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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Need help deciding what to do


jerseymom

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My husband and I are confused and not sure what to do next year. Sorry if this is long. I'd appreciate any input as I"m sure many of you have been in the same position.

 

Our daughter started ballet and tap at age 4 at a local studio. She dropped tap after a year ("it's too wild" lol) and continued with ballet. She is lean, athletic, coordinated, and graceful. Most teachers have commented that she has natural talent. It's the work ethic that's a little slacking.

 

This past September we moved her to the top Philadelphia school for ballet because she said the studio "wasn't challenging enough". Well, by the end of the year she said the ballet school is too challenging. She LOVES to dance but has trouble focusing during technique class. This school is no joke and neither is the teacher. She's not mean but she is all business. If you are praised you KNOW you earned it. The teacher is advancing her to Level I next year. Said that DD tends to slack off a bit (she's a little bored) and needs to be pushed but that she can definitely handle it. Only problem with that is it requires 2 90 min. classes a week instead of 1 hour a week. DD is not thrilled about the amount of time.

 

She also started gymastics last September and has really improved. The coach asked her to train for the competitive team next year. That would mean 2 3-hour classes a week. DD is SO excited!

 

DD "loves to dance but hates dance class" but hey, she's only 7. I can't blame her. So...

 

Do we push for her to continue dance? Explain that ballet training is a slow gradual process and some day she WILL get to be on pointe and do the more dramatic steps?

 

Do we let her quit to do gymnastics?

 

Do we try to do both (schedule-wise it is possible but is it way to much for a 7 year old)?

Do we go to a different local studio which does not require 2 classes/wk?

 

How bad would it be to let her stop ballet for a year to try out gymnastics?

 

No clue what the "best" path is for DD!! And I don't think the 7 year old makes the decision on her own. DD was on the brink of quitting all together but after recital last night is re-energized about dance. So her decision/opinion depends what day/time you ask her.

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I don't see why she couldn't do both for a while? 2-3 hours of gymnastics (which is very light, actually) plus a total of 3 hours of ballet is only 6 or so hours a week. Many kids are doing 12-16 hours a week of a sport at age 7, and handle it fine.

 

Can she try the more rigorous ballet and drop it if it's too much, not fun, etc?

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It's actually 6 hours of gymastics a week. So that would be a total of 9 hours of training a week with the 2 weekly ballet classes. Still under the 12 - 16 you've mentioned though. Thanks for your input. My husband thinks 6 hrs/week is crazy let alone 9 hrs. But if she loves it and is happy and school work isn't suffering, why not? I think he's concerned about training to hard too young and actually causing injury. She's our first and not sure what is too much at this age.

 

I've always told her if she starts the commitment she has to finish it. I let her quit softball because it was so not her thing and the temper tantrums were actually a detriment to the team! So, not sure I would let her drop out mid-year next year.

 

Of course she also wants to do swimming lessions again and scouts and soccer in the fall! This working mom can only juggle so much! I guess I'm struggling with balancing sampling many new things while she's young with pursuing the things she's good at with logistics (time and $).

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When my DD (now almost 12) was 7 and in the first "serious" ballet training year, she had a period when she thought it was a little "slow" in comparison to what they had done previously in her creative movement/ballet classes. She wanted to do more complicated things and steps. What really helped her understand and focus was me bringing her to the "big" studio down the hall where the more advanced students were having class. I pointed out how every complicated step or combination they did was based on the "easy" things she was working on right now. If she wanted to do pirouettes en pointe for instance, she first had to perfect the steps she was working on that moment and it would take years of building on to these "simple" things until she had all the skills to do the complicated stuff. She didn't complain after that, once she understood it better.

