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How much ballet at 7 years?


Elz
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My DD is 7.5 and obsessed with ballet and any kind of dancing.

 

She presently only does 30 mins of ballet a week in a Grade 1 class. She also does 30 mins each of tap and jazz, and 45 mins of what is described as "cheerleeding" but according to my DD is more like random jumping around. She also does a gym class.

 

She will add a 30 min Grade 2 class from Sept.

 

She is really keen to audition for a junior associate position. Is this enough? She wants a private ballet lesson in addition (30 mins). Is that too much? Not enough?

 

I know they don't judge on technique etc but I can't help but think that it does come I to it somehow.

 

 

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It is such a long time since my dd was 7.5, but I would agree with @ballet power.  Speak to her teacher, tell her your dd is keen to do more.

 

Private lessons may not be the only option (may not even be an option - some teachers don't offer them) and another group class may be even better.  You learn from watching others, and listening to their corrections as well as yours.

 

Some teachers will let a keen dancer join a grade above, joining in in the back row.  Even joining in the grade below class can be beneficial.  And sometimes your teacher may recommend doing a class at another school with a teacher that she/he knows and trusts.

 

Definitely let her audition for reputable associates schemes if you can afford the time and money.

 

Look into performance opportunities such as English Youth Ballet (she's still a little young for EYB but soon won't be)

 

Quality over quantity is definitely important.  And most of all, especially at her age...enjoying it.

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i agree quality not quantity. If she is keen then I would let her dance what she likes but private lessons definitely sound good and a way of honing her technique. Take advice from her dance teacher on whether she would be a suitable candidate for associate classes. Sadly despite lots of enthusiasm not every child will be have the right potential. 

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Thanks everyone for responses.

 

The teacher has offered her to join the class above and also a private lesson, so will say yes to that.

 

The teacher says she has potential, to my amateur eye, she looks very "balletic" when she dances.

 

Thanks for tips on schemes, I will look those up!

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Half an hour for a grade 1 class doesn't sound long enough to do all that much; 3/4 of an hour to an hour's class would be better really. Half an hour is more suited to tiny tots than for age 7+.

 

Agree that if she is showing potential then she could easily cope with more than that. The cheerleading thing sounds like a waste of time so unless she really loves it and doesn't want to give it up, I'd knock that one on the head.

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The cheerleading is an afterschool club. It's either that or sitting around colouring in the wrap around room. So she does it for fitness and lack of anything better to do. I am no great fan of cheerleading, nor is she!

 

They don't do any risky moves, just marching and jumping around. They don't even have pom poms! She doesn't enjoy it all that much, but it's not taking up any time she could otherwise be doing ballet, and it does have some fitness value and vague relationship to dance (like memorising routine, moving in time).

 

So for a private lesson, would you say 30 mins, 45 mins or 1h? It's a lot more intense 1:1, I think.

 

 

 

 

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I’d say 30 min private to start! With it being 1:1 all the focus is on her so she’ll get a lot done! And as she gets older then increase the time !

 

cheerleading: ah glad to hear it!!! And yes better than doing nothing after school 🤣

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Speaking as a librarian, rather than not enjoying cheerleading, could she not read a book?  Best thing you can do for your mental health and really great habit to get into at a young age.  A lot of performing is sitting around waiting - and learning to use that time productively is as important as any dance training.

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29 minutes ago, meadowblythe said:

Speaking as a librarian, rather than not enjoying cheerleading, could she not read a book?  Best thing you can do for your mental health and really great habit to get into at a young age.  A lot of performing is sitting around waiting - and learning to use that time productively is as important as any dance training.

What a good idea! Gets 10/10 from me. 

 

 

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At 7 , my DD was training 1.5 hours in ballet 2x per week and 1 hour 3x week in Character dance (and 4.5 hours music lessons)if not more , resulting in a gold medal win in a world competition 8 months later in national dance group dance  that set her and one other on the road to vocational  studies in the long run plus launched three medical students and three architects students, one into pschychology and another into medical sciences. The value of that world class win that was repeated with other excellent presentations in other years and allowed small town kids from the end of the world to think bigger than working in the local tourist restaurants and changing hotel beds, and with these Covid times, thank goodness.  

 

If  your DD has  the desire and stamina get ready for the ride because it sets them up for anything later. 

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Completely agree about reading! She does that a lot already, as she is in afterschool care every day until 6pm.

