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Training kids from instructional videos?

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#1 Ariodante



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Posted 27 April 2005 - 10:45 AM

I'm not sure if this topic belongs here since it is a question about ballet teaching but since I am not a dancer nor a ballet parent, I decided to stay in this forum and ask it anyway.

How safe is it for a person who didn't have ANY training in ballet (and knows it only from watching live or recorded performances) to try to teach a child (4-5 years old) some essentials of ballet by watching an instructional video? I am not thinking about turning it into serious classes but trying to introduce a kid to basic ballet steps in order to see if she really is as interested in it as she says. My sister, the girl's mother, tried to sign her for ballet classes but now, with the summer holidays coming, all courses are closed. I will be visiting them in the summer and thought of spending some time on teaching my niece some basic stuff. How likely is it that my lack of formal training will affect her and that she may acquire some bad habits that will be hard to eradicate later? If so, what do you recommend as an "introduction" for such a child? We've been playing together a lot of ballet scenes (she really is hooked on ballet and watches ballet DVDs whenever she can), with her trying to immitate some ballet poses and me supporting her and lifting. It was a great fan and for me a great way of bonding with my niece whom I see only once a year.
I found a DVD called "Ballet 101 - A Beginner's Class" at amazon.com but I have no idea if it can be helpful in such an undertaking?
Any suggestions? Thanks in advance!

Best, Iza

Edited by Ariodante, 27 April 2005 - 10:47 AM.

#2 Treefrog


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Posted 27 April 2005 - 02:27 PM

This really does belong on Ballet Talk for Dancers, but as a longtime poster and former moderator there, I can tell you what the answer will be: forget it. Bad idea.

At that age, kids don't learn ballet anyway. They take a "pre-ballet" or "creative movement" class, whose goals are to teach musicality, rhythm, and balance. And they learn the discipline of the class environment. They learn to stand in first position -- although not all studios call it that at this age -- and maybe they learn a rudimentary tendu. Mostly, they learn to walk and skip and generally move to different rhythms. They learn what it means to point feet and to flex them. They spend a great deal of time being animals, or colors, or types of weather.

By all means, do these kinds of things with your niece. Skip with her. Clap out a waltz or a polka. Have fun doing "baby runs" on tiptoe and grand "ballet walks" (while balancing an imaginary crown on your respective heads). These are the kinds of things that ballet training is built on. And keep watching those ballet videos! The best thing you can do for her is to nurture her love of the art. If she wants to learn it herself, there's plenty of time later for her to join a class.

#3 Ariodante



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Posted 27 April 2005 - 06:45 PM

Thanks a lot for your reply and for the clever ideas on how to "play ballet" with kids. I certainly intend to have a lot of "ballet fun" with my niece - it's wonderful that she doesn't need much encouragement and has a great imagination for stories. One of the things I will try to do this time is to focus on pantomime and even use mime in our own communication. I'm looking forward to using your advice in practice - somehow it didn't cross my mind that this kind of exercise that instructional videos offer is probably too "focused" for a kid this age. My concern was the damage that I might inflict on her by inappropriate "teaching" while the truth is that I probably wouldn't even had an occassion to do any damage since the kid wouldn't want to follow the instructions for 45 minutes.

Well, thanks again! I've learned a lot!

Best, Iza

#4 carbro


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Posted 27 April 2005 - 08:32 PM

It is a very bad idea to use instructional videos to teach children, adolescents or adults who have had less than a year of training. Without a teacher present to correct fundamentals of posture and use of the correct muscles, some very dangerous habits can be reinforced. Once the body "knows" these elements, the videos can be used much like other exercise videos -- to give the feeling of going through the routines with others -- but by that time, I think most dancers are able to construct their own barres and centres.

#5 Clara 76

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Posted 28 April 2005 - 08:45 PM

Better yet, take her to see some ballets if you can.
Clara 76

#6 Helene



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Posted 28 April 2005 - 10:11 PM

On Seattle's classical radio stadio, KING-FM there is a show hosted by Marta Zekan, aka Miss Marta, called "Classic Kid FM." The show is broadcast on Saturday mornings at 8-9am Pacific Time and is described on the website as follows:

Listen as Miss Marta helps listeners create dances to all kinds of music, from Renaissance to ballet, or lets great music inspire kids to create art. Each week's show might bring classic children's recordings, or music inspired by the weather, animals, fairy tales, adventure and more. On the last Saturday of each month, tune in for one of the award winning Classical Kids recordings, such as "Beethoven Lives Upstairs."

KING-FM programs are broadcast over the Internet through Windows Media player. The "Listen" buttons are located at the following link:


I don't even pretend to be in charge of a child to be seen enjoying this program :smilie_mondieu:

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