Jump to content
Ballet Talk for Dancers

Minimum number of hours of training?


Recommended Posts

Hello all,


We are in the midst of deciding if our 14 years old son should go away next year for a pre-pro residential program. One of the driving forces is the number of hours available in our smallish city. We were told by several knowledgeable dance instructors both here and outside of our area that he should have at least 20 hours a week of good instruction, including male classes (ideally). Right now he has 10 hours of classes - and we have added 2 privates to get him to 12. So, IF the 20 hour minimum is true (and I would like feedback on that - since this plays into our decision making heavily) it would seem that next year our two options are:


1) Keep him at home, and he can either go to a local Arts School where the 1.5 hours of ballet is not good - and then have him dance from 4:30 to 8:30pm, or do on-line schooling and have him start ballet earlier than the usual 4:30pm so that he can fit in 4 hours a day of dance. This would involve driving to two studios that are competition with each other - so initially I'm sure there would be some angst. Both studios have good instructors - with the second one having an instructor that is more of a "man's man" type of instructor (better for grand allegro). We have four children and my husband can't drive due to a disability so this would involve a fair amount of driving on my part. My husband doesn't want our son at home doing home schooling. If he goes to the School of the Arts he wouldn't get home until 8:30pm at night and then will have homework to do. Some days we could limit the driving to one school with privates which will add up $$ wise.


2) Send him away to a residential pre-pro (our concerns are at 14 is he emotionally ready?). The cost would be less than Option #1 as there would not be private lesson costs and the time spent driving him from one studio to the next. Three local dancers just came home from residential pre-pros (injury and homesickness) so I'm nervous about this option - but I'm equally nervous about the wear and tear on our family with option #1.


So - I guess I'm looking for feedback on this important decision, and most specifically, on the premise of 20+ hours of good instruction per week (classical and modern ballet, Pilates, and the importance of men's classes - there are none in our area).


Thanks very much!

Link to comment

Clara76 graciously prepared and pinned recommended minimum training class hours per age. The pinned thread can be found at the top of each Parents' Forums ( among others).


You have been wrassling with this decision all Winter and folks have offered much advice and insight. At the end of the day, it is your family's decision. Best wishes in coming to your conclusion given all the input you have received here. :thumbsup:

Link to comment

Dancemaven - so sorry that I am airing my angst over this important decision. I think the issue is that there are so many disparate opinions out there from some very accomplished instructors and wise parents. Just when I think I have a handle on it - another opinion flies my way. Being new to the dance world, it's hard to decipher what is true and not - and it is an important decision. I guess I just have to accept that there is no right or wrong answer....which is frustrating! So sorry.


For instance, I just added up the hours recommended from the link and it's 8.5 hours for a 14 year old - that is so much different than the 20 hours that I have heard from what seems? to be reliable sources. Am I reading your recommended hours correctly?


Thanks for your patience.

Link to comment

Deb, it's all tremendously confusing. I wish I had good advice for you.


In regards to hours, I think the recommended hours refer to ballet technique. 1.5 hours x 5-6 days a week = 8-9 hours per week. But, so many dancers take a lot more than just Technique. With jazz, partnering, variations, modern, etc, the total hours per week are often closer to 20.

Link to comment
  • Administrators

It's not always a matter of number of hours. The quality of the training is just as important, if not more so. If you are not sure he is ready to go away yet, then he probably isn't. And, at 14, that is not critical. Maybe by next year he will be ready and the decision will not be so difficult. Meanwhile, see that he gets the best training available, but don't make it into a thing about any certain number of hours. He needs to go to school, and you need to have a life outside of your car once in a while.

Link to comment

Thanks Victoria :-) I appreciate the sage advice.

Link to comment

Does your son have an opinion? At 14 my DS was literally on his knees begging to be allowed to go (after a 6 week SI at the school which offered him a place). We always felt it was almost completely his decision- and he knew that if he changed his mind we would happily have him back home in an instant... We presented it as a 'try it out' with no pressure to succeed or even like it.


Maybe you could postpone the decision until after your DS does a residential SI (I think you are considering this for this summer?). I think an SI gives them a real feel for what it means to be at a residential school a long way from home- and he may then be in a better position to have a truly informed opinion of what he is letting himself in for. Particularly important for someone who has started late and may be less knowledgable about what the ballet world is really like (like my DS at the same age!).


[As far as hours goes, DS does a minimum of 3 hours a day, 6 days a week of classical ballet]

Link to comment
  • Administrators

I agree with others about the student's voice. Incredibly important to consider - if your son isn't yet ready within himself the experience won't be as beneficial to him. Both my daughters did go away at a young age to train - they were quite ready but I can't say that these were easy decisions.


A nephew went away (across the country actually) at about the age your son is to attend a private school which specializes in sports and had a really good reputation with respect to nephew's chosen sport. I recall that he essentially threw down the gauntlet to his parents so to speak - insisted that he go away for training as the local opportunities just weren't sufficient. Even at a young age he did a lot of his own research about programs - helped that he was able to see some teams in action at tournaments and so forth. Your son may need a bit more time to wrap his head around all of this as he is fairly new to the dance world from what you've described.


All the best!



Link to comment

I can't remember, but has your son gone away to an SI yet? I remember that he is a crossover from gymnastics. If he has not yet attended an SI, it might be important to do that first to see how he feels about 6 weeks somewhere. (and how you feel about it)


If he goes away to a highly competitive SI, then he will either sink or swim. He will see where his training lies on the spectrum. And he will either develop a further love and desire to do more or he will determine, nope not for me. I would say something different to a parent whose son has taken more than one year of ballet, has been to an SI before and has personally expressed interest in seeing what's out there.


It sounds like your son might have potential. But it's okay to wait and see what happens this summer and then plan for next year if he's bitten by the bug if need be. If he has good training at home, there might not be a reason to look at residency. But important to make sure he's in a immersive environment this summer first.

Link to comment

Momof3darlings - thanks for your advice. Yes - he is going away this summer and I'm sure that he will be very opinionated after that :yawn:


*edited to remove location of SI. please also note that I was editing my post as you were posting this.

Link to comment
  • 3 weeks later...

Ah boys...aren't they fun. My son has been at a residential ballet school 3.5 hours away since he was 10. This is the same kid who would go to the secind floor of our house alone! First year at times was tough . I had to talk him off the edge a few times. Mostly when he was sick or hurt and wanted Mommy. I tried to visit him 2 times a month. This year has been fine. A couple crying calls but generally he is fine and we visit a lot less. The boys who are local often invite him to their house for the weekend. He dances 3 hours a day min-fri and 2 hours on sat ( except for nutcracker season ).

What has been a huge benefit is that the school is around 40% boys. At home he was the only one.

Link to comment

While the importance of quality hours opposed to quantity of hours training has been brought up many times before, I would like to go on record by agreeing with it!

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...