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Moving levels too soon?


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Good afternoon,

I am new here and have spent some time reading all the great stuff but still haven't found quite the right answer. My daughter will be 6 soon and is starting her 4th year of ballet. The school where she takes classes has an age range that is appropriate for each class. She is currently in a class for 4 to 6 year olds. I asked whether she should continue in the same class just because of her age or move on because of the amount of years she has been in ballet. Her teacher said it would be fine for her to move up to the next level which is for 7 to 9 year old. She has taken some sample classes with the older group and has done fine. After observing the the higher level class the only thing that I am worried about is whether some of the things they are learning in the higher level will affect her feet or body development in later years by starting them too soon. Am I being overly worrisome?

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Hello angabaralina, welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers. :yes:


I think I would be more worried about the classes being determined by age, and by the range in ages. There is a vast difference in what can be expected from a 6 or 7 year old and a 9 year old. She should have had only pre-ballet and creative movement so far, at not quite six years old. That would prepare her to enter a Ballet I class at best. Most Ballet I classes are 7/8 year olds, but some schools start them at 6. However, there is no way they should be doing the same thing as 9 year olds, unless those 9 year olds are in first year ballet.

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Can't say I'm an expert from the teaching side, but this year is the second time I have faced the same scenario as a parent. As Ms. Leigh said, if the children are placed by level rather than age, it should be ok. That's something I've been vigilant about with my two DD's.


Last year older DD (now 10) was moved up to an intermediate level class where she was the youngest by a year. She did fine until a growth spurt and an intense Nut schedule resulted in an overuse injury. She's quite happy remaining in the same level again, and all are in agreement that since she is of slight build and small for her age, that she should not be pushed any further ahead. I mention her scenario because of the sporadic rapid growth which has occured since she turned 9 and the fact that one of her teachers often forgets that she is younger. She did absolutely fine, however, starting in Ballet 1 at age 6, and I never even gave it a second thought.


Now, for the upcoming year, younger DD (6) has been placed in Ballet 1, which, according to the school's published literature, says it's for 7-9 year-olds. She's got two years of CM and one of Pre-Ballet under her belt, and her teacher and the AD agreed that she was ready to move up. I asked the AD about the age listing on the literature, and she said that there was a problem two or three years ago with a parent who enrolled her 6 year old in the class simply because she had taken three years of CM and therefore could now "dance with the big girls" (quote is from a parent whose child was in the class). The school requires auditions for intermediate level and up, but the ages are listed for the beginner classes to provide parameters for new students. I think with her current one-class-a-week schedule, younger DD will be fine in the class even though she'll be the youngest.

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My DD was moved up a level at age 7. So that she was the youngest in the class. At age nine and a half she was put in pointe shoes (yes too young, I know this NOW). So you will want to make sure your studio will not just put the whole class on pointe at the same time.

As the rest of the girls in her class entered middle school, my dd was still in elementary. And her best friend in the class moved away. Now it is only one year between fifth grade and sixth grade, but there is a world of difference between elementary and middle school. She had a very lonely year. Several of the older girls had an attitude that she was "below" them since she was younger and some still harboured resentment from when she was advanced a few years ago. Last year was a hard year and I worried if the social aspect would make her want to quit dancing. The mean girls are still mean this year, but dd is now in middle school as well and is a much more confident dancer.

I don't know what the right decision would be for your dd. At this age the boredom she may get from being in the same level again may not be desirable. Good luck with your decision.

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Thank you very much for the great advice. We changed studios this year and there was a difference between the old and new studios in the class titles and age ranges which made it even more confusing. The new studio was initially going to place her based on her age but after talking with them about her background and having her try classes in both levels with the same teacher they said she would be fine in the higher level. Even though the studio had observed my daughter in classes at both levels before placing her I was still just a little worried about her moving up too soon but I feel more confident now that she will do just fine. Thanks again.

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My school has an age guide for new starters which might read age 4-6 or 7-9 etc however, if students have worked through the earlier level and are ready to move up before the age of 7 then that's fine, I often have 6 year olds in the higher level and they cope just fine. No moves are taught before they are physically ready.

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Age ranges are almost always approximate, from what I've seen. You may even find that though the class is billed as ages 7-9, it may be more like 6-7 year-olds, or at least more on the younger side. If you trust the teacher, I'm sure your child won't be doing anything that is going to cause permanent damage. I remember thinking these same things when my DD was about 6, but she was fine and I was worrying over nothing (something I'm prone to doing!). :yes:

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  • 2 weeks later...

I know at my DD studio the students are not graded persay. The teacher decides when it is time for them to move up and recommands it to the parents, who then have the choice. It seems to work out that way pretty well as it keeps the commucation quite open between the parents and the teachers and studio owner.

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