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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Pressure for more training hours


Raleighrocks

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My DS is 16 and has danced ballet for 11 years. He is in 10th grade. For middle school and 9th grade he was homeschooled but that isn't possible anymore so he is back in regular school. While homeschooled he trained 6 or 7 days a week 30+ hours but now with homework, etc... he struggles to go 4 days a week 15 - 17 hours. He competed at YAGP last year and has gone to SFB SI twice. The classes are ballet, variations, men's, and partnering.

 

His coach is pressuring him to train more or he will never be able to be a professional. That he needs the exposure of competitions now. Is this true? Will he lose his technique with the lighter schedule? How many hours and competitions (YAGP, WBC, IBC) are enough for a kid his age?

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At 16, he should be taking ballet classes 6 days per week, with each ballet class being at least 1.5 hours in length. He should also be having at least 1 "Men's Class" once per week. Character and Modern, along with Rep. and Variations should also be in the offering, and he should be doing some partnering.

 

As far as YAGP goes- that is definitely an elective and should be secondary to the training.

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My son is 15 - with rehearsals he sometimes dances 7 days a week. He has 4 ballet classes a week, 1 pilates, 1 jazz, and 1 modern class. He doesn't get men's class during the school year, unfortunately, because he's the only boy at the studio and there is an extreme shortage of male teachers who actually know what they are doing where we live. He gets the majority of his partnering training during the summer at intensives and during rehearsals. I agree with YAGP being an elective but honestly, it is a chance for your son to be seen and to potentially get him SI scholarship offers. My son is doing YAGP this year but did not participate last year. I think more important than YAGP, is to seek out regular performance opportunities for your son. You can have a dancer who is so technically gifted it blows your mind, but if they have never had a chance to develop their stage presence, the skill has a hard time coming across. Also, is your son learning other forms of dance besides ballet? My son goes to regular high school and is on track to graduate a year early due to him getting a bunch of his high school math credits out of the way in middle school. He was not interested in AP classes and manages to get his homework done at school most days. He also does not have to take a regular PE class because he dances so much and gets credit for it. He has a part-time job working as a freelance programmer in his downtime. That said, he has chosen dance over everything. He doesn't give a flying fig about the extras of high school. When the day is done, he can't get away from there fast enough. He is the only dedicated dancer his age at his studio. Everyone else lets high school activities be the priority instead. Over the past 2 years, I have seen many of the very best dancers at his studio slowly slip away in favor of other things. They start coming less and less to class and their technique truly does suffer. One dancer, in particular, was absolutely fantastic when her training hours were on par. When she started skipping class on a regular basis, you could really tell she was struggling to keep up. It was extremely painful to watch her perform in a couple of shows she was in with my son because she just could not keep up with the rest. She finally quit in favor of high school dance team and wanting to do "normal" teenage activities. I think high school is the fork in the road when they must decide what they want to focus on and then figure out how to make it all work. What does your son want to do? After it is all said and done, who is to know whether all of this focus and sacrifice will pay off? All I know is that it has been a wild and strange ride while it lasts. 8)

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Raleighrocks- I have an 18yo DS who has danced 6 days a week for the past 3 years. He has done YAGP once. He attended great SIs during the summers always with substantial scholarship. Currently when not performing he dances about 16 hours a week including pas, variations-men's, and a hip hop/contemporary combo class. He performs frequently, so the 16 hours is a minimum. He has always gone to regular school and often does homework throughout the weekend. We have required him to take a study hall. We are beginning the college audition process and have been researching this plan for the past 18 months thanks to BT4D. After 1 experience of YAGP we decided it was not what he/we wanted to focus on. Given the number of guys competing and the number of guys needed in the companies, the competitions don't appear to be a necessary step. Best to you and your DS.

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I think 15-17 hours is fine, depending on how the time is used. Competitions are not necessary. Technique and men's classes are much more important.

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Thanks for the replies! We've decided to withdraw from competitions for this year. The extra training hours are great but you all are right that class time is most important. Hard to tell the others, especially the two he was going to do a pas with.

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