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hours of class per week


dancepop

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This is a slight variant of a question I asked last year - so I hope this is not too redundant. Our 11 3/4 year old son attends what is generally considered one of the best ballet schools in the country - and I certainly think the reputation is well warranted. Our son is going into the highest level prior to when boys are big enough (and generally post-puberty) to safely lift girls. He will be taking 1 1/2 hour classes 5 days a week (7.5 hours in total).

 

He is attending a two week summer program right now, and is in class with some other boys who attend another well regarded school, CPYB. A boy at about the same age/level as our son takes a minimum of 22 hours of ballet a week (and can take up to 30 hours or more per week) at CPYB. I am perplexed that there can be such a difference in what good schols consider the ideal amount of training to do per week - 7 1/2 hours versus say 30 hours. Our son I think is the type of kid who would welcome training more hours and his body I suspect could handle a heavier load.

 

On the one hand, all othe things being equal, I assume a boy who trains four times as much per day will become a much better dancer. And if this is a common practice, I assume that the top dancers itn eh world will all come form places where the kids do tha tmuch more training. On the other hand, perhaps the risk of injury is too great to take such a risk, or there is some other reason why training 8 hours a week is better at this age with no downside. But seeing what boys these days who are serious about a career in pro sport (say tennis, gymnastics, hockey...) do in training to have a chance to be really great, it seems that at least 3 to 4 hours or more per day seems the norm these days.

 

Appreciate your advice> Although we would not even consider switching schools, I guess we could explore supplementing the current 7 1/2 hours per week with complimentary classes elsewhere.

 

Thanks for your thoughts.

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Victoria Leigh

Dancepop, I'm sorry, but I would not even think about a 12 year old GROWING boy taking 30 hours a week. I think he is right where he should be, and well ahead of most, by taking daily 1.5 hour classes! That should be perfectly fine for now. You said he is in a top school. Trust them.

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But Dancepop brings up a good point. I sometimes feel that the boys who are studying a significant number of hours more per week than others can do much more (and usually though not always better). In fact, i sometimes think they are 'rewarded' for this via solos in SI performances and the like and higher level placement. I have sometimes worried that my DS is 'behind the eight-ball' vs other kids his age because of this, though like the prior poster, my DS is also in one of the best schools in the country where their strategy is more the slow and steady approach. I know boys who study in other (good) schools who, for example, have multiple classes on a saturday (technique, men's, partnering) -- even at 12 years old-where mine has one class (on any given day or two at most-that being tech and character) and no partnering (other than in his summer intensive).

 

It makes you wonder. And it does make you worry (for those whose kids want to be professional and competitive)

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My point of view is that these are the best schools in the country for a reason. They know what they're doing.

 

Too much too soon is not what growing students need, as Ms. Leigh said. Some of them might look impressive now, but many of them will burn out. Better to wait for now and have the student take on more gradually as his mind and body can handle it.

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Thanks for all the great advice. While I agree that if you have a boy in a top school, one just has to trust them and follow their curriculum. It is just so perplexing that two top schools could have so disparate a view in hours: 7 1/2 hours versus a minimum of 22 hours. With that differential, it would seem doubtful both approaches can be equally ideal. I guess we can always explore augmenting his 'base' 7 1/2 hour training with some additonal classes elsewhere, and see how that goes - although I think his school discourages that. That's what is nice about doing some summer intensives: a boy can see over the years how he is progressing versus other boys he meets who train differently.

Edited by dancepop
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I would caution you about augmenting your son's curriculum with classes at another school. We are currently doing this with my son - although for different reasons, my son is only 8 but wanted to try other forms of dance that are not offered at his pre-pro school. My son's pre-pro school was not at all happy about this. In fact, they stopped giving us the 50% boys discount on his classes and made some nasty comments to us. I simply explained to them that my son wished to try other forms of dance but that we were extremely happy with the training he was receiving there so we would continue to keep him enrolled even without the 50% discount. I think they thought they were going to intimidate us into either stopping him from taking at the other school or leaving because we weren't getting the discount. When we did neither they stopped with the nasty comments and now I think they are actually quite embarrrassed by their behavior. We never said a word to our son about what was said and done so he has continued to behave just as he always has. One of his instructors made a comment the other day about how she can't believe how much he has improved over the summer and he talked to her about the other school, not realizing that the artistic director wasn't happy about it. His instructor didn't care at all and was interested in hearing all about the other dance he was taking. The artistic director overheard the conversation and saw me standing there and turned bright red.

