Newbie to Ballet Advice

Updated on December 10, 2011
M.S. asks from Macomb, MI
9 answers

Hi all,
I will be starting my daughter in ballet soon (she is almost 3 and potty trained). Any advice for a mama with zero ballet/dance experience? Thanks!!

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answers from Milwaukee on

Good question. I just emailed a studio inquiring about getting my 4.5 year old DD into ballet. They only responded with "Does she have any experience?". I was blown away. Experience at 4.5? Looks like you are doing better than I am starting her at 3 LOL

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answers from Seattle on

Thou Shalt Buy Tights

A lot of them. Over, and over, and over, and over. They rip, run, tear, and self destruct. (insert mission impossible theme song right here... dooo dah dooooooo, doo dah doooooooo, doo doon!).

It's honestly worth it to buy more expensive tights, because they will self destruct LESS OFTEN, and end up saving you quite a bit of cash.

MOST (as in nearly all) dance studios have dress codes. It's REALLY NORMAL for there to be shoe, tight, leotard color, and hairstyle "laws".

((Btw... those laws, are because later on, they're mostly safety issues. The color issues are because Ballet IS A TEAM SPORT. It's a "uniform". Other sports have helmets, cleats, guards, mouthpieces... Ballet has hair up (to prevent painful yanking or snapping your neck once one starts doing lifts), etc. They have kids do it, for the same reason soccer kids wear uniforms and cleats. It's part of the sport.))

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Just find a teacher who is focused on fun! My daughter took a ballet class when she was 4 and she hated it. The teacher was really strict and dry and the lessons were very repetitive. Now, I know ballet is a strict discipline but at that age it should be about fun!

It took 5 years before my daughter would try dance again, and we started in Hip Hop and now this year she HAD to take ballet because of her jazz class. Turns out she really likes it!

So getting her in the right class is important. If she doesn't like it after the first session, try a different school before she starts to hate it! But if she loves it, then you're both in for a treat because they are adorable at that age!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

3 is a good age to start ballet. I teach ballet and my students who start at age three are usually my best dancers when they're about 5 and 6 years old. It's a lot of fun and they're learning techniques, getting exercise without even realizing it because they're having fun.



answers from Charleston on

Just let her have fun with it! I'm a dance teacher and ages 3 & 4 in my curriculum is used to teach structure, working as a group and with partners, and discipline. We teach the basics of ballet - 1st, 2nd position, plies, tendue, etc... It's all about them enjoying their class, not reinforcing repetitive movements for 45 minutes like the older children. At the end of the year if there is a recital, really applaud her efforts for dancing onstage in front of an audience. Even if all she does is stand there and not move too much. It's about getting them exposed to performing and being self assured in front of an audience at that age. Not performing a flawless routine.

Get her a leotard, tights and ballet shoes - she'll really feel like a ballerina then. Unless your school specifies a certain color or style, Target & Walmart sell the leotards and tights. discount usually has tons of shoes on clearance - check it out.

Have fun and I hope she enjoys it and you too! They are so cute at that age. :)



answers from Spokane on

My three year old just started ballet in October - she LOVES it! For her first class I just sent her in stretchy pants and socks, but the other girls wore leotards and ballet slippers, so of course she wanted some too ;) We bought our stuff at a consignment store (WAY cheaper than buying new), and because each leotard is only like $3, we go ina pick new ones out all the time. She is a super girlie girl, and ballet has just been SO much FUN for her.
I never took any dance classes as a child, so didn't know what to expect. But we just show up, the teacher takes over while I sit on the parent bench and watch, and then we go home. She just had her first recital, and it was adorable - it was the Grinch, with gymnastics and dance classes combined. She was so proud to be one a stage and dance with matching leotards and tutus with the other girls :)
You and your daughter will love it!



answers from Oklahoma City on

Expect that the teacher may have a dress code and expect the girls to all dress exactly the same. Some teachers make the girls not dressed appropriately go sit out in the hallway until the parents come to pick them up. It is much better if the girls all wear the same exact thing so that each girl is the same, no social standing, no popular clothes, etc....

Expect that you will not be allowed to watch dance practice. Parents are hardly ever allowed in the building past the front door. It is very disruptive and wastes time when the kiddos are constantly running over to mommy or daddy wanting a kiss or a hug. It distracts all the other girls and it becomes a monkey see monkey do situation.

Expect to pay for a class leotard, tights, and shoes, then if a recital is coming you'll have to pay a recital fee, for extra costumes, pay to see the show, buy professional photographs of the group, the individuals, in each costume if they are in more that one number, buy a DVD of the performances, not allowed to video the performances in any way due to copyright infringement laws, and then maybe some other costs as well. A lot of our girls will wait until right before recital and then they will get new shoes so the ones they have worn all year won't have to be scrubbed with

Expect to watch your little girl on the stage and your heart melt away. Mine is 8 and is in tap/ballet combo, Hip Hop, Jazz, and is on the gymnastics show team. So I think dance is awesome.



answers from Reno on

I danced for years, eventually moving to en pointe. I miss it so much. I would take some classes yourself to better understand it-plus I'm sure your daughter would love to see mommy dance:)



answers from Washington DC on

HI, M.! You sound excited about this new endeavour and I'm glad for your daughter and you. My daughter is nearly 11 and has been dancing since she was about three, first in weekly "tiny tutus" movement classes. Now she has four classes of modern and ballet a week, just started on pointe, and is rehearsing for her sixth "Nutcracker"....Your daughter may go on and on with dance, or she may take a few sessions of classes as a little one and move on to other interests, but either way, she will learn about how to move her body with more control and how to listen to music more attentively!

I agree with others that many dance schools do want at least a certain color for each level of dance. It helps teachers know instantly what level each dancer is at (for instance, girls her age would wear pale pink at our studio, the next level up would be white, then pale blue, etc. etc.) But you may not have to buy a specific leotard, just one in the right color. Our previous studio required us to buy specific and very expensive leotards but our current one accepts any leotard that's the right color. Ask all this at the studio or of the teacher. Be sure to get her real shoes, definitely not the little fabric things sold at Target or Wal-Mart; any decent teacher will tell you those are just not acceptable. Ask if they prefer canvas or leather ballet shoes. Shoes her size should not be too expensive.

As for watching, you may indeed be able to watch though someone posted that parents never could; that's not always true. You shouldn't be allowed into the studio room itself but you may be able to watch! It depends on the studio's policies and its physical setup - some studios have windows or even two-way mirrors where parents can see into studios from the lobby. Just depends. Be mellow about it all and your daughter will be more relaxed and mellow too.

I wanted to add: Think about getting her some used DVDs of real ballets -- not kiddie versions or animated ones but the real deal. She won't have the attention span for them in their entirety just yet but she can watch certain dances. I strongly recommend "The Nutcracker" (there are zillions of versions out there) for its many shorter dances in the third act and the party scene in the first act -- appealing to kids!

Another great ballet for children this young is "Tales of Beatrix Potter" choreographed by Frederick Ashton and performed by the Royal Ballet; you can see parts of it at YouTube and buy it as well -- read her the many Beatrix Potter stories and then show her the ballet! She will adore it; it's dancing animals!

Also, the original Angelina Ballerina books by Katharine Holabird are wonderful; the older version of the TV series (before it was computer-animated) is also very sweet and has lots of love of ballet. In other words, she is not too young to start watching some ballet. Listen to ballet music in the car too-- cheap CDs of all the famous ones are out there (Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, Swan Lake all have great music to fire the imagination). My daughter learned early to listen for long periods to classical music because she would sit there and imagine dancing to it!

Have fun!

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