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ElleWood2

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I started first child with dance at age 3.

I'd like to consider starting my youngest child at age 7 or 8 instead. I've talked to some teachers who said it's not necessary to start a child any younger than that. One of these teachers started at age 10 and danced professionally later on. 

So what have other parents here done?

I'm thinking about waiting and seeing if she has an interest in ballet or dance, first.  I think she might have a better idea of that once she is a little older. 
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Dancingdd

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I started DD at 5. Honestly I don’t think it’s important to start before 8. I wouldn’t just ask her though. People, not just kids, have no idea if they will like something until they try it. 10 is a little on the older side and she will be behind and won’t like that at all.
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tendumom

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I feel like dd was always dancing. We started her in a class for young pre-schoolers, they all turned 3 that year.  It was called something like "pre-school dance musical theater," though it was really just creative movement. 

I agree, though, that there is no need to start that early. For us, she had done 2 sessions of kindermusic so an equivalent dance program was just something else fun to do with her. 

For ballet, ballet schools do not actually teach ballet until they are 7 or 8. Everything before that is pre-ballet. I think age range is a good age range to start for most dance in general based on typical child development. 

For every dancer who started at 13 and became a professional,  there are likely many thousand who started late and never caught up. I really think the late starters who catch up and excel beyond the student level are dancers who would have excelled no matter when they started. (I said 13 because I think 10 is a very feasible age for catching up in the right studio). 

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threegirlpileup

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My daughter started when she was 9.  I would not consider that too late at all.  Looking around at her current peers (she's 16) you definitely can't tell who started at 3 vs. 9-10.
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Dancingdd

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Oh I agree they can definitely catch up at age 10 but some kids won’t be happy that they have to “catch up”. We have a lot of older girls in the younger girls classes because they started later on and they are twice the height of the younger ones.
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tappinmom

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DS started art 2.  He has friends who started at 8/9.  By the time they were 13/14 years old you couldn't tell the difference.  The ones who started older did have to do quie a bit of catching up but if they really wanted it they did it and caught up with the kids who had been "dancing" since they could walk.
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prancer

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My daughter started at 9. She made the top level for her age by 11. I would not hurry to start. Starting by 8 seems like a good target to me. And even if you start dancing for fun, I would delay beginning comp!
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LilMama

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Reply with quote  #8 
Many people that started early mostly do it for fun and just to kill time. But if I have another child, I'll probably enroll him/her in gymnastics first instead of starting dance at a young age.
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Jacaranda

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It can be hard, it depends on the kids. When I see what the 8 year olds are doing at our students, and so many of the studios we see at competitions. I think it would be very, very difficult for any child to catch up if they started that late unless they were very naturally talented,

I have discussed this with our SO, in the past and she said when kids start at 3, 4, 5 or 6 it makes no difference. By 7 or 8 they are at the same level as the other kids. But by the time they are 8 or 9 it becomes extremely hard to catch up.
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Jinkerbelle

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My DD started at 11. My mom took her to try out for company without ever taken dance before. That first year she made hip hop Line. She is 15 now and has busted her butt to make progress. She now participates in every line except she dropped tap when she also started school team last year. She won most improved award at her studio last year. I tease my mom that she created a dance monster.
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heidi459

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacaranda
It can be hard, it depends on the kids. When I see what the 8 year olds are doing at our students, and so many of the studios we see at competitions. I think it would be very, very difficult for any child to catch up if they started that late unless they were very naturally talented, I have discussed this with our SO, in the past and she said when kids start at 3, 4, 5 or 6 it makes no difference. By 7 or 8 they are at the same level as the other kids. But by the time they are 8 or 9 it becomes extremely hard to catch up.


Not sure what the kids in Australia are doing at 8 or 9... are you talking 'tricks'?  Because, developmentally speaking, most kids are just where they need to be at 8 or 9 to truly benefit from serious technique training.  Which is exactly the reason most very serious ballet schools don't even offer such training until that age.  I remember well where my own dd was at 8 or 9.... despite her starting at 3.  One dance class per week for 6 yrs can only take you so far.  So, given the right training? I have no doubt that she could easily have caught up if she'd waited the additional 5 or 6 yrs to start. 

