By Ballet Mom

I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with a friend of mine about life; and as usual the conversation spun around to ballet.


Having been former studio mates, we took a few moments to catch up on old friends and where various students are now.

As we discussed some of the students we began to see a pattern emerging.  Some students,who at one time were bright and shining stars, were beginning to level off and others, “sleepers”, were beginning to emerge.  Isn’t it interesting how a child can seem like a superstar at age 12 and by age 15 or 16 things can change?  I might add this works in both directions.  But, I wondered what happened and could it be avoided.

My friend suggested that it might be a good idea if a family of a seriously committed student were to sit down at age 15 or so and have a conversation with the studio owner  about the child’s potential.  Benchmarking as it is with the director of the stuido.  I, however, told her that this would not yield the results that were desired.  I doubt if any studio owner would tell a parent that a child should give up their professional aspirations.  First, from a bottom line perspective, who would want to drive away customers.  Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, teachers are also invested in their students and they believe that any child will benefit from dance education.  Why would a teacher want to tell a parent that the child has limited opportunities for dancing and run the risk of losing the relationship with the student?

So…if you cannot trust the studio to level with you about your child’s future, how do you get a realistic benchmark of your child’s potential?  Additionally, what do you do with that benchmark if you have one?  For the record, benchmarking is something that can be done as early as age 8 and should definitely be done for the older dancer in order to formulate a training plan.  I would however caution, that benchmarking is only effective if you are comparing same to same.  You cannot compare a child who has been dancing one year to a child that has been dancing for seven or eight.  If your child is new to dance, just let them enjoy it and find their way.  For a 12 year old or greater that is getting a late start, I would not subject them to benchmarking until they have been dancing at a pre-professional level for a couple of years.

Does your child love dance?  Generally speaking kids love things that they excel in.  If your child is starting to avoid dance, it may be indicative that they are struggling in class.  This could be because they are not attending as often as the others, that they are struggling with a physical limitation, social issues or perhaps physical limitations.  If you notice that your child is wanting to avoid dance, start asking some probing questions.

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