Jump to content
Ballet Talk for Dancers to close ×
Ballet Talk for Dancers

Is it possible that the ability and desire to dance is hereditary?


Recommended Posts

:D:P If the children of Dancers showed an ability and interest in becomming Dancers, would they be encouraged or dis-couraged by their parents. If both parents were dancers does this make it more likely any children of the union, would be twice as keen ? Can you think of Dancers who have grown up in this situation., and now are on stage. Perhaps siblings are even likely to choose dance as their career.

Can yoiu mention Dancers you know off who fit into this situation. It would be most interesting to read.

Edited by Nanarina
Link to comment
  • Replies 31
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

  • diane


  • Mel Johnson


  • Hamorah


  • Pointe1432


There are so many professional dancers with children who have also aspired to and obtained careers in ballet and/or dance. The list will be a very long one.


In ABT there have been many.


Veronica Lynn...ABT daughter of Lupe Serrano and the late Kenneth Schermerhorn (conductor ABT and many other orchestras)

Link to comment

I think a comparison can be made to any career that a parent has.... so just as children of Chess players grow up playing chess, or children of pianists grow up playing piano, so do children of ballet dancers grow up dancing!


It would be interesting to do a study of parental careers and how they affect the children. From my personal experience, my grandmother was a ballet dancer as was my mother and myself, and now my son is a dancer. However, my sister is not, and at this time, my youngest doesn't dance either.


There was never any pressure to dance in my family though, despite all the exposure. My mother waited until I begged her to give me ballet classes, and she waited also to see what my sister wanted to do. My sister was more interested in school sports, even as a little girl, so that's what she did.


My son always wanted to play video games when he was little, so I tried various sports for him to try to burn off his excess energy; baseball, soccer, basketball, and while he enjoyed some aspects of each sport, he was not interested in practicing at all. So when his best friend saw Riverdance, and begged his mom for tap classes, she called me to ask if my son would go with him. I said, "Sure, but he probably won't stay in the class because he's not interested in taking classes of any kind". She thought that would be fine- just long enough for her son to feel comfortable, so off I went to buy a cheap pair of tap shoes.


The rest is history. My son came out of class and said, "Mom! That was awesome!!! Why didn't you make me do this a long time ago!!!" After I rolled my eyes at his 'make me' comment, because that's literally what I had to do when it came time for soccer practice, I waited to see if he'd want to go back to the next class, but lo and behold, he put on his tap shoes every day at home to show me what he did in his first class, and tell me that he needed to practice so he could have it 'down' by the next class.... :rolleyes:


After that, it was, "Mom, I have to take some ballet classes so I can audition for Nutcracker!!" And so on.............


Now, he is teaching tap at BalletMet, alongside myself and my mother, so it is truly 'in the blood'. :P:D

Link to comment

My mother had danced, but my father had been an engineer. They would only pay for one ballet class a week for me. After that, I had to find my own resources, which I did at the time. I could say I was actively discouraged from pursuing dance, but that only made me want it more. :P

Link to comment

I danced professionally, my sister (3 1/2 years older) danced throughout her childhood, then quit. Neither of my parents danced but my dad especially loved opera and ballet. All 3 of my daughters took ballet from age about 3 to now. My oldest dd is a professional also. My son, my youngest, doesn't want anything to do with dance!

Link to comment

It is very interesting. There are so many things which factor into the equation.


I believe that in the not-too-distant past it was more common for children to go into the professions of their parents; that was how they learned any profession - by watching, basically. (many family names reflect this, don't they?)


So, it is probably fairly common even now for kids to end up doing that which seems "normal", where they feel comfortable.


My husband is a working actor (stage, not film - on yearly contracts) and I was a ballet dancer. (seldom same theater, but so-be-it)

When our children were born, I had stopped dancing professionally, but taught.


The girls both had lessons as often as there were classes offered and they wanted to take part. (not always...) They were also in the theater often and had parts as extras from young ages.


As we (the parents) had sung, danced and played theater games with them since they were knee-high-to-grasshoppers, this was the most natural thing for them.


One DD now studying dance professionally; the other would like to.. but things may of course change.

Times are harder now than when I danced; and the acting-track has been avidly discourged by my husband as a possible career path. :-)



Link to comment

My husband and I are both professional dancers, but none of our parents were, nor anyone in our families.


