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age appropriate variation


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Is there a list of variations by age appropriateness or difficulty anywhere out there? My dd will be learning a new one for competition and I wondered if there might be a short list for this younger age group to research from? In my very limited experience many of the under 12's seem to favor BlueBird or Don Q which are both lovely but we would like something less frequently seen in that age category.



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Both of the above variations have hops on one foot on pointe, unless someone changes the choreography. Therefore, I do not feel they are appropriate for under 13's. To be totally honest with you, I really don't think that classical variations, which were designed for soloist and principal professional dancers, should be attempted by children. When the dancers are old enough and strong enough to begin working on them, that is fine.


That said, I realize that competitions have children dancing classical variations. It is another reason that I don't like competitions.

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What ability level (I know you like to speak in ability not age) do you feel variations are appropriate? and which would you teach at a beginning variations class?


Just as a point of reference for ability of my dd who is 11 she is in the Atlanta Ballet SI this week in the level 2 intermediate program. I have no idea what that means ( :shrug: ) since all the programs are different at different schools but know you know exactly what that means.


Thank you very much.

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Advanced dancers, IMO, are the only ones who should be learning classical variations. This is just my opinion, not what actually happens in the real world. I have tried teaching some to Intermediates, and it really does not work very well.


Level 2 is good for age 11, but we are still looking at a very early Intermediate level here. All 3 levels for this 2 week program are very early to middle Intermediate, IMO. I was at the placement class yesterday, and there was no one advanced in the entire group of about 74 students. But, we also do not expect that age group to be advanced. :shrug:

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We saw a lovely variation of "Prayer" done by a younger dancer in technique shoes at YAGP regionals in California a few years ago, also one of the fairies from Sleeping Beauty not done en pointe was pretty nice at Chicago two years ago.

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Remember, all of these classical variations were originally set on mature women. Seeking an "age-appropriate" variation is really a fool's errand.


Seeking one that is "technically appropriate" could open up the field a little, but the interpretation and style will almost certainly be wanting. There are some things that a teacher or coach can't just apply over the top of a young dancer, like paint.

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"Technically appropriate" suggestions would be fantastic.


Everyone in this age category will be "wanting" in the technical and artistry field in comparison to more mature in age, and longer trained dancers. However - if choosing to go ahead a participate - are there certain variations that are felt better for young dancers than others? This assumes the choreography is altered to a level the dancer can comfortably perform.

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A question if I may...


Is it possible for a piece to be choreographed for your daughter en pointe, or for her to perform a piece that has already been choreographed by her teacher for a former young student, rather than adapting a classical variation? Or would that negatively impact her score at competition?

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She actually had a classical ballet solo choreographed for her for the regional YAGP. This was her first ballet competition (she has competed at other competition but not strictly ballet). She was the ONLY one at this competition that did not do a classical variation for the classical part of the competition.


She qualified for NY and we promptly went home and found a teacher to set a variation for her thinking that it was the best idea. After going to NY for the finals there were a few that had original choreography for their classical solo. However, I would say the overwhelming majority did variations. All of the contemporary solos seemed to be original choreography IMO.


so the short answer is - in her age category (precompetitive) she can do an original classical ballet solo. But once you turn 12 and are a junior you have to do a variation from the list YAGP provides. I'm not sure if this is typical in all ballet competitions or not.


Impacting her score? no idea. I would think the judges may like to see something more original just for sake of reducing monotony. But I guess they like to see variations they are familiar with or have the ability to compare????


FYI - she would not be in the junior category she would be in precompetitive again.


Just wanted to clarify since I put in that blurb about doing a required variation as a Junior.

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My DD's were taught watered down variations when 11 and 12 but not for competition, never en pointe and neither for performance. It was always as a little something to reach for and enjoy the process of learning and acquiring the ability to truly present and perform the piece in the studio. They have always been precocious dancers and at this age although not at an advanced level they were advanced for their age.


I think the suggestion of looking for something age appropriate was made as these variations were set on mature women. This is true but ballet in the age of Petipa was very different to today as far as technique and expectations. They also took up professional careers at an age we would be heading to High School. Fonteyn was a professional by the age of 14/15 and that is much later historically than the era of Petipa and the fairy variations from Sleeping Beauty. That said, I believe that the age appropriate aspect is valid. The hops en pointe really are for a mature, advanced dancer. My DD's were strong enough and advanced enough by 13/14 to take up the challenge of such pieces and in fact did perform them. Not all dancers hit maturity and strength at the same age. My youngest was held back and trained very slowly due to her height and limb length.


Slow and steady training is the way to develop a dancer. This applies to performances as well. It's one of my fears about competitions such as YAGP, dancers being pushed when they should be building technique, strength and ability.

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Fonteyn was a professional by the age of 14/15


And look at the reviews the teenaged Fonteyn got. They were comparing her unfavorably with Spessiva (Spessivtzeva) and Lopokhova, two dancers of more age and experience. Fonteyn was for awhile thought to be headed for a career in character parts and trouser roles because her ballerina roles were so wanting.

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I agree completely. I dont want my dd to kill herself in order to be a partcipant - however I do think it's possible for her to do a "watered down" variation and do trust her teacher in choosing/choreographing what is appropriate to her ability.


I was simply asking if anyone out there might have a suggestion of a variation they had seen that would be appropriate for a younger dancer to do. We like to look at various websites and DVDs to see what she likes and dislikes. By approriate not only do I mean technical difficulty but also the choice of character.


I know from previous threads that there are many who oppose competition altogether and I certainly understand and respect the decision to choose not to participate.

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I'm not sure that anyone from my daughter's studio in pre-competitive at YAGP has gone with a classical variation. Two students come to mind that have both won awards at regionals with original choreography en pointe.


12345, I'm sure you have consulted with your daughter's teacher about what's best for her and have discussed her goals. I just wanted to say that, IMHO as a parent, there should be no pressure for your daughter to compete with a classical variation simply because most everyone else does. If you make the decision to go forward with a variation, best of luck to you in your search for the right one. Hopefully you will find some good suggestions here. :)

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