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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Questions multi-aged class


EllieD

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In February I moved my 9 year old to a well known conservatory for her ballet lessons. While the school has a full time academy, that is for 7th grade and above, we enrolled her in the pre-academy program -- three 2 hour classes each week.

 

The first month of classes were wonderful and my daughter felt like she was really challenged and was learning a lot. Then at the end of the month, they put everyone en pointe. The students span in age from 8 to 13. I have chosen to not have my daughter en pointe after she told me that she started in the middle of the room. Quite frankly, while I know little about ballet, I have read enough on these forums to realize that it is unusual to be en pointe at such a young age and I don't think she's had enough training to date (3 years of twice a week 1 1/2 hours). The head of the program seemed insulted and enraged that I would not trust them and dismissed me as having "a very American fear" of pointe when girls start young in Russia all the time.

 

At the same time, the instructor started choreographing for the Spring Performance. The students have been divided up into multiple groups and "sit out" much of their class while she works with each small group. I followed up with the Directress again, and she assured me that the "sitting out" had been stopped. And that they would only rehearse for the last 15 minutes of class. That is not the case, last night my daughter said that she practiced a lot of "sitting down". Additionally, at the beginning of class, the barre work is limited to one side only, so that they can get to the performance part of the class. Has anyone ever had a class like this? Only doing barre on the right side?

 

The Director of the pre-academy says that they do not give refunds and acted like my questions were completely irrational. Would you go around her to the management of the full school? Should I just accept that it is normal for kids to "sit out" for parts of a multi aged class? Maybe I should just pull my daughter and lose the money?

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With respect to pointe, you'll find several articles and posts on this forum about the correct age for starting pointe. Without knowing your daughter, and just knowing her age and the limited amount of time she's had training, I would definitely be hesitant about starting her en pointe. My DD was 9 when she started but she has been dancing since 18 months old and they had her doing very little at the beginning and watched her closely. She was only allowed to take pointe in the classes that the SO taught, at first.

 

With respect to choreographing for the spring performance, this sitting out occurs at our studio as well. I'm not always crazy about it but just deal with that as I figure there is often limited time outside of regular classes to find rehearsals for the performances. At our studio though, if they are not in the part being choreographed they just go into another level technique class so they're not just sitting out.

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I would definitely be looking for another school. There are several red flags here, the attitude toward pointe being one of them.

 

Rehearsals should never be at the expense of technical training.

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Thank you Dancemaven. I knew the answer, I guess I just needed someone to agree to get me to act. I appreciate your note.

Edited by EllieD
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