 

An aside, I have been really shocked that the library in school has been closed for corona, and bringing in books from home into the class room has been forbidden. There are books knocking around the afterachool club, but it's not a great selection.

 

Bonkers!

 

Fingers crossed all these daft rules are abandoned from Sept onwards!

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13 minutes ago, Lusodancer said:

At 7 , my DD was training 1.5 hours in ballet 2x per week and 1 hour 3x week in Character dance (and 4.5 hours music lessons)if not more , resulting in a gold medal win in a world competition 8 months later in national dance group dance  that set her and one other on the road to vocational  studies in the long run plus launched three medical students and three architects students, one into pschychology and another into medical sciences. The value of that world class win that was repeated with other excellent presentations in other years and allowed small town kids from the end of the world to think bigger than working in the local tourist restaurants and changing hotel beds, and with these Covid times, thank goodness.  

 

If  your DD has  the desire and stamina get ready for the ride because it sets them up for anything later. 

Wow! That is amazing commitment and achievement.

 

4.5 hours of music lessons as in instrumental lessons? That's a lot, specially with music practice between lessons.

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4 minutes ago, Elz said:

4.5 hours of music lessons as in instrumental lessons? That's a lot, specially with music practice between lessons.

She was on a set special artisitic course, that had one hour instrumental 2x , piano for her, one hour theory, and 1.5 choir. Her sister did the same and is now a MusicD in bassoon on a B Music Performance in a conservatoire.  School here is compressed and finishes early with timetable allowance made for special artisitic FREE courses from aged 10 to those with interest and talent.

Yes when we had ballet shows and  music recitals it got really testing. But I am pleased to say they never missed one, so they always got picked for all the civic events because we never let down any of the teachers. Indeed when they moved away to other schools in the capital, the local mayor commented on their absence from the line up.

The fun thing was scheduling, music normally came first , then dance, so they left  for school at 08.10 and started music at 15.30/ 1600 and then went to dance at 1800 and arrived home at 2030/ 2100, with home work done over a soup or bifana in a cafe. If you had them going in opposite directions and doing their buns in the car and changing it got fun.I suppose when I read of parent  here on this forum doing these weekend associate programs, it reminds me of those days.

We got through a tank of fuel a week. Now we use one a month. Ballet parents do not save the planet, but shush don't tell Greta. 

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There are a number of good quality articles/ studies on this very question in both the dance and sporting realm.
 

So when do you know a child is doing enough? Some good indications are that they are happy, healthy and enjoying their dance lessons. Also that they are making steady progress in their dancing and want to continue their learning.’

 

https://royalballetschool.org.uk/2019/10/31/ballet-training-how-much-is-enough/

 

Early specialisation is an interesting topic and one that should be considered in pre-adolescents in particular. 
 

‘There is a message there, especially given that children can now join club academies from as young as eight. It pays to keep sampling other sports and to focus on fun practice before specialising later.’

 

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2019/may/27/sports-variety-better-early-than-sharp-focus-david-epstein-book

‘With appropriate strength and fitness conditioning, the risk of sports-related injury can be reduced given that equipment is child-sized and planned and monitored by a qualified coach/sports scientists [6]. When choosing an academy/club with prestige, investigating the focus on fundamental movement skills (FMS), defined as the building blocks of athleticism is key [13]. These should not only be a priority but a key addition to training in children between the ages of 6-12 in any sport [13].’

 

https://www.scienceforsport.com/early-sports-specialisation/
 

I would encourage your child to sample as many different dance genres and sports as possible at their age. 
 

This will build up their ability to learn many different movement patterns and also become a better learner if and when the time comes for them to specialise in a dance genre later. 
 

The ceiling in sport has long been accepted as no more hours per week than chronological age so as long as they are doing no more than 7 hours total structured training then they are fine.
Free play such as being in a park etc is the exception and should be encouraged to let them learn to problem solve and become independent learners as early as possible.  


Karen Berry of the Royal Ballet School has written about this in her chapter of Ballet The Essential Guide to Technique and Creative Practice. 
 

(worth the purchase for any prospective student, teacher or involved parent)
 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ballet-Essential-Technique-Creative-Practice/dp/1785008307

 

and also in her February 2021 article of Dancing Times.

 

https://www.dancing-times.co.uk/february-2021/

 

I wish your child the very best. 

Edited by CMcBallet
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49 minutes ago, Elz said:

Thank you @CMCBallet, very interesting links and thoughts!

 

My pleasure. 
 