IDK.  Based on what I've seen/experienced/read, what happens before the age of 10 or 11, maybe even 12, isn't necessarily going to make or break you.  It's what happens after that point that really matters.  The quality of the training.  The frequency & intensity of the training.  The dedication/determination of the teachers, the dancer, & their family.  Logic tells me the reason we don't hear about too many dancers starting later & succeeding in the long term is because we rarely see older dancers jumping in ready to put the pedal to the metal.  Searching out the very best training.  Doing what needs to be done.  Sure, Little Suzy can't just waltz into the twice weekly beginner teen class at Miss Mary's School of Dance & expect to reach her full potential... but Miss Mary's limited offerings for the older beginner may not be the only game in town.           

   

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my2miracles

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Reply with quote  #12 
Check out this young lady - she's a 1st year trainee at Joffrey Chicago.  She started dance at age 9.  You can also find a lot of videos on YouTube featuring her.  She's a fantastic dancer. 

http://joffrey.org/people/jasmine-getz-0
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Jacaranda

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Quote:
Originally Posted by heidi459



Not sure what the kids in Australia are doing at 8 or 9... are you talking 'tricks'?  Because, developmentally speaking, most kids are just where they need to be at 8 or 9 to truly benefit from serious technique training.  Which is exactly the reason most very serious ballet schools don't even offer such training until that age.  I remember well where my own dd was at 8 or 9.... despite her starting at 3.  One dance class per week for 6 yrs can only take you so far.  So, given the right training? I have no doubt that she could easily have caught up if she'd waited the additional 5 or 6 yrs to start. 

IDK.  Based on what I've seen/experienced/read, what happens before the age of 10 or 11, maybe even 12, isn't necessarily going to make or break you.  It's what happens after that point that really matters.  The quality of the training.  The frequency & intensity of the training.  The dedication/determination of the teachers, the dancer, & their family.  Logic tells me the reason we don't hear about too many dancers starting later & succeeding in the long term is because we rarely see older dancers jumping in ready to put the pedal to the metal.  Searching out the very best training.  Doing what needs to be done.  Sure, Little Suzy can't just waltz into the twice weekly beginner teen class at Miss Mary's School of Dance & expect to reach her full potential... but Miss Mary's limited offerings for the older beginner may not be the only game in town.           

   



From about 5 most studios that we associate with start the kids training 5-7 hours a week and start to take dance exams in at least 4 different dance subjects (classical ballet, Jazz, Tap, Musical theatre, sometimes acro). There is a strong focus on meticulous technical development from age 5, especially for exams. This is developed slowly at first, hence why at this age they can still catch up.

They work a lot on posture, turn out, flexibility (not contortion), musicality, placement etc. Except for turns I think our kids are taught tricks later in general. There is a lot less emphasis on tricks in the routines our kids do in competitions versus what I see on YouTube from US comps (although I am aware that what I watch on YouTube may not represent the general population). There is a lot of emphasis on prediction from a young age. Again from what Inhave seen on YouTube our kids tend to have much neater dances at a younger age. Even at 7 or 8 there is a lot of emphasis on doing things like everyone lifting leg leg to the exact same height at the exact same time, with the same body angle, head angle etc.

You don't see a lot of contortion moves, back catches, lifting legs behind head at any age. Because most of the studio owners we see, realise the long term health risks for their dancers and won't allow it.

Our competitions also just don't have kids shaking their butts, or doing sexy type moves, or wearing sexy type costumes. Yiu just don't see it, and on the rare occasion that you do they score very low. So again they have to dance properly because those booty shaking, sexy type moves are just not on.

Many of the competitons we attend require all dancers to wear tights. They adopt the no tights no dance policy, and any group with bare legs would be disqualified. Somit gives you an idea of how they would react to booty shaking.

The only tricks they do a lot of are leaps and turns. Our 8 year olds would be expected to have clean doubles to both the right and left both en dedans and en dehour. Many doing a lot more advanced turns like triples, quads, turns in seconds etc. This has changed in recent years, because when I was 8 we were only expected to have clean singles both ways.
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heidi459

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Reply with quote  #14 

Thanx for clarifying, Jacaranda.  So, what I'm getting from that is that in your area kids couldn't catch up because the curriculum is designed in such a way that if you haven't started at a young age, you will not really be given a chance to catch up.  Too bad really as it likely keeps older kids from even trying.  Which just further feeds this narrative that you can't become a great dancer unless you start very young.

All that said.... it would be interesting to know if Australian professional dancers, in general, are light years ahead of their American counterparts who were not so advanced at such a young age.  I'm thinking.... probably not?  Which then leads me to wondering why the need for 8 yr olds to do quads and a la secondes.  Why do they push for so much so soon?  And what happens to those 8 yos who just aren't developmentally ready?  Do they get left in the dust?  Are they given the message that because they can't, they simply don't have what it takes?   IDK.  I suppose that's a discussion for another thread.

