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Contemporary dance for 9 year old?

(29 Posts)
Obeliskherder Sun 15-May-16 20:45:56

My 9 year old has only been doing ballet for a couple of years. She really wants to do contemporary dance. There aren't many such classes around for her age group, but I've found one at a local theatre.

However her ballet school doesn't run contemporary classes for 9 year olds and her teacher says she'd need to start with modern and work up.

Who should I believe, the theatre or the ballet teacher? And how difficult would it be to start modern at 9 with only limited experience of ballet? This is all very much just for fun, and the modern would be logistically easier for me.

Moonlightceleste Sun 15-May-16 21:08:40

I am not an expert by any means,, but my DD has just started rhythmic. The girls her age who compete (she's nearly 7) do about 8 hours a week training, including an hour of contemporary dance. They don't do modern, they add jazz and contemporary in at the same age as far as I can tell.

I did a lot of dance as a child, but not in the UK. Most of what I did was ballet and from there I added in contemporary, lyrical modern, jazz etc. Ballet was seen as the basis for all forms of dance and as long as we were doing ballet we could add in other styles like contemporary. I'm struggling to see why she would need modern first, especially if she already has some dance experience. I'm wondering if that's the teacher's way of getting your DD to try something she offers at her dance school rather than going somewhere else!

nonicknameseemsavailable Sun 15-May-16 21:27:43

I don't know very much but from what I have seen I THINK a lot of places start with ballet, then add in tap and modern and then as they get older would then add in lyrical, contemporary and jazz. (I still don't know the difference between some of these)

So some dance schools don't offer it until they are teenagersish.

Modern is very easy to pick up compared to ballet or tap, she wouldn't have any problem doing that if she has been doing ballet for a couple of years.

nonicknameseemsavailable Sun 15-May-16 21:30:44

of course the contemporary class might not actually be contemporary as such but using what they see as an attractive name.

Best idea would be for her to try a class of each and then she will see if either is what she is hoping for.

LIZS Sun 15-May-16 21:31:14

Modern is often linked to musical theatre but develops core strength and coordination. Jazz is usually from around 10 and Contemporary ballet based.

dodobookends Mon 16-May-16 01:11:38

As far as I understand it, to do contemporary dance properly you need considerable core strength, physical maturity and secure technique & placement. This is why you are finding it hard to find classes for her age group, and why dance schools tend to wait until students are 11+ (usually in their early teens) before introducing it.

Since your dd's dance teacher is recommending that she starts modern first, then I'm inclined to think that modern is probably the best idea at her age.

Contemporary technique is not easy if you haven't already got strong dance technique, and you can pick up bad habits - which you then have to unlearn and spend years correcting!

Obeliskherder Mon 16-May-16 09:40:06

Thank you all, such helpful replies. Moonlight that is my worry too, and modern doesn't look all that engaging. As Nonicknames says, trying them might help, but I suspect DD would go for the less convenient contemporary one irrespective of whether that would be "worse for her dancing" than sticking with her ballet school. And the fact that there are so few contemporary lessons around for this age group makes me wary of them.

It's different for children who are doing 6/7/8 hours of dance a week. They're on a different track to one doing an hour a week of ballet, and different "rules" apply.

Reading these replies though, I'm wondering if modern is any help towards contemporary at all, or whether the best thing is just to stick at ballet. Modern might grow into jazz I suppose (?)

nonicknameseemsavailable Mon 16-May-16 10:03:34

do you know what board they study for modern?

I think there is a lot of difference between them. ISTD is Modern Theatre Dance, BTDA is Modern Jazz. IDTA I think is also Modern Jazz but I could be wrong on that. Whether they really do lean towards jazz more than ISTD I don't know, I am only going by the names - my daughters do ISTD.

Majority of their friends who dance prefer modern to ballet but there are some who don't want to do it.

Obeliskherder Mon 16-May-16 10:06:26

Her school do ISTD.

She might love it. She's loved every single afterschool activity she's ever tried.

dodobookends Mon 16-May-16 11:26:45

If she's already doing ballet then she will benefit a lot more from modern IMHO. Perhaps give modern a go and see how she likes it? Especially as it is a lot more convenient logistically for you, that option makes the most sense really.

