One of the most important questions a dancer asks themselves is: how hard should I train?
For many dancers this is a question that surfaces at the beginning of the year when they, together with their families, decide on the schedule for their dance training. One of my frequent jobs as a ballet instructor is to guide students who are faced with this question. It must be clear that as conditions in a student’s life change so should their ability to be in the studio.
As can be expected, I notice that students that attend fewer classes tend to progress slower than their peers. This unfortunately often results in frustration in students as they observe their classmates progressing faster than themselves.
So, when is the right time to take dance training, ballet or contemporary, to the next level?
If you are asking yourself this question, chances are it’s already time to “level up”.
American teens and pre-teens have a lot of options in the society they live in. They can opt to have a rich social life, full of sleepovers and get-togethers, and also have multiple school activities and extracurriculars to choose from. With so many options, training in ballet may not be very appealing if it takes away from these other activities.
What teenagers often forget is that some activities provide short-term happiness, while others provide long-term confidence and opportunities.
For adults it is important to keep checking in with your young dancers. Ballet is a family sport! If you are in tune with your dancer, you’ll see that they will know when the time is right to move to the next level. If that happens it is paramount that action follows – students’ parents and instructors must be made aware of this shift so they can help the dancer navigate the new schedule as well as new challenges.
While it’s important to know when it’s time to dial up the training, it’s just as important to know when to back off a bit. You need to keep checking with your dancers to see if conditions have changed and they need more time doing the things that kids do. This is too hard of an art for people to feel forced into it.
Below I have a video showing a day in the life of a dancer in a professional enviroment. This is the ultimate goal and what students are preparing for. This video is helpful in gaining some perspective on the amount of commitment one must have while approaching the professional dance world.