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Ballet Talk for Dancers

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At the studio my son is at, they teach with Vaganova style. In fact, the owners of the studio are Russian and went to Vaganova. So it is not just American dancers using the Vaganova method. They actually are Vaganova trained.


The studio is small. There are only 6 boys total. All the boys are in two different classes. They are in with girls, which is fine. But, the younger class is up to 7th grade and the older class is 7th grade and up. My son is in 6th grade and will be in 7th next year. There are 2 boys in the older class and 4 in the younger. My son is short. The older boys are not. One boy is not that much older than my son. The other is maybe 17 yrs old. Both older boys are taller than my son. My son is on par with one of the boys for dance and better than the rest. I am not just bragging. In fact, my son might actually be better than the oldest boy. The oldest boy only started dancing last year. My son loves dance and dances all day long and wants to be a professional some day. He home schools and practices hours each day. He does his school work while dancing. His toosh rarely stops moving, or his legs, etc. He takes the dance very seriously and seems quite mature for his age, when it comes to dance. My son does all the dance intensives during the summers and extra classes available.


In class, he focuses and follows the teacher all the time and does not talk in class. In the younger class, one boy is quite young. One boy is all over the place, as if he has adhd. He cannot focus or stop talking. And another boy just does not look like he is in to it. All the boys are great. So, when I describe how they are with dance, I am not saying how they are with life. They are all a great bunch of boys.


The studio is struggling now. One of the owners died and the remaining one seems to be having trouble. I do not know what the future of the studio is. Meanwhile, I asked the instructor/owner if he thought my son would go up a level for the fall. I asked because there is a different schedule and I was trying to get an idea as to which days he will be there. We travel a distance for this studio so we need to plan around this schedule. The instructor came back with no, I don't think so, how old is he? And I said he is going in to 7th grade. The instructor looked shocked. You see, the other boys are 4th graders now. My son is only 4'8 or 4'9. I pointed out to the instructor that my son is about to go through a growth spurt, my other sons seem to spurt around 12/13 yrs old. The instructor said it was not about size. But honestly, from observing and from the instructors reaction, it does seem to be about size.


After that, I started paying attention. My son is feeling a little frustrated that the younger boys are goofing off. I have watched them socially and the younger boys really are like grade schoolers. My son has really grown a lot in maturity this year. He is definitely transitioning from grade school boy to teenager. The pesky behaviors of the younger boys is starting to bother him. And really..it is pesky. The one boy kept poking my son and my son looked irritated and kept trying to move away. But the young boy started laughing and such. I am not saying that boy is a bad child, he is not at all. He is just a normal young boy. But my son has started taking daily showers. I can see definite emotional leaps in him. And skills wise, he is a better dancer than one of the boys in the older class and on par with the other. He is a much better dancer than any of the younger boys. And he is more disciplined than the younger class calls for.


SO..I do not want to be one of THOSE parents. Would I do out of line to directly request that he move in to the older class? I personally like the younger class for me as I have become friends with the other parents and enjoy visiting with them and such. So I will miss that. But this isn't about me. If I request he move up, directly, I would wait until closer to fall and see if the instructor offers it first.

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I think I would pose it as a question such as.....What qualities and characteristics are you looking at in order for my son to be considered for the higher level? What technique and abilities are you looking for? They should be able to give you specific answers as to what areas may be lacking and if they can't then they really have no basis for keeping him at a lower level. Do they have yearly evaluations? If not, you may suggest that is a good thing for all the students. A number of studios use them so students know how they are progressing each year.

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I agree. I would ask the owner what specific skills or physical traits your son doesn't have that would prevent him from being moved up. It may not be size that is a factor but more of strength and stamina. It may be he is not physically ready for the demands the higher level, specifically thinking about jumps and lifts, despite his current skill level. Just because a dancer presents well on stage does not mean they are physically capable of the demand of increased training hours or difficulty. Developing bodies, especially boys who have not gone through their significant puberty growth spurt, are more open to overuse injuries and injuries that may affect growth plate development. Joints become loose, tendons become tight and physical demands of higher level ballet can result in serious injury. My own son, as he went through a major growth spurt, had to dial back the amount and type of partnering he did because his shoulders because hypermobile and couldn't sustain the weight of overhead lifts. He also had problems with his calf muscles not keeping up with the growth of his leg bones, causing all kinds of issues with his feet and legs. I would also mention to the owner/instructor how the behavior of the other boy is bothering your son and that he would enjoy class more if it were more focused.

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