How did the ballet start?

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Again and again I am asked these or similar questions:

In the following I try to answer as many of the frequently asked questions as possible. If something is still unclear, call me at 089-348787 or send me an email.

  1. From what age does dance make sense for a child?
  2. What kind of dance is best to start with?
  3. Can I still dance as an adult and up to what age, even if I never did anything like this as a child?
  4. Waganowa or RAD - what is the right or best type of training for classical ballet?
  5. How often should you take classes per week?
  6. Ballet for boys? Or what else?
  7. When can you start tap dancing?
  8. When do you start with jazz dance, modern dance and / or hip hop?
  9. At what age can a girl dance on top?
  10. How do I know if my child is gifted? Apprenticeship or hobby - how does an apprenticeship work?
  11. Is classical ballet harmful or good for your health?
  12. Singing - when do I start my training?
  13. Musical education

1. From what age does dance make sense for a small child?

Every child likes to move. However, the main problem with teaching dance is concentration.

It can be said that the average child from around the age of 4 is able to concentrate and follow the instructions of a teacher for a period of time.

If a child takes part in a specific lesson too early, there is a risk that his or her mind will be overwhelmed. The child loses interest and thinks ballet (or something else it had lessons) stupid. Later, too, he will no longer do this because he cannot yet differentiate that his displeasure resulted from the mental overload and not from a possible, fundamental lack of interest in the lessons.

The year before school is the ideal time to start ballet. However, you can always start at a later age.

2. Which type of dance is best to start with?

The ideal basis is classical ballet. All other types of dance build on this. Anyone who has a good basic knowledge of classical ballet will find it much easier in all other types of dance.

Even with a four-year-old child there are already the "exercises on the bar", but only for a relatively short period of time. In addition, there are of course many rhythmic exercises that the children usually have a lot of fun with. In addition, the feeling of space is conveyed as well as the feeling for the dance with each other, i.e. within a group.

3. Can I still dance as an adult and up to what age, even if I never did anything like this as a child?

Definitely yes! Classical ballet is fun and good for the body for people of all ages. It strengthens all muscles equally and helps prevent postural damage. In addition, dance uses both hemispheres of the brain in a unique way. One moves intensely and at the same time has to think how to move. Ballet is a wonderful hobby for women and men of all ages.

However, it is too late for a professional career as a dancer if you only start ballet as an adult.

4. Waganowa or RAD - what is the right or best type of training for classical ballet?

The Russian school according to Agrippa Vaganova and the English school according to the curriculum of the Royal Academy of Dancing are the most famous teaching methods for classical ballet.

The fundamental difference between the two systems is as follows: The original Russian school assumes that from the beginning it has selected children with excellent physical aptitude for dance. The curricula of the English school according to RAD, on the other hand, are designed in such a way that one assumes that initially you have an average child who does ballet purely as a hobby. Only later will a distinction be made between hobby students and apprenticeship students. As a result, the focus within the curriculum is somewhat different at the beginning. After a few years, however, they come together more and more. Only a few technical terms and details are different in one system than in the other.

When choosing a ballet school, parents should make sure that the teacher himself has a solid education. The quality of the teaching can often be seen in the success of the students.

5. How often should you take classes per week?

Due to the parents' time constraints, many children initially only have lessons once a week. Twice a week would be considerably better, because the time span from one lesson to the next is not so great and therefore body and mind are much less forgotten again. As a result, both the child and the adult experience a considerably greater sense of achievement and consequently have a lot more joy in dancing.

Children who are aiming for a professional career as dancers should come three times a week from around the age of 10, then four times later and from around the age of 15 daily.

Ballet is just as much fun for boys as girls, especially in the uninhibited preschool age.

6. Ballet for boys? Or what else?

Did you know that the first ballet class in St. Petersburg in the 18th century was recruited from a cadet school? Only boys were allowed to dance ballet, because something so obscene that you could see your legs was not appropriate for girls.

In many folk dances around the world, the steps of men are significantly more difficult than those of girls.

There is a report that in Greece at the time of Hellenism there lived a warrior who danced so well and knew how to move so nimbly that he was able to avoid an arrow that had already been shot.

Only in the course of the 20th century did the nonsensical opinion, mainly in Central and Northern Europe, gradually emerge that ballet was not for boys and would even make them gay. Definitely not true. (It is just as nonsensical as the opinion of some that dancers are close to "easy girls" in their moral behavior.)
Little girls in frilly dresses just look cute. Little boys don't have to look cute. The fathers prefer to see them as rough ruffians who are supposed to become "real" men one day.

But none of this has anything to do with ballet! Ballet is tough, physical training with the aim of gradually strengthening all muscles evenly until you manage to perform every type of movement as perfectly as possible.

So ballet is just as useful as physical training for boys as it is for girls. Over the decades there have been a great many boys in my ballet school. Many of them are now married and have children who dance too. All of them later as adults stressed how well the physical training had done them. Many later turned to one or the other sport. All boys who had trained ballet got off to a significantly better start than those who had never danced, simply because they had learned body control, flexibility and a sense of space.
It is a pity that there are still stupid prejudices that keep parents from letting their sons learn ballet.

In my school, special consideration is given to the needs of boys as part of the ballet lessons. Boys perform some dance steps differently, more masculine, and it is very important to me to respond to them.

7. When can you start tap dancing?

It would be ideal if a child would learn ballet first and then and then, building on that, tap dance. Then it would already have a basis for body control, and the tap dance would be much easier for him.

But of course it is also possible to start tap dancing without any previous knowledge. However, the child should be at least six years old. Especially at the beginning you have to think a lot with tap dancing, and a very small child is easily overwhelmed.

