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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Training guidelines


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Hi.  I have been reading for a while and read nearly every post but have become curious.  The city I live in isn't large but it is a city and a bigger one would be 6 hours away.  There are numerous dance schools and at least one ballet only.  They all have a standard class length of 45 minutes to an hour (all but one 45 mins) up to advanced level and only one class at each level.  The ballet school you could probably cobble together 3 one hour classes from grade 4 plus a one hours boys class once week (the only boys class I can find and indeed the only other place that has any boys).

There must be thousands and thousands of people in cities like mine - are there any others here ?

It doesn't really matter for ds10.  He has just started and although he is a quick learner I don't think he is ever likely to have the body to be a dancer.  I can see him being involved in a dance related field though, it is a really good activity for him and he is good at it for a beginner.  At the moment relationship with his teacher is most important to him and therefore to me.

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Why do you think he won't have a good body?  Mine started ballet at 12.5 and was a little "thick" for lack of a better word, lol.  At 16 he is now long and lean and surprisingly has some nice lines on him.  You never know.  It's wonderful that your boy found an activity he loves, and you will see it repeated here often than boys can get serious a little later.  That said, your ballet school sounds a little Dolly Dinkle-ish (google that term) and if he does get serious you may want to look into options.  There are wonderful summer dancer programs for younger kids to help expose them to more serious training and to see if that might work for them.  

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It is possible his body will change.  He has a shorter upper body so tends to get big around the waist.  Looking at my and his dad's immediate family he could end up anywhere between 5 foot 9 and 6 foot 3 and anywhere from slim to huge.  

His teacher just started on her own and has been teaching with one of the 2 bigger places who do RAD.  He needs careful handling until he is confident so at the moment the most important thing is the teacher.  He started tap with her at the other studio.  The problem is ALL the available dance school have one 45 mins class per week per level until the top class except one which you can manage 3 a week if you take an open class and the only boys class in town, four requires you to take a lower class as well.  I am not sure 2 45 mins classes add up to one 90 minute class. The only person I know trying to get to 20 hours does all the lower level classes on point.

To be honest I can see no way anyone where I live could afford for their child to do more than 3 hours a week anyway but if he really wanted too we have to find some extra money making scheme.

I am not in the US and I don't think there are many summer options available but I haven't looked seriously.

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If your son ends up having talent, passion, and is physically fit, and he does want to become serious he will have to audition for a vocational school. Check in with his teacher a few times a year and see what she thinks as he is developing.

Luckily, boys can start later than girls with a vocational focus, so ride the wave a bit and see where it all goes!

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Thanks.  I am not sure NZ has vocational schools but that is a long way in the future.  I would like him to be able to do at least 2 classes a week as my personal experience (with martial arts) is that once a week is not enough.

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Well Canterbury did have one in 2015 do maybe it still does.  I have looked at timetables all round the country and none come close to the training guidelines.  Which may be why both the NZ School of Dance and the NZ Ballet have very few New Zealanders.  

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Oh! Interesting....... I didn't know where you were from- just assumed Europe- sorry!

Well, Patricia Barker is the AD so maybe things will change???

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The stats I could find were quite old so it may have increased by then.  Australia has equal footing in applying though and their dancers have greater training opportunities.  Since they enrol at 16 to 18 they are not looking for potential but expect a high level of training as well.  If you have been somewhere where you can train twice a week and are auditioning against people dancing 6 days a week who had the same level of basic talent...


We tend not to indicate NZ (it slipped out) because our country is so small it is easy to recognise people.

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We have definitely been in situations where cobbling together an adequate training schedule for a boy was difficult.   I sympathize.   When he is a few years older, will the schedules at the local ballet schools improve?  What is the schedule for a 13 year old guy, for instance?  I think that, at 10, you probably should not worry that much.

My son kept up with peers partly because he took full advantage of master classes and intensives during school holidays.  By his junior year of high school, however, he was taking classes at two different studios (both long car drives away), and we decided he needed a residential vocational training program.   He was a bit behind when he moved away, but he did a lot of catching up in one year.  In retrospect, if we had known how serious he would become about ballet, we probably would have found a residential vocational program for his junior year of high school as well.

If your ds continues to show a growing interest in ballet, do see what the bigger NZ company school offers.  Sometimes  a student who has potential but has not had the same training as other students will be admitted, but will be put in a level that will allow him to catch up. 

If he grows to be one of the few young male dancers in his home city in the next few years, is there someone who could offer him privates?  Several dancers in my local area do privates to supplement slim studio offerings.   Not everyone believes privates are necessary, but I think they can be very beneficial for dancers living far from major ballet hubs.

Good luck.

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Not really.  At 13 the classes at the ballet only place will be an hour but the other places still 45 mins.  For the most advanced class they are 1.5 but I guess that is round 16.  The NZ school of dance requires leaving home and stats suggest they take only a few NZ students a year.  He is really unlikely to be that good.  He would have to be old enough to get a job before we could afford private lessons.  

If need be we will work something out.  It is another instance though where what is available in the US is just so much more (the other area I envy is gifted education which both my kids need but simply doesn't exist and special education for kids who just need extra help as here you have to be extreme and I have friends struggling with kids whose needs just aren't met and there are no alternatives to mainstream public school).


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Not all areas of the US have so much more. My son has no male classes available to him. All of his classes are with girls. He rarely gets a chance to "jump" (I don't know the technical terms, lol). This summer he is doing a SI which will be his first time in classes with other boys since we moved to this area 3 years ago. 


Not all areas are so great with gifted education either. 

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Thanks.  Really I know that what you read on forum like this is a bit unbalanced.  Where I am there is one boys class a week but I suspect my son would actually prefer to stay with girls at this point anyway.  Hope your son enjoys his SI.  

Edited by dancemaven
Removed full quote of a recent preceding post.
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