What Is The Best Age To Start Ballet?
Ballet is a fun and challenging sport that parents can enroll their children in at a young age. Ballet can be beneficial for physical and mental health, and it can even sometimes turn into a rewarding and glamorous career. With so many long-term benefits at play, the question arises: what is the best age to start ballet? Read on to find out the best ages to start ballet and the factors that affect that decision.
When putting your child into ballet classes, it’s important to consider what you want them to get out of it. Ballet can be an excellent supplement to other types of dance and sports because it builds up lean, non-bulky muscles in your body, creating better posture and flexibility. Additionally, it can boost your skills in balance, coordination, memory, and even concentration. While ballet dancers can reap these benefits at any age, an earlier start is recommended for those with dreams of having a professional career in the sport.
At ages three to five, it is best to enroll one’s child into pre-ballet classes before throwing them into the deep end of ballet. Starting serious ballet training at this age may be difficult due to a toddler’s body not being strong enough to withstand much of the training required, and it can even be detrimental to a body where the bones are still growing longer and stronger. During pre-ballet, the basis of ballet is taught instead. Pre-ballet classes are focused on coordination skills to improve bodily control, as well as repetitive movements to aid with memorization of ballet moves. This often involves teaching better posture, how to use the handlebar, and fundamental ballet positions.
Age eight is when most serious training in ballet begins. Ballet becomes taught in a much more organized manner, which involves learning positions and foot movements, as well as the memorization of movements in order to perform them smoothly. During this time period, your child should be prepared to have fast-paced lessons that will help drill these positions and movements into their mind. Around this age, ballet instructors often work towards training students to graduate from using canvas shoes to the more professional and difficult pointe shoes.
Ages 12 and Up
When teaching ballet to teenagers, there is usually a lot of catching up to do, and classes are often very rigorous. It is not uncommon for ballet classes for this age group to take up over 20 hours in a child’s week. This is also where many students learn the artistic and storytelling aspects of ballet, including character dance, and begin to work on building their repertoire. There is a lot to learn in this stage, so your child might have to work extra hard to close the gap between them and students who have already begun learning to have a grasp on the fundamentals.
Starting ballet after your teenage years can have many difficulties, even if only done for enjoyment. Ballet is a sport that requires a slow buildup of skills, so it is much better to start as early as you can. Also, finding classes that serve adults is difficult, as there are few people in that age group looking to start ballet.
For Future Professional Athletes
To become a professional ballet dancer, the general rule of thumb is that the earlier you start, the better suited your child will be to dance. Professional ballet dancers often begin training from age seven, and it generally takes eight to 10 years to get to a professional level. Starting ballet early is also better due to the early expiration date on ballet dancer’s careers. A ballet dancer’s career generally ends between ages 30 and 40 due to the physical limitations and strain of doing ballet in a weaker body.
Ballet is a competitive sport, where very few people make it to a professional level. In fact, only 10% of people pursuing a career in dance actually make it into the professional industry. This number can jump up if your child makes it into a very competitive art school that is known for sending dancers into the professional industry, and starting training at a young age can give your child a higher chance of getting into such a school. However, it is not unheard of for a professional dancer to have started from an older age. Misty Copeland from the American Ballet Theater started training at age 13 and started winning ballet awards as young as 15.
Dancing ballet often comes with many risks, just like any other physical activity. One of the common ways ballet dancers injure themselves is through dehydration, which often leads to cramping in the muscles and other injuries. Another common form of injury comes from forcing certain movements and extensions. Moving limbs in ways that cause discomfort and require extra exertion is often a sign that one needs to improve flexibility, as forcing a movement can lead to injuries.
Perhaps one of the most common ways a ballet dancer can get injured is from having problems with their shoes. Ballet dancers’ pointe shoes, which allow them to stand atop their toes, must fit them well and snugly, and an ill-fitting shoe can lead to various injuries, including blisters, bruised toenails, and tendonitis from tensing their feet due to the shoe being too loose.
How do I get my kid started with ballet?
There are many ways to get your child interested in ballet and get them started. Getting them into exercising and repetitive movements can lay a good foundation for the kind of rigorous work they have to put into doing ballet. Allowing them to see the creative aspect of ballet through exposing them to music and showing them performances such as The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy can help them get a feel for ballet before sending them to a ballet class.
How old should my child be to play ballet?
Ballet classes should be started around age eight. It is a competitive industry with a career that usually doesn’t last long, so getting a head start is often more favorable if you have hopes of a professional future. It is also advised not to start earlier than four because children often lack focus and coordination needed to start ballet before that age.
Can I teach my child ballet?
Teaching the basics of ballet is certainly possible. There are many tutorials online to get started with ballet, so they may be useful in getting you and your child started when learning at home. However, when it comes to more artistic and professional forms of ballet, it is better to get a professional to teach it, as they have a better grasp on the performance and storytelling aspects of ballet, which are difficult to teach without experience.
How do I pick a ballet coach for my child?
Picking a ballet coach requires looking at their experience, qualifications, and their attitude towards children starting out, as well as their attitude towards ballet itself. Good ballet teachers will often be taught by people affiliated with a professional dance company, and they will always be certified to teach. Good ballet teachers will also have respect towards ballet as an art form, and then it all comes down to choosing what kind of communication style and approach best fits your child’s needs.