 

As far as doing both, ro taking time off to let her try gymnastics.... I'd say now is the time. :) I know several girls who did both, and by age 9 or 10 they absolutely had to make a choice either because of time constraints, cost or injuries. But at age 7, she has time to "catch up" if she takes a year off ballet or if she can do both that's great too. I don't think that's too much for a 7yo personally. My YDD (just turned 9 a couple of days ago) is in the competitive gymnastics team (2x3hr practices/week), takes taekwondo (2x2hr practices/week) and takes hiphop at my DDs dance studio (hey, we're there anyways....) So basically the entire year she was 8, she had at least one physically demanding activity/day, part of the year more because when she was in pre-team they had practice 3x/week.

 

I personally vastly prefer ballet/dance to gymnastics *but* something else to keep in mind is that in ballet she has plenty of time to catch up whereas in gymnastics, she may get "too old" pretty quick. If they aren't at a certain level before a certain age, the ship has really sailed (if she wants to do competitions etc.... if she only wants to do it recreationally of course that's different).

 

I read some very interesting discussions here about the relationship between gymnastics and ballet, I would search and read though those. I think the general idea was that up until a certain age, it's good but after a certain age/level gymnastics training can be detrimental to ballet training.

 

Good luck, and how wonderful that she has the ability to be able to do well at either one!

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Honestly- let her quit ballet and do gymnastics. She's only 7 and if, as she matures, she decides to come back to ballet then she will have a much better experience. It's clear from her "so excited to do gymnastics" attitude vs her "not thrilled about the ballet schedule" attitude.

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In the many years that my DD(11) has participated in gymnastics/ballet/swimming/piano/guitar/scouts/etc (not all at the same time), I've seen many a parent dragging a child to a class who clearly didn't want to be there. Either the child was very vocal about it or they just didn't put for the effort.

 

I believe that children of any age have somewhat of an idea what they like to do. Some kids focus in on one or two activities at a young age and others like to try a "jack of all trades" approach. Your child has already told you that she wants to do gymnastics and try swimming, soccer and Scouts. She has also told you that while she does like to dance she doesn't want to do the "tedious" stuff and she doesn't want to be overly challenged in it. In other words, she really doesn't want to focus on dance.

 

So what would I do? I'd let her quit dance. I'd sign her up for gymnastics. I'd put her in a summer swim league and she if she likes it then make a decision in the fall if she wants to continue. Let her try a recreational soccer league that doesn't have a huge time commitment. Scouts doesn't take up much time and can be time-adjusted for your child so IMO it's a non-issue. If time is an issue, you can do soccer in the fall and join a Scout troop when it's over. By allowing her to try the activities she's interested in, she will discover what she likes and what she doesn't like. You are also allowing her some control of the decisions she makes in life. That is an invaluable skill in and of itself.

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I tend to agree with the posters that have suggested letting her drop the dance for now. It doesn't mean for ever. She may come back to dance. Perhaps even sooner than you expect. Something may ignite her passion for it to the degree that the technique class becomes a joy not a chore (boggles my mind, but my dd insists that technique classes are awesome). I have four children: one in ballet, one that is seriously pursuing other passions, one that is in the sampling stage (including ballet), and one that's an ankle biter. Even now, after having been through similar dilemmas to yours several times, I still have to remind myself that just because my child has the facility and aptitude for a particular pursbeuit doesn't mean that particular activity is right for my child, or that my child should pursue it seriously. It's a tough one to get one's mind around.

 

I also relate to your value of seeing through commitments. I have found that a little extra encouragement and gentle nudging to be most helpful when my kids have come across a specific obstacle, and the desire to quit seems to be stemming from that rather than a general lack of interest or focus . My rule is generally "Master this concept, step, piece etc., and then quit - always quit on a high note."

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I totally agree with Clara76 and others: If your daughter prefers gymnastics, then . . . gymnastics, it is!! And soccer, and swimming, and Scouts.

 

She's 7 years old. This is the time for her to explore many different activities and figure out which ones she enjoys, which ones she likes, which ones she loves . . . and which ones feed her soul. It doesn't matter whether her dance teachers think she has natural talent. It matters what gives your daughter pleasure and a desire to work more at the activity. Just because she may have a dancer's body at age 7, does NOT mean she MUST be a dancer. Talent without desire is worth zip.

