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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Can you tell anything by age 7-8?


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What I am wondering is can you get any idea of potential at ages 7-8. I am wondering because I am lookin around at schools in our area and I'm not sure how worth it, it would be to have an extended commute to dance class or pay an exorbitant amount of money to attend. But I'd also like to find a school we can stick with for the long term if dd decides she wishes to continue. I realize that the chances of going pro are remote, but I do want to get her the best training that I can reasonable afford/do. So, I guss the question is, what is reasonable?


We are at a school now that we like, but I looked at the price for the highest levels, and well, I don't think we could do it. When looking at other schools in the area, this is the most expensive. I'd love for her to have this experince, but this would seriously set our family back and this is money that could go to her college fund and our retirement, which are seriously lacking.


DD has that "dancer" look. But she is not particularly flexable. Her feet are ok, not great. I envision she might dance through high school, maybe college. Perhaps, do more with modern or jazz when she's older.

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Welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers, balmermom. :)


It's very hard to say much about potential at 7 or 8, however, there are some children that do show an excellent facility, good coordination, and musicality at a young age. In any case, though, getting the best possible training in the early years is essential, no matter how far she goes or what direction it takes. Good training is good training, and that makes a better dancer!


If you think about in terms of academic education, or say, musical education, wouldn't you want the best you could find during the years where the foundation is laid? Ballet is no different. So, I would not worry about the higher cost at advanced levels when she is only 7 or 8! You have a long time to worry about that!

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I guess I'm wondering a few things:

"Exorbitant" can mean different things to different people. In most larger cities for a 7-8 yr old, a ballet class will be in the $75-$100 per month range, with yearly tuition running around $600-$1,000.


To give you an idea:

School of American Ballet in NYC runs more, at about $2,700 per year for that level.

Houston Ballet is $900 per year for that level.


As the student heads up the ranks and begins to show promise, merit scholarships are frequently offered to offset the training costs. Pointe shoes and attire/accoutrements are still costly, but a frugal dancer is going to be better prepared for the world of dance.


Financial aid is also offered at almost every major school.

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Life can take you in many different directions you can never anticipate! We had a costly commute (time and money) and I questioned my own sanity greatly along the way taking my then 8/9 yr old DD to dance at the best in our area. Every year got harder as the commitment got bigger and frankly last year at this time I really wasn't sure how I could make this work. Life threw us a curveball. We had the opportunity to move to a smaller, better school district that just happened to be a half hour from dance! Did we move for dance? No, not really, but it all worked out. With three children everything is a balancing act and for now we are not tipping over and my DD is way ahead of her peers because of the excellent training. Will she be a pro someday? Who knows. All I know for sure is I have provided her with the best training possible which equals more choices in life.


Good luck.

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Clara, your post makes me want to cry. We are paying 750 a year now. The 9 yo class twice a week would be 2100. I checked to brochure this week and the level 5/6 would be 5000-6000 a year. I doubt we could do that. So, I am stuck with looking for the best alternatives that are within our means.


I can post more on diffent schools I have found and prices later.


We love dance and think it is important, but when chosing between dance and paying for college later, college wins.

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I will post only the class she would be in now plus the highest level the school offers for comparison.


School #1:


Level B 8 yo+ twice per week one hour classes (although the schedule only lists one class)

cost $1024.00



Mon. Technique 1.5 hours, point 45 min

Tue. Teen/adult Int. 1.5 hours

Wed. Teen/adult Int/adv. 1.5 hours

Thur. Teen/adult Int/adv. 1.5 hours, point 45 min

Fri. Technique 1.5 hours, point 45 min

Sat. Technique 1 hour, modern 1.5 hours


cost $3461.00


This school is very easy to get to. I don't like that the pre-pro students are mixed in with the intermediate levels. I have some experience with this school and I though the technique of the students could have been better. Although, It's possible that I was a little to harsh, since its hard to tell what age/level when watching a whole group in one rehersal.


This school was not the greatest fit for us when dd was very little, so we found the school we are at now.


Will post more later.

