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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Training: Special needs of Tall dancers


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Lady Elle I'm right there with you! Our pediatrician told us on average, girls grow about 2 inches in the 2 years right after they start cycling and then are pretty much done. That was the case for me, although I started so late (almost 15) I was super tall by that time, and DD who started at 11.5 ended up 4.5 inches shorter than me - still above average for a female ballet dancer but not my height thankfully. She did grow another 1/2" after the 2 year mark but seems to have stopped. I do agree there some variation but in general, in our family at least, we've found the 2-3" total growth for the 2 years after starting to be quite accurate.

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DD grew gradually, then leveled off in high school, but then continued to grow about an inch or 1 1/2 in college---as did I--and topped out on the high end of the dancer preferred height. She was predicted to be the shorter of our two daughters---and less than her eventual height---by the various guesstimate methods.


Younger daughter reached puberty early, had several 3-5" inch growth spurts over the course of the grade school/middle school years and is one of the shortest in our family. She is about 4 inches shy of the predicator method heights.


So, at least for us, their heights were what they were rather unpredictable.

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So agree with all the above, it is a guess, and generalizations only go so far as noted by BuzzandMoo! Usually children follow their parent's pubertal history, so your daughter may continue to grow in height as you did, but, alas, another generalization, and Dad gave your dancer genes too! Bone ages tell when growth plates fuse, but radiating everyone is not wise either and is usually reserved for those who grow too early or aren't growing. I have often extolled that 1-2 inch more rule after menarche,(start of periods), but that too is a generalization! Having studied it, these generalizations are like statistics and are tons of data thrown into a bell curve. There are always outlier examples but those are the <3 % at 3 standard deviations. Life: Planning is prudent but flexibility and adjustment key. Everyone is unique and that makes it so fascinating!


From our experience with a tall dancer, ( almost 5 ft 9), and her late puberty, the adjustments are nonstop and working through them takes a lot of time, persistence and good instruction. Long limbs were one difficulty that she worked with, but then later her torso lengthened, and that brought its own set of readjustments. Ballet teachers, Pilate teachers, physical therapists, sports physicians, and patience helped!!! Most importantly, were instructors who were patient with her and understood that she was growing and changing. I can't say all were patient, least of all her, but in the end, all had to be. She has been fortunate to be nurtured and taught by some who were also tall dancers and understand the challenges: re-finding your center, core strength, turns, turns, turns, and strengthening newly lengthened muscles.


She is grateful that her height no longer precludes a career in ballet, and finding a situation where tall dancers are needed and nurtured is the key. Even so, short or tall, this road is not for the faint hearted and hard work is the key. She is working harder now than ever before.


All in all, her height is her strength now, and other weaknesses are her focus! There always seems to be something to work in/strive for in classical dance. Even for dancers who finished growing early. I believe Alessandra Ferri said recently at the Prix de Lausanne that "our weaknesses become our strengths.." ? Perhaps someone has that quote?

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Now days there seems to be opportunities for both tall and short dancers. Look around at different companies and see the average height of their dancers. Many audition announcements for European companies list a minimum height for both men and women who want to audition. The biggest training issues for my 6'4" son are learning to use is long body and strength training. Opportunities are out there for people of all sizes.

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  • 3 years later...

I keep reading these threads for reassurance. My daughter (almost 13) seemed to have yet another limb spurt over summer (Southern Hemisphere). While her strength and interest is classical ballet, she auditioned for the contemporary competition teams and was one of the few not selected. The feedback was that she was all limbs and didn't have the confidence or right fit (too tall for junior, not strong enough for senior). I wouldn't worry if she was doing this recreationally but she is 'full time' and has changed schools to make this work. Her teacher conveyed that information kindly and assures us her strength will come ( although they jokingly suggested we put bricks on her to stop her growing). Any similar experiences to share would be appreciated . ( Hope this is the right thread - not sure that it is - but is connected to the topic).

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I agree with Alan. In my opinion, the best advice is to stop worrying about what you cannot control and focus on what you can control. In the dance world there are dancers of all heights from tiny (Maria Kochethova, Gelsey Kirkland ) to extremely tall (Tess Reichlen, Patricia Barker, Elena Vostrotina). The same is true for male dancers.

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