 

Let her enjoy her childhood and explore, explore, explore. Let her interests lead the way. She may drop in and out of activities as her interests peak and wane. But, that's how we learn what we like. I, too, subscribe to the concept that if you make a commitment, you finish it. But, let's not throw the baby out with the bath water. Commitment to dance can be taken one session at a time. If she's more interested in gymnastics, then follow her lead and let her devote more time to it and see where she goes.

 

At age 7, no activity is a life commitment!! Nor should it be. :)

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I agree with dancemaven, clara76 and others.

 

One thing we did for the sake of our family and everyone's sanity was to say "one sport at a time." Our children were free to try lots of things when they were young, but it was one at a time. Not only did it keep us from being too busy and allow the children some just plain free time, it really helped them decide what they preferred when a choice had to be made. So they might choose one sport for a semester or summer and then either keep going of try something else..or nothing at all for a time. We now have one who focuses only on ballet and another who loves the seasonal sports offered at school.

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We went through a similar thing with my DD10. For a year she begged me to do gymnastics. At the time she was taking ballet classes but she kept pleading that gymnastics was her passion lol. I said ok, you can do gymnastics but still take your ballet class as well. Wouldn't you know it, after about 3 months of gymnastics, her "passion" fizzled and she told me that ballet is what she really loves because she wants to go on pointe like her big sister. I'm glad we gave her the opportunity to see for herself what she truly loves. So I agree with everyone else, let her try the other stuff but keep ballet in the mix if you can. Good luck to you both!

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I would let the child follow her natural interests at this age. Ideally, you want your little girl to develop some hard-core "hobby" by the time she is 9 or 10 (if you are thinking in terms of personal growth and college admission), but until then the goal is to find that hobby that matches well with your child's natural ability and interests. What if she wants to quit dance after being burned out by 9 years old? Then you would have to look for that new activity and frankly be behind. This way, if she wants to do gymnastics early on, that's fine.

 

Plus, remember that Natalia Osipova, who is now one of the leading prima ballerinas in the world, did gymnastics exclusively until she was 12 or so... and she is not alone!

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Oh my, she is so young. Really. We get this idea that you can only be serious about dance if you start when you're 3, but that just isn't true. I look at the cohort of dancers that my 12 yo is in, and you cannot tell who started "early" and who started "late." There are several "late starters" in that cohort, including my dd, and they do not stand out in any way.

 

Let her choose what she wants to do, and let her dabble in different things. If she gets serious about dance later, there won't be time for other things then.

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My daughter stopped ballet at age 4. She tried soccer then by 6 got serious about gymnastics. By age 10 she was a level 7. She then wanted to try ballet. Two years later now 12, she is thriving and was accepted into several SI's and ballet is her thing. Sometimes I wonder how far she would be if she never left ballet. Most of the time I am so happy that she was a late starter and got to experience other things. I would try the gym and listen to her from there. Trust me she will let you know.

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Trust your daughter. If she loves gymnastics, let her do it. I'm sort of in the camp with your husband..... 6 hours is a lot especially if you have other children. She also needs time to hang out with her friends, play in the yard, read a good book. At 7, every minute of her life doesn't need to be structured. That time will come soon enough.

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I agree to let her do whatever she is interested in. I hoped and prayed for a daughter to dance ballet...and none liked it. My youngest did it grudgingly, because she needed it for gymnastics. She stopped gym, and wanted to do competitive dance. Lo and behold, at 11 and 1/2,after 6 months of competitive dance, she discovered ballet is what she what she wants. You would never know she started so late, because she has drive and passion...and that is only the Childs choice. No amount of parental support can equal the advantage of a child truly wanting something.

 

Plus, gymnastics will make her strong and flexible, if she does return to ballet.

 

Did Natalia Osipova do artistic, or rhythmic, gymnastics? Rhythmic is much more popular in Russia, and a much easier transition to ballet. I am just curious!

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