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New here! Need advice for a 14 year old dancer


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Hello, My daughter is 14 and this is her third year of ballet. This year she has just started pre point. We started a little late. A bit about our background is our daughter was adopted about 2.5 years ago. Straight away she took a one week camp for ballet. She loved it and we enrolled her into ballet. This helped her tremendously with learning the language. (She only spoke Russian at the time.) Within two months she was fluent in English. From what we understand, she seems to have the feet for it. And this year she has started talking about going pro. The school we go to has a professional company attached to it. However, I realize she started taking ballet late. Her class is a mixture of 10, 11, 12 year olds and her. While she has moved up several levels, we are not taking the suggested number of hours per week for ballet. At 14, we are taking 3.5 of ballet technique classes. And 1 hour of rehearsal class for the Christmas program. If she moves up, next year she will take 4.5 of ballet technique classes at age 15. At this rate, we will not meet the suggested training schedule. Also, in speaking with one of the ladies in the office, the requirement for their summer intensive is to be on point for one year. So she could be close to 16 before her first summer intensive. Although we may could check out others.


As a parent, how do I guide her? One parent suggested private classes. Would this be the only way to get her up to a correct level? Then how many hours a week privately would she take? Or at this point is a professional option out of the question?


Would love to hear your feed back.

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Welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers, PilateGirl!


A late start does not rule out becoming a professional, but she will definitely need more training. Is there any way of increasing her class load by adding another section of her level, or taking open or adult classes, or even taking some extra classes at a different studio? Privates would be good, but they are very expensive, especially if she took more than one a week. You might start with one a week, if you can. I would suggest talking to her teacher, or the AD of the school to determine their opinion of her potential. Good feet is a great start, but there really does need to be a lot more than that, including proportions, rotation, flexibility, musicality, etc. In her third year, and at age 14, I think they should have some idea of her overall potential.

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Thank you, I am going to schedule a meeting with her dance teacher. She is taking all the classes offered at her level. I did hear one mom mention that at their level, the studio did not want them dance more than 3.5 hours per week. Just to educate myself, would there be any reason for that? Maybe to prevent injury? I can ask that when I meet with her teacher. Also, could you tell me a little more about proportions? What is ideal? She has long legs, but petit at 5'2".

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Ok, spoke with the teacher. We are going to start private lessons. Thought is she may have potential, but time will tell. Also, going to start on pilates. One thought we are still weighing out is taking more ballet classes. The offer is to take classes that are a level below to add more hours per week with kids ages are about 9- 10. Would working in a class in a level below offer much benefit? Granted I am somewhat new to ballet, but I would like her to audit a class a level above to try to really challenge her. My guess is that maybe my lack of ballet knowledge speaking. Or do we push to add more ballet in correct level somewhere else? Any thoughts or words of wisdom appreciated.

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Pilategirl, when DD15 was younger, all the kids at her studio were highly encouraged to take classes in a lower level. If they were in level 3, they'd take classes in level 2, etc...this gave them more time in the dance studio, and also helped strengthen their confidence as well as their muscle development. The kids who took extra classes improved a great deal, and were often see as more advanced within their own level.


There is always something to work on, and the slower pace can be very beneficial, especially if your DD is somewhat new to ballet.


Now, DD15 trains six days week (five days in class, 1 day for pilates), plus private lessons. She doesn't have time for additional classes, as she's already training a lot.


Just because the class is in a lower level doesn't mean it won't benefit her. Trust me, it will!! And remember, it takes 10 years to be a master. Whether it's ballet or anything else. Some things can't be rushed.


I certainly wouldn't worry too much about the later start. Some kids start very young, and then loose interest and quit by your DD's age, while others start late and go on to do amazing things, like be the first African American Principal dancer at ABT! (Misty Copeland)

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I agree with Happyfeet15- 16yo DS has often taken 'lower' level classes and been instructed to work on very specific technique issues. Rumour has it that Margot Fonteyn took company class with the 20 year olds!


