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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Mixed style/level training


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My daughter is 12, and will be turning 13 in the fall. We live in a relatively small town that is basically a desert for good ballet training. I don't have the availability to drive her 45+ minutes both ways, 5-6 days a week to access better training...not this year at least. I'm not convinced that there is truly better training unless we drive 2 hours both ways, in all honesty!


Every year previously we have managed to increase her ballet hours to (almost) keep up with the bare minimum standards by using private lessons. This last year she was taking 2 - 90 minute classes at her studio (including pointe in those minutes for 10-15 minutes only). In addition to that, she had a 90 minute ballet private with another teacher 1 day a week (that included up to 45 minutes of pointe, my daughter often warming up on her own). She trains additionally in other styles about 4-5 hours a week, since that is what is available. This was her first year on pointe, so I have been trying not to overthink the training since she was still progressing. Her teachers have degrees and experience, and both speak very positively about my daughter and her potential future in ballet.


All of that brings me to my dilemma. At this juncture I realized she will no longer be progressing this coming year at just her home studio's ballet class, as it is not enough hours and her classmates aren't serious or all at the same level even in the "advanced" class. I plan to keep her in private lessons with the one teacher. I'm trying to get an extra mixed level (literally beginning to advanced students...only way to get enough students) class with private teacher at the home studio, it will be 2 hours every other week, no pointe. We are putting her in ballet and pointe classes over the summer at another studio across town to try and supplement hours, and possibly just switch over to all ballet instruction there. After summer classes there we will decide our fall schedule.


Is it harmful to her training progress to have many styles being taught at once? Class teacher last year uses vanagova methods, private teacher uses Russian methods, and the new studio we are trying uses chechetti methods. (And she has been in a chechetti program for 2 weeks in the summer for 4 years) (this sometimes stresses my daughter out, "teacher 1 says this but 2 says this...what's correct?) Also, does every class need to be a challenging level or just solid instruction? Can I supplement her hours by using lower levels? All of the teachers in her life are well qualified with degrees and experience, they just have issues with thier hands being tied by small town life and studio owners. Is it a potential issue that she will have so many teachers at different locations that aren't all communicating about the training?


I'm stressed as a mom because I realize my daughter is rapidly approaching the time where potential will be less important than training. She made it into the SI she auditioned for this year...but I wonder if some of that had to do with her private teachers connections. These "donut hole" years where she is too young to live at a residential school (that's the plan but we aren't ready!) are so difficult. Is she even going to be able to make it into a school in 2-3 years (hypothetical question :) )? She's a hard worker and wants to have a ballet career someday...I just want to make sure I'm facilitating the best way I'm able. Thanks for listening!

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5678Starmom, you could be writing about our situation except we are in rural Ireland! My daughter has an excellent teacher but hard to get enough hours for her here! She is progressing well and even got Priority Wait Listed for Royal Ballet in Londons Summer School. She is also 12 turning 13 in November and we are looking at her doing vocational school at 16, if she can get to the level needed to be accepted! She is taking classes the level below her and will add one above her next year.


Will be looking at thread with great interest!

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Thanks for the company Cathio!


This situation has been on my mind a lot, and it occurred to me....how I wish the 4 small studios in our town would pool their resources and actually offer adequate dance training! 30 years ago, there was only 1 studio in our town. Egos got in the way and teachers branched off and started different studios. They all have clearly different ideologies and missions. And none of them on their own have adequate ballet.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I wish I had some answers I think we will be in the same boat in the next 2 years. We really are not in a small town at all, however DD (10) is in the only RAD school in the area and while she has very solid training available now in the appropriate hours it looks like according to the recommended that won't be the case in the next 2 years. Not sure what we will do or how we will supplement at that point.

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I'm still not sure how the mixed styles will affect my girl in the future but I have a name for it now = American eclectic! She's taking from so many teachers this summer that she will add dabbling in Ballinchine (sp?) and Cuban to her repertoire.


We are still a bit up in the air as to what DD12 will be doing in the fall. It's very difficult to come up with a schedule to please all involved parties, and I'm nervous to talk to her new ballet teacher, because she won't be available on Wednesday...and I'm sure she will want her there. I'm excited that her contemporary solo at the (home) competition studio is very ballet based (as opposed to jazz based). She is growing leaps and bounds at her new (also competition) studio, but I'm wary of how long that will last. There are girls that are more skilled than she is, a definite plus, but they are generally at least 4-5+ years older in her level. So I think DD may have growing room there, but just barely!


On a super positive note, her new studio was very impressed with her technique and she is the youngest dancer in the advanced levels by at least a year. That makes me think I'm doing something right with her training. The new studio is still a small town situation, but they have a few girls going to big name summer intensives, so they seem to be on the right track, too.


Being a ballet mom in a small town isn't easy!

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