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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Question about rehearsal time


AngelaK

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I am just wondering what amount of rehearsal time is usually given or is considered adequate for a fourteen year old to learn and perfect a solo role? This will be DD's first real solo in the Nutcracker. I am concerned that DD may not be getting enough coaching or rehearsal time but maybe I just don't understand how things really work.

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Angela, there are so many variables to that question. Every production has different schedules and rehearsal time. It also depends on the strength of the dancer and can vary according to what the director feels is needed. I know that in one of the schools where I teach there is generally not enough time to give everyone all that they might need, especially if there are a lot of performances and several casts to be rehearsed. The students are, however, mostly used to that, and do spend a lot of time working on their parts on their own. They are actually good about asking for help from their teachers, too. I had a two hour class the other night which was much smaller than usual due to a large portion of that group having productions at their academic schools. Before class, the students who were there asked if we could spend the pointe portion of the class rehearsing their parts, and we did. I had the Cavalier, Soldier doll, Dew Drop, Chinese, Mirlitons, and Spanish. It was a good rehearsal, even though only about 30 minutes. We all just do what we can when we can!

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Could you ask for a video of the solo from past years so that your DD can watch it at home? Or, if you can't take the video home, perhaps just borrow the video at the studio during a down time and bring a laptop. We've done both of these things in the past.

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We do have a recording from a previous performance that she has been watching but the choreography is a bit different. She is practicing her arms daily at home and trying to visualize at night. I'm glad to know it's typical to have limited rehearsal time. I'll try to stop worrying about it! She is excited to have a lead role but I am a nervous wreck.

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It's always harder on the parents than the dancers (IMHO) to watch them struggle and move into a more challenging place. But try to remember that the struggle of learning the part and figuring out how much rehearsal time is needed is part of the very process that only the dancer can actually answer for his or herself. You can assist in the process by helping to analyze and asking questions (as you've done here), but -- ultimately -- the dancer has to do the part and figure out what he/she needs. That is why (IMO) it's harder on the parent. You have no control here and can't "fix" anything. The learning process is long and difficult and is filled with risk, but that risk of failure is part of the very value of the process. To be sure, it is difficult to watch and parent when they start to really challenge themselves, but it is oh so important to their growth as people and dancers to allow them to explore the risks. And I can only say that now that I've had a dancer in the house for 10 years.... ballet has taught me ALOT about how to parent about more than "just" a dancer.

 

So, it's good to find out information (and this is a great place to air ideas and questions), but try not to stress too much on their behalf. I believe kids pick up on their parents' attitude (and fears!). If you can remain calm and practical about setbacks, failures and risks, that's the way you will help her the most.

 

In the meantime, congratulations (to you and your DD both) on the step up in training. Now, hold on, sit back and enjoy the roller coaster ride!

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And keep her aware of your support and confidence in her ability to enjoy this great experience!

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Excellent advice! Thank you so much. I do want her to grow from and enjoy this experience. I will try to just support, encourage and enjoy. This site is such a valuable resource! I am grateful for it!

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AngelaK , one thing that my DD has done is to take in her cell phone and video her final run through at rehearsal. This way instead of trying to mentally make adjustments off of last years video she has the correct version as her reminder. If the instructor can add corrections as it is being filmed it is even better!

 

Good luck and congrats to your DD!

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Recording one of the final rehearsals sounds like a very good idea. I'll have her do that. Thanks!

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