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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Different types of ballet training


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Hi. This is possibly a silly question but I feel like I'm swimming through mud trying to guide my daughter as she pursues a possible future in ballet. She is 14yrs old and has primarily been taught Vaganova. However, she has been accepted into a few SI that teach other styles. Is it better to stick with one style of ballet throughout your training or is it ok to learn multiple styles? Is there an advantage to knowing multiple styles or are the differences so little that it is just personal preference? Thank you in advance for any insight.

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Responding as a parent of an older dancer and as someone who had some dance training as well...


I think it can be helpful for a dancer to stick with one style in the earlier stages. There's something to be said for the consistency that it provides, though that might not be right for any one individual. However, at some point in time, I do think it is very valuable for a dancer to spread his/her wings and at least get some exposure to other styles. That point in time would vary depending on the dancer. They need to have the maturity/understand to take a correction that might just be a difference in style and know that when they go back home, they need to do that particular step or hold their leg in a particular position they way they were originally taught. (Hope that is clearer than mud!)

Keep in mind that very few companies only do one style ballet. A handful of companies may be very Balanchine and another handful of companies are purely Vaganova, but even those companies may do some Balanchine ballets.

My own dancer feels the exposure to a different style at an SI was earth shattering for her. It changed her path on this journey. She was already 17 at that time. :)

Another thought is to discuss the SI choices with her teacher. I know that when dd was that age, her teacher had very specific preferences about where her students went for summer training. She would not have wanted them at an SI with a teaching style that was very different from what was taught at the local school. She felt differently about older, more advanced dancers.

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I had this same discussion with my DD's AD a few years ago when she attended an SI with a very specific style that was different from what she had been accustomed to. Her response was that consistency is extremely important for young dancers, regardless of the style. Once the dancer has become more advanced and confident, only then would she feel comfortable in introducing a different style. And knowing about and being able to adapt to the specifics of another style is extremely important for the aspiring professional dancer for the reasons mentioned above, but not before the dancer is at a high intermediate or advanced level.

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I agree with Mdballetmom 100%. My DS has been dancing 1.5 years. We started off at a competition studio that had Vagonova, then went to a studio that had classical mixed with Balanchine and three days a week did privates with a instructor who did RAD/ABT method. Although he danced so much (25+hours) within a week, it really messed up his technique. I remember him saying he felt like he was loosing his technique and we couldn't understand. So many mothers explained to me that ballet is slow and its not about quantity, but quality . Most importantly stick with one style in the beginning and consistency with teachers as well. After lots of money and a wasted summer, we finally took the advice. Since October he has excelled so quickly. His technique is getting so much better. This year was accepted into several SI's, all with different styles. Consistency pays off and you can switch to any style later, when you are older.

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I think a lot of it depends on if the teachers are teaching strict to the syllabus or if they are a little more mixed. We're a military family so my daughter is at her third studio in the last three years (and those critical 11-12-13 years). The first was mostly RAD the second was mostly Russian and the current studio is mostly Neo Classical. There has been a bit of a learning curve the first month or so at the new studio but if anything I think that moving studios and styles has made her more flexible and much stronger than if she'd been with the same teachers the entire time. I do think if any of the studios were very strict with their syllabus it would have been more difficult but without that it's been great for her.

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