I forgot to reference ‘physical literacy’ which is essentially the ability to learn and recall/ utilise many complex movement patterns. 

Also, can of worms alert! 

Firstly, current set exam syllabi across the big organisations are structured very well and can ‘build’ a dancer up in a safe considered manner by layering and adding complexity through the grades. 

 

However, if a child is only studying a set exam syllabus it may stifle their physical literacy if the teacher doesn’t test what they are studying in other contexts. 
For example - giving free classes where the vocabulary is arranged in different exercises (enchaînements). This gives the student the opportunity to test their knowledge and apply it in a different context. 
 

This is perhaps slightly off topic but still a worthwhile consideration when choosing a class/ teacher. 

Edited by CMcBallet
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2 hours ago, Elz said:

Completely agree about reading! She does that a lot already, as she is in afterschool care every day until 6pm.

 

An aside, I have been really shocked that the library in school has been closed for corona, and bringing in books from home into the class room has been forbidden. There are books knocking around the afterachool club, but it's not a great selection.

 

Bonkers!

 

Fingers crossed all these daft rules are abandoned from Sept onwards!

 

 

The sight of me and my Ikea bag hand delivering books around the school  (picked with gloves on, placed in a bag and quarantined for three days on return)  is, apparently, one of the enduring memories of the last year.  Students reserve books on line (or email me) and I take them to their classrooms.  Fortunately the school has also invested in a high quality ebook scheme which includes a large wellness and mental health selection.  Otherwise my knees would have given way a long time ago under the weight of books lugged around the school site.

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1 hour ago, meadowblythe said:

 

 

The sight of me and my Ikea bag hand delivering books around the school  (picked with gloves on, placed in a bag and quarantined for three days on return)  is, apparently, one of the enduring memories of the last year.  Students reserve books on line (or email me) and I take them to their classrooms.  Fortunately the school has also invested in a high quality ebook scheme which includes a large wellness and mental health selection.  Otherwise my knees would have given way a long time ago under the weight of books lugged around the school site.

Oh bless you!

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1 hour ago, CMcBallet said:

My pleasure. 
 

I forgot to reference ‘physical literacy’ which is essentially the ability to learn and recall/ utilise many complex movement patterns. 

Also, can of worms alert! 

Firstly, current set exam syllabi across the big organisations are structured very well and can ‘build’ a dancer up in a safe considered manner by layering and adding complexity through the grades. 

 

However, if a child is only studying a set exam syllabus it may stifle their physical literacy if the teacher doesn’t test what they are studying in other contexts. 
For example - giving free classes where the vocabulary is arranged in different exercises (enchaînements). This gives the student the opportunity to test their knowledge and apply it in a different context. 
 

This is perhaps slightly off topic but still a worthwhile consideration when choosing a class/ teacher. 

This is very interesting. My DD does show work as well as grade exams - usually 6 months of one and 6 of the other, although when preparing for shows they also do technique work which includes some improv.

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3 hours ago, Lusodancer said:

She was on a set special artisitic course, that had one hour instrumental 2x , piano for her, one hour theory, and 1.5 choir. Her sister did the same and is now a MusicD in bassoon on a B Music Performance in a conservatoire.  School here is compressed and finishes early with timetable allowance made for special artisitic FREE courses from aged 10 to those with interest and talent.

Yes when we had ballet shows and  music recitals it got really testing. But I am pleased to say they never missed one, so they always got picked for all the civic events because we never let down any of the teachers. Indeed when they moved away to other schools in the capital, the local mayor commented on their absence from the line up.

The fun thing was scheduling, music normally came first , then dance, so they left  for school at 08.10 and started music at 15.30/ 1600 and then went to dance at 1800 and arrived home at 2030/ 2100, with home work done over a soup or bifana in a cafe. If you had them going in opposite directions and doing their buns in the car and changing it got fun.I suppose when I read of parent  here on this forum doing these weekend associate programs, it reminds me of those days.

We got through a tank of fuel a week. Now we use one a month. Ballet parents do not save the planet, but shush don't tell Greta. 

What country are you in, if you don't mind me asking? 

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Portugal and we have Ensino Articulado which is a Ministry of Education funded route for combined artistic studies with academic education in certain institutions. But virtually every major city has one public school and conservatory  combining to give music or dance or both  . So its a baccalaureate- style academic selection of general studies with general music or art missing for  music and Physical education and music replaced for dance, though the artisitc students end up doing more hours overall than the average school week. 

