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Restarting ballet, age 10 for a sporty child who isn't keen on starting at grade 1 level?


rachelv
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I have a 10 year old daughter who after seeing the Nutcracker ballet, has been asking for weeks to have ballet lessons again. She had done ballet, tap lessons when she was 5 and 6 years old and was in Pre Primary and Primary ballet. Then we moved away and she had not done ballet since. However she has been doing gymnastics, taekwondo, and violin the past 2 years. She is an avid cyclist as well. In the last year she started jazz dancing and the teacher moved her from beginner level to intermediate after about 2 months. Yes she is pretty sporty and all her previous and present dance teachers have thought she is a quick learner. She is also musical, loves music and shows promise (is a grade 4 now after 2 years but she says she prefers more physical activity to "sitting down stuff" like violin if she had to choose). She is precise with her actions. Also slim and still muscular in build. Only thing is she is small for her age. In her jazz dance class she is easily smallest in class and many girls are her age or older. She cannot do full splits yet though more due to not working at it than anything else. She can almost full split sideways and needs to stretch more to do a front split fully. She has high arches and banana feet. Etc.

 

She wants to dance at ENB (probably still starstruck from the performance...) but I believe her height will stop her if she remains quite short and don't know if I should pander to her wish for ballet now as it is costly and will add yet another trip I have to juggle a week (I have 3 kids all involved in various afterschool music and sport).. however this is a child who has decided she wants to dance or do something athletic-related for a living when she grows older.

 

If I do sign her up for classes, what should I look for? If they say she should start at Grade 1 (and this is something she is not keen at because she thinks she will be in a class full of 6 year olds), is that the better route than say going in at her age group which is maybe at grade 3 level? I think she might either need to be bumped up quickly or private lessons. Not sure she would like the idea of 1 grade a year as she now really regrets not doing ballet all the way. Or do I try to scrap the idea of ballet altogether and have her just focus on the things she already is doing? She refuses to quit any of the things she already does after school, and believe it or not, I wish she would quit but seeing her so happy after the classes and progressing well, I find it hard to say no.

 

But I am open to all suggestion really. I was trained in ballet for 5 years as a child. I believe it was good for my body and core strength, but also seen enough to know it is particularly gruelling and had seen some really harsh teachers, so am under no illusion. I know that this industry is for the faint-hearted. Incidentally my husband's cousin was a professional ballerina. In his family they think very well of this. So my husband is particularly supportive on the other hand, about my daughter restarting ballet again.

 

I'd like to hear some opinions and hopefully they'll help me better in deciding what is best for our situation.

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At age 10 I would let her try the classes. Is level 1 simular to grade 1 RAD? Assuming it it maybe you could ask if she could be put in a little higher grade? Or be moved up quickly? If not I would look around for a really good ballet school and do some careful research online.

 

I can fully sympathize my dd is a very physical child too who has to be challenging herself and being active. She had to make the choice between gymnastics and ballet last year when she went into year 7 and it became clear to it was impossible to master both gymnastics required a 20 hour a week commitment at her level, adding in the fact she also became old enough to be allowed to do interfoundation at her ballet school in year 7 and start pointe work, which was a bit more challenging and exciting for her, but also meant more commitment, this was a turning point for her, she loved point work and that was it, all she wanted to do was ballet!

 

Also factoring a very academic grammer school an hour and a half homework a night, assessments every term to revise for. She was awarded a double scholarship to her school for her dance and sport, so she is lucky the school are supportive. I know it's not always possible, but I made sure I factored in commute time to secondary school, when looking for a secondary school for her last year making sure it wasn't too far away, knowing she would be also busy dancing after school.

 

At the stage your dd is I would let her try everything she wants and see which activity she falls in love with the most especially while she has less commitments at school as she's still in primary. It would be a shame if she didn't try, but I can understand your concerns that she maybe put off by being it level 1, if she's anything like my dd, she wouldn't like that either !

Edited by Snowflake
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My DD's old teacher would tend to put later starters into a class with children closer to their age rather than expect them to be in a class of 6 year olds. Obviously that would mean they had some catching up to do, but an enthusiastic older child can probably do that. I would hazard a guess that if she were to arrive at my DD's old school she would probably be offered a couple of taster lessons at around grade 3 to see how things go.

10 is still very young and at the moment the most important thing is that out of school activities are fun. I would be inclined to let your DD add ballet to her list of activities if you can manage it financially and logistically, and see what happens. If she takes to it she may well voluntarily drop another activity but until she has given it a go you just won't know.

My youngest son is a similar age and he is doing well at 2 sports and dabbles in a few more which is getting tricky as we are starting to get clashes of commitments, but his coaches in all his sports are encouraging him to keep the othes up. Realistically, very few of our children will make it to the top in their chosen pursuit so its important that the journey is valued for itself, not just as a route to a final destination. My son knows that at some point he may have to choose between his sports and focus on one to get really good at,but everyone currently agrees that he is getting something out of all of them and is too young to choose. I'm hoping that that decision, if it comes at all, will become naturally obvious and will be his own choice. My DD only danced and it's all she ever wanted to do, which in some ways was easy,but with hindsight I wonder if I should have encouraged more different activities. I would go with the flow. Try it and see what happens.

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At a complete guess I would say your daughter would easily cope with a bit higher than grade one ....I would guess grade 3/4 level?

But so much would depend on where she was going to learn it and what the school can offer etc.

I'm sure she could trial a class or classes so that a teacher could assess what level to put her in.

You don't have to start at grade one to make it as a dancer!!

