8 year old ds wants to start ballet lessons - too late?

(28 Posts)
PeridotPassion Sun 03-Jan-16 10:32:47

Ds1 (nearly 8) has decided he wants to start ballet lessons. He's been scouring YouTube for ballet tutorials and trying to copy them and he does seem serious.

He already does street/hiphop and take parts in regular shows and he doesn't want to give this up, but wants to learn ballet as well.

My concern is that we've already missed the boat and that 8 is too old to start. Most 8 year olds doing ballet seem to have been doing it since 3/4. Also that ballet is a world away from street and hiphop - is it sensible to try and mix in that way or does he need to make a choice and stick to one? The other thing is that physique wise he's the very opposite of your typical ballet dancer - he's very very tall but also broad and big built, and whilst he's got good rythym and excels in his current dance class, I can't imagine him being graceful enough for ballet?

Any views appreciated....he's fairly sensitive and I suspect would really take it to heart if he started ballet and then was unable to keep up because of his age/build/other dancing background. If there's little chance of him doing well I'd rather try and gently steer him away from ballet iyswim?

WingMirrorSpider Sun 03-Jan-16 10:36:49

I'm not a ballet expert but would have thought 8 wasn't too late, especially if he's done other sorts off dance.

I'm sure I read somewhere that Darcey Bussell didn't start ballet properly until she was about 12.

neither did Billy Elliot grin

Seriouslyffs Sun 03-Jan-16 10:45:47

No, definitely not too late.

Chillywhippet Sun 03-Jan-16 10:49:37

My DS (9) started with ballet at nearly 8 and has added in tap and jazz since.

If your DS likes dance then ballet can only help as ballet is the basis for lots of other dance. Unless he wants to join the Royal Ballet his build won't matter at all. At my son's school there are all sorts of shapes and sizes. Sme kids have more natural ability but they all enjoy dancing and love being at class.

Both schools my son has been to have been very welcoming and supportive of him as a boy dancer. The one school had a boys group but some of the boys were very serious and DS preferred the atmosphere at the other school. His first lesson was just like Billy Elliot with the little girls looking at him, the older ones peeking out from behind the stage smile.

Both schools helped him move up classes quickly as he hadn't started at 3 and also let him attend the class above his grade class to help him with his skills and to be with older kids.

balletgirlmum Sun 03-Jan-16 10:50:26

8 is a very common age for a boy to start. And even if a child hasn't got the accepted traditional ballet physique (my dd hasn't either) ballet technique helps so much with other forms of dance.

The thing about Darcey bussell isn't quite true though. She had danced from a younger age but when to White Lodge as a teen (I think she'd been at Tring doing more general dance/MT before that.

Proper ballet tends to start around the age of 6/7 - before that it's more general dance/creative movement.

teacherwith2kids Sun 03-Jan-16 10:51:35

For a boy, 8 should be fine, tbh. Even if he does ballet for a relatively short time and to a relatively low level compared with other genres, the discipline and body awareness of ballet will stand him in good stead.

Choose your school with care. Try to find one with other boy dancers of a similar age, and one that is willing to put him in a 'slightly more advanced class with children of around his own age or just a little younger' rather than one that wants him to start right at the very beginning with much younger children. He may stay in that initial class for longer as a result, but the initial stages will be more fun / less offputting to him.

Again in choosing a school, look for one that has a good number of advanced classes and goes up to 18. Balletco's 'Doing Dance' forum is a good source of local recommendations for schools. RAD and ISTD are the most common 'rigorous' exam syllabuses to follow, though there are also good BBO schools and some do Cecchetti.

I suppose what I'm saying is that for an interested boy with some other dance experience, ballet is worth doing if you do it properly, with a good teacher at a well run school, if that makes sense?

MackerelOfFact Sun 03-Jan-16 10:54:48

Definitely not too late! Around his age is when a lot of boys start to drop out of ballet, so I think it's brilliant he wants to take it up.

Height and build should never be a problem for children, and ballet gives a fantastic grounding and training for other types of dance.

Provided you can afford the classes and exams etc, go for it. I'm sure most ballet schools would be thrilled to have him.

dodobookends Sun 03-Jan-16 12:06:50

I agree, definitely not too late, especially for boys. Many lads don't start ballet until their teens and do extremely well, and some do go on to a career in dance. Incidentally, ballet is very good for core strength and fitness, and a lot of professional rugby players do ballet exercises as part of their training regime.

Finding a school which already has other boys is a good idea if you can, and one which will let him join a class with his age group. As he already does dance classes, it won't take him long to catch up.

PeridotPassion Sun 03-Jan-16 16:44:25

Sorry I had to post and run earlier.

Thank you for all your comments, that's really encouraging! I'm going to start searching for schools now, and try and find one that hopefully has at least one other similar aged boy...I don't want him to be put off by ending up in a class with only 4 year old girls iyswim.

