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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Dance Teacher Trouble


inbetween2

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My daughter is 8 years old and has been doing gymnastics since 4 years of age. In that time she has been dancing on and off depending on the schedule of her gymnastics. Anyway last year she decided that she wanted to start sports acro which meant that it was less hours then the gymnastics (but still doing 4 days a week) so she started back in dancing. She is currently doing 2 ballets, 2 jazz and 2 tap a week which is over two days.

 

The teacher has come up to us and said that she shows some promise in her ballet which is fine but I'm not quite sure as I know nothing about dance. However the dance teacher keeps telling us that we need to choose between dance and acro. As a parent I am not sure I understand why an 8 year old needs to choose she is really happy where is at the moment. Nothing is interfering with each other. So I am trying to figure out if there is another reason that I am missing.

 

Glad for any advice. Thanks

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That's quite an assertion for a teacher to make about an eight year old child! I would say that this is the perfect age to try as many things as possible, and not the time to specialize. There's more than enough time to get serious about something, if your daughter chooses to. Good luck!

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Is the teacher saying she needs to choose now, or that at some point she'll need to choose?

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She keeps asking me every week have we have decided. And that she can't do two high levels.

 

I understand she will have to choose but I wouldn't think you would need to around the 10/11 age.

Edited by inbetween2
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As a teacher, I can understand the frustration with having a child who is inconsistent with her classes throughout the year. Each class develops a 'personality', and it is difficult to maintain progress if a child is there one week, gone another. However if she is able to maintain a regular dance schedule of at least 1 ballet class per week of approximately 1 hour in length, then it should be fine that she wants to do different activities at this age.

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She never misses her dance class as the Acro and dance don't conflict. However when she was doing gym then it was conflicting and that is why she gave dance away. But that was with a different dance school as we have just moved, so this place is only new.

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I see absolutely no need to choose at this age. She should be doing what interests her, and it looks like in addition to Acro, she is taking 6 dance classes per week, which from what teachers agree upon on this board, is plenty for an 8 year old! With my younger DD, we ARE at the stage where she must choose soon between gymnastics (she is at the highest compulsory level now) and ballet (pre-pointe level) both at very reputable places, where she has been supported in her decision to continue with both. Her coaches love her floor and beam routines because of her dance training, and she was just cast in her ballet school's spring show in a role where she gets to tumble. We have remained with both the gym and her studio because they both encourage kids to be kids as long as possible.

 

I will add that this year is the year of transition as she is 10 and the schedules will no longer be compatible after this year.

Edited by Blanche
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Having been through, there will be a time where she has to choose. The two activities mirror each other in their time restraints. For us, it was at a certain competitive level in gymnastics where more days were required and at the same time, more dance classes were required. It was a natural progression that did start around age 9 in terms of what her ballet teachers expected of her. There was pressure and negative commentary on the side of these particular ballet teachers, but encouragement on the side of the gymnastics teachers to continue both as long as she could. I finally had to tell the ballet teacher and owner that there would come a time where she had to make choices, but that at this time we didn't see a need to force her. While it was a crazy schedule for us, it was still doable. I also told them that I did not want her pressured into a decision even though I had my personal choice. So if their desire was to see her focus more on dance, they might want to back off of the pressure. Otherwise, she might make a choice just to get them to leave her alone.

 

In reality, that year was the beginning of the end of gymnastics and dance equally. Their schedules slowly but surely no longer worked and choices to miss something here or there did begin to happen............naturally. She did end up choosing dance.....and ultimately ended up leaving that studio. Not solely for this reason, but because this experience mirrored several more along the way that were to come.

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In my experience, some teachers/coaches can become very proprietary over a child. At the ripe old age of 6, my daughter had to choose between being on the artistic gymnastics team, or continuing to take rhythmic gymnastics- the coach would not allow classes in another discipline if she was on the team. Later, a rhythmic coach forbade tae kwon do and a tumbling class, but our solution was to just not mention it and DD had to refrain from doing back handsprings at practice (there is no tumbling in rhythmic gymnastics). The reason. Given was that it would develop bulky muscle, but at 9, really, what's the big deal?

 

At some point she will have to choose, but certainly not now. Our solution was just not to mention the other activities, and do them any way, as a parent I saw this as my right. Coaches can sometimes act as though they control every aspect of a Childs life, in or out of the gym.I'm sure it comes from a good place, they invest so much time in our kids, but at some point it can become a bit ridiculous!

