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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Which Studio to Choose for Creative Movement?


mamabee

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Hello! I am new to the world of dance and ballet. I have never danced myself. I joined this site so I can learn more about it and make educated decisions should my daughter continue to enjoy dancing.

 

My daughter is turning 3 in the Fall. I realize that this is very young and it's probably silly to seek advice on this topic at this point, but she absolutely loves dance and I want to make sure I choose the best studio for her. She completed a Mommy & Me summer dance class when she was 1 and she did a full year of a dance class for 2 year olds at our local studio in town this year. She is also doing an extra Spring/Summer term and a summer camp.

 

We have many options for Creative Movement (age 3-4 class) in the Fall at various studios in our area. Although she likes her current teacher, I'm not sure I want to continue there because the studio is very disorganized (example - it took them 6+ months to process our payment and they left us off the email list for recital info and also won't return emails or phone calls). Also, I've seen their older dancers at two recitals so far, and even to my very untrained eye, they honestly weren't very good (apologies if this sounds harsh, just being honest). Ballet is very obviously not the main focus there.

 

We live in what is sometimes referred to as a "ballet desert," but we have one very small company that despite financial challenges is beloved in the community but not really known elsewhere. The company school doesn't have its own building; they hold classes in a church where they rent space. However, a lot of the older dancers there go on to summer intensives like Boston Ballet and Nutmeg, according to their website. But when I brought this up to other moms as an option, they told me that my daughter would end up getting "burned out" and would end up hating ballet if I enrolled her there. None of their kids attend the company school, so I don't know what that was all about, but I'm taking it with a huge grain of salt.

 

I don't have any information about where the older students from the other studios end up. There is one other local studio that people have been recommending to me that hosts the Moscow Ballet when they tour here, and older students from that school usually dance in the Nutcracker with them (although technically anyone can audition).

 

My question is, should we stick with our current dance studio because she likes her teacher, move to the school that hosts the Moscow Ballet when they tour here, or should we move to the ballet school that is affiliated with our local small ballet company?

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Our general thoughts here about dance instruction is that you should find the best instruction that you can for your personal situation which includes the rest of your family, your locale and your finances. However, when we do this we are not really discussing dance for students this young. In reality, the earlier years of dance are really for fun, socialization (for the child or the mom), role play, etc. and they can be taken almost anywhere because they are not yet "real" ballet classes. Those classes come a bit later.

 

So, find the studio where you feel most comfortable. Look to be sure that the older dancers look trained well and not just that the littles have fun. If the big school has a reputation of burnout then it's fine to stay away right now. As your daughter gets older, you can reevaluate if your current location is what is best for her.

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My DD started out young too. I was also a clueless ballet mom. I wish I knew then what I know now. Once she turns five and is ready for ballet, I would take her to the best possible studio. Here is the thing -I didn't know that I what I didn't know. I didn't know that what I thought was a good (and even best) studio was in actuality a recreational school. So ask questions and post back here to work out whether you've found a true ballet school or not.

 

Questions to ask:

 

-Flooring: Are the floors properly sprung and covered with Marley? My DD used to dance on tile. Yikes! I had no idea.

-Technique: What curriculum does the school use? Do they teach the French terms in ballet? Do they teach Vaganova, RAD, Cechetti, or a mix? I didn't even know about these things! My DD didn't learn the French terms, and I have no idea what they used. In fact, I think it was greatly dependent upon the teacher. All I know is that when we left to attend a pre pro school, DD was far behind. She has had to work her rear off to catch up.

-Does the school focus on technique more or on recital choreography? Is it about the cute costumes or the quality of the dance?

-Look at the bios of their teachers. Where did they dance professionally? What is their training and educational background?

-Look at their older dancers. Are they going to well known SI's? Are they going on to dance professionally?

-Does the school feed into an RDA (Regional Dance America) company or professional company?

 

I always had a mama feeling about my daughter when it came to dance. I knew she had grace, beauty, and natural talent from a very young age. I didn't know that ballet isn't ballet just because someone calls it ballet class. I can't change the past, so I'm doing everything I can to support her in her dance dreams of the future. Three is young. She may decide to be a doctor, a lawyer, or a teacher, but if she continues to dance, even if she doesn't pursue it professionally, I vote for giving her the best possible dance training you can manage. JMHO

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Oh, thank you, your replies are so incredibly helpful!

 

I'm not going to push my daughter to become a professional dancer (or a professional anything!) - I just introduced her to it because I thought it was a beautiful art form and a fabulous way to get exercise and make friends at the same time. Plus, if she continues through to college and doesn't decide to dance professionally, she can still be a part of a college dance department and will be able to dance recreationally for the rest of her life. I feel like when it comes to team sports, it can sometimes be harder to pursue them in adulthood, but dance is always available even in your own living room, if that makes sense.

 

Turns out my daughter absolutely loves it! We have her in soccer and art classes and swimming lessons and a variety of other local groups/events run by our local Y and JCC, but I know what you mean about having a mama feeling about dance. The only thing she seems to love this much is art. That girl could paint for hours.

 

I'm going to use all those questions, thank you! I definitely want to get her the best training I can. She can always get great training and decide to quit or not to pursue it as a profession and that's fine, but you can't get bad training and then suddenly decide you want to go pro, so better safe than sorry. Unfortunately we don't have any pre pro schools around here, but we still have many years to decide if that's going to be an issue or not. By then, who knows what she'll want to do.

 

Thanks again!

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