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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Seeking opinions.....


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My DD (10, dancing 3 years, two at a serious school) loves ballet. Would rather dance than do anything. Absolutely loves technique classes, and adores any time they get to move across the floor. Never tires of the killer commute to class, the missed parties and playdates. She is completely in love with dance. She gets great feedback from her instructors and in the past 2 years has transformed from an average student to a standout. Her teachers have asked every year at conference time "What are your plans for the summer?" followed by the admonition to "be a kid"; swim, ride your bike, play. They have said for two years that she works hard enough all school year and her body needs to do normal kid things for those few weeks of summer. When I asked about summer programs I was told flat out NO, that she is young and there is plenty of time for that in the coming years.


I personally agree but the adult peer pressure is unbelievable! I want to do the right thing for her and I am unsure. The professionals tell me one thing and almost every parent does the opposite! LOL Her schedule last year was 3 times a week for 90 minutes each, not counting Nutcracker rehearsals and 5 weeks of performances. The coming year has her 4 times a week for 90 minutes each. She is not on pointe yet, they prefer girls to be at least 11 or 3 years of technique minimum before pointe.


So my question is is this; who's right? The pros who want a slow and steady (safe) development or the parents who push year round dance at this age? I (with no expertise!) feel that year round dance is coming when she goes on pointe. Am I barking up the wrong tree? DD would LOVE to dance all summer, me I feel she needs to be just a kid. I would love to hear some experienced input! Thank you!

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Let's see: The professionals "who want a slow and steady (safe) development or the parents who push year round dance at this age?" I think you've answered your own question! :thumbsup:

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Oh, high school never ends!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :thumbsup:

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My DD is the same age, with pretty much the same experience as yours, buzzandmoo, except for the summer classes. Since she was 6 she takes a 6-week summer program (same # of classes as during the school year). Her school offers this for all students under 12. This year she took the summer off due to family vacations we had scheduled, but definately misses her classes. There is no pressure or direction from the teachers to take or not take summer class.


This fall she starts a pre-pointe class in addition to her technique classes. They would have allowed her to start it last fall but I was afraid she might get "ballet burnout" with two major performances and all the rehearsals and late nights. In my opinion I appreciate the school wanting to be safe and steady with training. She would rather dance every minute of everyday, be on pointe already doing tricks!


At 12 she can do a SI at her home school, it is flexible between 1-4 weeks of full day classes, and then they are encouraged to take open division classes the rest of the summer. So yeah, looks like the pointe shoes is where things change.

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Our ballet school director does not recommend kids younger than 13 or 14 going away to 5-6 week SIs, but and prefers that these younger students stay at the SI offered by the school, which is top notch, or do other non-ballet activities. If parents decide for their child to attend an SI, our director prefers that it be a 2 week program or some other low-key dance camp. Our director also believes that kids should be kids and relax and enjoy the summers, because as they advance in ballet, it will become important to continue training during the summer and there will be very little time devoted to anything else.


After 3 years at our ballet school SI, my DD (11) did a 2 week away ballet program this summer that included boating, swimming and living in cabins. We decided to let her go, not because of any parental pressure (trust me, there was plenty!), but because she wanted to swim, boat, camp out AND dance. She also wanted the experience of sleep away camp and we thought she was ready (first time away from home). We also wanted to conform to our school's guidelines. Happy to report that DD is home from her 2 week SI which she loved, and is now enjoying sleeping late, reading, going to the pool, relaxing etc. She does stretch daily and occasionally will put on some music to dance in the family room. We have beach activities and travel to visit family before fall ballet starts up in one month.


At this age, nothing is lost if they are not dancing all summer. Trust the professionals on this one!

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The pros who want a slow and steady (safe) development or the parents who push year round dance at this age?


I'm not an expert on things dance; but it sounds like your DD's school is doing everything right to keep her safe and develop her with the long view in mind. I bet they would appreciate it mightily if once in a while moms would just listen to them!! :-) My guess is that they are glad to have a mom like you, who can withstand the peer pressure in favor of the right training!