 

  

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pirouettemom

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Reply with quote  #15 
It sounds like the Australian system is similar to the British system - extremely structured, moves slowly and emphasis on exams even at young ages. No offense, but I don’t think either country is known for their dancers being ahead (let alone light years ahead) of dancers from other countries. Perhaps the opposite, to be honest. Even the Royal Ballet seems to mostly hire foreign dancers.
It is not unheard of in Russia for their ballet dancers to start their training at age 10, which is the age schools such as Bolshoi and Vaganova accept students. I don’t think not starting their training at 7 or earlier makes it impossible for them to become professional dancers.
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Dancingdd

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Reply with quote  #16 
There’s a huge difference between training for competitions at a comp studio and training to be a ballerina. Let’s keep that in mind.
I’m sure there are plenty of non comp studios in Australia that focus on ballet that a child could start dancing at age 10,11,12,13 years old.
It’s the cool schools that push the kids at a very young age. At least that is what I see here in US. My friends daughter started at age 8 at a comp school and had to catch up. My DD didn’t even learn “real” ballet until she was 8.
Different strokes for different folks.
My friends daughter already wants to drop out because 2 of her friends did (out of comp not dancing). It’s very intense at a young age.
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heidi459

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dancingdd
There’s a huge difference between training for competitions at a comp studio and training to be a ballerina. Let’s keep that in mind. I’m sure there are plenty of non comp studios in Australia that focus on ballet that a child could start dancing at age 10,11,12,13 years old. It’s the cool schools that push the kids at a very young age. At least that is what I see here in US. My friends daughter started at age 8 at a comp school and had to catch up. My DD didn’t even learn “real” ballet until she was 8. Different strokes for different folks. My friends daughter already wants to drop out because 2 of her friends did (out of comp not dancing). It’s very intense at a young age.


And even at a comp studio... it depends on the particular studio.  My dd did start out at a comp studio but when she joined the team at 12, she and the five other 11/12 yos who made it with her were the youngest ones on the team.  Not every comp studio goes hard core from the get go.  It's really all about knowing what you want... and then looking for the studio that will provide it to you.
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Jacaranda

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Reply with quote  #18 
Quote:
Originally Posted by heidi459

Thanx for clarifying, Jacaranda.  So, what I'm getting from that is that in your area kids couldn't catch up because the curriculum is designed in such a way that if you haven't started at a young age, you will not really be given a chance to catch up.  Too bad really, as it likely keeps older kids from even trying.  Which just further feeds this narrative that you can't become a great dancer unless you start very young.

All that said.... it would be interesting to know if Australian professional dancers, in general, are light years ahead of their American counterparts who were not so advanced at such a young age.  I'm thinking.... probably not?  Which then leads me to wondering why the need for 8 yr olds to do quads and a la secondes.  Why do they push for so much so soon?  And what happens to those 8 yos who just aren't developmentally ready?  Do they get left in the dust?  Are they given the message that because they can't, they simply don't have what it takes?   IDK.  I suppose that's another discussion for another thread.

 

  



I don’t think our professional dancers are ahead, the standards of the kids now at a young age are much higher than they were 10-20 years ago. We also did exams in the same syllabus as the kids do now when I was a kid and the expectations were not as high as they are now. And every year when you go to competitions the bar just keeps lifting higher and higher.


There are also not that many professional dance opportunities in Australia. A lot of our dancers have to travel overseas to get work. The number of opportunities does seem to be increasing, but of course, so is the demand for those positions.

I also want to clarify, I am not speaking of the heavy ballet focused dance schools. We attend more of a competitions type school with an all around curriculum ballet, jazz, tap, contemporary, musical theatre, singing, drama, acrobatics, hip hop etc. And those are the types of studios we come in contact with at competitions and events. I a, sure it would be different at the ballet focused studios.

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Jacaranda

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Reply with quote  #19 
Quote:
Originally Posted by heidi459


And even at a comp studio... it depends on the particular studio.  My dd did start out at a comp studio but when she joined the team at 12, she and the five other 11/12 yos who made it with her were the youngest ones on the team.  Not every comp studio goes hard core from the get go.  It's really all about knowing what you want... and then looking for the studio that will provide it to you.


