Fact: Classical music, introduced at an early age, widens a child’s palette and many young children find it naturally more interesting than redundant pop music. Children are not as easily bored as we think and they deserve more credit than that. Rather than over stimulating a child by bouncing around from one thing to the next, ballet endeavors to instill the ability for focus. No plié is the same as the one before and children get that. Their ‘boredom’ of ballet is often learned.
Myth: Ballet schools are really strict and I want my child to have fun.
Fact: While ballet requires a great deal of discipline and focus, children have more fun in structured environments where they are challenged. Most students do not even realize how much they are learning. Children take a great deal of pride in accomplishing something challenging and more joy comes from that than any amount of booty-wiggling and chatting with friends.
Myth: There is no reason why my child can’t just do hip hop, jazz or tap.
Fact: Ballet is the foundation of all of these dance forms. Your child will not learn properly without ongoing conditioning through classical ballet. Their bodies will not be able to execute the steps with strength and thereby with any level of safety. Period.
Myth: I’ve already taken ballet and know all of the steps. In fact, I’ve taken ballet for 10 years. There’s no reason I have to continue taking classes to be good at it.
Fact: Any retired dancer can tell you that ballet is not something that you can learn and remember forever. Ballet is an ongoing discipline that is necessary to properly condition the body to execute dance movements safely and gracefully. Dancing classical ballet is like being on the opposite side of an escalator. You’re trying to go up, but the escalator is pulling you back down. If you stop moving up, you’ll end up back where you started.
Myth: In order to get real ballet instruction, my teen is expected to take class four or five times a week. I’d rather just go to a local commercial dancing school for a weekly lesson.
Fact: Although most ballet schools do have minimum class requirements for dancers of a certain age, parents of recreational ballet students can find quality open ballet classes for their children. Teen classes should be approximately 1.5 hours long and replete with dancing (spending 10 minutes on attendance should be a red flag) – there is that much to cover. Anything over a 12:1 student to staff ratio should be a red flag. Your child should be expected to use and remember the same French terminology as the more advanced classes; terminology and alignment are the same no matter what your level. The instructor should have reputable credentials and referrals. If parents are not welcome to observe class at least in an occasional capacity, that should be a red flag. When it comes to ballet, it’s simply not worth it to settle.
Myth: Ballet dancers are too thin, often have poor body images, are very competitive with one another and are put down by their teachers. I don’t want my teen to experience that culture and I’m afraid ballet wouldn’t be good for her fragile self-esteem.
Fact: Most students of classical ballet have the very opposite experience. Ballet is a strenuous form of exercise but leads to a greater appreciation of one’s body and a healthier self-image. Students participate in a community of peers that are like-minded and supportive, very often for more serious students building a home away from home at the studio. Teachers (at least the good ones) provide constructive criticism in a way that builds rather than depletes a child. If you’ve experienced a ballet school that does not provide these things, then the problem is the school, not the experience of classical ballet.