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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Similar situation except a difference


partiecolor

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Victoria Leigh

Welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers, partiecolors!

 

It is wonderful that you have a son so interested in ballet so young! But I really think that 7 years old is a bit early to be overly concerned about the training. Right now, find him the best you can in your area, and if possible to drive the 2 hours on the weekend for the class at a more professional school. Eventually, a move might be necessary, but not now. Things can change very rapidly with a child that age, and while the early training is important, I don't think that one needs to uproot the family yet. :)

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Victoria Leigh

Well, that would be great if you can get him there. It's always best to try to find the best training that you can, if it is logistically possible. :)

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partiecolor, Your dilemma sounds like a tricky one. I hope you get some good advice. To give you an idea of what other boys your son's age are doing, I'll offer my son as an example. He was 7 at the beginning of this past school year and turned 8 partway through. He and my other dancing children attend a local ballet school (not affiliated with any professional company). His class last year was one hour a week. This fall he will take one or two 1.5 hour classes. That's it. He was not able to attend summer school at our studio, due to some schedule conflicts, but if he had, he would have taken a 1.5 hour ballet class daily, plus a couple of jazz classes each week for a total of 10.5 hours per week.

 

Now, I would say that my son is an average dancer for his age. I don't expect him to pursue a professional track of training or even stick with ballet. I'm guessing he will quit at some point to pursue sports. Someone whose son is more driven than mine might think that his slow training is too slow, but it is just right for him. And I think one or two classes per week is typical for his age. Your son's fall schedule might seem like it is very light compared to what he has done over the summer, but most dancers do not dance as much during the school year as they do during the summer, so it is probably pretty normal to have the number of hours drop as school starts.

 

Having the technical level drop to a much lower level in the fall would be more problematic, in my opinion, than the number of hours at his age. But there are a few things to consider about this as well. At age seven, it is probably most important to keep him having fun. Many boys start ballet at later ages (even young teens), and even for girls age 8 is probably average for starting a more serious focus (before that point, many classes are actually pre-ballet). Do you think he would be bored going back to his regular studio in the fall? If he would be happy there, it might be fine to have him take the local classes for the next year, which allows you to have a year to really consider what all of your options are. I'm sure that his long-term training will not suffer from taking a light year at this age. Especially if you can get him to the weekend classes that are two hours away. Time spent on the basics is never wasted. Even if he doesn't leap in his classes over this year, it will not hinder his progress in the future.

 

If I'm reading your post right, you are considering having your son take lessons at the school he attended this summer in the fall??? And that it is a two-day drive from your home??? So are you thinking of moving with him? Is this something that is possible for your whole family? Would you go with him and leave part of your family behind? Do you have other children to consider? I would be very hesitant to do this on such short notice when your child is at such a young age. It is likely to put tremendous pressure on your family in many ways. If it were me, I'd take a year to think about it, but I'm a long-term planner like that.

 

I perhaps should mention that, although I find our local studio to be completely appropriate training for my son, I also have an older DD (age 11) who does have great facility and aspirations for a professional career, so we have been trying to figure out what is best for her. A move for our family might happen. BUT we have been thinking about this seriously for at least TWO years. And if we do move, it will not be for another year, due to my husband's work situation (his workplace has an office in the city that we might move to, but they won't have an office space for him until next spring). In the meantime, we have been doing our best to educate ourselves about what good ballet training looks like, evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of our local studio to figure out whether it is good enough or not, and doing some home improvements in case we need to put our house on the market. In other words, we are taking a long view and making a long-term plan.

 

If you have read much on the Ballet Talk forums, you will no doubt have heard people say that ballet training often seems like a slow boil. It is a slow and steady focus on the basics that produces the best dancers in the end. I've been in a position similar to yours, where I question whether we are doing what is best for our dancing child and thinking that our local training will not be good enough in the long run. I'm still in that position, actually. It feels like a big responsibility, to nurture this talent in a way that allows my child to develop to her fullest potential. I want to do right by her. I make personal sacrifices. But I also try to find a balance, because I have a whole family to consider, and I also have to consider what is best for my children in the parts of life that have nothing to do with dance.