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I agree. I understand that there is a time when she needs to decided and that is what she has done in the past. As most of you are aware that gymnastics does do alot of hours at a young age. So when her hours increased from 15 hrs to 25 hrs then she had to choose which she did and at that time it was gymnastics. Now we have found the best of both worlds where she still gets to tumble and she loves being thrown up and requires a lot less hours where she can do her dance. She loves dancing and it has become alot more obvious now.

 

Now what age do they need to start choosing? I would think that would be determined on the level they are at dancing. She is only in grade 2 so my guess she shouldn't be doing a lot more then two days a week for a while yet.

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Thanks for that. A question though is the age taken from the beginning of the year or the age that year?

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  • 2 weeks later...

A couple of years ago my daughter had to make the decision about which to pursue, dance or gymnastics. Naturally flexible and strong, she had reached the point in gymnastics where, if she was going to continue, needed to really ramp up the training to 5-6 days/week. The w2x/wk training was not at a high enough level and she was bored. The heavier schedule would have conflicted with her dance schedule. So, with some reluctance she dropped gymnastics. She was 10.

 

Dance is now 6 days a week... and she wouldn't have it any other way. And although we have talked about arranging some private gymnastics lessons to focus on tumbling skills, we haven't done anything yet. For my DD, dance was the clear winner.

 

The issue was not only her passions and interests, but also the logistics of it all. How on earth can you manage, as a parent, the 20+ hours of activities outside of the school day? If you can figure out how to add hours to days and more days to the week, I'm anxious to hear! :)

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Guest Missmary

I see absolutely no need to choose at this age. She should be doing what interests her, and it looks like in addition to Acro, she is taking 6 dance classes per week, which from what teachers agree upon on this board, is plenty for an 8 year old! With my younger DD, we ARE at the stage where she must choose soon between gymnastics (she is at the highest compulsory level now) and ballet (pre-pointe level) both at very reputable places, where she has been supported in her decision to continue with both. Her coaches love her floor and beam routines because of her dance training, and she was just cast in her ballet school's spring show in a role where she gets to tumble. We have remained with both the gym and her studio because they both encourage kids to be kids as long as possible.

 

I will add that this year is the year of transition as she is 10 and the schedules will no longer be compatible after this year.

 

Blanche, I trained as a dancer until the age of eighten, and as an adult, coached high level gymnasts for 20 years (by audition only), choreographed for beam and FX at the gymnastics studio where I worked and for others clubs, and was promoted over the years to rank of Elite Judge (until USAG added the requirement that Elite Judges had to have competed internationally - which I did not - I never competed in gymnastics). I only mention this because I was immersed in both sides for most of my adult life. I think you have made good decisons for your daughter, and at age 10, and I agree that there is no real harm done at this stage of her training in either activity. And I'm sure that her gymnastics school/club DOES love her FX and beam because of her dance training However, being at the highest level of Compulsories would, in my opionion and experience, be the big decision making time. The purpose of compulsory levels of gymnastics is to develop a progression of skills that are carefully designed for the ultimate goal of having the basics that the gymnast needs to advance to the lowest level of optional exercises.

 

Without going into a lot of detail, there are some very real incompatibilities in he development of bodies for these two different disciplines. This is one of the reasons that gymnastics clubs often have "dance class" within their programs that is modified specifically for the physical demands of gymnastics. For example, the level of turnout that is desirable/necessary in ballet can be a detriment to gymnasts - particularly the components that require running/accellerating for mounting the equipment and for higher level tumbling. A more parallel approach is also safer and more stable when landing tumbling, and dismounting from the equipment. There are other potential incompatibilities, but that's one example.

 

Gymnastics may also develop musculature that is undesirable for the aesthetic of ballet. This is also one of the reasons that most clubs that offer both rhythmic and artistic gymnastics will require that you make a choice, and a higher level club that offers rhythmic gymnastics will place only those students who have the right body type aesthetically - think balanchine body, very quick twitch, and ballet turnout less of a concern.

 

Again, I agree that at 10 and under should love what they are doing, and figuring out what turns their lights on!. I also agree that some dance studios may just want exclusivity for business reasons. But I do think that the time comes when you need to distinguish between a recreational program and a good pre-pro program - and it is not unusual for a good pre-program to set some limitations for valid reasons, whether it is a dance studio or a gymnastics club..

Edited by Missmary
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