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Common Questions

 

SOME COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT BALLET:

QUESTION: My child is a bit heavy and not as graceful as some of her friends, but she wants to study ballet. Will ballet be helpful to her?

ANSWER: Yes, we believe ballet will be helpful and provide a real opportunity for growth. At Fresh Pond Ballet we do not judge children by body type, and we run an inclusive program. Ballet helps balance, coordination and musicality. The art of movement is part of ballet training. As a child learns and dances, coordination and grace improve. All children deserve the right to dance, and the child's curiosity and enthusiasm are all that is needed, plus a positive, supportive learning environment. Ideal proportions are not an issue. Children's bodies change considerably as they grow, and ballet shouldn't be ruled out as a positive activity because the child is rounder than her friends. Children blossom in their own way and time and it is probably not a good idea to prejudge a child and limit an activity the child enjoys. A child's grace and confidence grow with the opportunity to learn. It is also true that many professional dancers do not have "ideal" bodies, but they love dancing and have learned to use their physical instrument in the way that works best for them. We strive for a healthy orientation, with the joy of dancing natural, beautiful outlet for all interested people.

QUESTION: What about ballet shoes? Which soft slippers are best? Are pointe shoes made of wood? When can I try pointe?

ANSWER: Ballet shoes are hand made, flexible, thin leather (and sometimes fabric) slippers. The best shoes fit smoothly and well, with no stiffness in the sole or upper leather. Too small shoes compress and pain the feet. Too large shoes gap and slip or fall off. Some cheaper shoes are stiff and uncomfortable and children dislike wearing them. There are several good brands, and we recommend dancewear suppliers with a variety of shoes to try. These suppliers (such as Capezio in Wellesley on Linden Street, or Teddy's Shoes in Cambridge on Mass. Ave in Central Square) have a range of kinds and styles to explore to find a good fit. A good supplier will patiently try different slippers, without pressuring you to choose quickly. Although it is true that children outgrow their shoes quickly, it is also true that it is hard to learn to dance with poor fitting, uncomfortable or stiff shoes.
About pointe shoes, no, they are not wood. They are made of layers of fabric, glue, and leather. Pointe must be a part of a ballet training program, introduced when the bones and muscles are well developed and this is usually not before age eleven. Basic ballet technique must be stable and strong, which only a professional teacher can determine. Pointe shoes are not toys and should not be worn outside of a training class.

QUESTION: My son wants to dance. What do I do? Should a boy take pointe?

ANSWER: A family discussion will help sort through the issues that come up when a boy is interested in dancing. Men have danced all over the world and throughout history, showing great strength and virility. However, social attitudes must be considered honestly and be dealt with skillfully for personal comfort and confidence. Boys, too, deserve a chance to dance. I have had boys who came to ballet from hockey or soccer or swimming. However, the studio setting and staff must be evaluated for safety and philosophical point of view. Famous male ballet stars have also improved popular attitudes concerning boys and dance, celebrities like Mikhail Baryshnikov, Fernando Bujones, and Peter Martins, for example.
On the question of the use of pointe for boys, pointe dancing is not a standard or traditional part of ballet training for boys, and we do not teach boys pointe at Fresh Pond Ballet. However there are further considerations. Pointe is extremely strengthening to the feet and legs and the torso, and yes, it is part of the traditionally feminine art form, developing a special lightness and grace. On occasion pointe has been used for a particular pre-professional individual to strengthen weak feet. Some also consider that if they become teachers, they should know about pointe directly as there is no substitute for experience. However, boys have many other elements of training specific to male dancing to concentrate on, and pointe work is not a standard or traditional part of ballet training for boys.

QUESTION: Why is there a dress code for children's classes? We already have a purple (or blue or black etc.) leotard.

ANSWER: The dress code brings a beautiful unity to the young dancers and increases self-respect and self-esteem. A classroom with a line of well-dressed dancers speaks of discipline of the most positive sort, of cleanliness, of order. The children are ready to dance when they put on their special ballet outfits. They look wonderful. They also feel the progress when they move up to a class with a new color of leotard. In addition, the ballet teacher needs to see the clear outline of the body for postural and technical corrections.

QUESTION: My daughter loves dancing and wants to continue, but I doubt that she's professional ballerina material. What should we do?

ANSWER: People rarely pull their children from soccer because they doubt their children will be professional. They don't stop little league because they doubt their children are going to be scouted for a professional team. They know the benefits of team sports and the athletic activity. Similarly, ballet is a beneficial, highly athletic and artistic activity. The class, especially when working on choreography for the annual performance, becomes a team effort. The benefits of dancing are so many. Although it is true that very few go on to become professional dancers, it is equally true that very many are able to enjoy dancing and can continue to dance recreationally for many years. There is also a "cross-over" benefit for other physical and mental activities. The exercise value alone is important and fun for people who like ballet more than other kinds of "exercise". I have adult dancers in their forties, fifties, and more. They will also become educated spectators of ballet and appreciate what they see. Becoming a professional is not really an issue. Even those who have the interest, the ability, and the physical capacity for a professional career, professional dancing is as competitive and challenging as any of the other artistic and athletic careers and must be evaluated as such.

QUESTION: My daughter likes jazz dance and also skates, but has been told she needs ballet. Why?

ANSWER: Ballet is the foundation technique used by all dancers and figure skaters to extend the muscles, develop form and a high level of technical ability. A person trained in ballet can go into a jazz or modern class and adapt fairly quickly. A jazz trained dancer will not be able to walk into a ballet class and know very much of what is going on. Ballet vocabulary and basic movement are used in all dance forms, providing a basic language of dance literacy. These days most dancers and top ranking skaters take ballet class as a base technique, which keeps then strong and centered. The teachers and coaches are well aware of the benefits, so encourage or insist on ballet to give jazz dancers and skaters additional skill and a competitive edge. In addition ballet frees dancers, technically speaking, and enables them to do what their best in whatever other dance forms or activities they choose.

OTHER QUESTIONS? PLEASE CALL OR E-MAIL FRESH POND BALLET WITH YOUR QUESTIONS AND WE WILL RESPOND AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE.

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