Can you tell me about dance lessons?

(21 Posts)
Whynotnowbaby Fri 03-Feb-17 10:08:16

Dd has been going to a combined ballet and tap class since September. She is four and in reception and the dance school have the children in age bands so she is mainly with preschool children (some of whom are only just three and struggle to listen to the teacher). Her friend from school started at the same time but was five in September and is therefore in the higher class, she seems to be really learning to dance whereas dd's group just do walking round in circles and the same exercises every week. Dd friend has an exam coming up (as does everyone in that class) and dd keeps asking when she will have a test too.

I don't think my dd is going to be a prima ballerina but I also don't think she is less physically able than her friend, just a bit younger. She is finding her class frustrating and has said she doesn't want to be that group because they are 'babies' (although I know she is probably just angling to be with her friend). I asked the teacher how they will decide when she is ready to move up and she just said 'when she's five' which seems a bit arbitrary and means she will always be a class behind some of her classmates from school (she has a very late birthday). Is this just the way it is at dance schools? I would really like to see her pushed to achieve her potential as she has always loved dancing and started full of enthusiasm which she is quickly losing.

Any advice from more experienced people greatly appreciated. Thanks

DelphineCormier Fri 03-Feb-17 17:08:52

I am by no means an expert, but this isn't my experience of dance classes. We got involved with dance kind of by accident, DD does a sport that requires her to take dance classes for technique. She's moved up in her dance classes as she's moved up a level in her sport, but the coaches don't do this based on age, they move them up when they meet the requirements for the next level. But dance forms a huge basis of the technique, so they're also being moved up to the next dance class when they're ready for the next class, IYSWIM.

AlexanderHamilton Fri 03-Feb-17 17:09:15

I'm not a huge fan of combination classes but that's by the by.

Assuming the school does exams such as RAD or ISTD the exam board does actually set a minimum age of 5 years old for the first exam. This is because some teachers were rushing children through thecsyllabus before they were developmentally ready this risking injury in the higher grades especially.

AlexanderHamilton Fri 03-Feb-17 17:11:05

As children get older some will pick things up faster & others will take longer so the ages start to become a bit more mixed. Some children might audition for & gain entry to associate schemes & so be doing more classes per week so their technique will develop faster than a once a weeker.

busyrascal Fri 03-Feb-17 17:12:57

I have a 60yo who last year was in a reception/year1 dance class. It so happened that she was the only reception child in the class so when the others moved up to the next class she moved up with them as the teacher realised it was going to be frustrating for her to have to go at the pace of the newbies. The rest of her class will do Grade 1 exams at the end of the academic year but I don't think my dd will. Not sure at the moment how she'll feel about that!

busyrascal Fri 03-Feb-17 17:13:16

^6yo!!! grin

taxi4ballet Fri 03-Feb-17 20:29:42

As other PPs mention there are several issues at play here:

Most dance examining bodies have a minimum age for taking the exams. This is because the syllabus is carefully designed so that it is suitable for children at each stage of maturity, their bodies are capable of different things as they develop physically. It is not advisable to attempt too much too soon.

A child's dance teacher will know whether they are ready for the next level, not only physically, but also whether they will understand what they are being asked to do, and be able to respond to corrections. They also need to develop things like rhythm, co-ordination, balance and musicality.

A few months in age makes a huge difference in capability when you are little.

Some dance teachers arrange their classes strictly by age - although this is convenient, it doesn't take account of the fact that children mature physically and mentally at different speeds. Other teachers prefer to put children in class according to ability (particularly when they are a bit older) - they then wait to take the exam when they are old enough, or skip to the next level without taking the exam.

Maybe speak to the teacher and explain how your dd feels about being left behind, and that she wants to be with her friend. She may agree to a trial class at the higher level to see how she gets on, but it far more likely to be a flat 'No'.

Perhaps then you could have a think about whether you want to find another dance school which will let her be with her school year group rather than the pre-schoolers; or persuade your dd to carry on in the current class; or even whether your dd wants to give up.

GraciesMansion Sat 04-Feb-17 07:45:50

I'm going to go against the grain here and say find a school which will judge her on her ability rather than age. Yes, there is a minimum age for exams but that's no reason for her not to do the classes if she is physically mature enough to do it. My dd 9 is dancing with children 3 years older because she is capable, attends multiple classes including associates schemes. She'd be very bored (and not learning anything!) if she was stuck in the class with her age group! My ds however Is a July birthday and he started with the year group below because he wasn't as physically mature and it was the right place for him at the time.

empirerecordsrocked Sat 04-Feb-17 07:51:10

Dts started ballet a few weeks ago they were 5 in August. As they are 5 they have gone straight into the grade 1 RAD class.

ShutTheFuckUpBarbara Sat 04-Feb-17 07:53:52

DD's dance classes are organised by age groups but there is some overlap. So your DD might have started in the "baby" group but then moved up once she had mastered the basics.

DD is 5, turns 6 in April, some in her class have only just turned 5. They all took their grade last year but as I understand it, there are much higher expectations at the next level. The teacher is currently assessing who in the group will be ready for a grade exam, the ones who aren't will be taking a rosette exam so no one gets singled out and everyone gets exam experience

Whynotnowbaby Sat 04-Feb-17 08:24:30

Thanks all, the exam that dd's friend will take in the 5yo class is a rosette rather than a grade if that makes a difference age wise. It's interesting about the exam-age link, I didn't realise that. Not sure what to do, I like the idea of dd getting some exercise and she does want to dance but I don't think I'm going to be able to persuade her to stay in the 'baby' group until September- it's even called the nursery class which dd has caught onto as she keeps saying she's at school not nursery.

