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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Help with training/class decisions


3princesses3frogs

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My daughter has been dancing ballet for 8 years. She's been en pointe for 1. She is the best in her class and has aspirations of dancing professionally. Here is my question. We live in a small town with no real "pre-professional" school. She is taking classes both below and above her level in order to get more hours of dance in per week and is doing well. I was talking to another mom at the studio recently who told me that her daughter is additionally taking another 3 hours per week at another studio (travelling 45min to 1 hour) and I'm wondering if this is something I should be doing as well to augment her training. But, this mom also said that at the other studio the instructor's philosophy is that once a girl is en pointe, she always dances en pointe (meaning instead of flat), so her daughter basically gets an additional 3 hours of pointe per week. My daughter is taking everything that she could be at the current studio, and I don't have many options due to small town size. I feel like she is getting good instruction but worry that she isn't getting enough of it to have the possibility of professional dancing. So I'm wondering if technique is technique (regardless of level/age) or if pointe is more important or if this other teacher's philosophy is bad or if what we are doing is fine for now? Would it be a good idea to augment with 1 day at the other studio next year or would adding another class (flat not pointe) at a lower level at the current studio be okay?

 

My daughter's current schedule at age 11:

M: ballet 5:15-6, jazz 6-7, ballet 7-8 (so 1.45 hours of ballet )

T: nothing

W: tap 5:30-6:15, ballet 6:15-8 incl 1 hr pointe (1.45 ballet hours)

Th: 5:15-7 incl 45 min pointe, 7-8:45 incl pointe (3.5 hours ballet)

Weekend rehearsals only

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My daughter was in a similar sounding schedule at that age, taking ballet, modern, lyrical, tap, and jazz (with only 1 pre-pointe class.) That studio just didn't have much ballet, and only 1 or 2 ballet classes at each level per week. We started taking an additional ballet class at a pre professional school. There was a huge difference in the strength of the underlying technique. In things like understanding the "shape" of a step, progression of learning the basics as a foundation to more advanced steps. Things like more consistent use of head, port de bras, epaulement. Even their 7-8 years old girls began to look like ballerinas, with nice technique, as opposed to attempting things way above their level, and doing them badly.

 

I must mention, that studio 1 offered 8 different types of dance, and most girls sampled a different mix every year. Ballet was considered boring, and the only reason the older girls took it was that it was required for competition team members. Studio 2 is a ballet studio, with a training program option for those who are serious about ballet. We transitioned to studio 2 over the course of a couple years. My daughter had some catching up on her ballet technique, it took her several years to be at the same level as the girls her age.

 

At 11 or 12 it was possible for my daughter to make the transition, and fill in the gaps in training. It's so much easier being at one studio. We do drive much further to studio 2. I wish I had made the transition sooner. To me the longer drive was worth it when she decided to focus on ballet. Hope you can find a good option in your driving range. Inho being on pointe for all classes sounds counterproductive. The only place I have ever heard of this is for the advanced students at SAB. I can't imagine that would be beneficial. Although I'm here to learn and appreciate all the comments by the experienced members.

Good luck.

Edited by DanceMomLAS
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Your main problem is that 45 minutes does not a ballet class make. Her total number of hours isn't too far off, but any school that offers 45 min or hour long ballet classes is more than likely not teaching ballet very well. Classes should be 90 minutes. You really need to look long and hard at the quality of ballet your dd is getting. I would think at 11 that is a bigger impediment than total hours, because your dd's total hours don't sound too bad for her age.

 

For comparison, Dd just turned 12 but since 10, she has taken four 90-min classes and one 2-hr class weekly. She takes about 2.5 hours of pointe a week separately.

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I would also be concerned about the length of classes.

 

The guidelines suggest for an 11 year old, 4, 1.5 hr. technique ONLY classes. Your daughter is only getting half that, with 4, 45min technique only. I would be very concerned about the qaulity of her instruction if she intends to become a professional.

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That is what I was concerned about as well. Unfortunately, that is ALL that is offered in our area. There are several different places that offer classes, but ours is the best instruction and none of them offer the longer class times :( I have her in absolutely everything that is available. I feel like the studio is great but very small (only 2 rooms), so they aren't able to offer more. I'm not sure what options we have other than supplementing with private lessons. There isn't another city even relatively close that we could attend (closest with potentially the longer classes would be 2+ hours away). Is this an impossible dream then?

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  • Administrators

Maybe not impossible, but improbable unless her training is good enough, and she is talented enough to qualify for a very good residency program in a few years. Has she auditioned for any good SI programs yet? If not, I would suggest she do that by next year.

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Thank you Victoria. The class lengths do get slightly longer at our studio as the girls advance/get older. The highest level technique classes are 1 1/4 hours long with an additional pointe class following, so hopefully that will help. We have not done any SI auditioning yet. I was planning on letting her audition for a few this year and then more next year when she is 12.

 

Followup question: In the coming years if she continues to take the lower level classes in addition to what she already is taking, will that help or is it vital that it all be at her level? I feel that her instruction is good, just not enough of it.

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I feel that one level lower might be valid, but not levels 1 and 2. One level could be better.

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It may be worthwhile to drive her to the other studio one day a week to get in some extra technique and pointe. I would start with one day a week if they offer multiple classes in one day (so it is more worth the time to drive there and back). Could you work out a carpool situation with this other student at your studio that is making that drive? We have students at our studio that travel up to an hour and a half one way for classes. I don't think I could handle that much time, but some are willing to make that sacrifice. Or, is there anyone in your area with a strong, qualified ballet background that could be hired for private lessons? I think those are always very helpful.

Edited by shopping*mommy
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