SOME COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT
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
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.
What about ballet shoes? Which soft slippers are best? Are
pointe shoes made of wood? When can I try pointe?
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
My son wants to dance. What do I do? Should a boy take pointe?
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
Why is there a dress code for children's classes? We already
have a purple (or blue or black etc.) leotard.
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.
My daughter loves dancing and wants to continue, but I doubt
that she's professional ballerina material. What should we
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.
My daughter likes jazz dance and also skates, but has been
told she needs ballet. Why?
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.
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FRESH POND BALLET WITH YOUR QUESTIONS AND WE WILL RESPOND
AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE.