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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Please help me choose a ballet school for my daughter


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We live in near a major Canadian city. My daughter is five and a half and is very enthusiastic about taking ballet.


My only experience with taught ballet is RAD, many years ago, as a child. I would love some input into selecting a school.


I recognize that it's the teacher and not the method, but assuming all things are equal with respect to qualifications and experience (I know, they seldom are!) which would you choose, and why?


1. Cecchetti syllabus. School has a competitive stream (dance teams), annual exams.

2. ISTD (Imperial) syllabus. No competitive teams. Annual exams.

3. RAD syllabus. No competitive teams. Annual exams.

4. Vaganova method. No competitive teams. Teaches ballet only. Offers exams.


All offer a 45 minute ballet class for 5 year olds. If it helps, my daughter is a little shorter than average, very thin, long arms and legs. Average flexibility, quick, musical (her Dad is a musician) and strong. Very motivated, has fallen in love with ballet since we saw The Nutcracker over Christmas in Toronto.


Interested in any and all feedback, need to decide this week. Thanks so much.


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If it were me, I would pick the closest most convenient studio and give it a try. No reason to go crazy for a young child. Whichever studio gives you the best vibes and is/or is the most convenient.

Mods: please move if you need to, my dancer is over 13 now.

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There are good schools in all of the methods. Unfortunately, there are also many not good schools in all the methods. The best way to know is to visit the schools. Check the websites first and look at the faculty, the schedule, and photos of their dancers. The ones that look good, visit and try to watch a class or at least a part of a class. If you have the option to start her, even though she is only pre-ballet age, then you might as well start in the best one you can get to.

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Thank you for your replies, this is very helpful.


I have one question. One of the schools requires split-soled canvas ballet shoes. The others want full-soled leather shoes.


The school requiring the former is the school with the competition teams. Is this a coincidence, or no? For what it's worth, I am not especially interested in dance teams or competitions. Thanks.

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I wouldn't read much into the slipper styles.


If you aren't interested in competitions and teams, then I would recommend you don't start your child at a school with that focus.


If there is an opportunity to have your daughter try out a class, or for you to observe, that might be nice. With my kids, when they are under 7 (or so) I am more concerned about how a teacher/school is able to meet their developmental needs, and less about technical instruction. I want them learning with adults who understand early childhood. I would feel the same about art, music, sports, etc. Too much technical focus too early isn't necessary, and I think it can backfire by making the child think they 'don't like' it.

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My 16 yo daughter started at a "serious" local ballet school at age 5 and by 6 yo was burned out as it was quite strict. She still remembers her teacher snapping her fingers at her and the other 5 year old girls to try to get them to stay together. We moved, she took two years off and then went to a school that was much more free form (modern, jazz and ballet mixed up) for two years. After that, she started at a ballet only school and is seriously considering a dance career. Keeping it fun while she was young was better for her - it allowed her to develop a love for dancing and then focus on the rigor of ballet when she was older.

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May I also add, there is no program of study for 5 year olds in Vaganova schooling. By age 7/pre-ballet there are guidelines to follow.

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At that age, I would stick with 1)what is convenient as far as location and times, 2)possibly any friends that may be going to that studio (everything is better with a friend!), and 3)a studio that doesn't worry too much about technique for a 5 year old, but focuses on making music and dance FUN!

When my DD was that age, we went wherever worked best with our location and schedule, and we were paired up with the current "BFF". By the time she was 7, the "bestie" had left dance, and DD had decided she wanted to be somewhere that would support her interest in ballet over other genres. That is when we started driving 25 minutes instead of 10, and left friends behind. We have never regretted it, but the extra time and effort would not have been worth it until she was old enough and experienced enough to make that decision and understand the extra commitment needed.

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