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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Adding technique class


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I just came from grandson's observation class at  ballet school attached to a company. DB is 8 and in the first level of their prep division which is 2 75 minute classes a week. Boys have the option of replacing one of the technique classes with a boys class. Boys classes is mixed ages and levels prep 1, 2, and 3. DB likes his classes, never complains about going or what goes on. During the observation he was fine, knew what to do and how to do it, counts beats, remembers combinations, takes , tries to apply corrections, all this is good. But he is squirmy and goofy in between exercises, but not particularly disruptive. (this is a kid whose favorite class is PE because they run laps - he needs to move).

After class the teacher suggested it would be good to add another technique class so he would. This was not a suggestion to move up a level, which requires 3 classes a week. On the other hand, he is not "behind" the girls in his class. We could do this. He is sort of "eh" about it.

At 8, does a boy need to have two technique and a boys class a week? 'Need' is really the wrong word because the "why" he is dancing is 'he likes it" but he also likes running laps. We like it because it does help him keep focused.  I worry that adding a class makes it seem like it is moving to a serious activity. Do others have suggestions for balancing it just being fun until ... or being more serious?

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At age 8, training is about quality, not quantity. At 10, quality with quantity plays a bigger role.

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I couldn't agree more with the wise words above. My DS (who is now 10 and somewhere between recreational and serious about dance) has gained quite a lot from taking some martial arts classes that have encouraged body strengthening, flexibility, and focus but also involve intense energy output. Alternating days between this and dance has, I think, helped to satisfy all his needs. He is also a squirmer who loves to dance.

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Thanks for the responses. Younger brother, who struggles with integrating directions and body movements is in martial arts. DB would like Taekwondo I am sure, but we have to give younger brother a chance to get far enough ahead to be the advanced one for a time before we can let older, faster, more coordinated get started. I keep looking for a track team so he can just run but they are all too far to drive.

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Would swim classes be a possibility? That's another one that my DS really enjoys. I think it helps develop coordination, and it's great for burning off energy. 

It's lovely to hear that you're so sensitive to the sibling dynamics. What a healthy, thoughtful approach!

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Always more - swimming would be great but he is one of three and grandma and grandpa have limited funds of money, time and energy. So if one was swimming all would need to and of course all would have lessons at different times! We did check with the director who said almost all the boys in the prep division replace a technique class with the boys class and they do not recommend or discourage students from taking 3 classes a week. She suggested to go with what makes him happy, which I thought was a lovely response.

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I agree with others that at age 8, if he WANTS to take another class and they offer it and it works for your family, great. But if he is "meh" about it maybe hold off a year? When my son was 8 he did ballet 2x a week (in a mixed gender class though it was only a few boys) and he played recreational soccer in the fall, little league in the spring, and just ran around and had fun a lot of the time too. (we had very limited funds for extra curricular at that time, he was able to do sports and ballet with very generous scholarships actually). My experience with my son was that it wasn't too many years before ballet started to really squeeze out other activities and I am glad he got the experience of doing some fun, "normal" kid stuff when he could. 

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I think you'll be fine either way depending on what he wants to do.  At age 8 my son was doing class 3x per week, and one of those was the boys class.  You can always ramp up later if he decides he wants to be more serious about it!  In the meantime i would definitely just make sure he's getting plenty of unstructured play time - if the track team is too far away, maybe you can take him to a local high school or similar and let him just run the track (most places are open to the community).  

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I would say if he is meh about it but needs the outlet for his energy find something that cross trains, like a yoga class for kids or something that suits his interests?  I mention yoga because it’s movement but also good practice for stillness. 

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