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age and developmentally appropriate levels? PLEASE HELP


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What should children typically be doing in ballet classes at different ages, from say 4-12, assuming they've started when they were 4? I don't want her to do anything inappropriate for her or that will harm her body later, but I also don't want to be so easy going that if we move, she'll sign up for ballet and not have solid fundamentals with other children her age. Here's our situation if you'd like to know...otherwise just some good pointers are much appreciated!!



Situation: My daughter turned 5 last month. In the States, she took ballet from the summer of 07 through May of 08 and LOVED it. Her classes were very introductory, as you can imagine...movement, listening to the teacher, loving music, starting to get the idea of pointing toes, skipping, etc. We've just moved to Japan and have a couple of options, but don't know what to do. I'd love to put her in a local ballet school, where she could learn ballet as well as some Japanese language. We saw a recital of theirs, which was lovely, and by age 12-15, the girls are really looking graceful. American children are welcomed. Our other option is to take lessons on the US base here, in English. One Japanese teacher on base is really recommended as being true to ballet and having high expectations, but being kind as well...the other two are spouses of service people, so I don't know if they are really BALLET TEACHERS, or people who have danced previously and are now teaching.


Here's the deal: I know that one teacher on base is truly a ballet teacher, but the American children I spoke to at the off-base school feel that she doesn't teach things early enough. That's why they attend the local Japanese ballet school. The other two US teachers...I just don't know what kind of training they've had. So the Japanese ballet school has true ballet teachers, but I think maybe they push things too young. Then again...I don't know what is too early. I just don't want to hurt her feet or legs or hips, but I also don't want her learning improper ballet. If she didn't love it so much, we'd just do something else, but she can't imagine life without ballet at this point. Ugh... HELP :shrug:)!!


Thanks so much!


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Hello, Gina, and welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers. :shrug:


Introducing technical training in an organized, logical and SAFE manner is imperative for children's ballet training. Parents, unless they've been professional dancers themselves, are usually not the best judges of curriculum. When the students are under about 7, it's best for the teacher to take it easy, and introduce material slowly, not pushing anything. You are correct to want to observe caution. There are two internationally-recognized and monitored systems which have a long track record of both safety and excellence in training, but I don't know how well they are represented in Japan. One is the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD), generally supervised from England, and the other is the Cecchetti Method, which is standardized by various Cecchetti associations by world region. See if there's any school in your area which uses either of these Methods. Of course, any system is only as good, locally, as the teacher, but at least that's a clue for you.

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Just to give you a guide here are the RAD grades, usual ages and some of the steps that are introduced in each:


Pre-Primary, aged 4-5: Skips, running on demi-pointe, jumps with feet together, pony galops, demi-plies in 1st, mime, rises, sitting stretching feet, soft hands, sharp hands, marches, point and close


Primary, aged 5-6: Demi-plies in 2nd, sautes in 1st, walking with stretched feet, sideways galops, spring points, swaying, rhythm steps


Grade 1, aged 6-7: Skip change of step, simple barre work like plies in 1st and 2nd, port de bras to 1st and 2nd, transfer of weight via tendus, sautes in 2nd, petits jetes, character steps


Grade 2, aged 7-9: Demi-plies in 3rd, Grand plies in 1st & 2nd, tendus devant, a la seconde and derriere, battements fondus, grands battements devant, port de bras to 5th, galops forwards, coupes, classical walks, changements


Grade 3, aged 8-10: Battements glisses, ronds de jambe a terre, developpes devant, grands battements a la seconde, port de bras to 4th, demi-detournes, arabesque a terre, balances de cote, basic grand allegro, pas de chat


Grade 4, aged 9-12: Developpes a la seconde, grands battements derriere, chasses en avant, releves in 5th and passes, pirouette preparation with quarter turn, pas de bourres, glissades, balances en avant and en arriere, assembles, poses temps leves in arabesque


Grade 5, aged 10+: Petits retires, fouette of adage, developpe devant in the centre, detournes, single pirouettes, releves to 5th in centre - mostly more complex combinations of steps learned previously


Intermediate Foundation again is mostly just more complex combinations of steps learned previously. Batterie and pointe work is introduced.


Personally I would probably go with the Japanese school and if she wasn't enjoying it I would try the other just for enjoyment, I'd rather she did that than abandoned dance altogether!

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