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Ballet Talk for Dancers

How Many Hours of Ballet is it Safe to Dance?


IzyRisingStar

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Hi, I'm 14 year old dancer studying Ballet. I travel one-two hours into the city (Not sure if it's against the rules to say where I live or where I dance, so just to be safe I keeping it private) every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturdays. I have to leave my house early to arrive on time for class. I am homeschooled because of this reason and that I am behind in Ballet.

 

I have caught up a lot in the last year, and I am getting better everyday with a lot of support from my teachers, but I am still behind in flexibility, pirouttes and Pointe work. On Mondays, and Tuesday classes are 3 hours, and on Wednesdays and Saturdays we have 4 1/2-5 hours including rehersals. We have a 1-1/2 hour ballet class everyday and two 1 1/2 hour ballet classes on Saturdays. I have stuck to a nice stretching routine that my teachers gave me and am improving quickly, and I stretch often, but I was wondering what amount of time is safe that I could be dancing Ballet.

 

I usually practice Ballet after morning stretches for an hour or two as one of my previous teachers suggested but I've read lately that I could overuse my muscles and obtain an injury if I dance too much. I want to get better but I'm afraid of an injury, especially since I've been taking company classes at my studio, which are fun but very challenging. Is there a safe amount of time I could dance?

 

Extra Details: I danced at a recreational studio for 6 years, and I started taking Ballet more than 1 hour a week 1 year ago. I've been on Pointe for 2 years.

Edited by IzyRisingStar
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Welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers, IzyRisingStar!!!!!

Wow- you seem to be very dedicated, and that is wonderful!!!!!!!!

 

Ok, so- you've been en pointe for 2 years, which means your previous school placed you en pointe aged 11, studying just 1 hour per week? It sounds like your current school has a much better handle on ballet training, so that is definitely a plus. :thumbsup:

 

As far as the injury potential- unless you stay in bed every day, you are potentially at risk for injury :wink: Even then, there are bedsores and atrophied muscles.... much better to get out of bed and risk an injury!! Having said that, I would listen to your current teachers rather than your previous ones. If they have "prescribed" a stretching routine for you then go ahead. However, if this stretching routine is from one of your prior teachers, you may be wise to re-think it.

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Welcome, IzyRisingStar. I like your name! :)

 

I'm wondering if your morning stretching routine includes flexibility stretches, and if so, are you fully warming up all of the muscles before doing any of those? It's great that you are home schooled and can put in some extra ballet time, both at home and at school, but you might think about not too much extra work on the days that you have classes. Since you are only 13, you are still growing, and one needs to be a bit more careful not to overwork during any growth spurts. Maybe do the work at home more on the two week days that you do not have classes?

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I just want to encourage you. Your story is similar to mine a few years ago. What I learned is to really listen to what my teachers said and trusted their knowledge. Your teachers sound supportive, if you have concerns or questions always talk to them, they are there to help you reach your goals. There is a lot of wisdom on these forums too. Soon you will be dancing 5 days a week and you don't want overuse injuries. My personal experience is that my teachers did not give me anything to do outside the classroom and I listened to them (even though I felt pressure from the dancers that appeared far more successful than I and knew that some of them were doing am stretch routines at home) but I resisted the temptation of listening to the dancers around me and comparing myself to them. I did what my teachers said and I have progressed and exceeded my goals thus far. Focus on each class one at a time and make sure you enjoy the journey!

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Thank you for all your responses! I would like to make a BIG edit, I am 14! I proof-read this twice and yet I didn't notice I messed up my own age! Sorry! Ms. Leigh, every morning I do warm up jumps to get started, then after my muscles are warm I stretch for a half-hour, if I can do harder stretches like splits easily, than I don't spend much time on stretching and I go into class. I give myself a barre class and use the same combinations I learned in classes. I usually spend an hour on barre and then if I don't have anything else to do, I give myself a little center work. Or as much center as I can with my cat running around my legs!

 

My previous studio was a competition studio, not a ballet school so I danced a lot of tap and jazz work. They usually put me in tap or lyrical pieces which were my strong suits. I was 12 when they put me on pointe, and I only did barre en pointe. I left that studio because I wanted to focus on a ballet career, I spent one year at a very Balanchine studio, and they had me taking Pointe class where I did center on pointe and pirouttes and hops en pointe. I went from barely any pointe to a lot of it and didn't improve much on pointe during that year, although my flat became a lot better.

 

I spent two summers and 1 year with that school, but during the start of my second year they moved me down, and took me off pointe and had me taking classes with girls who were very young and could not pay attention and the teacher spent most of the lesson yelling at them instead of teaching. I could understand this if I was just starting at the school but after a year I was upset and after no compromise could be made between me and the director I left to my current school.

 

I've improved very much at this new school and love it. feel like I'm in a very good place. Clara 76, my stretching routine was given to me from one of the teachers at the Balanchine studio, and I've been very happy with it. My flexibility has been getting much better :)

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