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Best activity to compliment to ballet


Cablegirl
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Hello everyone, I'm hoping someone can help with this.

My 8 YO DD has been offered a place as a JA in Covent Garden this September. As I'm sure many if you know, the class is on a Saturday which means the activities she currently does on that day she can no longer do. We therefore need to rethink what she does and when in terms of activities outside of school. She currently does swimming, school netball and grade ballet after school. She wants to carry on doing modern which currently does on a Saturday but I'm interested to hear what other people think would most compliment ballet and any activities or different types of dance are essential if she wants to maximise the opportunity she has been given at RBS. Thank you in advance.

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Congratulations to your DD, Cablegirl! Do you mean that your DD could continue with modern if it replaced one of her other weekday activities? Im sure she will want to continue with graded ballet classes and presumably if they are her only ballet classes with her usual teacher then she will need to continue them, as JA classes are intended to be additional to usual classes. Is her dance teacher able to offer a different day for her modern classes?

 

I would caution against giving up everything except for dance classes however, especially at 8. Swimming is a great exercise (albeit that your DD may not want to risk building up the wrong muscles by undertaking intensive training in butterfly etc ;-)). Netball or other school sports are invaluable for general fitness training and more importantly for learning teamwork and maintaining strong relationships with school mates, many of whom are not involved in dance - which can be welcome for any times when your DD finds dance or her dance class friends a trial or overwhelming. Many talented dancers are also talented generally in sports and it would be a shame if your DD had to give up sports at the tender age of 8 - I hope you are able to find a way for her to continue with at least swimming or netball without running out of hours in the week or over-tiring her.

 

Washing you and your DD much joy from her JA experience and from dance and her other activities alongside them!

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Thank you so much for your reply legsevelen. My DD will definitely continue with grade ballet, netball and swimming as I totally agree with everything you were saying re. general fitness, teamwork and also variety. However, from reading various forums, I get the impression that many girls of a similar age do hours and hours of dancing a week, and not just ballet. While I don't want my daughter burning out, nor do I want her to be at a disadvantage because I haven't helped to prepare her properly. How important is it to do modern, tap and any other forms of dance in addition to ballet in order to help her become the best ballet dancer she can be?

 

As a slight aside, while her physique is clearly what the RBS are looking for at the moment, given she is only 8, this could change dramatically and ballet may no longer be be an option. I worry that she may be pigeon holed in something which she is no longer built for but has no/little experience in other dance forms. Any opinions on this matter would also be appreciated. Thank you

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I'm not a dance teacher so will be happy to bow to the opinions of those teachers on the forum! but would think that although some children are dancing many different styles and for many hours per week, it isn't necessary at the age of 8. Children can be and are accepted at White Lodge and other vocational schools at 11 with very little dance experience, even in ballet as at this age the schools are looking for potential and train ability including talent, musicality and as you say the right physique, not an experienced all-round dancer. Sometimes I think it must be very difficult for children who attend White Lodge or other vocational schools having achieved to a high standard in ballet or in other dance forms, as their training initially goes back to basics there and it must potentially be frustrating, especially if they have developed tricks which need to be 'un-learned'.

 

If your DD needs to drop dance classes, I would think that tap can safely be dropped if your DD's current ambitions are in ballet - it's a great technical dance style and helpful with rhythm but doesn't compliment ballet as well as modern or jazz. If she can manage to do modern and/or jazz, plus maybe a stretching/limbering type class that would probably be good. If it were my DD I would ask her dance teacher (and possibly her JA teacher when she starts the classes) what they think would best suit your DD as additional dance forms - there may be specific issues your DD needs to improve upon which would be helped by a specific dance style (or indeed by other classes such as music/Pilates etc).

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Hello Cablegirl and congrats to your dd on her JA place. :-)

 

I don't think that at 8 years old "hours and hours" of ballet a week are necessary. As Legseleven says, JAs and other Associate schemes are designed to be enhanced training in addition to your local ballet training. So it is obviously important to carry on with your dd's graded class (and maybe a non-syllabus class if offered), but that would be plenty of ballet.

 

In terms of other dance styles, Modern is lovely for a nice, free-moving contrast to ballet. Tap is fine too, not essential though, and when your dd is older and preparing to start pointe work she may be asked to stop tap for a while. If she enjoys Netball and swimming there is no reason to stop these at 8. If you have to drop anything I would drop Tap.

 

Hope that helps. :-)

 

Edited to add - Legseleven and I were posting at the same time!

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Sorry, I didn't add that I think ballet is by far the most important dance form as a basis for most other dance styles. If your DD has a good foundation in ballet then even if her physique changes such that ballet is no longer a possible career path, she will be well placed to pick up other styles eg modern, jazz, tap where the specific ballet physique is not required.

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Thank you - that is all really helpful. I will try and find a modern class that she can do as she really enjoys this and it's good for general fitness but I'm not going to worry about tap.

I will also speak to her teacher at the RBS as there may be specific areas which she would benefit from working on. Thanks again.

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I also have DD starting RBS associates in London from September and like your DD Cablegirl she's only 8, I'm also aware of continuing other activities outside ballet, DD also doing Tring CBA on a Sunday from September, as well as her graded lesson in the week, she is also learning to swim we are doing 24 lessons in london, how many are you doing Cablegirl?

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Well 8 is still very young to be worrying too much I think!

 

When she is a little older then it might be useful for her to consider doing some contemporary classes to compliment the ballet but that is down the line a bit. I think a Modern class would be good too in terms of Dance at the moment. Is she really keen on the tap? If she is then perhaps you can keep this going a while longer but there are only so many hours in the week......even though 8year olds usually have tons of energy of course!

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Just want to clarify my comment was for cable girl who wants to know whether other dance styles should be taken up besides ballet.

 

I agree scoobydoo to be lead by your daughter. Some children do have a strong feeling for one thing from an early age others from later on.

Where ballet was concerned I remember from the age of 10 after two and a half years that I only wanted to do ballet and didn't want to do tap or modern any longer!! I know my mum was a bit disappointed that I gave up tap but she didn't stop me.

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Thanks again for all the helpful comments. If I can get DD into another modern class I will, however, given the timetable clash this could be challenging. Does anybody have any thoughts on a JA doing gymnastics for one hour a week? It would be nothing serious but a good run around. I have heard that ballet and gymnastics are not a recommended combination, but does this apply more to older children and not such a concern for an 8 YO?

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Yes at 8 I would say doing some gymnastics is absolutely fine. Many of the top Russian dancers now started off in gymnastics as it were but by 10-11 were making decisions about whether a Dance path more what they really wanted.

 

There would certainly be no harm in trying it out and see if your daughter enjoys it or not at any rate.

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No Linm, gymnastics is part of the training at the Bolsio ballet academy. When my daughter went to Prague International SS last year she said most of the amazing semi professionals there had all had gymnastic training, and she wishes that she had done more of it.

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Well it must be complimentary then......which I didn't doubt anyway!

 

My info was based on some Kirov(Maryinski) dancers who said they had started doing gymnastics classes from a very young age before they ever did dance......gymnastics had been their first love so to speak.

 

Looking at the way the Maryinski dancers used to be selected(not sure about right now) you probably wouldn't have been considered for their training without having done at least some gymnastics as they certainly liked pretty bendy bodies!!

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I am a ballet dancer working towards Advanced 1 RAD. I have done ballet my whole life & I've also done gymnastics my whole life. For me, they have complimented each other well. Ballet has improved my posture which helps in gymnastics. Gymnastics has helped to strengthen my legs for ballet.

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