Obeliskherder Mon 16-May-16 12:07:34

Thank you dodo.

nonicknameseemsavailable Mon 16-May-16 13:23:33

well why don't you say she should try modern and see what she thinks, it is more convenient and it is in the same place she does her other dancing so you know the standard of teaching and she knows the teachers and other dancers.

GraciesMansion Mon 16-May-16 22:25:52

My ds is at a vocational ballet school and they do jazz until y9 when they do contemporary. I would be tempted to do the modern class, at 9 it would probably be better for her.

dodobookends Mon 16-May-16 22:52:45

Obeliskherder I've just read your OP again, and I'm wondering how your dd found out about contemporary dance, and does she actually know what it is?

This suddenly occurred to me, because I watched Dance Moms this evening, and what they call contemporary dance in the USA is definitely not the same as what is taught in the UK!

Obeliskherder Mon 16-May-16 23:11:43

Will PM you dodo, I think she does know!

dodobookends Tue 17-May-16 00:07:36

Have replied.

Moonlightceleste Tue 17-May-16 10:45:03

Oh gosh, what's contemporary in the UK? Contemporary in Canada and where I grew up (Europe) seems to be essentially the same thing, I hadn't thought it would be different in the UK!

dodobookends Tue 17-May-16 16:37:33

Moonlight, I think that it's the same everywhere except in the hothouse of the childrens' competition scene in the USA where it seems to verge more on angst-ridden acrobatics (IMHO, and only from having watched Dance Moms!!)

There are are a number of different styles of contemporary dance (Cunningham, Graham etc), and you may be taught only one style depending on where you train, and which the teacher prefers.

Balletgirlmum Wed 18-May-16 09:27:59

Proper Contemporary is quite a mature style based on certain techniques/practitioners (Graham Cunningham etc). As previously mentioned you need a strong core etc. To completely confuse matters in the US they call this style Modern whereas UK modern is Modern Theatre Dance (jazz based etc)

You do often see dance called contemporary which is more what I call the 'be a tree' style. It's sort of interpretative/weird & you see it in secondary schools /more recreational schools where technique isn't strong.

Dd did start contemporary at age 10 but she was already doing ballet & modern & the teacher had trained at London Studio Centre.

ISTD Modern is excellent to develop technique & style & id reccomend that rather than contemporary at her age. At dds vocational school in years 7-9 they do some contemporary during Saturday class but have regular twice weekly modern classes alongside the daily ballet.

dodobookends Wed 18-May-16 10:37:43

'be a tree style' grin yeah, I've seen 'contemporary' done like that as well!

Dancergirl Fri 20-May-16 13:45:59

I would say 9 is quite young to do contemporary. It's quite a mature dance style and requires a lot of understanding.

I would try modern. The lower grades are quite easy, my 9 year old has recently started on Grade 2.

Obeliskherder Sat 21-May-16 13:20:55

Thanks everyone. I think we will give the modern a go.

Tutorialltd Sat 25-Jun-16 18:02:04

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Yolande7 Wed 20-Jul-16 21:35:43

If the "be a tree" teacher bases their teaching on Laban (which they usually do), then there teaching is based on dance theory, which ideally means they are teaching your child to explore, interpret and understand dance as an art form and to find movements within themselves and not just copy a teacher as closely as they can.

In order to become a dancer you need both, strong technique and an understanding of dance as an art form. You won't find a teacher who will teach your child both. At least I have not come across one yet and I have 30+ years dance experience and an M.A. in theatre/dance studies.

dodobookends Thu 21-Jul-16 01:01:38

There isn't any point exploring, interpreting and understanding dance as an art form until you have learned how to move in a controlled way. Then (and only then) can you use your imagination, become more individually expressive and 'break the rules', rather than following the ideas and teachings of others.

Which is why younger students generally begin with the 'Be a Tree' style (backed up with modern/lyrical), and only start learning 'proper' (ie: Graham, Cunningham etc) contemporary in their mid/late teens. Before that age, they won't have either the core strength, strong classical technique or physical and mental maturity to cope with it.

The good teachers are out there though - you just need to find them smile

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