainly remember that last year my son's feet grew 3 full sizes very quickly. Hence, maybe, his lankiness now! Hope my daughter follows suit becasue her feet are so tiny we really struggle with shoes- dance and otherwise.


The comments posted do make me wonder about school selection, however. In the UK, out of the many thousands of 11 year old girls that aspire to be dancers, about 40 are offered places at residential schools each year. The implication is that so much can change at this age and yet they are making such life changing decisions about these children based on what they see in just an hour or so. I suppose this leads to a previous question of mine, which is how do you assess potential?


Balletbooster - thank you for your insightful advice. I would so very much like a crystal ball but I do know that as a parent all I can do is wait and offer as much support as possible.


Heleen - 4ft4 is about 132cm!

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I do think a change in foot size is a good indicator of coming growth. At 11, just starting 7th grade, my daughter was the shortest in her class and always had been. She had the same size foot (size 1) from first grade (age 5) on. Getting pointe shoes was a nightmare! Then, that spring, her feet began to grow. Soon they were size 8. Less than a year later she had grown an actual foot taller and was the tallest girl in the class. It does happen.

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How would the use of imaging and looking at the growth plates help make determinations? While you may not know what growth will occur, would that not show what growth still was able to occur or does that matter?

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