Ballet class is the cornerstone of your student’s formal dance education. When a student decides to pursue dance studies seriously, ballet is essential to their training as it provides the technique needed for almost all forms of dance, and a disciplined, professional dedication to developing as an athlete and artist.
Ballet classes are not appropriate for very young students who do not yet have the attention span nor the gross motor skills to learn ballet properly. Usually ballet classes can begin at age 5, although pre-ballet and creative movement classes are highly beneficial for students ages 3-5 prior to entering ballet. Some students are not ready to begin ballet this young and do better when starting at 7 or 8. Ballet takes discipline and self-control to be learned properly and without risk of injury. If a student is not able to focus at age 5-6 they may want to try ballet later at age 7-8 when they have matured somewhat. Boys can start even later (a few professional danseurs have started as late as age 12-13!) It is rare but there have been a few famous ballerinas who started ballet quite late (such as Kristi Boone and Misty Copeland of American Ballet Theatre who were 13 respectively!) Ballet classes for personal enrichment can be started at any age!
It is highly recommended that students ages 6+ add jazz, hip hop, or tap classes to augment their formal training. Because ballet is so precise, younger students often feel that they aren’t “dancing” enough and may give up if they only take ballet classes. When they take jazz, tap or hip hop in addition to their ballet class(es), they will not only get to learn and dance the movements at a somewhat quicker pace but will also develop versatility with their bodies, a fundamental quality to possess as a dancer. Older students are also encouraged to add Modern classes to their curriculum.
Students may develop a preference for styles other than ballet but this does not mean that they should give up ballet classes. Unlike an academic elective, ballet is more like the “English Language Arts” class that is mandatory because it pertains to all the other subjects. The technique we gain from ballet is used throughout all forms of dance and ballet classes should continually be part of a student’s dance education regardless of what their favorites are. Studying several different dance styles is fun, enriching and is also very important, but students should not forget that ballet class is where great dancers are made.
Erika Lindblom, Dance Instructor