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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Too much


Isa&Gab

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My dd 9 is very much in love with dance and has been for years. She dances 5 days a week and does company on the weekends. She is the youngest in her level and dances with girls older than her. She is the girl that would rather be at dance than anywhere else. If we miss or are out she is at home dancing. I am not concerned about the amount of dance or her love and passion. I have been told by people that she is too involved in dance. I am wondering if there is such a thing. If she is not dancing she is help the younger kids. She had been asked into the pre pointed program and is excited. She lives and breathes ballet. She has dreams of dancing professionally and every year that has not changed. Are these people right she is too young to be so involved?

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Are these people your daughter's parent?

 

Are these people experienced ballet teachers who have seen kids burn out?

 

Are these people parent observers in the studio?

 

I guess I would pay attention to experienced ballet teachers more than anyone else. And I would also pay attention to myself, as her parent.

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Mostly the people are my family and some are friends of mine that think she does too much. Her teachers have told us that she is doing great and encourage her to dance. They meet with us to tell us which classes she should be doing. This year they had her in 3 classes with girls that are 10-12. She also has been put in with the little pre ballet kids to show them how to do it and help them understand. She loved helping the little ones.

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Six days a week at that age is a good bit more than the average for that age if you are in the US.

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Isa&Gab, you said rehearsals on weekends....does that mean both days? Every weekend? What are the rehearsals for? Is the "company" a competition group?

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We are in the US. She does take modern and Russian character one day. She dances ballet 4 days and pre pointe for 30 mins 1 day a week. Is it not normal that she dances that much? Her teachers have told us that she has real talent and is dancing above her age level. She is actually in advanced classes. Most of the girls she dances with are all on pointe. Should I be concerned

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I'll let the teachers comment and complete the assessment, with the other dance forms it may not be as bad as it sounded earlier on but it is still more than most 9 years olds I've known.

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Company is where they put on performances. We are at a studio that has a pre professional company. They dance mostly just Saturday unless their is a performance coming up like Nutcracker they dance on Sunday. They put on about 3 performances a year.

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My concerns are that a 9 year old is in the company and advanced classes. No matter how much talent and potential she has, that is not normal. Children are used in some performances, of course, but they are generally not considered advanced or company at that age. Perhaps this school has a junior group involved in these company rehearsals? Is she dancing with students in her own age group, or close, or she is in with teens?

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She is in their junior company. She dances with girls that are 10, 11, and 12.

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Well, my extended family and friends don't get it at all and I don't care if they do. Most people think dance is a once a week activity where girls put on pretty pink tutus and act like butterflies. Most people don't know that it is almost like an elite sport.

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Most people don't realize the level of commitment ballet training requires. It is not a once a week, hour long class.

That being said at some point, since she is only 9, you have to make sure you are protecting her from burnout and injuries. She needs to have down time (no matter how much she loves it or how talented she is). Dancing seven days a week is not healthy IMO for long periods of time. Her growing body needs rest.Cutting back slightly can save her time out due to injures or burnout.

The truth is, no matter how many hours they train, it will not guarantee a career in dance. No matter how passionate they are at 9, 10, 11 will predict that they will still love dance at 17, 18, 19. She has another nine years of dance training ahead of her. No reason to over do it now IMO.

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At my DD's pre-pro there are a group of girls that are 9/10 in a class of 12 yr olds and I can attest to every single one of the 9/10 yr olds has had an overuse injury this year. Every one. That should be a sobering thought. The class meets 6 days a week for 90 mins each and one class is 2 hours. Not excessive but their bodies are not ready for the rigors of the class despite their facility. Somehow in this country we equate success with precocious ability. The way I see it, dance can be a painfully short career, why rush it?

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I do understand where you're coming from buzzandmoo, but I can also say that when my dd was 11 she did have ballet class 6 days/week @ 90 minutes per class. There were other classes as well throughout the week - such as character.

 

I suppose perhaps a key factor would be that the classes my dd had were specific for her stage in training? I imagine that a class of 12 to 13 year olds might be too much of a stretch for most 9/10 year olds, even if the latter are serious dance students...

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My best guess is that most people who become elite dancers start working as hard as your daughter sometime before they turn 12 years old - maybe 9 is a bit earlier than most, but as long as there are no injuries, I don' see how it's a problem since your daughter really enjoys it.

 

As for folks who say that your daughter is doing "too much", they could be coming from a number of different perspectives. Here are a few that come to mind:

 

1. There are very few elite dancers in the world, and by doing ballet that much your daughter is "putting all her eggs in one basket" - what if the professional dancer career does not take off, what other options does she have emotionally? Will she always regard herself as a failure if the dance career does not happen?

2. They are concerned whether she is keeping up with her schoolwork - somewhat related to #1

3. They are jealous or feel threatened

4. They are trying to make conversation

 

I suspect #4 is actually the primary reason for such statements, folks just making small talk. Whether it's reasons 1-4 or 5---> infinity, fundamentally you as the mother know best.

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