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Bio-banding - a study for ballet dancers as well?


amum/Cathy
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I'm fascinated by the idea of bio-banding. This article in the Observer today http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2015/dec/19/biobanding-scientists-skinny-kids-sporting-superstarsmentions a study of it for late developers in ballet and I wondered if anyone knew more about it? Googling only brings me the same article.

 

It's a great concept. Matthew Syed's book Bounce first brought to my attention the predominance of older age youngsters in sports teams, so I'm pleased sports academies are addressing it. Is the ballet world?

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This is interesting! I would like to think that most dance teachers (of children) who are even half decent would group pupils by progress/ability as well as age. In situations where children are grouped by year group (eg associate schemes, vocational schools) there are many reasons for doing this - in schools it may well be to do with 'making expected progress' and Ofsted requirements. However there are rare cases where pupils are moved to a different year group. The only situation I can think of where the 'late bloomer' may suffer is during the assessment process at year 7 or 8 where a dancers strength or flexibility may not be at the same level as others in the year group and they are assessed out as a result. But then there are students who weren't accepted for entry at year 7 who have been successful gaining places at vocational schools at year 9, or at upper schools, once they have 'caught up'.

 

On reflection - it is definitely something that should be considered before making decisions about students,  but who's to say it already isn't?

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It's an interesting idea, but I can imagine issues when emotional/intellectual development is not at the same stage as physical development,for children at both ends of the spectrum. Like pictures,I have son's who are small for their ages, but bright. My youngest finds playing with his "correct" age group frustrating at times as they don't all have as good a grasp of the rules and tactics in his sport as he does. He is much happier when he gets to play for the age group above,even though he is tiny in comparison to some of the others.

I suspect he would give up if he were forced to play with younger kids because of his size. Equally, some physically better developed children may struggle in older groups because of being less emotionally mature.

I agree that arbitrary lines drawn according to birth date are not the best,but if groupings are done according to development I think it needs to be according to the child's global development,not just physical attributes. I guess flexibility is the name of the game.

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Of course the classic example of where this is already done in dance is with the search for would be Billy Elliot's. I remember taking my ds along to an audition 9 years ago when he had just turned 8, the minimum age you could audition. Every boy who got a recall was a good 5 inches shorter. They have to find talented boys they can train intensively (for up to 2 years) to then perform the part for up to 2 years all the while looking like a child and not a gangly teenager. I'm sure the Billy Elliot casting team spends lots of time looking at height and physical development of their potential Billys

 

Cue lots of moaning about being tall in this household of course. Ds didn't bother trying again. Pictures I believe (from another forum) that your ds has found his feet performing now, where his height is a definite advantage. I'm sorry about the football side though, and the same to Pups_mum's youngest ds.

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I would imagine looking young for one's age is an advantage in the world of performing arts sometimes. A lot of children's roles in both film and theatre are played by performers who are actually quite a lot older than the character aren't they? I imagine that most directors would prefer to work with a 12 year old than an 7year old, or indeed a 21 year old graduate than a real stroppy teenager, so if you can get away with playing someone some years younger than your chronological age it must have some advantages.

All my children look younger than they are, and of course complain about it (especially DD!) but I don't think it's such a bad thing really. My middle son is in year 8 now, and I strongly suspect he gets cut a lot more slack by some of the teachers than some of his classmates who are already sprouting facial hair and getting deep voices! I'm always telling my children that they will see the benefits later and not to moan about it. I actually think that children who develop early have a harder time generally. One of DD's friends towered above everyone else, including most of the teachers, and was physically very well developed before she left primary school, but of course emotionally she was still a little girl and found it all quite hard I think. DD was always envious of her "grown up" looking friend, but I think her friend would maybe disagree.

I guess it's just the way of the world though - many of us spend the first 20 or so years of our lives trying to look older and the rest of it trying to look younger!

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Sympathise with you Pictures and football in youth teams is completely dependent on volunteers and ways of doing things can vary so much. It's difficult to get into a team if it's full or established but there aren't quite enough to make a new team. Lots of turning up, playing for 10 mins if lucky.

 

I can imagine the benefits of this bio Banding though with football using your son as example. Other boys his age might be more likely to charge around the pitch using their bulky size to their advantage when tackling etc whereas someone without that height or bulk has to be more tactical or they'll get hurt! Maybe there is something to be said for banding in this way.

 

But considering how much tweaking of the rules is done already in the competitive grass roots youth football I can't imagine it would be easy to have fairly matched teams :)

 

As for ballet .. Arghh. Can you imagine all the ballet mums insisting their DD's are mature for their age? There would be nobody not mature for their age. Unfortunately some of our classes have just been ruined by mature late starters (who are tall and pick up quick for their age) taking so much attention away from serious students with experience who want to work hard.

 

I like the structure that most syllabus classes have at the moment encouraging students to through the syllabus work before moving up in grades. It rewards hard work rather than height, friendship groups, pushy mums, etc. Surely it's a fairer and safer way than a student "advancing" because they are taller than their peers or pick up quicker. In my limited experience taller and quick to pick up doesn't mean better :)

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I may be missing the point but how is height alone a predictor of maturity? If someone is going to be a short adult surely they could be at the same stage of development as a much taller child who is going to be taller? For ballet in particular I think the taller leggier girls often find it harder controlling their limbs, when I watch classes it's often the shorter ones who seem to be more co-ordinated.

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Well I hope your kids have inherited their genes from you pups mum can definitely be an advantage to look younger once the post 30 mark has been reached!!

 

All this is very difficult as I can imagine the frustration of someone who is keen on football or any other team sport having to play with children 4 years younger ......especially 8-12 a massive gap at that age.

Perhaps schools should have two types of team to allow for these differences ....but both play matches against other schools so can get some experience etc I don't know how practical this is of course. But it must be annoying to never get chosen because you are small but you may have a super football brain and be good for the team on some level.

 

I agree with Moomin about dancers though especially when teenagers and still growing it's easier for the smaller ones to get control over their limbs ....mostly anyway....but then there's still that problem of those who develop physically more quickly/slowly than the norm

Though probably not as bad as in competitive sports

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I'm my experience of dance, tall is certainly not a measure of physical maturity. Small dancers have a massive advantage early on, the tall ones have to wait to catch up usually - I say usually because there are always exceptions. One dance school ds went to, he actually had 2 dance teachers gang up on him at the age of 12, while they were rehearsing him for a festival solo, telling him that they didn't think tall dancers were any good and they only valued small dancers (both teachers under 5'2") and ds already taller than them. Another example of bullying and belittling teaching. And people wondered why I moved him from them!! They had no concept of how to train a tall dancer or the differing rates of development. Each child has to be taken as an individual.

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