 

However I wonder how many 10 year olds fancy dancing with ENB or the Royal Ballet!! I think quite a few of us have been there!!

That's rather a long way off but how lovely to be so inspired by a performance like that.

 

I hope you find the right place for her to restart the ballet lessons but I wouldn't fork out for private lessons just yet.

See how it all goes for a while first and how she retakes to it. I imagine private lessons would only possibly be required if a teacher wanted to hurry her through some exam to keep with a particular group etc. Good luck!

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My daughters see all sorts of things and then pester for lessons, if they don't want to give something else up I take it that they're not that serious tbh! If it fits in with your schedule and you can get there easily and have the extra money without too much hardship is let her give it a go, otherwise I'm afraid I'd be hard and insist something else is given up! My daughter is similar to yours, very active, same age, nice physique etc. she's been dancing for 5 years though and I think you have to be very realistic with expectations, there are an awful lot of 10 year olds the same and very few opportunities. that's not to say she isn't that 1 in a million but I'd try and keep her expectations very realistic

Edited by Moomin
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I would let her try, otherwise you will be plagued by 'what if' for ever more. I would echo what other posters have said and put the effort into finding a top quality ballet school (there are a few threads on here about 'what to look for in a school'). A good school will give your daughter a trial lesson and assess her suitability. My dd's school tend to put late starters in grade 3 or 4 where they are with children closer to them in age. If she's keen she will catch up. Its worth looking for a school that offers extra training to those who can benefit from it, then if she does turn out to have a real flair for ballet you won't need to move schools or worry about private lessons. Recognise though that at that point you likely be talking about 3-4 classes a week and something else might have to give.

 Don't worry about her size either, its impossible to predict how their size and shape will change as they grow into their teens. My dd was teeny tiny at 10 and is now considerably taller than me. There is nothing wrong with thinking big and dreaming audacious dreams - if she wants an incentive tell her that if she gets to Grade 5 standard she can apply for ENB junior summer school (assuming you don't mind paying for it).

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My DD started Ballet at 8 in Primary class (with 5&6 year old) primary and gd1 then gd2 each with about 7 months in each grade (2 classes a week) Then started taking grades yearly,caught up her age group. She got a funded place at vocational school at 13( only 3 classes a week from 10 to 13 no Associate classes either) She is now in her 2 year with a Dada at ballet vocational upper school.It shows even starting later on 2/3 classes a week and no Associates it can happen.x

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Hi I would just like to add, that if your DD was placed in a lower grade with younger children, please remember that steps/technique learnt in the lower grades are carried over and improved in the higher grades. Without solid foundation and knowledge the higher grades may become more challenging than they need to be.  There is no criteria (until the voc grades) that exams have to be completed in a particular order. But strength and technique needs to be gained as from 11/12 girls start going on to pointe after attending regular classes over a period of time. 

 

A fair compromise is to take lessons in a lower grade until the class take the exam then hopefully if all goes well slot into the right age group when that class start a new syllabus/grade after an exam. So she won't feel so much in a 'catchup' mode.

 

Good Luck   

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Just wanted to thank all of you who have responded so far. It certainly has given me lots to think about. As it is the Christmas/New Year period, schools are closed so I'd have to wait till January to make enquiries. There are a few ballet schools in my town when I Googled but I have no clue as to how good or reputable they are. I will try and look through the forum to find the helpful tips on what to look for in a ballet school. Previously in the other town we live in, I only picked the ballet school because a friend who was local told me that was *the* school to put my children in. So basically I just put my kids in based on 1 recommendation from a friend I trusted! I don't really have a clue to be honest. I am also interested in putting my son back in ballet again to try and turn his feet out. He is 8 and has always had inturned feet. I put him in ballet years ago in that school when he was 4 but he was a fussy, sensitive child and became really unhappy with the staff changes - didn't like the new teacher - and refused to go again so we left it at that. Incidentally my teen daughter who now has scoliosis has been adviced to take up some dancing or yoga to strengthen her core and she is saying she would like to try ballet again for this purpose. She quit 8 years ago as a Grade 1 and never really was very keen on dancing but her recent health issues have somehow changed her a bit. I don't suppose there is anything much for her though ballet wise is there, at this age, as a near beginner? I was wondering if adult ballet might be a possibility when she turns 16 soon?

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If she's 15 nearly 16 I think most places would let her join an adult class now if they don't do teens beginners. She may prefer to be with adults rather than younger teens now anyway. Perhaps you could go with her and it may give you more of an idea which school you would like for the younger children?

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Hi,  Just seeing the age of your eldest have you thought about Pilates (promoted by many vocational schools). 

 

There should be classes in your area for all abilities. Pilates is well known for strengthening core as well as improving stretch. Many sports halls, community halls, village halls and schools hire out their venues for independent instructors. Hospital Physio may also offer names and contacts. As long as they carry the necessary qualification and Insurance it can be a fun sport to get into. Especially with upcoming GCSE's it can be a welcome de-stress time. Welcomed by many academic teachers. It's also a great bonding time as you could even take the classes with your DD (if it doesn't ruin her street cred! lol)

 

The skills and technique she would learn from Pilates can be carried on when she leaves school should she go away to Uni or into adult life and continue to offer her support with her scoliosis.   

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Thanks for all the suggestions. I have taken note of them and will follow up on them soon. Will also ask the ballet schools here if they have any other boys in their classes as my son doesn't like being the only boy either. Pilates is a good idea. I never thought of that. Will try looking around for any classes that might take her.

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