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Small, "late bloomer" - any advice? Age vs. development/placem


solnishko

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My son has been dancing for about 4 years and is very small and underdeveloped for his age. He is quite elegant and looks great on stage (and is quite flexible). He's been told that he has amazing turnout and beautiful feet. He doesn't really have the "banana foot" type of curve, but long, slender feet.

 

He has not been a "star" in our company's school, since he has not been able to develop enough core strength to get the turns and leaps. He's usually offered parts along with the other boys when the company needs boys. Another issue: Scoliosis with a 25% curve.

 

He's started to do a little partnering / private training plus some physical therapy for his core.

 

Being in the middle of audition season, I see him going in with boys who are so much bigger, with developed muscles and broad chests, while he's back here at 5' and x lbs.

 

Does anyone have any advice? I don't have a clear idea of what his chances are in summer intensives and moving up in the levels locally. He doesn't seem to have the drive and passion as much as other dancers we know, but he doesn't want to quit, either. I don't know whether to wait and see what hormones do, or to possibly steer him in another direction.

 

Thanks in advance!

Edited by dancemaven
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Boys develop at different rates. My son was also a late bloomer. The most important thing is for your son to receive good training. There is excellent training at many, many schools. When your son starts getting his adult body, so many things will change. He will be able to do all those things that come with the height and the muscles. Don't worry about the competition at this age. Just focus on the training for now, and the rest will take care of itself. Speak to your doctor about the scoliosis - hopefully they will be able to correct it.

 

As far as SIs, aim for good programs that offer excellent training for younger boys. Programs like Next Generation Ballet, Nutmeg, Harid and The Rock are good starting places.

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Mom of a later bloomer here. It is very frustrating when other boys that shoot up earlier look like young men, capable of partnering, while your DS still looks like a little boy.

 

Sounds like he enjoys dancing and has gotten good feedback.

The short answer is that if he loves to dance, then he should keep going. Continue auditioning for summer intensives and see what happens. Adjudicators are looking for potential and are fully aware that dancers mature at different rates. There is plenty of training that can take place pre-puberty. We were advised by trusted teachers to use the time to focus on core strength, flexibility, and building a strong technique foundation.

 

If he doesn't have the drive and passion, as you stated above, then I think you have to have patience. If his desire is to dance, it will become evident in due time. I would let him lead.

 

Regarding the scoliosis, I believe that this forum is not the best place to get a medical opinion. If you are already working with a good physical therapist for his core work, that would be a good place to start to get a qualified assessment, and/or a referral to a pediatric sport medicine or other specialist physician.

 

Now at 15.5 years old, my DS is finally taller than girls his age. Those late bloomer boys do catch up. Just hold on and enjoy the ride. Good luck this audition season.

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Thank you!

 

I'm sorry if I implied I was looking for medical advice. He is under the care of one of the best pediatric spine/orthopedists in our region, who has prescribed a nighttime brace. The aim of treatment is not to correct the curve, but to prevent progression. Prior to last year, I also thought it could be put right, but unfortunately not without surgery. His is not severe enough to warrant surgery. Thankfully it does not cause pain, but does prevent him from holding his core perfectly straight.

 

It will be interesting to see what happens after all of these auditions. His ballet school provides excellent training, but the classes are large and crowded.

 

I look forward to other responses and thanks, once again. It's great to hear from other parents who have been through this!

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Hi there! Just wanted to say that my son has trained at one of the programs that was mentioned as being great for guys and that several of the absolute BEST dancers there were not the oldest dancers with the most adult like bodies but those who were actually small for their age - definite late bloomers, and those who were very thin and lean. Some of them were natural prodigies but it also came down to having excellent training and learning how to work with what you've got. And those very same boys also received all kinds of acceptances with the largest and most all-inclusive scholarship offers when it came to summer intensives. The people who make decisions about summer intensives understand that boys all grow and develop at different rates, they are looking for potential and good technique.

 

And as far as partnering - remember that for every late blooming guy out there there are MANY tiny little girls who weigh next to nothing who are also being accepted to the summer intensives, so there are potential partners out there. My son is always surprised by how light some of the very tiny little ballerinas he works with are (I don't mean they are unhealthy - I just mean they are very petite little things). The young men I mentioned before who were very small for their age ALL took part in partnering, in fact, they were all extremely good partners.