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School #2

Level II, 2 times per week

Cost $550.00 per year


Int. to Advanced

Technique 1.5 hours three times per week

Point 1.5 hours one time per week

Additional point during rehearsal time I am told

Cost $1100.00 per year


Plus there is a performing arts magnet program in out county that is kind of connected to this school. So, starting in middle school (age 11) a child could supplement with classes in the middle school program (for free). I don’t know how many classes the public school offers or how good they are however, and I am not finding a lot of specifics online. It’s pretty cool that they even offer something like this though. One catch is that enrollment is partially based on lottery. So, I believe, it would be possible that even a great student with a great score on the entrance exams would not get in.


The teachers look good too. Studied at SAB. Danced with well known professional companies, including NYCB. Taught at well know college programs.

The website states they are dedicated to “making dance accessible to the local community and is dedicated to addressing the needs of all economic levels.” I love this!


From the pics on the website, the kids don’t look too bad. The program appears diverse as well, which is nice.


The commute is okay, but might be difficult during rush hour.

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My DD is only 9, so the advanced levels and their sticker shock are still in the future for us, but I more than understand where you are coming from. I am a single mother, so expenses like ballet seem frivolous, but this is where my daughter's heart is and I make it work. DD's current level is around $1,600 for 2 75 minute classes during the school year (she actually takes 3-4 classes per week). The next level is close to $2,100 for 2 90 minutes. The advanced levels at this school would cost in the neighborhood of $4,000+ per year.


How do I justify this? My daughter may or may not have what it takes to be dancer. She may or may not stick with it through the years. I have no way of knowing. All I do know is that right now, and for the past 5 years, ballet is the most important thing in the world to her, and she is willing to miss friends' birthday parties and work until she has blisters on every toe to be as good as possible. I cannot put a price on her passion. It is my job to get her the best training that I am able to. She's at the best school that I can get her to. Some schools are less expensive, some schools are more, but it was the quality of instruction and supportive atmosphere that brought us to this school. She may not ever be a professional dancer, but I am going to be sure that she has the training in case she wants to try.

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We are taking a bit of a leap of faith next year. The level I am fairly sure she will be in is affordable, and the next. I have no idea about after that, but I anticipate them being beyond reach, at present. We will just cross that bridge when we come to it- maybe our financial picture will change, maybe there is financial aid, maybe she will hate the rigor and be back at her comp school. Maybe, maybe, maybe. it's all we can do, is plan for now and let the future work itself out.

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If you don't mind, I'd like to jump in here and say don't make assumptions about how much a studio charges. Find out for yourself. I made that mistake. I paid exorbitant amounts to a Dolly Dinkle school for tuition and recitals, and lived under the assumption that the pre pro school in my area would cost more. Not. BIG MISTAKE. Get the best training for your daughter that you can afford. You never know where life might lead them.

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Dance is expensive. That is for sure. But it's more the summer add ons that make it a bit more expensive than some other activities in the grand scheme of things. Do look at your family budget and determine what fits in as far as your children's extra activities. But before you throw out dance out as an option, also look at the bottom line of other activities that your child could participate in and see if they are any different. Be sure to look at all the variables not just tuition.


For example, my friend whose daughter played both softball and basketball growing up did not have the monthly costs that we did. But she had larger startup costs at the beginning of each season and had to add in family travel to all the games. If you divided those startup costs over several months, it was the same as our monthly dance tuition. It was just that she paid in a lump sum, and I paid over time. As my daughter moved up in dance, we had higher tuition but she had higher travel costs for those weekend games sometimes 4 hours away. (hotel, food, gas, etc) In the end, if we put them both in a Quicken like program, the costs were similar over time. Just very different in how those amounts were paid. Same with the students in my husband's band program.


Another example, my youngest is a recreational dancer and a budding flutist. While we don't know long term if she has musical talent that surpasses others her age, we do know that her main instructor is highly encouraging us to do more for her and her dad(the musician) says she plays better than many of his high school students already. Her beginning student model flute that belonged to her sister no longer fits the bill of what she needs for Solo and Ensemble, Honor Band, All-State and Youth Symphony auditions. So we are off to figure out how to buy the next step instrument for her. At a few thousand dollars for the step up flute, a summer music camp, and private flute lessons, we are about at the same costs for her to play the flute in the middle school program as we were paying for her older sister in dance. The pay is just spread out differently. Only $100 a month for the private flute lessons right now, but spread that step up flute costs over the months it will take to actually pay for it, and she's right back up there at the $250 we paid for dance monthly.