However, my husband has two younger brothers (11 and 14 years younger than he) and both dance. They both very much look up to their older brother and often spoke of it as a natural progression. When we once asked one of them what he wanted to be when he grew up his response was "Well, I'll dance, and after that maybe I'll....." :devil:



Link to comment

Pointe 1432,

Do you remember what got you started in dancing?

And your husband?


That is very interesting about your husband's brothers!

It must make him feel good to have them look up to him so.


Do you think you would encourage your own children, should you someday have any, to follow in your footsteps? (so-to-speak)




Link to comment

Arizona Ballet's Paola Hartley's parents were both dancers, I believe. I have read that they were not overly encouraging, asking "Are you *sure* you want to do this?" knowing from personal experience that it would not be an easy life. After she reassured them, they were in the position to truly and well evaluate her training, and make sure she was in the right program for her ambitions.

Link to comment

I’m ignorant of the specifics, but there are a couple of general rules regarding kids developing similar talents as their parents that I think are worth mentioning.


On the one hand, talented parents can provide their offspring with experience and guidance that the average parent lacks. They know the “field,” what to expect, what it takes, and how talent is identified and nurtured. This gives such kids a huge knowledge advantage if they want to develop the talent.


On the other hand there is something called the regression effect. What that means is parents with a certain talent are likely to have children with less talent than the parents have. The classic example is height (yes, height is not a talent, but it was how the regression effect was discovered). Tall parents tend to have tall children, but the children are most likely not as tall as the parents.


These are general rules. There are of course exceptions, but over the overwhelming majority of cases they hold up.

Link to comment

garyecht: interesting!

Tell me more. :-)

Does this mean that humans are getting shorter and shorter and less and less talented?


Or - am I missing something? (most likely....:-p)



Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...



For me, ballet started as a sort of requirement during my figure skating days, but I would regularly talk my mother out of making me go. After figure skating it was also required for my next activities such as gymnastics and jazz classes. At some point I began to actually enjoy it and by sheer luck ended up at a school with very good training at the "late" age of 12.


My husband's story is a bit different. As an adult my mother in-law began taking adult ballet classes. One day my husband showed her a step that he had seen her do in class, so she asked him if he would be interested in taking a class. He said "sure", started classes, and when that teacher decided to retire and close the school he ended up continuing classes at one of the most reputable ballet schools in the country.


And here we are...


As far as our own children go, when the time comes, we will leave it up to them. Of course I've had my moments of heartache (especially when trying to get a job) when I remember saying "I'm never putting my child through this" But the fact is I want them to do what they love, regardless of whether it involves following our footsteps or not.

Link to comment

The basis of this thread is a question which goes back to the old "Nature/Nurture" argument. In other words, is a trait or set of traits genetically determined, or are they trained into an individual? As the original question is framed "is it possible", then the answer is "yeah, sure." to the "Nature" side. Of course, that also presupposes a "yeah, sure" to the "Nurture" side as well. The offspring of successful dancers are rather likely to inherent morphologic traits which would make it easier for them to dance. But are we ever going to know for sure which factor is dominant in making dancers? Unlikely. The kinds of testing involved, with double-blinds, in finding out trespass over the bounds of medical ethics.

Link to comment

I think a lot of the physical ability is inherited especially when both parents are dancers. (Physical ability, not talent mind you...). I have two examples:

My husband is Russian, trained in the Soviet Choreographic system. His first wife (also a pro. dancer) and he had a son that was accepted to the Perm school. (He turned it down and is now a computer engineer but at least the physical requirements were there)

My husband and I also have a four year old-he has my husbands 180 turn out, can do the middle splits like my hubby, and inherited my very flexible back and long limbs. We'll see what happens with him...(we're also like others that have commented about their own children...don't want to push but would be happy if he chose ballet.)

Link to comment

Kaitlyn Gilliland of NYCB has a mother & grandmother who danced. article


There are a couple of brother/sister pairs in NYCB as well; Megan & Robert Fairchild, Abi & Jonathan Stafford. Nilas Martins is the son of Peter Martins (Nilas dances for NYCB & Peter is their AD).


Lorena Feijoo of San Francisco Ballet is the sister of Lorna Feijoo of Boston Ballet.


Erica Cornejo of Boston Ballet is the sister of Herman Cornejo of ABT.


Gabriella Yudenich of Pennsylvania Ballet's parents both danced.


I'm sure there are many other sibling/family relationships that I don't know about!

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...