Often, we get calls or emails asking us if we teach ballet to children as young as 2. Because we adhere to internationally recognized standards, at Cooper River Ballet, we will not attempt to teach technique before a child is developmentally ready. Before the age of 7, most children stand with their tummy out forward…normal for all small children. They simply don’t have the ability to access the deep core postural muscles required to hold the a pelvis vertically. About age 7 these muscles kick in. Until that time the proper turnout muscles cannot be engaged. Ballet movements can not be mastered until students can begin to access turnout and pelvic lift. Teaching students who are not prepared can be harmful.
Any ‘school’ can teach students to imitate ballet steps. Often dancers spend years at these schools developing poor technique. Later, if these young dancers wish to study seriously, they have to retrain. The earlier a student begins this sometimes difficult process, the easier it is to correct ingrained habits and affectations. This involves going back to the basics and teaching the muscles how to execute ballet technique using the most efficient choices. While many young dancers can make the movements happen, they are lacking basic strengths. What has often happened during this neglectful instruction is that the students have developed large bulky muscles and lack muscular definition of the arms and back. Often they complain of tight hips, muscle strains, and shin splints.
With proper ballet training dancers create lean, long muscles. They will have well defined legs, that lack bulk. Their arms and back will be toned from proper use.
Parents who wish to start a child at 2 or 3 may find a ‘school’ to teach her ballet now, later it will all have to undone and redone. At Cooper River Ballet, we offer creative movement lessons to teach young children how to move through their world, about music, and basics of dance movement. Beginning at age 6, in common with any internationally recognized training program, we offer primary ballet where students will learn and develop fundamentals.
Because we teach a strong, clean technique, and are very concerned for the students welfare, we will not try to sell ballet classes to parents until a child is developmentally ready.