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compatability of ballet and gymnastics?


balletshoes
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Hi Everyone,

I would really appreciate your opinions on little ballerinas also taking gymnastic classes. Several children at my dd's school do both, and my little dd is naturally flexible. I have not yet gone down this route as in my ignorance i am unsure if gymnasics would be a help or potentially be detrimental. I am sure opinions will differ, but I am so impressed by the knowledge and help on the forum,I feel your responses will enable me to make an informed decision. Many thanks, Balletshoesx

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I think there is another thread about this on the forum somewhere.

My DD did a lot of gymnastics in her younger days (up to 19 hours per week at her peak!). Whilst her ballet definitely helped her with floor routines and beam work,(musicality,gracefulness etc) the gymnastics did not enhance her ballet. In gymnastics everything is done in parallel with a hyperextended back, the exact opposite of ballet. The potential for injuries is huge, dislocated fingers were commonplace and my DD dislocated her knee badly too, but I did also see girls get devastating compound fractures.

Obviously she was training to a high level and I'm sure the children at your DD's school are no where near doing anything like that but my DD started doing 1 hour beginners class a week which before we knew it became 19 hours!!. :D

She gave up gymnastics totally 3 years ago to concentrate on her dancing, yet last year when she had her physiotherapy assessment for the CAT scheme, the first thing he picked up on is that she still tends to stand with a hyperextended back.

I would say approach with caution!! :)

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Whilst ballet may help gymnastics I'm not sure that the reverse is true. The posture required for gymnastics is quite different from the ballet posture and the two tend to develop very different body shapes.

 

When they are very young I would think there is no harm in trying both - after all your dd may be an olympic gymnast in the making, but once things get serious she would probably have to choose one or the other.

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Hi balletshoes, and welcome! Firstly, I think it depends on how old your dd is, and how serious she is about ballet, i.e. is she aiming for full-time training at either 11 or 16?

 

If she's little, enjoying ballet but purely as a lovely hobby, then I'd say let her try gymnastics, just as she might want to try swimming/riding etc.

 

If she's older and deadly serious about ballet training and even a career in ballet, then I'm not sure that gymnastics is beneficial to ballet. They are very different in terms of muscle development, use of turnout (gymnastics being mostly in parallel while ballet is all about turnout), and if you look at the physique of a young, high level gymnast, her physique has marked differences to the body of a similarly aged ballet dancer.

 

So that's quite broad, but of course it depends on the age - and ambitions! - of your dd. :-)

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I agree with the posts above.

 

If your daughter's interest is in ballet then I would not recommend gymnastics. However, if her interest is in gymnastics - I would recommend ballet for all the reasons stated above.

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Thanks for all the responses! My dd is only 10 and at the moment would love to dance as a career, you need to have a dream when you are 10 and who knows what the future holds :) ! My gut (or maternal instinct!) was not to combine both so good to really have this confirmed. My dd has been told she has lovely turnout(before I found this forum I too thought it meant she was well groomed :lol: !) At the moment I just want her to enjoy the wonderful opportunity she has been offered through the JA programme at Scottish Ballet come September. I knew the lovely people on this forum would keep me right! balletshoesxx

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I know one current year 7 ar the Royal Ballet school who is a former english national squad gymnast. I also know of another fantastic dancer who held the title of english national 1st for floor routines several years running who has gone on to get a fuill scholarship at Laines. If you sit and watch some of the festival classes (especially modern and jazz) the very flexible dancers who have obviously had some gymnastics training always wow! - with their performances, stand out and very often get placed! But yes, very different muscles are used which is why at age 12 ish these two girls turned towards their true passion which was dance. However if your daughter is young and undecided definately a fun gymnastics class will may in the long run! If she is really flexible though ask you teacher for some exercise which will hlep and extend her flexibility!

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I am sure I read somewhere that Darcy Bussell was doing gymnastics when she first went to White Lodge at 13 also. My dd used to do gymnastics once a week purely for the strength aspect except they wanted her to be in the squad persuading us to allow her to do a competition, soon after we changed over to an acro class where there was no pressure then to join squads and compete in gymnastic comps.