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Smaller studios can often offer excellent training with lower tuition. My DS attending a large company-affiliated school at age 7-8, but at 9 we moved him to a smaller local school we learned about and the training has been excellent. When he gets to the upper levels, he will need to go back to the pre-pro school as this smaller school is mainly beginner-intermediate level, but for now it's really good training and the tuition is very affordably priced.

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Ballet is definitely not a cheap sport/activity/art form to be involved in. Reading these comparisons, we fall somewhere in the middle of the scale, towards the lower end even, and although it is expensive I feel that it's worth it. DH is a harder sell, some days! I'm kinda dreading what will happen in a couple of years as she approaches the more advanced levels (she's Intermediate now) and joins the sr (student) company.... travel, rda festival expenses, all that becomes extra in addition to much higher tuition of course. Her tuition now is (understandably!!!) about 4 times what it was when she was 7 and took one class/week. :)


Compare this to my other daughter, who is a gymnast and just joined the competitive team. Her tuition is $150/mo, seasonal competition fees are several hundred (don't know exactly as she won't be competing this year, season is almost over), mandatory competition leos ($50-200/piece) mandatory warmup outfit ($150 or so), travel expenses/hotels for 5-7 competitions.... she's 8.


Something I'll mention, just because I was thinking about it the other day as I was watching DDs ballet class. Forgive me if it's longwinded...

Out of the "batch" of 3yos she started out with and have had some classes with throughout the years, only 4 remain. 3 of them (including her) were serious about dance from the very get-go and have advanced more quickly, one who didn't advance ahead but is still dancing. Now, obviously the pre-ballet classes don't count but my point is that out of the 4 or 5 full classes of 3yos, trickling down to 2-3 classes of 7yos starting "real ballet, trickling down to *4* 11yos. Now there are plenty more 11yos in the studio of course, some have started later, some have moved in from other places etc, but out of the original batch, 4 remain. We found that with every year, some of that "batch" dropped out. Losing interest, classes becoming more expensive/more frequent, choosing other activities... little by little they've dropped off. Not saying that it will happen to your DD, she may very well be like mine and be passionate about dance and stick with it, but no matter how serious and passionate she is about it NOW, I can't say for sure that my DD is going to feel the same way in 3 years, or 5 years, or whatever, KWIM?


I totally understand wanting to get the bigger picture and weighing your options, but I wouldn't discard good training NOW because it may eventually turn out too expensive on the higher levels.... when she may have lost interest and moved on to another activity. If she doesn't, then you may find a way to work it out and you'll know she had the best training she could have had, right from the start. Make sense? Good luck in your decision!

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Well we went and visited the cheap school today. The kids DDs level are doing a lot more that what DD is doing. (See may other post.) This teacher says she uses the teaching method she was taught at SAB, but not strictly Ballanchine. DD's school is using the ABT NTC. Big difference in methods. The teacher is nice but not real soft and fuzzy. I don't know how well DD will respond to her approach. And I don't know if the approach is what's best for her. DD says she liked the class though, for what that's worth.

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I have several thoughts. One is that the professional dance job isn't the only end result of all this training. My sister attended Goucher College on a combined dance and science scholarship, nearly a full ride (and her ultimate goal was med school, not a dance career). It more than recouped the money my parents spent on classes, SIs, shoes, etc. Then again, that isn't why my parents made the investment.


Secondly, both my sister and I came away from our years of dancing with way more than just technique. That's a whole other post. I credit my years of dancing with developing much of my character - all that patience, persistence, determination, and inner strength needed to succeed at the highest level possible have stood me in good stead through the years.


Lastly, the girls in my classes who showed tremendous talent when we were 7 and 8 were all gone before my sophomore year. The girls who ended up having careers were often late bloomers (like 13-15 years old).


I'm not an expert, but $5-6k for the year sounds exorbitant unless it's a really major school or in the NY Metro area (where I unfortunately live).

Edited by pasdedeuxmama
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