Ballet or gymnastics?(17 Posts)
Could anyone please give me advice on any pros and cons of ballet (or other dance?) and gymnastics, and how to choose which one is likely to appeal to DD long term?
Also, any advice on choosing one particular class/club over another would be appreciated. I feel pretty clueless about it!
DD is just 2.3 so although we can do trial classes, her reaction will vary a lot based on mood! Also, although there are quite a few of each type of class within driving distance, they tend to have long waiting lists so we can't easily chop and change. Doing both isn't really an option except maybe very short term.
DD loves moving, climbing, balancing and using her body. She's unusually advanced at that (not being pfb - she's very average at everything else!). She has amazing balance and is very adventurous on playground equipment (and stairs, walls, railings, scooter...). It's hard to describe, but she just GETS how to use her body.
In some ways, gymnastics seems the obvious choice. But because movement flows so naturally for her, I'm almost wary that being taught techniques for how to move might mess with that. I'm also a bit worried that she isn't very keen on being told what to do, and I assume that will be important in gymnastics.
The case for dancing is that she's shown the usual little girl interest in 'dancing like a princess' (spinning around with her arms up) and more importantly has always seemed very responsive to music and moving to it. (Most memorably, dancing like a crazed person with head banging as my friend played his South American drum ). My gut feeling tells me she would really enjoy dancing. And I suspect that she's more likely to be co-operative when it involves following the group, rather than following individual instructions!
Following instructions is quite a concern. At music class, it's hard to stop her wandering off and climbing, whereas the other children sit happily in the circle. I'm hoping that something physical which she is interested in will be easier, but I suspect it will be on her own terms - so if one of the activities is very regimented that probably wouldn't be a good fit.
Alternatively, if you have an idea for a different activity/sport which you think would suit based on my description, I'd be very happy to hear it!
Thank you for reading to the end!
Could you give both a go short term and decide in 6 months or so. She may end up doing modern dance or street dance which would benefit from experience of both, but that would be a little further down the line.
I'd consider starting her with gymnastics - if she's very active she might find a ballet class a bit tame. You can always add a dance class later.
From a practical point of view, starting gym early is an advantage, whereas I would imagine most children with an aptitude for dance could catch up quite quickly if they started a little later than their peers.
I'd go gymnastics as well but I think 2.3 is quite young to be going to anything too structured. DS (2.5) goes to gymnastics and loves it, but it's more of a cross between music and movement (which is optional whether they want to join in or not) and free play on the apparatus which is a bit like soft play. When chatting to the teacher she said she had tried more structured approaches but they didn't really work with the age of the child as if they don't want to do something they just won't. For example DS will happily do a forward role but rarely when the teacher is assisting or demonstrating - and she never pushes the kids to join in if they don't feel like it . I would phone or try a few taster classes and go for something which is not too structured.
I would do gym for now and then when she's about 4/5 have a look at Dance as there are lots of classes for that age group. The gym history will help with all dance forms.
For example my DDs dance school do ballet, tap, modern, street, singing, drama, acro gymnastics and dance conditioning for that age range. And once she's 5 she'll be able you express which are her preferences.
Either type of class will help with discipline / taking instruction which will come in useful at nursery/school ie waiting your turn for apparatus etc.
Thank you all, that's really helpful!
Dangermouse, I'm glad it's not only my DD who has to do things on her own terms! She does need to learn to follow instructions in the next few years, as singleandproud says. I'm keen for her to have the chance to learn that, but realistic about where she is now!
That's helpful to know that dance is something that you don't need to start super-early. So I'll try some of the gymnastics classes close by and find one with a nice approach, then try dancing a bit later.
Definitely go for gymnastics - it gives a great grounding for any other sport they would like to do.
My 12 yr o dd1 loves gymnastics. I took her to ballet and other dances when she was 3+ but she wouldn't do any at all. Then tried gym when she was 5 and she has been loving it ever since. For my 9yr o dd2 I made her do gymnastics when she was 4 yr o just wanted to make life easier for myself if they both would do the same activities. But dd2 really didn't like gymnastics so gave up after a couple of years. Then started dance lessons at 7 and she really loves all the dances. So really they need to try things out for themselves.
