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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Private Lessons

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This is my first time posting. I'm sorry if this has been asked before, but I couldn't find it on a search.

What is a good age to start private ballet lessons? My 5-year-old does group ballet lessons, but she has some specific flexibility goals to go along with figure skating. (Her coaches say that ballet is the best type of cross training at this age.) We love her group ballet lessons and will be continuing them long-term, but I'm wondering if it might be helpful to have some lessons catered to her specific goals or if at this age group lessons should be sufficient? 

Thanks for your help!

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 rane, hopefully one of our Teacher-Moderators will come by and comment, but until then, I will offer some information for you to consider based upon my DD’s long journey in ballet training from age 3 to 27.

Actual ballet training doesn’t start until around age 8.  Prior to that, the classes are really more about co-ordination (e.g., skipping, galloping, chasse-ing, walking toe to heel, walking backwards toe to heel, giant walks, walking on tip-toe), developing muscles,  developing rhythm sense, learning to respond to verbal cue, learning to respond to non-verbal cues, learning change of directions with verbal cues and with non-verbal cues, learning spatial awareness (e.g., the room, the space, other children near them), learning diagonals—both spatially and crossing the body, co-ordinating movement with other children/people (e.g., forming circles without pulling each other all over the place, moving with another person—with or without holding hands), creating patterns while moving, sequencing of movements, stretching and flexibility,  learning to stand quietly while waiting their turn, learning to pay attention quietly, learning discipline of class, etc.  These are all pre-ballet skills——skills that all young children can benefit from.

At age 5, your child is growing.  Slow and steady approach to muscle and bone development is best.  Too much too soon can screw things up.  I doubt there is much a “private ballet class” would do for him/her.  It takes time for little muscles to gain the strength to do certain things.  Walking in a tip-toe ballet walk with straight knees takes development of the calf muscles, for instance.  Children’s muscles reach that development range at different times.  I am not sure it can—or should—be hurried.

Based upon my long experience and careful watching and learning from DD’s teachers—especially the information DD’s earliest pre-ballet teacher and her Early Childhood Development director shared with us parents and information I sought from them out of curiosity, I would say just let your child’s skating instructor and current ballet teacher do what they do best—-teach their classes.  To me, any “private ballet class” at age 5 would be overkill—-assuming you could find a responsible, professional ballet teacher to actually accept such an assignment.

Including a lot of typical unstructured running around, playing and basic 5-year old activity will also help improve strength, co-ordination, flexibility and endurance.   Good old-fashion playground and yard play is great cross-training for little folks.  :D

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Pointe magazine once published an article discussing private lessons; recommended age for beginning, other pros and cons. I believe you can do an internet search and find a link to the article.

From what I remember the article agrees with Dancemaven’s post above.


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Thank you all so much for you help and for the specific details! I am glad to know that her training should be sufficient as it is :)

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