There are specific rules over which sorts of dance institution can apply, because it is tax payers. money. That is the course structure, the hours dedicated in strict units for Ballet, Creative dance, leading to Contemporary when old enough, Historiuc dances, character dances, and other supplementary physical preparation, these are all laid down in law. The curriculums of instructors are a factor and the school facilities, ie number of studios equipped appropriately, classrooms for theory, teachers common room , students common room, girls and boys changing rooms. So its not a free for all but its certainly enlightened compared to modern UK. I remember my youth in Hertfordshire with similar projects in music for which my brother, I and countless others were the grateful recipients.

However the local school did not have this , but it did have two teachers who qualified in the Vaganova  Academy and the Moscow Theatre Arts University. who applied the same Russian rules  and discipline as they had experienced to some lapsidaisical portuguese kids and their families, with the result that the determination of these kids and supporters ramped up and notch or two. They learned how to fundraise Uk-style from yours truly and others to send their kids round Europe in competitions, that paid off dividends in school results.  

It wasn't just ballet they learned. It was a discipline for life and a gratefulness for the generosity of others that put them on international stages periodically.

 

As another contributor has stated, schools can sometimes measure progress by exams, others by artistic performance in shows, others by particiaption in competitions and festivals. I would suggest a balance. Competitions showed my DD what could be achieved by hard work and dedication in an artisitc direction, she then followed to strict vocational school with few artistic outlets,more the concentration on technique and no competitions just internal evaluations, then later she had to relearn how to let go artistically and develop a personna on stage. Now she is old enough to appreciate that the laying down of a strong technique is designed to free the artist  in order to feel secure on stage to assume the role. But from that golden start to a straight-jacket class, she passed through a period of doubt ,then blossomed later. 

 

So at 7.5  your DD  is just starting out ,as are you to support her, and you will find a wealth of honest and heartfelt opinions and experiences on this forum to help you, as you have had on this feed. I wish I had found it ten years ago. I am still learning now, and my DD is more able to express more about those early days and what she felt then and with hindsight considers important now.  Listen to your teachers and experiment short courses in holidays to hear other opinions- Keep training light but productive. What we have not had here are associate programmes until now, though I have contacts who are due to start that concept here, but this seems to me a rather high pressured experience for precious family weekend hours, what with auditions and the have they, haven't they. So maybe at 7 try to stay local and save your and her energy for later.   

 

So what is important, IMHO , is not to take on more than the family can cope with as a social unit or financially( we lived luckily 10-12 mins drive from ballet school and music academy ), what the school work  and timetable allows(ours was simple) , choose the best instruction and results over hours, measured by  quality of presentation, diversity and general sense of artistry/ inventiveness at shows, exams and frequency, or particiaption in festivals and comps. We had one town school that did shows where parents paid for each costume whcih could limit participation of their DC, and exams (expensive with external examiners ), and the other did internal assessments but  national and international competitions and shows , with limited parental financial contribution but massive fundraising that united the school body into the effort. The two major schools still attract  different social groups, interestingly.  Overall at 7 , it should be fun, instructive and develop a sense of discipline,selfworth and positive social interaction. If they end up continuing it ten years later then so be it.  

 

 

How come I always write too much? Someone tell me to be quiet!

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3 hours ago, CMcBallet said:

 

 

However, if a child is only studying a set exam syllabus it may stifle their physical literacy if the teacher doesn’t test what they are studying in other contexts. 

 

For my dd, I think this was the big benefit of associates classes, but there are other ways to achieve this.

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6 hours ago, Lusodancer said:

Ballet parents do not save the planet, but shush don't tell Greta. 

I know it very much depends where you live, but we don't have car. My DDs cycle to their classes and we take DD1 to her associates on the train. You can be green and dance! In fact DD1 says she wants to design a range of zero carbon dance-wear 😁 Sorry to go off-topic!

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5 hours ago, CMcBallet said:

Early specialisation is an interesting topic and one that should be considered in pre-adolescents in particular. 

 

‘There is a message there, especially given that children can now join club academies from as young as eight. It pays to keep sampling other sports and to focus on fun practice before specialising later.’

 

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2019/may/27/sports-variety-better-early-than-sharp-focus-david-epstein-book

 

Backed up by today's new Wimbledon champion, Ash Barty, who has taken part in a wide variety of sports, I think throughout her life, and even during her professional career (oh, and Roger Federer kept up the possibility of becoming a professional footballer into his teens, I think) :)

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