 

I'm sure you will end up making a good decisions. I know I've been wordy, so I feel like I should boil it down to my core advice: if you are considering some kind of a move, I'd say that there is no need to rush into it. Take some time to make sure that it would be right for everyone. . If it were me, I'd get him the best possible training locally for the next year while exploring all the other options. And I wouldn't worry too much if this next year's training is at a lower level than he is capable of. Let him have fun. Make wise choices that are good for your whole family. I hope that helps a little.

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Another thought....Since it is not unusual for a child of 7 to only have ballet once a week, what about just committing to that weekend class that is two hours away and call it good? The rest of the week, your son could focus on other interests, schoolwork, and just being a kid, and you would be able to maximize some family time before all of those extra ballet classes would be required. The intensity of ballet training ramps up so quickly as they get older and it becomes hard to fit everything in. It's helpful for dancing kids to have some time to explore other things when they are young and have a lighter ballet schedule. Music lessons, especially, would be helpful for dance training. And drama, if there is any kind of youth theater in your area. Just a couple of suggestions!

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bluemountain

This might work, but next year it will probably turn into two classes a week, most likely one on a weekday and another on weekend. This could be a problem already... My advise - try to find something closer to where you live while your child is young. Then, if good training is still too far away, consider moving. Two hours one way, especially if you have other kids and/or activities will be hard to manage.

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At this age one or two classes a week is fine. If your son has a natural gift, it won't go away while he is still growing and changing so rapidly. When he is older, if the passion is still there, then more and better training become important, but not at 7 or 8,

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as the mother of a now 14 yo DS, I agree with all the 'go slow' opinions that have already been posted. It is extremely tempting to 'go for it' when they are young and life is simple. Our experience is that with puberty, DS became much more sensitive to what was going on around him (studio politics), he battled the physical aspects of puberty (fatigue, various aches and pains) and wanted/needed more down time in general. I wish I had known this but anyways hindsight is great eh? So based upon our experience, take the long view with your son, keep it light and fun, keep time free for other more typical male activities, try to keep him involved through early puberty and then build up the quality training when he is able and ready to commit. Can I also add here (I don't think you raised this) but I have found that having a male teacher has made all the difference to keeping DS connected and motivated. They talk 'boy stuff' and in my opinion, this has made all the difference for DS to envision himself as a dancer.

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HuckleberryDawg

He would be dancing twelve hours a week as a seven year old? Aiyeeeee! We must be falling tragically behind down here. My DS, 9 almost 10, doesn't dance nearly that much.

 

If it were me (and I know nothing about ballet), I'd dial it back a lot. At seven years of age he really doesn't need that much dance and I wonder if you wouldn't burn him out with that kind of schedule? Also, just as a thought, in my experience, what seems reasonable and worth driving in the summer when you're planning the year is completely too much by the time you add homework and Nutcracker and playing with friends occasionally. Start with less and add more if you want; but if you turn it into a death march from the beginning, you may end up killing the joy for him.

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Helpers to bend and mould feet? Really??? Wow. Yes this doesn't sound like our dance life. I can tell you one thing for sure. Loving ballet at a young age and having a natural facility for it doesn't actually mean he will pursue this as an adult. those of us who are further down this particular track can tell you with a fair degree of confidence that it can all wait. Nutcracker role or not (another foreign concept for this Australian). In the end, I think that a decision to go hard needs to be made by him when he is old enough to understand the sacrifices. Keep it light. A great talent will still be there in 6 years. Honestly.

 

When I re-read this post, I sound like I think I am an expert or something. Honestly I don't think that. Your post just really resonates with me and my experiences in the past year. Of course I defer to all of the real experts on dancer education in this forum........

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If I'm right about your location, you are 1 hour away from a school that has a male teacher who teaches boys classes, in a pre-pro environment, and 2 hours from Kansas City Ballet!

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