My DD begged me to learn to dance at 2. I don't know where she got the idea, but I found a baby ballet class that would take her at 2.4, and they did ballet and tap. She loved it. It was fairly structured, but done at a child's level (the class was for 2.6 -4 yo). She is nearly 1 now and does ballet, tap and modern classes now and still loves dancing.
I think you will need to try out different classes and see what suits. A toddler will not join in with a class (both will require some structure - even just a basic safety level) if they do not want to be there.
My DC both do dance, and I have seen many 2 year olds refusing to join in, normally after a successful first lesson. There is nothing wrong with them not wanting to join in, it is just what two year olds are like! I started my own DD at 2.5, after several lessons involving her just rolling round on the floor, I pulled her out and tried again when she turned 3 She was much better, although in retrospect, I think I should have left it until about 3.5 (she is now 3.8) as it is only in the last couple of months that she is joining in with everything and 'getting it' IYSWIM. I don't have experience of gymnastics, so not sure if it is as structured, so can't advise on that.
For dance though, they really do need to be able to follow instructions most of the time, and that is a skill that comes with age really.
Formal gymnastics doesn't start a four. Pre school gym is usually play based.
My DD does ballet but I have seen teenagers coming to ballet after years of gymnastics and they have fantastic flexibility and a definite edge over those doing ballet all along. My DD refused to stick at gymnastics though and adored ballet from the start even though the gymnastic facilities and teacher seemed better so it'll probably be whichever your dc like.
My DD does both and loves both equally. She doesn't have the natural grace or long lean limbs of a ballet dancer, but she loves dancing and has rhythm and feels the music so she does okay. She's also strong and active like your daughter, and gymnastics helps get some of that pent up energy out.
Gym seems the obvious choice for your DD and there is a lot of clambering over stuff, it's not all cartwheels and round offs and doing what you're told for preschoolers!
Gym seems a good basis for a lot of different sports. Personally I prefer tap to ballet around age 4-6. There's a lot of listening to the beat, clapping along and a lot more movement IMO compared with ballet. The ballet lot always seem so static compared to the tappers in that age group. But for now she is only 2, it doesn't much matter what she does now and she can pick up the other later on. My DD moved very easily from gym to ballet at 7.
What about something like Tumble Tots? Lots of climbing and balancing and at that age, I think they can choose what equipment they use in class.
I thought I would come back and let you know what we did and how DD got on - in case any posters were curious, and for anyone finding the thread on search.
We started gymnastics last year, and DD absolutely LOVES it! Can't wait to go in and can barely contain her excitement when she's there Initially it was mum and child together: basically just let loose in an amazing gym to enjoy all the (safe for the age) equipment and also little stations they set up like climbing up a ladder then rolling down a slope, trampolines, balancing on beams and benches, swinging on ropes etc. She's just this term started going in without me to do the same kind of things with instructors.
We held back on dancing, and she recently had a trial lesson. I'm glad we tried it (she's been asking to for a good 6 months!) but although she enjoyed it, she didn't seem to really 'get' it. I think where she is developmentally just now is that she loves discovering how her body works and what she can make it do (which is why the not-very-structured gym is perfect) but the concept of conciously choosing to do specific things on command (rather than because it's what the equipment/situation demands) is a bit alien to her. She does try to follow the instructions, but seems a bit bemused! So we're going to hold off and try again a bit later - when she's old enough to choose the type of dance she likes, as people suggested.
Thank you all for the great advice - it really helped!
I know it's a slight zombie - but I thought I'd add in (I've got a 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 year old) - both do dancing which is half tap, half ballet (in the loosest sense of the word!) but our gymnastics club (as opposed to tumble tots etc) only takes from 3 years and has a fair whack of a waiting list.
DD1 started there a few months back and the combination of both the dance and gymnastics has made a massive difference to her physical confidence (she was pretty bad on the gross motor skills and confidence front). Both classes I think help by the fact that the staff teaching them really do "get" preschoolers! DD2 is on the wait list to start when she turns 3 as well.
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