 

So I honestly wouldn't worry about it. Your son will grow and mature. Just help him to focus on making sure he is working on improving his technique as best as he can. Now if he doesn't seem to be as motivated as the other guys, that would be the issue I would be more concerned about. I would want to know the reason. Is it because he feels like he everyone else can do more than he can so he is losing his confidence and slowly giving up? That can be a really hard place to be. And if that is the case you have to work really hard to help your son focus only on his own abilities, not anyone else's. That way whenever he makes any kind of improvement he is able to recognize it and be proud of it instead of just comparing himself to how the other guys look compared to him.

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I have a late bloomer too. It has been hard this year since the group of boys who had been dancing together for the past 6 years got divided for the first time based in part on size. The bigger guys moved up a level to join partnering classes. The smaller boys are all repeating the level they were in last year. That said, boys have time. As long as he is getting quality training and access to male only classes, he will learn the skills for when his body is ready for him to move up.

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My now 17DS wasn't so much a late bloomer but he is so tall that he has remained down right skinny while many other boys (who are shorter) were packing on muscle. He is still not as strong as them (particularly in the upper body) and cannot do the harder lifts in pas. His teachers make sure that his lifts are less demanding right now. He is still not happy to be 'managed' like this and wants to be doing the harder stuff! His teachers are more concerned about DS not injuring his joints- which I appreciate.

 

A previous teacher of DS, an experienced man, used to tell us both that DS's adult body won't show up until he is about 21 and 'not to worry about it. He will be gorgeous and be taking all the prince roles'. In the meantime DS works on his technique, listens to his teachers and waits for the muscles to arrive. I can see them starting to arrive now!

 

Solnishko- tell your son to be patient. He doesn't want to peak when he is 17. His gorgeous long slim body will arrive too and then WATCH OUT! :clapping:

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My husband was one of those very lanky, skinny, long boys who look gorgeous on stage as the prince, but who's muscles never bulk. It looks like my son will also follow the same mold. My husband had a really brilliant career and also ended up partnering some of the larger girls in the company. He learned to become a very intuitive partner, relying on coordination and placement over brute strength. I have had many, many partners in ballet and I never felt more secure than I did with my husband. It was the timing that made the difference. So for those with boys who aren't the big, strong men yet, that might be a blessing in disguise. My son, who is just now starting to take ballet very seriously, (granted he is 8 and his path could go anywhere) is learning that having those very long limbs requires a bit of a different focus on developing. He knows that his core will have to become rock solid and that he will always need to work on strength training. He also knows that at 13 and 14 he may not be able to partner the way other boys can who are built more solid. But that is ok. It doesn't matter how good you are when you start, it's how you finish that is important. I have that written on his bedroom wall.

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Oh thank you all for the kind expressions and lovely responses. Warmed my heart, for sure!

 

We have been told by doctors not to expect much beyond a height of 5'6' or so. Very hard to tell or know as he is adopted and we have no genetic information at all.

 

In the past two days we have two acceptances from SI programs, one local and one across the country. The local one comes with a scholarship.

 

His training program just added an upper-level boys technique class once a week. No "official" partnering beyond a very small bit of hand-holding and leading in performing ensemble. I don't think they do partnering until about 16 or 17 here. He does a bit of actual partnering (holding during spins, starting to lift with assistance) in private training.

 

It definitely is a confidence issue with his motivation. Besides the size and development issues, there is all that being a normal middle schooler brings with it. And sometimes I get the feeling he's just exhausted.

 

Thanks again for all the insight and encouragement. I am grateful to have found this forum!

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Alex Peters, who was recently promoted to principal at Pennsylvania Ballet, is 5'6. He might be an interesting dancer for your son to follow. He is very muscular now, but he was more of a wiry kid in his teens.

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Also have him check out Jorge Barani. He is a very young, extrodinary young man with one of the kindest dispositions. He is very small, max 5'6, but standing next to him I swear he is closer to my height at 5'4.

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