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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Is tap bad for ballet?


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Hello. This is my first post but have been reading this forum non-stop since my girlfriend led me to it last week. So much wonderful information.


My DD will be 9 next month. We have been at the same studio since the fall she turned 3. It is considered to be the "elite" studio in our small town. The studio hired a new director from the professional dance world this past fall and he implemented many wonderful changes. In the past, students had to be 11-12 to be placed in any classes that taught technique. Younger than that it was mainly combo classes teaching routines for the year-end recital. After having my blinders removed by learning that she was not receiving "proper" training at her age, I enrolled DD in the new pre-pro ballet school that opened this past fall. She placed as a level 3 beginner and the teacher plans to move her to intermediate 4 in the fall.


DD has been taking tap since she was 3 as it was combined with her ballet. She is in the intermediate class for 1 hour this year. The new ballet instructor, a former principle dancer, explained to me that tap is bad for ballet as it is the complete opposite, down & low, of ballet. He advises not starting tap until at least age 14, once the fundamentals of ballet have been securely locked in the brain and body so as not to confuse the dancer. He said that doing both forms of dance early would allow the dancer to be "good" at both but will likely prevent her from being "great" at either.


DD loves ballet, it is her favorite of the 5 styles she takes, but she also loves tap. I have broached the subject of stopping tap next year to focus on ballet. Her response to me has been "But I need to tap to be a Rockette!" At 9 she states she does not want to be a professional ballerina but a "professional dancer".


I am willing to get the best training I can for her but I worry that I am projecting my wants onto her. Will I be harming her ballet training by allowing her to continue with tap. DH says "she's a kid & it should be fun". I want to ensure that the training she receives today will prepare her for her tomorrow whatever it my be.


Sorry for being so long winded...struggling with what is best. Thank you.

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At 9 she could safely continue with tap. I think the teacher may have it reversed a bit: Once a dancer hits 13 or so, if they are wishing to become a classical ballet dancer, then it is best for them to slow down with tap and focus more on classical ballet. :jump:

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Thank you so much for your response Clara 76. My girlfriend and I have been struggling with this as we get so much joy watching their feet fly. My DD will be so excited she can continue!

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You're welcome! And by the way, Welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers!!!

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There was actually an article on this very subject in the February/March 2011 issue of Pointe Magazine. I am at a loss for the name now, but there is a principal with Royal Ballet who has been an avid tap dancer is whole life and he has said that he finds it to be helpful with ballet especially pieces that require rapid footwork. Besides that, dance is art and art is to bring joy if your daughter finds joy in tap then encourage her!

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Steven McRae


You must mean Steven McRae - one of the finest classical dancers of our time and Principal with the Royal Ballet. This is a link to a tap solo which he also performed at the Prix de Lausanne last week while the Jury was deliberating.

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One of DD's home studio classmates was an avid tapper all the way through. The kids can start tap at the studio as young as 4. Although I don't think this particular dancer started that young, she certainly started long before age 14. She currently is a corps member of the Dutch National Ballet. Tap didn't seem to hurt her ballet one iota. :)


I don't think it is a dance form one would take to 'cross-train' ballet, such as one does modern or jazz. So, I don't think it 'helps' ballet; but I also don't think it will screw anything up if the ballet training one receives is good. And what a fun release and aerobic, too!

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My DD took both, until age 14 and was a State Champion in tap. She left tap behind soon after to concentrate on ballet. When she won the State Championship, the judges commented on her strong center and graceful use of her arms. Hmmm, wonder where THAT came from. :)


Smuin Ballet even incorporates some pretty killer tap in their performances. http://www.smuinballet.org/go/default/buy-tickets/

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I am a teacher with a degree in dance, ballet being my area of primary emphasis. I tapped nearly my entire childhood, and I bet that most teachers here at BTFD would be astounded that my "professional", as in paid performing experience, has been in musical theatre, including being the dance captain in the tap-emphasized production "Dames at Sea". I think that tap is a valuable technique in that it gives the dancer a lot different musical/rhythmic structure in which to work. Now, if I would have had the opportunity to study ballet as seriously as I would have liked as a youngster in the Midwest, maybe I would not have had the experience and perhaps would have better for it(in terms of ballet). But, I like to think that exposure to different movement patterns is helpful to dancers in any style- the more we know, the more we grow.

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I seem to remember that Alex Wong, IMHO the best dancer on the last season of SYTYCD before he was injured, was a tap champion before focusing on ballet. He participated in several ballet competitions and went on to perform with the Miami Ballet as a soloist.

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