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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Ballet vs. All-around dancer, when does she need to decide?


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I am new here and I understand this board is for ballet only but I thought that maybe somebody has been in my DDs situation and can provide some guidance and perspective. My DD is 13. She was an optional (higher levels) competitive gymnast until age 10. She had taken recreational ballet classes once a week mostly to help with her floor routine artistic score since age 8. She decide at 10 to change to dance. Because the experience that we have of burn out in gymnastics (she was in a pre-elite program), we chose a studio that was good but not trying to make elite dancers. She started dancing ballet, jazz, lyrical, musical theatre, modern/contemporary and most recently she started tapping and doing hip-hop. She has progress very quickly in all genre but she understand that ballet is the foundation of all dance and she loves it. She has recently express her desire to make dance an important part of her life (she wants to own a studio some day). Because of that, we thought it was a good idea to try a SI intensive to see if she really likes that level of intensity. She only audition for ABT, Boston and Joffreys. She was accepted at ABT and Joffreys. She is so excited about the SIs! Reading the post about the number of hours has given me great anxiety about a couple of issues:'


1. How to best prepare her for the SIs so she doesn't get discourage when she is dancing next to girls that dance three times as much ballet hours as she does?

2. By when does she has to make up her mind about what type of dancer does she want to be? Is it too late if she want to do ballet?

3. If she decides to be more of a 'all around' dancer', is this board still appropriate or is there a similar board (love the moderators and member's experience here) that I should join.


Her studio owner/director has been extremely supportive of her going to the SIs and has offered several avenues for her to significantly increase her hours and promise to guide us to the 'next level' once she feels she can't help my DD grow anymore. Obviously, technique was good enough to be accepted to these programs and the studio is expanding the ballet offerings and teachers. The owner successfully guided a very talented student all the way to a scholarship to Julliards so I have not doubt that she can help her reach the goals that she may set for herself.

She currently dances:

3-4 hours of Ballet technique

1.5 hours of pointe

3 hours of jazz/lyrical

1.5 hours of tap

1.5 of hip-hop

1.5 hours of stretch and strengthening

1.5 hours of turns and jumps.


Thanks in advance for your help. I am so new to the dance world, even newer to the ballet world, and she seems to be having a very unorthodox path into it.



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I am a parent of a ballet dancer who began at a school that offered various forms of dance. She made that transition earlier though, but never fully gave up other dance genres as we were lucky to find a ballet school for her formative years that believed that a ballet dancer today needs to have experience in other dance forms. As a result, she never had to fully give up jazz or hip hop and even dabbled in a little tap. Modern/contemporary were part of the ballet school curriculum for the advanced levels (ie required), along with the typical extras like variations, rep, pilates, and character class.


As an FYI, there are at least 2 programs with the Joffrey name. The Joffrey Academy in Chicago is a selective program. The Joffrey Ballet School in NYC is not a selective program. In this age range (and possibly older), all dancers are accepted. It is a very large program with many levels, so they essentially have a place for everyone. I was told this first hand by one of the Joffrey Ballet School directors when dd auditioned there when she was about 13. Dd went for 2 weeks that summer, in addition to her home studio's 5 week program. It was an excellent first away SI experience for her. She came home with a new confidence that she carried with her for a long time.

As far as your questions..


1. Can she take extra ballet? Maybe a lower level class or even a class at a ballet school? I believe most 13 yr old ballet dancers are taking 4-6, 90 minute classes each week plus extras. There's a sticky (pinned post) somewhere in the forum that lists recommended classes per week. The biggest thing in going into a first SI is adjusting to the heavy schedule of dancing every day. It requires a certain stamina, one that is built up to a degree before they arrive in order to prevent injury.

2. That takes time! I'll leave the "is it too late" question to others. I was given advice by my dd's jazz teacher when she was at a competition school back when dd was around 9/10 years old. She told me to take dd to a ballet school. Actually, she said "if she were my daughter, I would take her to a ballet school." Her daughter was actually in the level above my dd at the comp school. She also said that she can always come back to other dance forms and she will only be stronger for the time spent at a ballet school. We took her advice to heart. Dd is 18 and a trainee in a ballet company now. We recently went back to thank her. She was 100% correct. Not only is dd a trainee at a ballet school, but she temporarily entered the musical theater world quite successfully. She more than holds her own as a dancer in that arena. Oh, and at 13, dd just knew she wanted to dance and that she loved ballet.


3. Yes, there is another board like this for dance parents in general, but I do not think the rules allow me to share the link. It is not moderated by experts in the filed the way this board is. If you search for "dance message boards," it should come up fairly high in the list.

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In order to prepare for her SI, perhaps she could add additional ballet classes (in lieu of hip-hop or tap) leading up to her SI?

It sounds like she's excited about the challenge of a ballet intensive, so encourage her to have fun and not worry too much about how she'll "stack up" against the other kids who may, or may not, be taking more ballet classes than she currently takes. SI programs are very good about placement. She will be with dancers with similar ability, and have lots of fun!

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My daughter was also at a studio that had jazz, tap, ballet and hip hop with their forte being jazz and tap. They only had one ballet class per level (and levels were mostly by age). To move up in jazz classes, the students were require to take a ballet class so that is really the main reason they had ballet. When my daughter was around 10, she knew she loved ballet so she started taking the class lower than her level. Then she also was able to take the class above her level and she went to another ballet studio to take one class a week. She continued to take as much ballet as they would allow at her studio but eventually transitioned to the other ballet studio where she still is. She no longer takes hip hop and jazz but she has kept her tap class as she is very good and really loves tap.


As Melissa said, I'll leave the "too late" up to the moderators. I will offer this thought - at our current studio we have 3 or 4 girls who transitioned from gymnastics to ballet. They have become lovely ballet dancers!

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Thank you so much for you input! I will talk with the director to increase ballet hours prior to the summer. Taking the lower level classes is a great idea! I know that the SI experience is going to be positive and help her decide whether or not she wants to be a dancer and put the work needed. I was aware of Joffrey NYC being very open and that was actually why we decided to auditioned there because other wise she would have been without dancing 4 weeks before the start of her ABT SI and based on what I read here that was not a good idea. An added bonus is that it seems that Joffrey NCY is more contemporary and would give her a little bit of comparison of what she likes best. She will be going there for 2 weeks. Melissa, I think your post about it was a deciding factor to audition there and I am glad to hear that your daughter had such a wonderful experience there. I have found this board so helpful. Thanks to all that post in general and those that answered my questions.

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After her summer, it may solve itself. DD always had several former gymnasts at her SIs who were considering a switch to full time ballet training or at least wanting to enhance their ballet training. Many were rhythmic gymnasts. Once she attends the SI, she may find that being in an intensive ballet environment is not as stressful as an elite gymnastics program or she may find it's similar. It all depends on how that affected her. Each person will be different in that regard.


We will leave the teachers to comment on her schedule in regards to ballet training if that is what she ends up choosing after the SI.

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