Very small children have greater success when they start with ballet, because their mental abilities are often unable to cope with the various rhythmic beats.
With older children or adults it is exactly the other way around. You can learn a small series of steps that already sound pretty good relatively quickly. This gives a sense of achievement soon, whereas in classical ballet it takes years for a movement to look good.

Adults and older people can also start tap dancing at any time. You can omit the strenuous hopping and still learn pretty step sequences, the dancing of which is great fun even in old age.

However, if you want to achieve fame in tap dance and reach an international level, it is essential to take ballet lessons as well. Only there you learn the basics of body control so that the tap dance performance looks really professional.

8. When can you start jazz dance, modern dance or hip hop?

That depends very much on the child's inclination. In any case, it is ideal for a small child to begin classical ballet. Character dance and folklore are mostly integrated into these lessons anyway.

Later, when the child begins to be interested in pop music and the like, he also has the need to learn special movements for such types of music. This is mostly not the case before the age of 9.

The longer a child has had classical ballet lessons, the easier it is for him to find all other styles of dance. For a youngster who has never danced classical ballet, however, dancing in the various modern styles will never look really professional. If you only want to dance as a hobby anyway, you should choose the style that is simply the most fun.

It should only be mentioned that modern dance is very much based on classical ballet.

9. From what age can a girl dance to the top?

The toe dance only makes sense if the girl has a good technical basis, i.e. the muscles of the back, legs and feet are sufficiently strengthened and there is adequate body tension. The earliest possible time is around 10 years old, provided the girl has previously had classical ballet lessons at least twice a week for at least three years.

Some people fear that toe dancing will damage their feet. If a girl starts doing it too early, and above all, without the muscles being adequately strengthened, that is true. It is also harmful to the back. A well-toned body doesn't mind toe dancing at all.

Another problem with lace dancing, however, is the anatomy of the girl's feet. With the foot straight, the instep must be at least so pronounced that there is a straight line from the shin to the big toe. A slight curvature is even better. If you put a ruler from the shin to the big toe with the foot stretched as far as possible, and there is a gap between the ruler and the foot at the level of the instep, the foot is not suitable for point dancing, because the girl cannot stand straight on the point with her knees extended stand. Such a deficit cannot be remedied through training. The girl is then simply not suitable for point dance and should better turn to other styles.

10. How do I know if my child is gifted? Apprenticeship or hobby - how does an apprenticeship work?

In principle, dancing is good for everyone's body. Scientists have found that exercise in ¾ rhythm produces happiness hormones in the human body. In addition, both halves of the brain are always stressed, which keeps people active into old age. But there are people who are especially gifted for dancing. There are different criteria for this talent:

  • Musicality and rhythmic feeling: the more pronounced this is, the more joy it is to dance. For a possible professional career, it is very important that the child can stay "in time" independently.
  • Physical talent: In order to become a classical dancer, various physical requirements must be met, otherwise the child has no chance of a professional career despite intensive training. The final physical talent can only be seen after puberty has ended. But dancing should be started in childhood.
    If it turns out that a body is not ideally suited for classical ballet, there are still the various modern dance styles or folk dance and also musicals, where other priorities are set.
  • The soul and the power of expression: Scientists have recently researched that dancers have a special gene that cannot be found in other people. A dancer must be able to excite the audience. You can't learn that, you have it or you don't. However, a good educator can nurture and shape a child's expressiveness.
  • Diligence and perseverance: All talents are of no use if a child or young person is not diligent and does intensive training. The parents are very much challenged to encourage and support the child and to help him through even in temporary lulls.

A good educator recognizes whether a child has talents. The child should then gradually train more intensively, i.e. several times a week.

There are state ballet schools in various large cities that cost nothing and that only accept children after they have passed an entrance exam. But there are also many good, private ballet schools.

Classical ballet should always have a high priority in dance training, even if the particular tendencies are towards a different dance direction. Otherwise you hardly have any chances in your professional life.

If you only start dancing as an adult, you have no chance of vocational training!

11. Is classical ballet harmful to the body or not?

Classical ballet, taught correctly (!!), is definitely not harmful. If you make sure that the student stands properly upright and loads the whole foot evenly (do not bend on the inside edge of the feet!) And keeps the back straight (no hollow back!), Ballet strengthens all muscles in a unique way. In addition, the student learns coordination, a sense of space and quick implementation of sequences of movements to music.

The outward rotation of the legs should always be controlled from the hips, but never only from the feet. Trying to turn only the feet outwards and not the thighs can be harmful to the knees (meniscus and possible overstretching of the inner ligaments). A beginner and especially a child, even if he is very gifted, does not yet have the strength to stand in a closed 5th position with his feet turned 180 ° outwards. The outward rotation must be built up slowly by training the corresponding muscles and must not be forced.

Every human body is different. Some bodies are particularly suitable for ballet, some less so. Clean, classic training is excellent for every body type and offers an ideal basis for all kinds of sports.

However, if a child wants to make dance their profession, damage can occur if the child's body does not have the optimal, anatomical prerequisites for the dance profession. It is largely up to the teacher to recognize anatomical deficits in a child and to ensure that the child does not train incorrectly as a result of them. The famous ballerina Margot Fonteyn never had complaints because she trained properly and because she had an ideal body.

12. Vocal training - at what age do you start?

In contrast to the dancer training, which has to begin in childhood, it is completely sufficient to start singing training after puberty.

Still, it's good when children are already singing. You can learn how to articulate the words clearly, how to breathe properly, and much more. With children, however, one has to be very, very careful with voice training itself.

13. Musical education

That means dancing and singing together and acting too. There are schools here that focus on either singing or dancing. For an international career, however, both are equally important.

Anyone who, as a young adult, thinks they want to do musical training without having danced intensely from an early age should immediately forget this idea. He or she has no more chance.

Then it's better to just sing and dance as a hobby. That is also very nice.