DS says that he doesn't always feel good after taking a more advanced class- that it can be too rushed for him and that he leaves feeling a bit 'down' about how much work he has to do (aww poor Blossom we all say!). I get your idea that you want your daughter to reach but this doesn't always feel great. Just a thought. :shrug:

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Our daughter has noted several times in two different company affiliated schools that company members sometimes take her student class and our Dd regularly takes the next class lower level when schedule permits. She seems to get a lot out of it.

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Pilatesgirl, ballet training is very 'slow boil'. It takes lots of time (years) to get the muscle memory programmed into the body. There is really no quick start to getting it right. So, it is VERY common for teachers to recommend that a student (especially one starting relatively late) also take lower level classes to aid in this muscle memory programming.


In ballet technique, there are so many things going on in the little muscles as well as the big muscles, and in so many parts of the body, all at once. It is really hard to learn everything at once. So, by taking the slower, lower level classes, a dancer has more ability to focus on the little nuances of the skills----she already knows the 'big' part of the skills, but the nuances sometimes escape notice because there is only so much one can think about at any given time.


DD's home studio levels had a two-year curriculum: The dancers in their first year of the level learned the new skills as a progression; but the second year of the level, they worked on refining these skills. The levels were staggered such that there was always a 1st-year cohort of dancers and a second year cohort of dancers. One group was always transitioning in or out.


Even with that approach, DD would take lower level classes. It was a sign of maturity when she realized she could work even harder in the lower level classes----she might start sweating earlier and come out wringing wet. She finally realized that she could concentrate on so much more in those classes because she wasn't focused on the 'big' parts of the skills, her body already knew that part. So, she could really drill down and focus on the nuances. It made her technique much cleaner and much stronger to work in the lower classes.


Of course, there were times when it was also good for her to stretch herself and reach above her level. The teachers provided those opportunities, too. But, it is working in the lower levels, which permits a slower pace that really, really benefitted her. To this day, she still does that.

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Wow. Thanks so very much. This gives me a fresh new perspective, and is exactly what I needed to hear. Now I can really see the benefit of the lower level classes.


I have one more question, if I may, Summer Intensives. A lot of the girls are talking about summer intensives at the studio. DD is not on point. Which train of thought lends itself better to our situation? 1. To do a summer intensive that does not require point, to immerse her into ballet for the summer. And she will learn a lot. 2. Or, Summer Intensives can be quiet costly and if your not on point, there is not real benefit.


Thanks for input.

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My DD's school is not big on 'away' SIs until the dancers reach a certain technique level, approximately age 14. It has been explained to me that exposure to different techniques can cause some confusion for a young dancer. We are lucky that DD's home studio puts on a very well run SI and she has had the opportunity to attend for the past 3 years.


Perhaps you could inquire about an SI at your home studio? If they have one that would give her more training over the summer and give her more time to catch up. My one concern about her going away (aside form lack of pointe work) is that she would likely be put with younger dancers, and that could be a blow to the ego...unless she understands that is just the level that she is currently at and not upset by it.

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  • 1 month later...

Pilatesgirl - you are such a great mom! Great job.


Our son was late to ballet, too - and we were advised that CPYB is ideal for those type of dancers (and others, too). They really break things down there. Good luck!

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I also would recommend checking out CPYB for the summer. It has an excellent reputation for improving technique over those 5 weeks and does not stress the need for advanced pointe work.

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Posters, please remember that it is BT4D's policy NOT to provide specific program recommendations for individual dancers due to the myriad of considerations that a dancer, parent, and teacher must take into consideration.


What we DO provide is first-hand information and experiences in our Summer Intensive (current year) threads. :thumbsup:

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As a bit of encouragement I note that a female dancer who was at DSs school a few years before him only started vocational training aged 14, having previously done only a half hour recreational class per week. She went on to win the Prix de Lausanne top prize and is now dancing in a top European company. So although 14 is late, it is not necessarily too late!


For many SIs if someone is not yet on pointe but has potential the SI may take them anyway and just put them into a different level - if you have an SI you are particularly interested in it's probably worth calling them to discuss, rather than just assuming she won't get in...

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