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YYmom

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There are two ballet studios near our home, one is a relatively big studio with hundreds of students and has many dancers going to YAGP and successfully placed in top 12 every year. Most of my daughters' classmates at school as well as nearby kids of family friends attend this school. I did not enroll my daughter in this school because my girl started late and I want her to have more individual attention in a smaller studio. I also feel very doubtful about how they train their dancers after talking to other parents and observing their kids' dancing. 

The kids have been taught and encouraged to do extended time stationary stretching, oversplits, back flip, front flip and aerial from high blocks which scared me to death. And they start having their dancers on pointe when they are only 8 years old.

It really flipped me out when I found out that my daughter is secretly practicing extended time oversplits yesterday. This turned into an intense discussion between us and my daughter's explaining that she really wants to do all those cool tricks just like her friends. More so, she wants to be on pointe asap, she said she felt defeated and embarrassed when she is far behind her friends. She wants to change studio. I told her honestly that from the research that I have done, I have no plan for her to try pointe before 11 or even 12. She got so upset and even angry with me, thinking I am so stubborn and reserved. 

Now I am in this difficult situation where both my daughter and I are facing a lot of unnecessary pressure. I really hope seasoned moms here can shed some lights on how to resolve this conflict and help my daughter to gain more confidence regarding her current training. 
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Kfish1987

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Reply with quote  #2 
My daughter is not going on pointe until her feet stop growing.

One of the dance moms started pointe when she was 9-10 and shows her feet to those students who want to do Pointe before the age of 12. They quickly change their minds.
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YYmom

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Reply with quote  #3 
When I watched this year's YAGP, many 9 or 10 years old are already competing on pointe, which means they have probably started training on pointe since 8 or 9 years old, that really bothers me.
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dave9988

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Reply with quote  #4 
Personally, I'd rank technique and strength as more important factors than age alone.
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LilMama

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Reply with quote  #5 
Quote:
Originally Posted by YYmom
When I watched this year's YAGP, many 9 or 10 years old are already competing on pointe, which means they have probably started training on pointe since 8 or 9 years old, that really bothers me.


One of the young girl I follow said that she only started toe 6 weeks before YAGP
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prancer

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Reply with quote  #6 
Picking up on the other issue, I have never heard of a ballet school teaching tumbling!  Front and back flips at ballet?  What?

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YYmom

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Quote:
Originally Posted by prancer
Picking up on the other issue, I have never heard of a ballet school teaching tumbling!  Front and back flips at ballet?  What?



I think they have a modern division where they also teach Jazz, lyrical and such. And I think students are compulsory to take those classes besides ballet. It's like 12 hours of ballet plus 3 hours of modern.
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YYmom

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Quote:
Originally Posted by dave9988
Personally, I'd rank technique and strength as more important factors than age alone.


It is hard to imagine that a kid 8 or 9 years old has bones that are strong enough, I thought the growth of the foot is about complete when they are at least 11.  
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DanceMommy2Riley

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Reply with quote  #9 
My DD started pointe when she was 11/12 ish. 8 years old is wayyy to young to start pointe work in my opinion as feet are still growing and developing. I even had a hard time when my DD pushed to start pointe work at 11! 

In terms of flexibility/tricks - My DD is flexible (i.e., has the basics), but she is definitely not bendy. She is also absolutely terrified of tricks! She does, however, have her side aerial, but that is about all. She is more of a ballerina - not a contortionist! [tongue]
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dancer1234

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years and years ago, when we started Pointe (I honestly don't know what age), we spent majority of the time learning how to care for the shoes, how to sew the elastics and ribbons on our demi pointe shows.  Seems like that was the first several months before we ever went up on pointe.  Then it was all work at the barre with the pointe shoes.  Only those dancers who were strong enough and demonstrated that they could sew their ribbons could advance on.
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tappinmom

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A good article about this subject:

https://allaboutpointe.weebly.com/to-the-parent.html
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Motherhem

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Reply with quote  #12 
YYmom, You are looking out for your child’s well being.

Tell her that. Tell her you are looking out for her best interests. Tell her all you care about is making the best choice for her to keep her safe. You would never forgive yourself if you let her do those things and she got hurt. Tell her you have no other reason to keep her from doing it.

She won’t like it but she’ll know it is true. Let it sink in. She may be mad but she is listening. She will come to see reason.

Until she does, take solace, knowing you are doing the right thing.
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dancemonkey

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Reply with quote  #13 
My daughter went on at 11. She had strong feet but still needed PT because she was diagnosed with seavers. She’s 17 now. It set her back a bit. So that is a possible pit fall of starting earlier.
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nyklane

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Reply with quote  #14 
I fear we may have this discussion with my daughter also 8, however my SO is firm with the girls about when they go up.  And this is not even my ballet school!  My daughter is as tall or even taller than most 11 and 12 year olds she dances with and she is very strong.  But I have also done a lot of reading and "you tubing" about what makes a dancer strong enough to go on pointe.  Charles Maple has a video - heck there are plenty.  Maybe focus her on those types of skills - putting it  back on her if she is strong enough, and has the right control to go on pointe rather than she just wants to because she is feeling left out.  As a non-dancer parent I have had to do my homework too, to answer the questions of my daughter.

It's also nice to talk to other parents who have said "no" at 9, 10 even when the AD of a school has said yes.  One such mom I was talking with last week, she switched from a fairly reputable school to another at 9 because of pressure to go on pointe.  Pressure including full tuition scholarships, etc.  Her DD is now 12 and will go up later this summer.  She also indicated that her daughter had no issue at SI's - (she goes to ABT, NY) not on pointe.