I'm very proud of him for not being put off wanting to do ballet though. When he mentioned it at first, ds2 (aged 5) instantly said that ballet's for girls and started making fun (which I've since spoken to him about). Ds1's response was 'So what? Most people think football's for boys but we have Amelia and Edie on our team in school. Don't see why I can't do ballet'. He was completely unconcerned smile

balletgirlmum Sun 03-Jan-16 16:48:42

Pop across to the Doing Dance section of balletcoforum.com with a thread saying roughly where you live & their may be members who can reccomend a school.

nonicknameseemsavailable Sun 03-Jan-16 22:55:46

good for him! no 8 isn't too old. Our school will GENERALLY try and keep kids with their age group, depends on the child but they wouldn't put someone in with people much much younger. I think if that was to be needed then they would suggest some private lessons to get up to speed a bit first and join the right age group.

dodobookends Sun 03-Jan-16 23:25:12

If a dance school suggest putting an age 7-8 beginner in with 4 year-olds, then find another school!

dodobookends Sun 03-Jan-16 23:28:53

Forgot to mention - yes, boys definitely do ballet - the Royal Ballet School took more boys than girls into Y7 last year...

GraciesMansion Mon 04-Jan-16 01:52:06

My ds started ballet (and other dance) at 7 and is now 11 and at full time ballet school. It's definitely not too late to start and physique seems to matter less with boys, certainly in my son's class there's a wide range of body shapes. Try and find a school who seem interested in encouraging boys. Some really find them an inconvenience and this rubs off on the girls. Good luck.

Just to echo that 8 is not too late. Find a good school where the teachers are up to date, there are some horrible ballet teachers who can not only put a dancer off but teach poor technique and build the 'wrong' muscles.
You can get good advice on the forums mentioned, and there are some good books and online resources. Nothing beats a good teacher. The Royal Opera House youtube channel has some inspiring videos. Books I like include Warren's Classical Ballet Technique, and more child oriented The Ballet Companion - both have lots of photographs as well as comprehensive explanations of terminology etc. Still, nothing beats a good teacher as no matter how comprehensive a written/video guide is, a good teacher will know how to get the best movement and alignment from an individual, and keep up to date with changing standards (for positions etc.)
Ballet is known as the Latin of dance for good reason, and will improve his other dance. One of the smoothest bboys I danced with (back when my knees didn't groan) had trained in ballet first and it really showed.
I love ballet and think everyone should do it!

/gush

balletgirlmum Mon 04-Jan-16 09:29:08

Did they really dodo? Usually it's a strict 12 boys & 12 girls based on the number of beds available.

dodobookends Mon 04-Jan-16 16:38:40

Only 11 girls I've heard on the grapevine.

EmStAubert Wed 06-Jan-16 13:45:31

Yes, dodo is right about the boys intake into RB! Boys also seem to do well at auditions for RBJAs too and 'potential' is taken more into consideration people say.

Darcey Bussell didn't start ballet at 12, though! She was in White Lodge by then, started ballet years earlier.

Raxacoricofallapatorius Wed 06-Jan-16 13:49:55

BIL started at 14 after a gymnastics injury and operation. He did it to maintain fitness and aid recovery.

He's a professional ballet dancer and does other stuff (tap, jazz, modern etc) on the side.

Definitely not too late!

MarmiteAndButter Wed 06-Jan-16 13:50:12

My daughter started at 8. It's not too late for a girl either! It's a good age to be honest. She did grade one and then skipped all the others and did grade 5 and then above. Glad I didn't have to pay for those pre grade ones!
She is good enough to do it as a career if she wants to now, although never Royal Ballet standard. However, she wants to be a doctor instead 😏
The boy she dances with by the way is lovely. Really sweet. He even as an older teen hasn't had any issue with "bullying".

Devilishpyjamas Fri 08-Jan-16 21:37:12

DS started at 13, so 8 seems ideal!

NotAStageMother Fri 08-Jan-16 23:04:36

OP, if you are in London I can recommend the London Boys Ballet School, which runs in central London and only takes boys (and lots of them!).

DS started ballet with them at age 9 having never danced before, was put straight into Grade 2 with about a dozen boys his own age, and has had a great experience there.

PeridotPassion Sat 09-Jan-16 09:04:41

NotAStage - i'm not in London (about 3 hours away) BUT I've come across the LBBS in my City. They apparently have branched out and have other dance schools that they now work in partnership with.

So, DS1 has a trial at our branch of LBBS next week smile

KathyBeale Sat 09-Jan-16 09:14:14

This is really interesting. My son is only five but he is desperate to do ballet (I didn't even know he knew what ballet was!). He's got a trial lesson today and he is very excited about it. I hope he likes it and that he's not discouraged if the class is all girls.

Frazzled2207 Sat 09-Jan-16 09:26:31

No advice but just wanted to say how great for your son for wanting to do something regardless of what others think. I'd love it if my sons wanted to do ballet.

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