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Dancers -are they born or can they be made?

(25 Posts)
pinkhousesarebest Sun 15-Jun-14 22:05:15

Dd (10) had her end of year Gala thing tonight. She has done ballet for two years and loves it, and looks like a little ballerina. But she lacks confidence hugely, looks to the others for guidance and is just a bit wooden. Some of the others are beautiful to watch already- every movement graceful.

I was wondering, as I watched her, should I encourage her to continue, when there is a wealth of other things she could enjoy and be good at. I know she feels she is not as good as the others and that makes her even more unsure of herself. Can children grow into dance or is it sort of pre-ordained?

MelanieCheeks Sun 15-Jun-14 22:09:26

The confidence will come in time. It would be a little premature to abandon it now if she still enjoys it, just cos you think she'll not make the Royal Ballet one day.

My personal experience is that ballet is an excellent foundation for lots of things in future life.

OddFodd Sun 15-Jun-14 22:15:12

I don't understand what you mean by can you make dancers? I think a poorer dancer can be made better but your DD may never be good enough to be a pro. Does it matter though?

cosmicstardust Sun 15-Jun-14 23:11:25

Watching with interest. My DD is seven and started dancing about a month ago at a very, very recreational school, purely, we thought, as something 'fun' she could do to boost her confidence. The teacher thinks she has a lot of natural ability for it and has moved her up a class, provided she carries on doing the lower level to make sure she has the technique foundation too. We were told by other parents we know with kids at 'proper' dance schools that clearly the teacher is going about it all the wrong way and she can't be doing any of the steps properly, but then she tried a Chinese classical dance class today at our local Buddhist center and we were told by the teacher there she's a natural. DP and I know absolutely nothing about dance so can't judge. She's naturally very flexible and apparently has nice feet for ballet, she's also a perfectionist and gets obsessive about getting things exactly right, so assuming she is vaguely good at it it's probably a combination of helpful genetics and her mentality. But that's an if. We're definitely not pushy parents, we just want her to enjoy it.

unrealhousewife Sun 15-Jun-14 23:14:33

Try her in a gymnastics class, she might want the physicality without the poise that ballet demands.

pinkhousesarebest Mon 16-Jun-14 15:02:42

Thanks for all your responses. Unreal she has done several years of gymnastics, but she didn't want to continue. What I would love for her is that she could find a sport that she will pursue through her teenage years, and maybe have for life as my ds has done with athletics. I can see she is not a natural like your dd Cosmic, but maybe with growing confidence she will relax and enjoy it more.

deepbluetr Mon 16-Jun-14 15:21:43

Very few children who dance will become professional dancers. It's the journey that is important though and the life lessons, skills and confidence that are learned along the way that are important. These lessons will help a child in lots of areas of life that may seem at first unrelated.

This article is lovely:

Shesparkles Mon 16-Jun-14 15:31:02

8 is actually relatively "old" to start ballet, but on saying that, it really is the best foundation for every other kind of dance, whether that be jazz, tap, modern, street or whatever.
I do think you either have a natural flair or you don't, my dd has been dancing since she was 3, and at going on 17, took part in a show on Saturday night which brought tears to my eyes, she is a natural, whatever that is, and Has been told this by several teachers.
My niece in the other hand, also started when she was 3, and at almost 12, is never going to be a Prima ballerina, but the enjoyment she gets out of it is phenomenal, her smiles at she was dancing in the show were the real thing (rather than the rictus grin), and she puts so much effort in, and gets such a lot out if it.
Would she be open to maybe another year of ballet (fantastic for posture), so she has the basics, then transfer over to another type of dance

ElphabaTheGreen Mon 16-Jun-14 15:32:53

If she loves it, let her continue. A career as a dancer is pretty grim - short, impoverished and injury-filled unless you're a one-in-a-trillion like Darcey Bussel - so if she doesn't look like she's headed that way, be very pleased! grin But at least she'll have a hobby she loves, that also keeps her fit and sociable. How good she is at it it immaterial.

deepbluetr Mon 16-Jun-14 15:36:59

"8 is actually relatively "old" to start ballet" - yes but that depends on the reasons for starting. My DDs dance school has a ballet class for "teen starters" it's lovely to see these 14 and 15 year olds blossom as they begin to dance, sitting their grade 2 or three. Great for body image, confidence and 100 other reasons. No they will not become profesional dancers starting so late- but that isn't so important.

My DD like yours has been dancing since she was 4, 10 years ago, but I would say it's never too late to start

ElphabaTheGreen Mon 16-Jun-14 15:42:17

I started ballet at 14. I was en pointe and with girls my own age within six months and ready to audition for professional schools by 17. There is no 'too old', really. It's down to the individual. Professional examples: Natalia Makarova and Misty Copeland never set foot in a ballet class until they were 13 years old. Didn't do their careers any harm smile

deepbluetr Mon 16-Jun-14 15:48:30

That's very inspiring Elphaba.

cosmicstardust Mon 16-Jun-14 16:06:12

To be honest I'm not convinced she is a 'natural' as such pink, I think if you're naturally quite flexible and you have a bit of a perfectionist mentality it's just easy to look like one at 7 IYSWIM. We live in an area where a lot of Dance Moms-esque competition dance goes on, so most of the kids with real talent are going to be at the 'proper' dance studios near us, not in recreational classes. DD is going to try a class at a ballet school this week which will be with kids who have been doing two classes a week for at least this year, it could well be a different story there! I know absolutely nothing about dance so could be totally wrong but I don't think the current teacher is as diabolically awful as some have told me she must be. But I do think she probably puts more emphasis on doing the steps to a decentish standard and having fun than she does on doing it all properly.