Perhaps she is interested in more skills (pointe, tricks etc) to distinguish herself?  What is the root cause?  If so, maybe consider seeking out a qualified teacher for acro and starting very slow and steady.  Emphasis on "qualified/quality" teacher.  That may or may not be at your current studio.

Good luck with your passionate dancer!
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dave9988

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Reply with quote  #15 
Quote:
Originally Posted by YYmom


It is hard to imagine that a kid 8 or 9 years old has bones that are strong enough, I thought the growth of the foot is about complete when they are at least 11.  


Actually, foot growth isn't complete until much later than that.

An earlier post included a link to a blog indicating that bone growth continues into the 20's. I don't know about that, but I've seen many references to growth plates continuing to develop into the late teens.  Either way, full foot/bone maturation is not typically achieved at a magic age of 11, 12, or 13.

That earlier post indicates that one should wait until "ossification is 75% complete," and recommends X-Rays as a diagnosis.  Frankly, a suggestion to subject your child to yearly X-Rays, for potentially multiple years, just so that some radiologist can proclaim that a magic number has been hit seems nonsensical.  Most medical professionals in my area would refuse to subject a prepubescent child to purely elective X-Rays, as slight as the risks may be.  And then, so what of the 75%?  We've heard for years that the growth plates need to be complete, but now we know that they aren't complete until generally late teen years.  So the 75% strikes me as a random, "OK well then mostly complete" number out of a hat, measured with a potentially harmful diagnostic tool.

So where does that leave us?

Much like finding a good teacher or school, I don't believe there is any one single indicator for readiness.  Multiple factors need to be weighed.  Technique, strength, years of training, recent vs historic growth rate, perhaps even age.

I'm a huge fan of IADMS and the work of the Harkness Center for Dance Injury Prevention at NYU.  I found them when researching the topic, as one of my two DDs was recommended for pointe at a young age.  I read their work, and we have consulted more than once with their therapists.  Here's a link to one of their articles.

https://www.iadms.org/?185

Please, don't take any of this post as some sort of suggestion that it's OK for the masses to begin pointe work at age 9 or earlier.  Or that I'm slamming anyone who wishes to go the more traditional route and wait until age 13.  In my family, we went with more subjective criteria. One DD went up probably 2 years of age younger than the other. Same parents, same dance school.  Bottom line: strength and technique didn't come as early for one child as the other.
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prancer

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Reply with quote  #16 
Good post Dave!
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YYmom

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Reply with quote  #17 
Thanks tappinmom and Dave for the informative links. There are definitely a lot to read and research on before I can make a confident decision. And I think I will include my daughter in this researching process, so we can discuss and decide together what is best for her. 

Thanks again for all those wonderful insights above. 
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threegirlpileup

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Reply with quote  #18 
I wonder if it would help if her SO/teachers talked to her about why they are not putting her on pointe yet, and about the dangers of extreme stretching.  Maybe she'd be more likely to listen to them?

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purplerain

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Reply with quote  #19 
No 8yo should be on pointe. I cringe when I see young kids on pointe and teachers supporting it.
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prettyprissy15

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Reply with quote  #20 
I have an 8 year old, also, so I understand that they are starting to be more social, and being accepted by their peers is important! They want to do what others think is cool, but you are the mom, and you decide what is best for your child. Once you make that decision, tell her why, or why not, and move on. I don't know much about being on pointe, but I do know about childhood development, and most 8 years are not ready for pointe, physicaaly, or mentally!
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MNM

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Reply with quote  #21 
I will wait with putting my daughter on pointe unroll after 11 , she is 6 now and is doing side and from aerials and back step out. This helps her to score significantly high on competitions and help the team also. I'm extremely proud of her. We do tumbling additionally to stretch. She takes classes with contortionist. She loves it. I don't see anything dangerous with oversplits and tricks. Personally. We go to 2 gymnastics schools yo accomplish that. If you see girls fall of aerials you'll see they fall on their bum or knees. Side aerial is hard bc you fall on your knees. But front you lend on your bum. Also they should not be falling tons. The coach should be spotting them anyway. Stretching and conditioning should happen at the same time. I don't think it is dangerous if it's done right. In fact it's very beneficial to health, boss and joints. Strong and flexible muscles are better then weak and tight.
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Lorax

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Reply with quote  #22 
MNM I'm wondering why you'd wait on pointe for that 6 year old but allow such high risk tumbling at that age? The two seem at odds with each other. 
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tendumom

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Reply with quote  #23 
Quote:
 I don't see anything dangerous with oversplits 


That's likely because you have not spoken with a dance physical therapist or read much of the medical literature on this topic. A good starting point that is written for the layperson (us dance parents and dancers) is Lisa Howell's website/blog. 

I can't find the article that I was looking for to share, but this discusses the risks and some of the issues. https://www.theballetblog.com/portfolio/is-over-stretching-bad/  I see you mentioned that she is working with a contortionist. Hopefully that person is well trained in child development and is well aware of the long term issues faced by those who start this work early. I suspect that most people are not being trained by people with that knowledge base. 
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MNM

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Reply with quote  #24 
The best time to stretch is 5 years old by the way. The later you do it the worst it is. And tumbling is not dangerous. I don't even know how to answer that lol. A lot of dancers and athletes tumble. If you think it is bad or dangerous then maybe stick to swimming. Or maybe swimming is also scary. I don't know. [wink]
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MNM

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Reply with quote  #25 
This article is very good. Most dance schools do not teach safe tumbling and safe correct stretch. That s why it's so important to learn tricks at the gym and not dance floor. And only perform them not often on the dance floor. What we do is we use unkle suppressants if we perform on the dance floor except for the competitions. So safety is the most important. I agree.
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