 

I think our situation is going to turn out okay in the end - and I think my son's interest in other forms of dance is a passing fad. But I do know that many pre-pro school get very upset when their curriculum is interrupted by outside influence. You might want to ask some of the other parents to see if any of them know how the school views that kind of thing before you potentially get your son in an ugly situation.

 

I totally understand where you are coming from even though my son is only 8. He loves to dance but just started last January. All of the programs in our area have classes 1 hour a week for level one boys. That wasn't enough for my son, he wanted more so our pre-pro school designed a special schedule for him and now he takes the class for boys plus he also takes the girls classes. When you add in the classes from the other school he has 10.5 hours of dance each week. He also gets extremely frustrated when he sees kids not much older than he is doing amazing technically advanced ballet. His teachers all make comments about how he has progressed so quickly and has such natural technical ability yet he says they all tell him he's not ready for the "good stuff" yet.

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The "good stuff" is the basic underpinnings of classical ballet that gives a dancer the foundation upon which to build, period. I am copying a recent post that may help. Insert "son" for "daughter", and insert "ballet tricks" in place of "pointe or pointework":

 

It's hard to not get caught up in all the hype. Husbands are walking through marble-lined halls pulling the knives out of their backs at work; Ladies of leisure brag about their cherub's recent brilliance; You look around and it appears that everyone's child is ahead of yours, be it AP classes, Soccer positions on the team, or the darling little 7 yr old toppling around on the tips of her toes at YAGP.

 

Here is my advice: Opt out. Run away screaming. Don't look back.

 

Life can be different. I promise! Reassure your husband that he is fine not hopping on the get-ahead-fast train; remember that those cherubs will likely grow up emotionally stunted, unhappy, spoiled people; Reassure your children that they can still receive an excellent education without having to kill themselves trying to 'compete' in the crazy pressure-cooker education world; And reassure your daughter that if pointework was meant to happen for her, then it will happen.

 

By the time a dancer gets to the place where she is company-ready, no AD worth considering cares if she started pointework at 9 or 13. Nor will he or she look twice at her resume unless the goods are there in the audition. Then, they may check to see if the dancer trained at a school whose philosophy dovetails with theirs, or if they were mentored under a fellow teacher who can be called for a personal opinion.

 

Let your children know that there will always be people around them who are insecure and will be acting superior, though they are not. Help your child to learn how to cope with them. Help your child to be strong in what she believes in. And find training you can trust. That's all you can do.

 

Life can be simpler. Appearances can be deceiving. All those little YAGP phenoms may not grow up to dance- ever again. Slow & steady always wins the race- in more ways than just getting to the finish line first.

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learningdance
The "good stuff" is the basic underpinnings of classical ballet that gives a dancer the foundation upon which to build, period. I am copying a recent post that may help. Insert "son" for "daughter", and insert "ballet tricks" in place of "pointe or pointework":

 

It's hard to not get caught up in all the hype. Husbands are walking through marble-lined halls pulling the knives out of their backs at work; Ladies of leisure brag about their cherub's recent brilliance; You look around and it appears that everyone's child is ahead of yours, be it AP classes, Soccer positions on the team, or the darling little 7 yr old toppling around on the tips of her toes at YAGP.

 

Here is my advice: Opt out. Run away screaming. Don't look back.

 

Life can be different. I promise! Reassure your husband that he is fine not hopping on the get-ahead-fast train; remember that those cherubs will likely grow up emotionally stunted, unhappy, spoiled people; Reassure your children that they can still receive an excellent education without having to kill themselves trying to 'compete' in the crazy pressure-cooker education world; And reassure your daughter that if pointework was meant to happen for her, then it will happen.

 

By the time a dancer gets to the place where she is company-ready, no AD worth considering cares if she started pointework at 9 or 13. Nor will he or she look twice at her resume unless the goods are there in the audition. Then, they may check to see if the dancer trained at a school whose philosophy dovetails with theirs, or if they were mentored under a fellow teacher who can be called for a personal opinion.

 

Let your children know that there will always be people around them who are insecure and will be acting superior, though they are not. Help your child to learn how to cope with them. Help your child to be strong in what she believes in. And find training you can trust. That's all you can do.

 

Life can be simpler. Appearances can be deceiving. All those little YAGP phenoms may not grow up to dance- ever again. Slow & steady always wins the race- in more ways than just getting to the finish line first.

 

 

I really loved this wherever, it was first posted and it has resonated with me (DD 8 years).

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