Q: How do I know this is the right school for my child? A: Some schools place more emphasis on having fun and performing. Other schools stress technique and discipline. The Ballet Academy blends both approaches with an emphasis on good posture, technique, and learning the French terms for ballet movement. The nature and disposition of your child will determine what type of school is best suited to their personalities.
Q: How do I know if a teacher is qualified? A: The teacher should be well trained themselves and have a good rapport with children. They should be mature enough to keep control of the class and have sensitivity to each individual student. A good teacher is like a good coach; they take into account their dancer’s strengths and weaknesses, while spending time with each student to ensure their assimilation of proper technique. Ms. Morris has twenty two years teaching experience. She has personally trained and supervises all associate teachers to ensure the highest level of quality for each class.
Q: What is an ideal class size? A: Children ages four and five should be in a class of no more than ten students. Ideally there should be one assistant teacher helping with coaching and organization for students at this age level. Older students can be in a slightly larger class due to their increased attention span and discipline. The classes at TBA average eight to ten students per class to allow for maximum attention to each student.
Q: Should parents be allowed to participate in ballet class? A: Watching class from a door or window or viewing area is perfectly acceptable. However, parents should allow the teacher to be the focus of attention. Young children tend to focus on the parent if they are in the room and divert attention from the teacher. Children learn faster and retain better when the teachers and their assistants are the only adults in the class.
Q: When can my daughter go on pointe? A: Generally speaking, a young fremale dancer who has had three years of training can go on pointe at age nine if several criteria are met. Some of these are: strong legs, good feet, good listening skills and discipline. Some dancers should not go on pointe. Please click here for more information on this topic.
Q: What would a beginning pointe dancer do in class? A: For the first month on pointe the student holds onto the bar with two hands, while rising up onto the toes on two feet. This strengthens the muscles and tendons in the feet and the legs.The shoes only stay on for ten minutes the first day and will gradually increase over time to a half an hour during the first month depending on the aptitude of the student. As the student gains strength, they go up onto one foot at the barre. When they can release the barre and balance on foot, then the student can go out into the center to do more advanced work. This greatly diminishes the chance of accidents or injuries. This is the method Ms. Morris has used for the last twenty two years with hundreds of students without an injury.
Q: Do you do recitals? And if no, then why not? A: No, TBA does not offer recitals and for several reasons. For very young dancers to learn a recital routine takes at least half of the class time each week. This takes away from learning proper technique and combinations of steps. Although she recognizes the importance of performance, Ms. Morris' belief is that dancers should have something to show before they go onstage. Our dancers are given the opportunity to dance in the Nutcracker in simple, age appropriate routines each year. This way they also have a chance to dance alongside the older, more established company members and see what performing is really about.
Q: I've heard the term "Recital Mill" before. What does that mean? A: A recital mill is used to describe a school which teaches to the recital. Most of the class time will be spent learning routines for the performance. This takes away from valuable time better spent learning the basics. There are usually hidden fees in the form of overpriced costumes and tickets for the recital which adds considerable expense to the term of instruction. Many students and parents become dismayed with the school and ballet altogether and may pull their children from learning dance. This is unfortunate since many talented pupils may never know the real joys of performance later in life. TBA does not engage in these practices. The annual Nutcracker we perform is optional and no one is required to participate. The costumes and tickets for our shows are reasonably priced and no student goes onstage until they are ready to perform after hours of class training. When inquiring into a new dance program, always ask the instructor up front what will be expected of the student time-wise and monetarily over the course of the instruction year to avoid the recital mill trap.
Q: How often should my child take class? A: The amount of class time needed for each student varies by age and skill level. For a five year old, once a week is sufficient. The amount increases over time, depending on how serious the student is about ballet. As an example, for a fifteen year old who has studied dance for many years and aspires to become a professional, four to five days of four hour classes and rehearsal times is more realistic.
Q: At what age can you tell if a child has an aptitude for dance? A: Children's bodies and coordination change drastically between the ages of five and twelve. No two students are alike or experience dance in the same way. Generally speaking, you can tell if someone has aptitude by the age of twelve. However, there are exceptions. Dancers who seem to lack flexibility and coordination when they begin training can surprise their teacher later on. For some students, its a matter of mentality. At a certain point, they may suddenly "get it" and blossom into a wonderful dancer. With a great deal of hard work, excellent training, and determination they can succeed in their passion for dance. A good work ethic is as important as natural talent. Many dancers who floundered in the beginning or seemed at first to have little talent worked through it and have gone on to become professional.
Q: Is there a perfect dance body? A: There is no "perfect" dance body. Excellent dancers come in all shapes and sizes. Really good ballet dancers gernerally have a small to medium frame, good flexibility, turn out of the legs, and supple arched feet. If one or more of these attributes is lacking, it can be overcome with hard work.