Only problem is, a lot of people don’t really know what they want. Their child wants to learn to dance and they look for a studio, and often end up thinking the way it’s done at their studio is the way it’s done everywhere.
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heidi459

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Reply with quote  #20 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacaranda
Only problem is, a lot of people don’t really know what they want. Their child wants to learn to dance and they look for a studio, and often end up thinking the way it’s done at their studio is the way it’s done everywhere.


And that's why it's so important to think things through before making decisions.  Why it's so important to do your homework.  And why we're all here [smile]

eta:  I obviously didn't know what dd would want long term when I first enrolled her in dance class at 3 but as the years went on I made sure to think about what she might want, as well as what I did/did not want, and used that to guide us in our search for studios.  Going in blind and then just blindly following along isn't what I would call a recipe for success.  Not in dance. Not in anything.
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tendumom

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Quote:
   #13 
Check out this young lady - she's a 1st year trainee at Joffrey Chicago.  She started dance at age 9.  You can also find a lot of videos on YouTube featuring her.  She's a fantastic dance



I was curious and used Google. The first article I found said she started dance at age 3. She may be like my dd who does not count the ballet she took prior to moving to a ballet school around age 9. 

I think this is also the case of an uber-talented kid who was recognized as a standout early on and had plenty of training. The article talks about her winning various national competitions and an international competition. 

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my2miracles

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Reply with quote  #22 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tendumom


I was curious and used Google. The first article I found said she started dance at age 3. She may be like my dd who does not count the ballet she took prior to moving to a ballet school around age 9. 

I think this is also the case of an uber-talented kid who was recognized as a standout early on and had plenty of training. The article talks about her winning various national competitions and an international competition. 



Yes interesting because the teacher named in that article  used to be DD's teacher and used to say that to the students all the time.  Perhaps she was a recreational dancer until 9 or the teacher was just a liar.  Quite possible we were definitely not happy there and they did take credit for her even though she took all of her ballet at that time from a well known ballet school in the area (she was 15, she's now 18-19).  Their name is all over the article but the 2 years we were there, she never took a class there just showed up to rehearse comp dances on occasion. 

She has had plenty of training - I never said that she didn't.  Just that I was told that her training didn't start until she was older.  She won the international competition at 15 and participated in many competitions each year during her teen years.  Anyway, she's a exceptional dancer and a very nice young lady.
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tendumom

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Reply with quote  #23 
It's probably that they didn't account for her previous dance and wanted the credit. You see that a lot out there! Many dancers train at different places over time so it's not usual except the part of creating an illusion that they had no dance before hand. Some of those little rec studios are excellent places to start! The best ones send the serious students off eventually.

There's a somewhat famous dancer from this area who is claimed by all 3 area ballet schools. I have become friends with her mom and learned that she was only at one of those schools for 3 months and less than a year at another. She was at the third for drop in classes and privates when she was home (same as my DD has done there, they claim DD as well but they don't usually call her a former student our of respect for the place she did train at growing up). Yet, if you talk to any of those people or read their press releases, you would have thought she trained there exclusively instead if SAB and JKO.
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heidi459

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Reply with quote  #24 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tendumom
It's probably that they didn't account for her previous dance and wanted the credit. You see that a lot out there! Many dancers train at different places over time so it's not usual except the part of creating an illusion that they had no dance before hand. Some of those little rec studios are excellent places to start! The best ones send the serious students off eventually. There's a somewhat famous dancer from this area who is claimed by all 3 area ballet schools. I have become friends with her mom and learned that she was only at one of those schools for 3 months and less than a year at another. She was at the third for drop in classes and privates when she was home (same as my DD has done there, they claim DD as well but they don't usually call her a former student our of respect for the place she did train at growing up). Yet, if you talk to any of those people or read their press releases, you would have thought she trained there exclusively instead if SAB and JKO.


Dd's former ballet school likes to do that.  A young man who is currently dancing with the Finnish National Ballet only spent one year there... as a finishing year... after spending all of his previous years training at a ballet school elsewhere.  But the AD claims him proudly as a product of HER training. 

I think we've talked about this before.... one of those things to keep in mind so that we don't make the mistake of placing too much importance on such info.  So we don't find out that Amazing Ballerina Mary trained at XYZ Ballet School and come away with this idea that XYZ School must be THE place to train because "look at Mary!".  I see far too many people doing that.   

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DanceMomLaura

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Reply with quote  #25 
My DD started her first hip hop class at age 10.  The year after she moved into other genres, such as ballet, jazz, musical theater.  She was asked on team at age 11.  The rest, as they say, is history.  She "caught up" just fine with all the dancers on her team, most of whom have been dancing since they were 3/4. 
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