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DD is behind


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DD is 14. She has been taking dance (ballet, tap, jazz, and hip hop) all of her life. She used to be in a regular dance school with regular dance recitals. She was happy there and didn't express interest in a pro career. When she turned 12, she was at the top of her school. She no longer felt challenged and started to talk about a pro career. We finished out the year and moved to a prepro school connected with a ballet company.


First shock - She was placed in a much lower class than we expected. A lot of the girls were younger than DD. We learned quickly that she was behind. For the first time, I started to research and learn about ballet. I think in her past school she had a hodgepodge of instruction. She was lacking the technique, but she does have natural ability and musciality.


She is still behind, but quickly catching up. She is now in the pre-graded division. She auditioned and earned a spot in the performance dance group that is considered the training wing for the ballet company. She also was cast in small parts in two upcoming ballets. She participated in her first dance intensive at the studio this summer with Olga Katrinsky (sp?). I also paid for some private lessons (which were amazing). I think she has already come a long, long way in a year.


But she is 14 and one of the oldest girls in most of her classes. She wants to dance professionally. That's her dream. I think her school is wonderful, but I'm wondering what else we can do to help her catch up and get to where she needs to be. Her ballet teacher told me she has the natural ability and potential, but she has to work hard to catch up. She did say she is catching up quickly and is applying what she is learning.


I feel like an idiot for not learning everything I could years ago and getting her into the better school. If you are behind at 14 -is it too late? Can she catch up and go on to have a pro career? I worry that I put her at a disadvantage by keeping her in her former school for so long -especially when I knew about her current school. I've been having one of those "Ooops! I could have had a V-8" moments all year long. I'm glad she is where she is now, but I'm constantly worried that my lack of paying attention will let her down in the end.

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If she has the talent, the passion, the focus, and the commitment, along with the right training, she should be able to catch up. Fourteen is not too old as long as all the right elements are there. Forget the past, don't blame yourself as it will not help anything or anyone, and get on with the now. :D My guess is that by the age of 16 she could be well up there with the students her own age, in a top level.

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No, catching up at 14 is far from being an uncommon phenomenon. And don't blame yourself for her being behind when she transferred. Professional-level ballet training is very hard for a lay person to identify, so you have nothing to reproach yourself for. Trust the school and the teachers; they seem to have identified her difficulties and are working to overcome them with her.

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Another thought based on completely anecdotal evidence...


When I read your post, I thought of a former dancer at our school. She danced at a recreational studio until she was in her mid-teens, older than your dd. She stayed with pre-pro training through the rest of high school and continued at it all through college, arranging her schedule around ballet. It took her a bit longer to really catch up, but she is now a professional ballet dancer at a regional company.

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Well...this makes me feel better. I guess I was relating it to ice skating and gymnastics where it really is too late after a certain point.

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It seems to me (and I could be wrong) that if she was accepted into a pre-pro school attached to a company that they must think that she has the potential to catch up or they wouldn't have accepted her.

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I had a very similar situation with my dd, who switched to a ballet school just as she turned 11. She went at that point to a preprofessional school attached to a company. She did catch up a bit there, but after moving to a different prepro school a year ago, the progress has been much more pronounced. She is now 14, and is probably at this point about a year behind. I believe that she will be basically caught up by the end of this year - if things continue to improve. In her case, being at a smaller, yet more challenging, school has made the difference. The smaller class sizes and more individualized attention have really helped her.


I hope that your dd will make great strides this year! Don't be afraid to make changes to help your daughter along!

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Sewlinda, how did you know to pull her from the first pre-professional school? What made you think it might be better at a different pre-professional school?

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It seemed that my daughter wasn't moving forward or improving much at that point in time. Also, one of her teachers had told me a little story (he was not her main teacher). He said that teachers have "keys," and that these keys are to unlock the potential of students or identify what a student was doing incorrectly. He said that some teachers hold many keys, and others, not so much.


Another teacher at her former school had commented that dd did better when the class size was small. This was further confirmed during a SI with huge classes - she didn't learn as much as she should have. These things really made me think about her situation.


I decided to take dd to the other school one day during the summer, when they had their own SI. She really took to it and was excited about what she did there. The teachers were very different - men who commanded a lot of respect and had been dancers in Eastern Europe. Their approach, along with smaller class sizes, seems to work better for dd.

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