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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Training: Special needs of Tall dancers


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15yo DS at 6'2" struggles with learning where his limbs are (according to his male teacher). Teacher says that it will be awhile before DS's mental map of his body matches the real thing. Folding those arms into lovely shapes, getting the whole package to turn all at once (!)- it all takes time. When I see the other boys who are about 5'10 and putting on their muscles, my DS still looks so gangly and awkward at times. On the up side, when he gets it right it looks GREAT. His teacher told me that DS will be a tortoise in this race because it will be a few years yet before he masters his body and lays some muscle along its entire length! :)



OH and the other thing is that he is getting to big for the studios! He jumped and crashed into a low ceiling above a small stage at a recent comp too. Fitting the long tall body into dance space is apparently an ongoing issue for tall dancers. His teacher told him yesterday that he better get used to figuring out how to fit himself and his choreo into smaller spaces. Lots of mental mapping going on here!

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  • marigold


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neabdancemom - its nice your daugter has those long thin legs. My dd is just passing up 5'9" and more muscular. She probably wont ever have the typical ballet body. And Thyme... Yay!! We need tall guys for our tall girls. Fitting a tall body into a crowded class is also an issue. One of the intensive auditions was so crowded at the bar, she couldn't fully extend - which is one of her biggest assets!!

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I am also another parent with a tall DD, age 14.5 and 5'9" but finished growing, so I'm reading with this with interest. DD has a dancer's build and a strong musculature too. However, I can tell she needs to work on core strength. She is headed to a summer intensive affiliated with a company known for hiring tall dancers so she is thrilled to hopefully get additional advice on how to work with what she has plus they have conditioning and yoga.

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I think it might be more of a body type issue than height? My DD is actually pretty short - a smidge shy of 5'4", but she is very slender and all arms and legs. I can remember one of her teachers describing her as "colt-like" in a review. She has always been flexible, but always struggled with strength. It came to her eventually (around 17-18).

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This. People often comment on how tall my younger dd is, which cracks me up since she is tied with another kid for shortest in her class at school. She is 12 and is generously 4'11" if she is standing super straight and wearing shoes. But people think she is tall because she is all arms and legs all gangly and noodley like a foal learning how to walk. I'm hoping that one day her strength will arrive. Hoping that I don't need to take her to Pilates or PT or something, and that it will just happen with age and PE class and dance, right?

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My DD grew 5 inches between the age of 9 and 10. Although she never had that "coltish" look she struggled mightily that year with flexibility and seem to lose her joy for a short time. By adding two additional classes at a less intense studio it gave her time to come to terms with her size. At 10 she was 5 feet tall. We weathered comments from instructors and parents alike.....fast forward two years and the landscape has changed dramatically! Although at 5'4" she is still on the tall barre, she is no longer the tallest and those students who were finding it all so easy now have their own bodies to deal with. In some ways I am grateful she went through the big growth spurt younger. Now that they are more advanced it is harder for those going through it to keep up with the demands of class and their growing bodies. Time and patience (always in short supply! LOL) are the best cures!

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Lemlemish my daughter did figure out how to use what she has. At least I think so. I suppose I'll know more at end of year evaluations (toooo many months off). We did do a few Pilates classes though to help build core strength though. My dd felt it was helpful and from watching ( I can't often watch dance class but I could watch Pilates) she seemed to look sturdier and more in control.

Do any of you have experience or knowledge of dk's being asked to leave a program(0r being discouraged from continuing) because of size? Or would it be because of lack of control that a teacher would say is due to size?? At my dd studio by the time you can really meet with teachers it's late spring and its too late to do anything. Kind of frustrating actually. Input in this arena greatly appreciated!

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My DD is 11 and growing, of course. She is currently 5'2" and we anticipate she will settle in at about 5'8".


Her teachers have encouraged her to take Pilates and have even commented on how much stronger her core is since taking the classes! I highly suggest it for any dancer who has not yet tried it out.

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Im 15 and 5'7" but I'm done growing. I have very long limbs so for quite a while I struggled with controlling them. I still have a little trouble with my left arm but aside from that I have improved a lot. Ive found that a strong core was very helpful especially in turns after I had my growth spurt.

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emthebalerina, at what age did you hit your 5'7"?


Just curious because I am expecting a lot of growth for my DD in the next year or two. (11 now)

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Noodles, I hit my growth spurt the summer between my freshman and sophomore years in high school when I was 14 and turning 15. I was always really short for my age but with really long limbs and growing very gradually before my growth spurt. Hope this helped(:

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I never had that "sudden growth spurt." At 10 I was 5'4", at 13 I was 5'7", and now here I am, 15 and 5'11".

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Everyone is unique! I don't think you can tell from someone else's growth experience how your growth/child's growth will proceed.


In my experience/opinion, children tend to grow along their growth curve percentile for height until they reach puberty, when they grow more rapidly, as evidenced in the standardized growth curves that all medical practitioners use to monitor growth. The best way to evaluate when your child will reach that stage is to examine your child's growth curve with your medical practitioner. All children reach this rapid growth at different times. Generally, children who end up taller tend to go through puberty later than those who will be shorter,. Clinical clues are the small pubertal changes that start the process. There are also various formulas practitioners have to estimate the final height of a child based on their parental heights.


In general, limbs lengthen first, which gives many children the "colt like" appearance. The last thing to grown is the main body.


Strength can be a problem in various areas until your child is completely done growing, which for boys will be in their 20s, and girls usually late teens. Yet...


Realistically, attaining and using strength will be something all dancers and other athletes work to attain and maintain throughout their careers. Pilates, yoga, and other modalities are used and this site and the wonderful moderators are a good resource for what to use. Strength training should be approved by your medical practitioner and be done with a good instructor to check for correct technique which can be directed to individual needs.


In my experience with my tall children, they still worked to re-establish prepubertal strength in their late teens and early twenties because of their later growth spurts.

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learning.a.lot, although a lot of what you posted is repeated incessantly as gospel by many non medically trained individuals, I really do not like "generalities". For example, I went through puberty at 10.5. If following your "general" guidelines I should be around 5 feet tall. I'm not. I'm 5'7" and did not stop growing until I hit my 17/18 birthdays. My own mother got her period at 16 and is 5'2". See the problem with "generalities"? There is no set formula to predict future height short of consulting a pediatric specialist, and even there they will tell you many factors will prevent a crystal ball approach. The only true definitive test is to xray the growth plates. The problem with the "general" approach is people will make physical and appearance judgements based on flawed overly repeated beliefs. My own DD developed and got her period at 10.5 (just like mom! LOL) and was 5' tall. Do you know how many (well-meaning) dance parents came to commiserate me about how "short" my DD was going to be? LOL Too many! Well, two years later and she just broke 5'4". So much for "general" guidelines!


As for training the tall dancer....we went through our challenges at an earlier stage in her dance education and I count our lucky stars! LOL She struggled a lot the year she got her period and I shudder to think of the issues we would be having if we had to go though it now.

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Oh Lord!! I hope my dd doesn't keep growing 'till 17-18!!! I hope hope hope she's done for the most part!

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