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 16-Jun-14 20:04:33

That is inspiring & also Katymacs dd is another example of a late starter (though she had done ballroom & Latin)

My dd is at vocational school but regardless if how good she is or isn't I would still let her dance & be the best that she can be because she loves it so much.

Some stuff can definatly he taught (technique, posture etc) some you are born with or not (turnout, feet, flexibility) sine is innate (musicality, performance)

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 16-Jun-14 20:07:03

Cosmic- I've known of children start ballet at age 8-9get into junior associates a year later then White Lodge at 11 so it can be done.

tumbletumble Mon 16-Jun-14 20:16:43

What does your DD say, OP? I think if she has been dancing for two years and is still looking 'wooden' then it may be that she is naturally less talented than some girls and will never be as good as them. However that doesn't matter if she enjoys it.

You say you would love her to find a sport that she pursues throughout her teenage years, but that may not be what she wants. Maybe she is musical / bookish / an animal lover rather than sporty?

unrealhousewife Mon 16-Jun-14 20:28:18

Pinkhouse after reading these recent posts, perhaps DD's dancing days are just beginning.

pinkhousesarebest Mon 16-Jun-14 22:16:27

It's encouraging, isn't it? Anyway, she does seem to love it and that's the main thing. And if she could look like the senior girls (all shapes and sizes but really comfortable in their bodies and fit) what a bonus that would be.
Am off to read your link Deepblue. Elphaba do you still dance?

ElphabaTheGreen Tue 17-Jun-14 07:19:46

Pink I did my last ballet class when I was 38 weeks pg (no jumping, obvs!) with DS, now 2.0 years old. I had every intention of going back ASAP but I ended up with a non-sleeping velcro-baby so it didn't happen sad I'm now 33 weeks pg with his brother so it's not going to happen any time soon, but I will definitely get back to it, as well as tap, which I did until about 25 weeks before I couldn't cope with the bouncing around, as soon as the spheres align correctly.

I would dearly have loved a career in dance, and I did well in all my exams and got good roles in shows, but my amazing teacher sat me down when I was 16/17, told me how lucky I was to have such a lovely figure, but that it was not the right shape for ballet. She was absolutely right, and never left me feeling like I needed to lose weight. It also meant I never got bitter about dancing and has been something I've kept up for over 20 years. A good school and a good teacher is essential. That 'Dance Moms' just looks depressing sad

unrealhousewife Tue 17-Jun-14 11:22:07

And there are all kinds of developments that happen in the teenage brain, some of these may affect co-ordination. Plus of course hips being wider will affect balance positively. Their whole body changes.

NuzzleandScratch Tue 17-Jun-14 11:37:16

Pink, I was a professional ballerina for a short while, so ballet was a massive part of my life from when I started age 5, right through vocational school from age 16. I think the key point is that you say your daughter loves it. Children can be talented but not interested and vice versa. It is true what others have said on this thread that ballet offers so much more than just a possible career path. I have so many happy memories of taking part in competitions and shows with my friends over the years, and the discipline it gives you can carry across into all areas of your life.

Ballet as a career is incredibly tough. Having the perfect physique is a must (I didn't, hence it wasn't a long term thing for me), but I believe more important than this is the mental attitude. You have to be thick skinned, teachers and directors can be harsh, and you have to learn to take criticism. Ultimately, if someone bothers to criticise you (I'm talking in the dance world, say in a rehearsal), it usually means they think you're worth bothering with.

The chances of her making it a career are very small, so I would just continue to encourage her whilst she still enjoys it. If she lacks confidence due to feeling she's not as good as some of the others, then maybe that isn't a good thing long term.

To answer your original question, I do think a natural talent for dance is something that can't be taught, but that doesn't mean those who don't have it can't enjoy it too!

unrealhousewife Tue 17-Jun-14 11:41:16

And there's not just ballet - so many different types of dance classes now particularly in London.

nonicknameseemsavailable Tue 17-Jun-14 21:11:03

there are so many other types of dance she could try - some people think that ballroom dancers look almost wooden because of the posture they have to have so could she look into other forms of dance? She may not be a natural ballerina but that doesn't mean she doesn't have rhythm and the ability to dance very well in a different style.

Timeisawastin Tue 17-Jun-14 21:11:11

My Dd took up synchronised swimming at 13 after giving up gymnastics. She wasn't a swimmer, but found it easy enough to pick up. She has progressed rapidly and is now competing at national level. It's a great sport to move into from dance or gymnastics and there are clubs all over the country.

Elsiequadrille Tue 24-Jun-14 00:52:00

That is inspiring, Elphaba. Had no idea Misty Copeland and Makarova started ballet so late. That is unusual. More usual is that the later starters were gymnasts first E.g. Sylvie Guillem, Alina Cojocaru

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