DelphineCormier Sun 05-Feb-17 13:56:20

Is it ISTD? We are RBS/ISTD cecchetti for ballet, but from what I understand about the IDTA rosettes they are about having fun rather than learning proper technique. Particularly if this dance school is teaching combined classes and only starting them in a rosette class after they turn 5- this seems quite late if the school then moves to proper grades later on, but I am not an expert- then I would be looking at other dance schools.

DelphineCormier Sun 05-Feb-17 13:57:02

Is it IDTA sorry, not ISTD. IDTA is the only one that springs to mind with rosette awards.

sewingjassy Mon 06-Feb-17 12:23:44

Dts started ballet a few weeks ago they were 5 in August. As they are 5 they have gone straight into the grade 1 RAD class.

Primary would be better for that age, and new starters, as you take the exam at 6 years. You need to be 7 years old, minimum to take grade 1 RAD exam, that will be two years in the same class for them.

sewingjassy Mon 06-Feb-17 12:35:52

What syllabus is it, OP? I'm also guessing IDTA with the rosettes. They are based on proper technique but are probably in the pre juvenile age category, and are a good precursor to grade exams and medal tests for that syllabus.
Is it the preparatory ballet class she's in if four years old?

Have a word with the teacher I think, OP.

MiaowTheCat Thu 09-Feb-17 12:05:48

I've got one who's nursery age (3, about to turn 4) and one who's reception age (4, about to turn 5... I've got a very very small age gap!). They both do dancing but their school splits up much more than it sounds like yours does... they have a pre-nursery one from about 2 1/2, then a nursery age one, then they did have a Reception/Y1 combined class but that one just got a complete glut of pupils so they've had to split it down a bit more for everyone's mutual sanity (and ear drums - that sheer number of manic girls in tap shoes on a Saturday morning was NOT good for us gently waking up!)

My youngest still seems to do a lot of skipping round in circles (and endless good toes... naughty toes) but it seems to get a bit calmer with my older child and calmer again with the Y1 part of that previously combined class (I'm going on the decibel count sitting waiting outside the classes).

Both of mine have done rosette "exams" though (still working out where to put the bloody things as we're drowning in them!) - think they started them from about the age of 3. By "exam" it's basically the level of "go in there, and if all else fails, hold your skirt nicely and smile sweetly" and even my completely away with the fairies 3 year old has managed that one!

Might be worth talking to the teachers and seeing if there's leeway to move her up - I know for a while we had my younger child up in the older class when she started (she had quite a bad language delay and keeping her with her older sister settled her in a bit better before she dropped back to be with her actual age group), but it depends on the school or that one I guess.

I can imagine my eldest would be very very annoyed if her class was called the nursery class and wanting to put the world right on that front! Thankfully they've got strange and wonderful class names everyone forgets and all the parents just refer to them by the colour of the leotards they wear! (Downside being the leotard replacement bill when they move up a year)

It's possibly just a numbers thing which means they've split the classes the way they have - like I say, they've changed the class splits on ours a bit as kids have joined and quit.

MiaowTheCat Thu 09-Feb-17 12:06:42

Ours is a combined ballet and tap class as well incidentally - half the session doing one (then about 40 minutes of trying to get the other shoes on the correct kid) and the rest of the class doing the other.

Iris1 Sun 12-Feb-17 07:24:34

In my daughters school they are in the class with their school class. So reception is baby ballet, year one is pre primary, year two is primary (my daughters class) year three is grade one and so on and so forth.
I do also get the feeling that as they get older they also need to pass their grade exams to move up and so the ages become a bit more mixed as the years go on.
She goes to a very professional type exam school though. We tried a more relaxed school when she was younger and they did it by age like your daughters school and my daughter stuck out like a sore thumb, she is a July birthday but she's very tall, she felt uncomfortable.

Trb17 Sun 05-Mar-17 09:43:02

My DD does ballet, tap, modern, Acro & Contemporary classes and at her Dance School it's very relaxed and kids are grouped by ability level. It does very much depend on the ethos of the Dance School itself though as I know other schools in the area are much more strict/structured. So I would always recommend looking around to see which dance school feels right for your child.

Increasinglymiddleaged Fri 17-Mar-17 20:04:13

Dts started ballet a few weeks ago they were 5 in August. As they are 5 they have gone straight into the grade 1 RAD class.

Surely pre-primary would be more appropriate for a five year old with primary next? Unless RAD grade 1 is particularly easy. My DD is in BBO grade 1 and is 7 but is the second youngest in the class. She took pre-primary at just 6 and primary at just 7.

OP that sounds daft tbh. But hopefully she's moved up by now smile

sewingjassy Fri 17-Mar-17 21:58:18

That's what I said a few weeks ago. Grade 1RAD isn't really suitable for a 5 year old.
You can't take take grade 1 until at least 7 years, so little point a 5 year old waiting two years to do the exam. Better to do primary exam at 6 years (minimum age) or pre primary (5 years) and get a solid grounding in the basics.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now