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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Would this bother you?


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There are 3 boys in what this studio calls level 4. There are 2 boys in level 5. After that is the advanced level, no boys in it. The studio is small and the owner/teacher attended the Vaganova school in Russia since he was a child.


The three boys in level 4 will be 5th, 6th, and 7th grade this fall. My son is in 7th. The two boys in the older class, which is listed as being for 7th grade and above, are in high school. They have not been in dance as long as my own son. My son is very serious about dance and very good and disciplined. But, he is short. He is only 4'11 right now. The younger boys are shorter than him. But the older boys are several inches taller, like at least 6 inches taller. They look like regular, tall, boys.


I asked the owner again about moving my son up to the higher level. The owner finally leveled with me and said no, he wants to keep the three boys together. Well, out of the three boys, my son is the only serious one. The other two are not in to it and one acts half asleep for everything and the other is hyper and unfocused.


However, I get that my son looks like a child still. Saying he has the body of a child so he should stay with the boys until he is taller would make sense to me. But, I would expect him to have a growth spurt soon. His older brothers all had big growth spurts by 13 yrs old, so I would expect him to be several inches taller by next year at this time. I can definitely see the benefit of keeping son in the younger class, because he is smaller. And it does seem like this teacher is grouping by age more than by skill. Until they get to advanced level of course.


We are considering moving to where there is a bigger studio with a Vaganova trained instructor. We drive a ways for this and the other studios we have found in our area have a long drive. But my son loves this studio. I kind of wonder if he would actually end up unhappy in the higher level as it is held on a different day of the week so he would not see the younger boys anymore, at all. We do not live in that town and drive a ways, so we are not likely to drive just for the fun of it.

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Hi LJens- before I can decide what I think of your situation- can I ask if your son is happy in his current class? Is this your concern or his? Also do I have this correct: right now your DS is with two boys who are respectively 1 and 2 school grades below him? If he moves up he will be with significantly older boys, right?


My inclination if your DS is happy is to leave him where he is. While I agree that being challenged technically in class is important, our boys need to be socially happy too (I think this can be as important and perhaps more important at times). Moving him up to be with the older boys could leave him feeling like a fish out of sea.


But perhaps tell us more about those things- I think it will help everyone to give you their thoughts.


Welcome to the forum!! :flowers:

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As they say "don't fix what isn't broken". If your son is happy and you trust the studio owner's judgement (have you asked him/her why they want to keep the boys together?), then no need to fix it.


On the other hand, if you think that your son isn't being "pushed" (there is value in not being the best in the class), then try another studio to see what you and your son think before you move.


My guess is that the not very committed boys will drop out sooner than later - and then the groupings will change on their own.


Good luck!

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Because your son has not hit his growth spurt, he may not physically be ready for the rigors of the higher class. When my son went through his growth spurts, his joints became very loose and his bones grew faster than his muscles could keep up. He was more prone to injury until everything evened out again. Perhaps his teacher is trying to protect your son from potential injury by keeping him in the class he's in? Also, the boys in the upper level class are most likely starting to do partnering work which would possibly dangerous for your son to do given he shorter in height and has not developed the necessary strength/muscle yet for that type of work. Dance is a journey and it is better for the boys to be developed at a safe rate than throw them into something they are not ready for. As long as your son is continuing to develop his skills and is happy in class, I would let him percolate in the class he's in.

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I agree with dinkalina's partnering remark- that's totally relevant! I do think the gap between 7th grade and high school is big.


I have a small boy too, who has not reached his growth spurt. My daughter is the same. My daughter is in an advanced class and is younger and far smaller than everyone else. My son is the same age as the bigger boys and he is in their level, but he doesn't necessarily get the same parts, He cannot partner because of his size, for example. It WOULD bother me if either was held back ONLY due to size or age. So yes it would bother me if the kid is frustrated, but the solution may not be trying to get into the higher class. I would try scheduling some privates for your son or taking some classes outside to supplement the training so that he is more challenged.

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In my experience, the way boys are assigned to levels is often very different from the way girls are assigned to levels, especially at smaller schools where there are not dozens of boys. It can be frustrating. At various times in my son's ballet life, he has been held back a level "in order to keep him with the other boys" and promoted two levels "in order to keep him with the boys."

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  • 9 months later...

I have had my boys "benefit" from being moved up to be with other boys, and also be "held back" in order to be with other boys. I wasn't really worried about it because I think a lot of the levels at ballet schools are arbitrary. I told them that even Baryshnikov himself could get something out of a novice level class. Pliés and tendus are the same no matter what level you are in. What is important is always working on your turn out, working through your feet, working your core, jumping, and clean turns. In fact, if I had to do it again, I would have insisted on keeping back the one who was moved up. I think he missed out on some fundamentals, and he has had to work hard to compensate.

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A few years back, it became clear that my ds had missed the class instruction on spotting, probably because he had been promoted suddenly to a level where everyone had already mastered spotting. So, I know what you are talking about.

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It sounds as if you are not trusting your son's teacher. I would say move on. If you do not trust the next situation, you might consider looking at your knowledge of ballet.


Vaganova schooling is based upon age and skill level. If your son is qualified for more advanced work, a knowledgable teacher will gladly move him up. Hopefully, these decisions are decided by knowledgable teachers. You have not stated anything that might have me think your son's teacher does not have the best interest of your son at heart.


Vaganova schooling is a process that is a bit slower than others. How does your son look? Is he happy?

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