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Guest coupe66

Also, it is not too many more years down the road that they will be expected to be dancing through the summer if they are serious. Enjoy life now, while it's not required for her to be doing that yet :thumbsup: Once they hit the teen years, the time really begins to fly, and you will wish these days were back!

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My daughter wouldn't have known she'd rather pick ballet over travel softball if she hadn't been on a travel softball team. Enjoy!

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Parents who push their kids against even the teachers advice are not doing it for their kids. They are doing it for themselves.


If they were concerned about thier kids they would do what is best for them.

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I hope I can still post here. My daughter is now 14, but she went off to her first intensive when she 11. It was only for a week. She enjoyed it and I do see where she improved some. However, looking back, I wish we had waited until this year to let her go off. Summer intensives are very, very expensive and become more important as the children get older. The intensity only increases as the kids get older and they need the time before high school to be kids. We have been told by more than one instructor from Europe that the kids there take a good portion of their summer off because they realize the need for a break. It prevents burnout.


I am not a professional obviously, but I fully agree with the slow boil method. Once they start taking classes six days a week and doing summer intensives every summer, it is really difficult to cut back on the intensity and they, and you, will wish you had enjoyed the younger years more. Don't give in to peer pressure. You know what is the best for your child and obviously it is working for her so far.

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Your daughter has plenty of time to dance, so she should enjoy the summer and be a kid. That being said...my dd would not think of doing anything else but dance all summer. When she was 9 and 10 she danced for a few weeks at her home studio, 2-3 hours a day She went to her first Summer Intensive last year at 11 for 3 weeks and this year she is away for 5 weeks. She is very serious and extremely focused and seems alot older than 12. I think that she forgets she is 12 also. I wish that she would relax and take it easy a bit, but that is just not her nature. I am happy that we are going away to the beach next week far away from a studio!

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Thanks everyone! I think because we travel out of town for dance I feel isolated. The only other dance parents I know are far away and seem to (for the most part) have a slightly different viewpoint. I have come to really respect BT4D. The advice is good and honest and you guys do not shy away from the stickier issues. I wonder everyday; am I helping her? Giving her unrealistic goals? Am I neglecting her brothers? My marriage? Myself? So again thank you! This is one issue I can put to bed.


She is at Girl Scout camp this week and having a blast. She still uses everything as a barre and is constantly swishing her feet around! lol I told her last night if she packs her dance bag one more time she will wear it out :thumbsup:

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My daughter is 9yo and during the summer her classes are the same as during the school year, except during their summer show with rehearsals and shows. I'm glad that my daughter is still able to enjoy outside activities, as the schedule will start to go from 3 days a week to more days. Usually pre-pointe, pointe shoe age is where the dancing and days become more intense.

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For every professional who tells you "No" you'll have one that will tell you "Go". And IMO, to assume that a parent that goes against a teacher's wishes doesn't have their child's best interest at heart.....well, I think that's a grossly unfair assumption.


Most programs available to 10 year olds are not usually longer than two weeks, and don't offer room and board, so by their nature are not very "intensive". I'm of the opinion that any serious dancer should maintain some level of dance throughout the summer to stay in minimal shape and not lose muscle tone or memory, but only the dancer can decide how serious they are. Those who love to dance will not stop dancing whether they're at a summer intensive or not. My daughter would (and still does) come home after HOURS of class and/or rehearsal or a Nutcracker performance, and turn on her music and dance some more! Two weeks out of the summer is not going to kill any kid's summer, as there is still plenty of time left to swim, ride bikes, climb trees and just hang out. HOWEVAH! It really should be the dancer who wants to go and not the parent. If the child doesn't want to go, then that should be sending a message. And for kids who have a burning desire to dance and want to attend a summer intensive, it's generally less competitive to get in at the younger ages than if they wait until they are 14-15.


Bottom line, sift the pros and cons and opinions offered by both teachers and parents, and then follow your mother's instincts and knowledge of your child to do what you think is best for your daughter.


Full disclosure: My dd has been doing summer intensives since she was 10, with the support and encouragement of the AD, and with no apparent ill-effects.

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