We all have been there. The first time you let your child walk into a ballet class, a stream of questions floods your mind . Where do I start ? Will I be a good ballet parent ? How do I know he/she is doing well ? What should I do from my side to make it interesting for my child? Did I make the right decision?
The fact that you have let your child explore his/her artistic side is in itself a wise decision. This means you want your child to grow up as a well-rounded individual, exploring all aspects of a good education. Artistic yearning unlike academic pursuits do not always have to transition itself into a career path. If at any point, your child is more inclined to pursue a different interest, let them. The key here is to understand how they respond to each experience and create an open environment for decision making.
On the other hand, if ballet is where they see themselves going, encourage them to take that journey. Put your worries to rest because we are here to journey with you on this one.
Let your child explore ballet with you. That is the first step to becoming a ballet parent.
Ballet is relatively a new art form, slowly gaining interest among children and adults in India. Children abroad have grown up watching ballet performances by famous ballet dance companies. Appreciation and involvement in art is ingrained in their minds at a very young age through education.
Unfortunately, as a parent, this may not be the case with you. Having no previous knowledge about ballet may put you at disadvantage. Do not be discouraged. In today’s world where information is available at the click of a button , if you are willing to invest a little bit of time and effort to understand the art form, you will realise the journey into the world of ballet is worth taking.
Here are a few ways to get you started that journey with your child.
Pre-primary and Primary ballet
‘I want those ballerina glitter shoes’ is how the journey must have begun for most of you. By the time you understand what is going on, your house is filled with ballerina barbies, pink tutus and more glittery shoes. You watch with awe your tiny tots trying to wave arms, bend knees and stretch their tiny toes while desperately trying to balance those swirls. Your primary goal as a ballet parent in the beginning years of ballet training is nothing but to sit back and enjoy exploring ballet with them.
Invest in good ballet shoes and attire; make sure your child attend classes regularly and leave the rest to your ballet teachers to do majority of the work.For this very reason, it is extremely important that the child receives training only from qualified instructors who have thorough knowledge about proper technique and body postures in ballet.You could add some fun to this learning with bedtime stories and songs. Read through some of the classic stories such as Nutcracker, Coppelia & Cinderella, which have been brought alive by famous ballet companies. Years later, your child is going to thank you for familiarising them with ballet repertoire.
Grade 1- 3
Dear ballet parent, whether you admit it or not , this group is going to scout for their role models, categorise their likes and dislikes and absorb cultural values from whatever level of awareness is coming to them.This is also when your child may get disinterested in the classes where according to them’ they are learning nothing new and so it is boring’.
Agreed, learning the same steps and dance routine is boring. Would you let your kid give up mathematics because they are repeating their multiple tables everyday or chemistry because they have to go through the periodic tables every other day ? We know understanding basics and having a solid foundation is necessary to excel in any subject. With ballet, comes the additional responsibility of letting your child’s body along with their mind to develop the necessary strength and endurance. Ballet is a very demanding art form. When your child climbs up the ladder to advance their knowledge in ballet, this solid foundation will ensure their body doesn’t give up on them. Your role as a ballet parent is to encourage them to push through those difficult times when they may lose interest or find it difficult to keep up because you know this would be rewarding in the future.
Opening the digital world for ballet
This group are also willingly happy to be glued to your phone or laptop most of the time. This could perhaps be a good way to help them widen their knowledge in ballet through the digital media. Let them know about some of the inspiring movies/videos on ballet. Let them know you would love to have a movie session at home. Offer to make yummy popcorns. But first, be sure to do your homework while selecting the movies that you think would be appropriate for your child.
How well do you know about ballet scene outside of your country ? Have you heard about the Royal Ballet or the American Ballet Theatre ? Do you know who Mikhail Baryshinov or Anna Pavlova was ? Read, watch and understand the rich history of ballet and inspiring stories of world famous ballet dancers. Introduce your child to the world outside through these stories. Let them understand how these dancers have made a difference with their contributions to the art. Be prepared to come up with a list of famous Instagram accounts of ballet dancers and youtube videos because once glued, they will come back for more.
Grade 4 and above
Your child has indeed taken ballet a lot more seriously at this stage. As a ballet parent, it is important to see if he/she sees a future career in ballet . You along with your child will have to delve deeper and chart a course of action. It would be a good idea to talk to your ballet teacher/ artistic director of the ballet school to understand where this journey would take your child if eventually the decision is to take the professional route. Their expertise would help you to understand even the smallest risks that you might have overlooked.
Let your child continue to enjoy ballet classes. Help them explore other careers in the world of ballet. The world of ballet is ever expanding and opportunities are galore. This is why it is all the more important to expose your child to all aspects of ballet. Their experience in understanding the art form will only work to their advantage if they decide to take up a career other than a performer.
All through the journey, you will have to find a fine balance between letting them be comfortable in their own skin and inspiring them to go beyond their comfort zone. No one said the journey would be easy but it means you are journeying to becoming your child’s best ballet parent.
Are you also on a journey to become a ballet parent? Tell us about it.
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