Ax

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Olga Korbut, the sensation of the 1972 Munich oOympic games did ballet for ten years. She is on Twitter and in a routine from Munich she was pointing her toes so elegantly that I asked her if she had done ballet and she told me. I nearly fainted with shock!

Edited by Fiz
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My dd does gymnastics for up to 6 hours per week. She's 8 hand hasn't had any problems with her dancing as a result of it, in fact it has certainly helped her flexibility. However I know that's not really the norm!

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They study gymnastics at WL.... I actually think it's very helpful for ballet, particularly in developing strength and flexibility. Not all gymnastics is done in parallel, in fact it is impossible to lift a leg above about 60 degrees (certainly lower than hip height) in parallel. Gymnastic training really helps for core strength and back flexibility too, and as long as a young dancer/gymnast learns from an early age to control her pelvis in ballet I think it's not too much of a problem. We've had lots of debates on here recently about whether classical ballet is getting more gymnastic, and whether we like it or not, it seems that artistic directors/choreoraphers etc want dancers with bendier backs, higher leg extensions and higher jumps and I think we can learn a lot from how gymnasts are trained.

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Gymnastics must develop muscles differently though, because of the differences in physique. I'm assuming gymnastics at WL doesn't involve asymetric bars, beam, and vault though - would it be more akin to the gymnastics they study at dd's senior school?

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I think it depends on the child.My dd has a very flexable back but can controle it in ballet.A girl the same age started in my dds class who is a gymnast and she has great difficulty in her posture and arms,but her legs are very strong and flexable and she has very good turnout.She is taking class to help her gymnastics though.

I dont think it would benifit my dd and would not recomend it as you can always do extra body conditioning and stretching without doing gymnastics.

But saying that,i have been finding out recently more and more professional ballet dancers done gymnastics at a young age! im confused!And what about boys gymnastics?they dont really need flexable backs,would it help for boys in ballet?

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I actually stopped my dd from doing acro as she is very flexible naturally, particularly in her back and in fact has had to work really hard to control her posture because of this. That's the main reason why we have chosen an associate course that puts so much emphasis on body conditioning. Maybe gymnastic classes would be okay for somebody that wasn't very flexible.

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Hi everyone, when I was younger I did Rythmic gymnastics from 6 to 14 at a very competetive level, I started it to help my dancing and it very quickly took over! Obviously I'm talking more from a Rythmic gymnast point of view than an artistic but I can let you know of the pros and cons I've come across as a dancer, from my opinion the pros being flexibility, all round body strength and toning that then enables the flexibility to be used, tricks (which have come useful as I've found in the majority of westend/cruise/commercial auditions they've asked who can "flip/trick" ) and the self discipline that comes from doing competetive sport. The Cons would be the bad habits gymnastics pushes, spikey hands, arched back, also found that balancing the two was very hard and one had to give way, (I did dancing twice a week whilst doing gym 6 days a week, then took up dancing properlly at 14), an RG physique is very similar to a dancer's but an Artistic Gymnast tends to be a lot more athletic and bulky, close to a swimmers body and of course there is a risk of injury doing such a high demand sport but I suppose you could say that with dancing, all in all from my experience gymnastics doesn't hurt a dancer if they are being trained well in BOTH activities they help each other and that if you DD/DS is adamant dancing is their passion, make sure the gym coach knows this. ... Also I remember my mum going on the gymnastics forum when I was doing the sport!! Xx lula

Edited by Lula-belle
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Thanks everyone, i agree at festivals etc more and more of the dancers incorporate tricks into their routines. From a personal point of view I can understand why people may say "wow" but feel it often detracts from the actual beauty of the dance. I have no real knowledge though i only know what I enjoy :) ! . I think body conditioning sounds interesting and I think I will investigate that route at the moment. Thanks agian for all your advice and experience. Balletshoesx

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I also agree that gymnastic will develop different muscles ( quadriceps especially ) and arched back - one of the things checked at ballet auditions. If a child is serious about ballet career Pilates is ideal to improve strengh and flexibility. Shame it's not so easy to find Pilates class for children.

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