How many ballet classes should you or your young dancer take per week?
This is a great question. I could actually write an entire book on the subject, but will spare you all the long-winded answer and give you a summary! I am here to set the record straight!
Parents and dancers, you must take ballet to progress as a dancer. No, your teachers aren’t trying to torture you and/or test your focus. No, your studio isn’t just trying to get you to take more classes and give them more money! Your teachers and studio owners know that ballet is the foundation of all dance and should be taken more than once a week in order to progress. Ballet and dance in general, like sports, learning to speak Italian or playing an instrument, requires quality time devoted to your study multiple times a week.
Practicing ballet once a week is appropriate for the beginning dancer. This first year will help introduce them to the study and you will see some gradual progression and strength building. Once you have studied ballet for one year your studies will plateau with just a once a week class. It is time to look at your goals and decide if you would like to progress your dancing. Staying at once a week classes, a ballet student will see little to zero progress and therefore lack the strength and control to progress to the intermediate and advanced levels. An intermediate or younger advanced dance student (ages 7-11) should plan to be in Ballet class at least twice a week. It is here where they will start to see progress in their strength and control. Dance study truly requires a mastery of so many of the tiny and connective muscles in the body. The more that you can connect young dancers with this strength, the better. The advanced level or teen/adult dancer should plan to take ballet at least three days a week. This is what I would consider to be the bare minimum in order to progress at a satisfactory pace and see the wonderful benefits of your study. Truly advanced and professional level dancers will study up to five or six days a week.
Parents you can relate it to your own fitness based workouts. If you were to tell your personal trainer or fitness advisor, “I would like to resistance train in order to gain strength and tone up,” they would explain to you that frequency of your workouts matters. Working out once a week with your resistance training will give you little to no progress and at most will help you keep the strength you have already. Three times a week seems to be where the magic starts to happen. Strength will increase and you will start to notice an increase in your muscle tone as well as ability to push yourself. Those who wish to improve their strength dramatically would be advised to train four to five times a week.
Same is true for ballet. Ballet requires an extreme amount of strength in the smaller muscles of the foot, ankle, achilles and calf muscles as well as development of the muscles in the back, shoulders, gluts, hips, quads and hamstrings. These can take years to develop properly and it is best to develop the turn-out muscles from the hips gradually and not push your turn-out beyond your range. Remember frequency and quality matter. Once a week, maintains. Twice a week, some benefits and strength improvements are noticeable. Three times a week equals magic!
As a ballet student it is crucial that you concentrate during class to work your muscles and push them with each exercise! Also remember that you can lose strength when you don’t use it! Especially those tiny muscles. Advanced students, it’s important to make sure that you don’t let more than two weeks pass without a ballet class! So many students make the mistake of thinking that ballet is easy or boring and go through the motions without the effort! Another bad habit is repeatedly missing classes!
To my young dancers, wise up my friends and learn to love ballet! It can truly be your greatest asset in growth! Even if ballet isn’t your thing… maybe SUTUCD is more up your alley? Let me just tell you that the stand-outs from the show, like Melanie, spent as many hours as they could in ballet class! Parents, encourage your young dancers to love the detail and discipline of ballet early. Even if they don’t want to be a professional ballerina, one day, they will be so very happy that they took ballet. I also love the life lessons it teaches… that will have to be another blog on another day!
I will leave you with this great dance quote:
“In life as in dance: Grace glides on blistered feet.”
~ Alice Abrams
Lets further the art of dance together… ASK MS. SONYA, I want to help!